Posted On August 17, 2021

Plan a HIPAA-Compliant Retargeting Campaign For Your Rehab Clinic

Plan a HIPAA-Compliant Retargeting Campaign For Your Rehab Clinic -

As marketing leaders in the addiction treatment industry, HIPAA is something we have to be extra-vigilant about. HIPAA was passed in 1996 to keep the medical information of patients secure and private, through data privacy measures and security provisions. Therefore, falling on the wrong side of HIPAA compliance measures can put rehab marketers in hot water.


Due to HIPAA fears, many rehab marketing departments may be wary of planning a retargeting campaign, incorrectly assuming that retargeting isn’t in alignment with HIPAA or LegitScript protections. And hey, you might be one of those worried drug rehab marketers yourself. But in this blog post, we’ll share with you everything you need to ensure your retargeting marketing efforts remain HIPAA-compliant and wildly successful. Read on to learn how.

Is HIPAA Compliant Retargeting Possible?

Yes, HIPAA compliant retargeting is possible…it just needs a different approach than what you’re used to seeing.  HIPAA-compliant marketing is critical for drug rehabs because:

  • It helps your target audience access your brand in a way that helps them.
  • It ensures that your marketing follows the law.
  • You will breathe easier knowing that your marketing efforts comply with HIPAA.

We cover HIPAA-compliant marketing in the SUD vertical in greater detail in this blog post.

Consider the Customer Journey

The customer journey for prospective admits is one fraught with emotion and uncertainty. When meeting your potential clients where they are, you’ll want to keep in mind that they’re teeming with emotions throughout this process… so, don’t bombard them with overly-specific ads and don’t target them in what might be considered to be an overly personal way. Provide assistance on their customer journeys in a way that is helpful, informative and generic.

Relevant Marketing vs. Retargeting

Relevant marketing occurs when you segment your audience into lists and target them with ads based on certain characteristics… think age, location, interests and more. Using these demographics and psychographics can aid immensely in making your marketing campaigns relevant.


Retargeting, on the other hand, is relevant marketing taken to the next level. Yes, these ads are targeted—but they target only those who have already visited your website (via tools like the Facebook Pixel) or even the area near your rehab (via geofencing technology). Therefore, retargeting can be very helpful to someone who has your brand or service on their mind.


However, in the case of drug rehabs, marketers need to tread lightly and make sure they’re not violating the trust of prospective clients or using sensitive medical data to retarget these prospects.

How To Plan a HIPAA-Compliant Retargeting Campaign

The first step in planning a retargeting campaign? Workshopping and analysis. To conduct analysis successfully, figure out the customer’s journey.


Conduct Workshops To Unearth Customer Journeys

What you’re trying to ascertain with the journey is how does a person go from confusion to clarity that treatment is needed. What kind of content is perused, what kind of topics does he/she research, what events trigger these researches, etc.


The first thing to do is to conduct a survey of your past and present admits along with their loved ones. Dig into their stories on how they ended up in rehab. Find out the role of PCPs, doctors, therapists, relatives etc that may have led to the decision of going to rehab.


Go with the flow and take comprehensive notes. But in this flow, you’ll begin to find similar patterns of the journey people take before they come to your drug rehab center.


These patterns will form the outline of the range of topics people usually go through before deciding on your rehab. In our experience, topics that got kicked off due to specific events have high engagement versus topics that trigger from curiosity.


Here’s what an event-triggered retargeting flow’s outline can look like:


  • Signs of withdrawal. Ad copy: Know what substance abuse withdrawal looks like.
  • Signs of overdose. Ad copy: Know what to do in the event of an overdose.
  • Ad copy: 10 Things To Know Before Planning An Intervention
  • Ad copy: Addiction treatment doesn’t have to break the bank. Here’s why.
  • Ad copy: Awarded the best rehab 3 years in a row.


Don’t discount conducting a workshop with your admissions department. Believe it or not, even involving the counselling team can provide massive amounts of insight. Workshops designed to get an idea of the customer journey is also a time intensive process because the results can make a huge difference on your bottom line.


