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Deploy sharp digital marketing strategies and avoid legal risks of the pixel trap

Healthcare marketers don’t have to choose between protecting consumer privacy and tracking their digital ROI. In this era of increased awareness and guarding of personal data, all eyes are on the use of conversion pixels. But the good news: It’s possible to effectively measure your online marketing activities without invading privacy or getting sued.

What exactly are pixels? Popularized by Meta’s Facebook social media platform, they’re invisible images loaded into the background of many web pages. They help companies gather consumer data that allows them to personalize and target marketing efforts. Because they can connect to Meta (Facebook/Instagram), LinkedIn, Google, Twitter and many other services, pixels can contain and transfer a wide variety of personal information that otherwise wouldn’t be available. Think of it like a puzzle: If you can pick up the individual pieces of every person’s digital presence, eventually, you get the complete picture of who they are – even if they didn’t ask for it.

Conversion pixels pose a unique challenge in healthcare.

For organizations with databases of sensitive information like health systems, conversion pixels can pose another problem if mismanaged. For example, suppose that external-facing data from the conversion pixels can combine with existing profile data from internal databases without any fail safes or firewalling of data. That would increase the risk of the completed profile being shared, intentionally or unintentionally, with an external third-party partner.

That scenario is the basis for several current lawsuits against health systems. With increased awareness of internet privacy and stricter privacy laws in states like California, providers need to shore up their existing integrated strategies and revisit those plans frequently as the technology and requirements evolve. Improperly managed conversion pixels can also lead to security vulnerabilities, creating an IT (and legal) nightmare.

 The knee-jerk desire to shut off all integrated marketing plans is understandable. But while tempting, there are ways to mitigate these security issues while getting the data and reporting needed to be effective. Here are some quick tips to help you track without getting stuck in the pixel trap.

  • Create campaign-specific URLs. By creating links that are specific to each campaign, linked analytics will inform you exactly how they are performing and give you the flexibility to make changes as needed.
  • Use gated content with an opt-in form to gather the needed information. If you’re upfront about what data you require, why you need it, and how it can help them, you’ll have a far higher success rate in gathering essential data points that help you understand your users.
  • Consider broadening your calls to action to utilize “old school” tracking mechanisms. By directing consumers to your call centers or offline mechanisms, you can track booked appointments and other conversion metrics while protecting privacy.
  • Play the long game. You don’t need to do everything at once, nor should you.  Develop a report of key performance indicators and add to it as you’re able to capture more data and update your goals accordingly.

Conversion pixels are unlikely to go away anytime soon, but as the lawsuits mount, there will undoubtedly be evolving privacy protections that will become our responsibility to manage. For more advice, contact us using the form below or follow our thinking to get the most up-to-date information and how we can help you mitigate the risks.

Author: Tommy Barbee

Image Credit: Shannon Threadgill


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