Connect Journeys To Analysis Of Web Traffic


Utilize your internal analysis tools specifically for your rehab website. Whether you use Omniture (from the Adobe Experience Cloud suite), Google Analytics, Amplitude, MixPanel, or anything else, you should be able to extract valuable insights.


What you would look for is content groups that are engaged with heavily, and dissect them under different days of the week. This should give you an idea of what content is “popular” on say, Wednesdays.


You would also try to figure out things like how long the sales cycle is, how often people return to your website, what days of the week they return or call, etc.


Say you’re looking to dissect behavior by day of the week to inform what ad messaging needs to show up on a particular day of the week. Different tools have different reports for this. Let’s walk through an example on Google Analytics as it’s the most popular analytics tool.


To know when the most important days of your prospect’s customer journey occur, you’ll have to analyze the data you have. One of the key reports to your analysis is the time lag report in Google Analytics. This report will show you when your macro-conversions and micro-conversions take place. (Tip: Set up the tracker events so you know what the conversion rates for these look like.) By utilizing this data, you’ll be able to kick off your campaign by cascading ads on the most important days. Try this with crisis-driven, search engine-based marketing campaigns.


Here’s what a brand-focused time lag report looks like, when cascaded retargeting is employed with about 40% of conversions coming in after 12 days:


hipaa-compliant retargeting

Cascaded Retargeting Generates Admits for Rehabs

Now this is where the rubber meets the road. Cascaded retargeting generates real results for rehabs. By following a slower cadence and sending out ads at times that are less-invasive to your audience, you can yield greater results than traditional retargeting alone… while remaining HIPAA-compliant along the way.


Using all the information you compiled from workshops and analysis, you will now begin creative development and space them out accordingly.


Typical retargeting techniques aren’t permitted in HIPAA-compliant retargeting or even marketing for that matter. For instance, step into a potential patient’s shoes… she should be allowed to privately Google her medical problem and talk to her doctor about it, without being bombarded with ads for specific treatments every time she opens a new browser window.


If these ads aren’t dispersed in an aggressive way, and if they’re not overtly specific to her addiction, they are okay for launch—make them general and vague. For example, don’t target Patient A, who Googled her condition, specifically.


Instead, serve non-personalized, generic ads to those who visited your addiction treatment website, and serve the workshopped ads to them only a few days after they’ve searched. If searchers allow their browsers to collect cookies, you can target them through broad, generic ads long after they’re done searching. Just be mindful of the timing and cadence of those ads.


Use one ad placement in your first interaction accomplished by setting a low frequency, then gradually increase the ad appearances. This is helpful to users, and it works well for you because you’re not being creepy enough to warrant a complaint to the Office of Civil Rights that enforces HIPAA.


With the proper targeting, people will click through an ad approximately 10 times in 1,000, getting critical access to necessary treatments. The click rate might look low, but it’s double the standard click rate of 0.05%. Even if they don’t click, you have made them aware of your brand. Clicks are not the goal, impressions of the ads are as that what helps with brand recall and authority.

Plan a HIPAA-Compliant Retargeting Campaign: Final Thoughts

And there you have it. Now that you’re equipped with the tools needed for a HIPAA-compliant retargeting campaign, you can go forth and retarget with confidence.

Remember, retargeting alone is not enough… you need to strategize and match your message to their journey, so your efforts are successful and fruitful. Analyzing reports like Time Lag, Path Length, etc in Google Analytics is a huge boon to your retargeting efforts since these reports will help you deploy your generic, HIPAA-compliant cascaded ads at the times of greatest impact.


HIPAA-Compliant Rehab Marketing Easier with Us

Sometimes rehab marketers can grow weary of the industry not permitting many of the modern marketing techniques that prospective patients expect. And often tactics (not strategies) like PPC and SEO cloud their judgment. And campaigns can lose their luster year after year for the sake of privacy. But, this is a noble issue that requires both adherence and a bit of creativity.


Chat with us about your facility’s challenges and start working on a HIPAA-compliant marketing strategy that will move the needle. We can help residential centers and IOP/PHP centers as well.