[VIDEO] Carrie Liken of Yext on Breaking Down Silos in Healthcare Marketing & Using Data to Drive Decisions

Posted on September 8, 2020 by in Digital Strategy, Healthcare/ Hospitals

What Did You Learn? Episode 13

“If [healthcare organizations] would have looked at their data, there would be a realization that they need to name things differently. They need to provide content differently… People are asking questions that are not highly-medicalized or in a clinical way,” says Carrie Liken, Head of Industry, Healthcare at Yext.

She would know. Carrie’s team at Yext powered the highly-visited COVID-19 page on the World Health Organization’s website throughout the pandemic.

Watch this episode of “What Did You Learn?” to hear Carrie talk about helping consumers find what they’re searching for, how to deliver value to clients during uncertain times and why collaboration and communication are key.

Ahava: Welcome back. I’m your hostess, Ahava Leibtag, and I’m here with a very special guest. She is the prom queen of the healthcare marketing set, the most likable woman in the room. Please welcome Carrie Liken, she is the head of healthcare at Yext. Welcome!

Carrie: Thank you, it’s nice to be here.

Ahava: It’s great to have you here. So, Carrie, tell us a little bit about what Yext does for its customers specifically in a healthcare marketing world. How it helps, particularly hospitals and healthcare organizations in this post new reality, old day, new day, apocalyptic world.

Carrie: We were calling it the new normal, and then one CMO said this is just the new weird. I don’t think we’re coming back.

Ahava: Perfect!

Carrie: Yext, is fundamentally a search company. And what we do is we have a cloud-based platform and we house information that people could be searching for literally anything somebody could be searching for from a doctor’s name, to a doctor specialty, to whether the doctor is accepting patients or not. And we take that information that platform and we power search experiences where people are searching. So, on Google, we send information via API to places like Google. But then we also power search experiences on owned properties. So, for example, we power the World Health Organization for their COVID page or we’ll power search experiences on healthcare organization pages as well. So it’s basically saying, “Put all the information into a platform and then we will help you get that out to where people are looking for that information.”

So, from a real-world perspective, when I think about what we’ve done, it’s been really interesting. Like I said before, the World Health Organization was a really interesting example of understanding how people are looking for info and knowing that they’re searching in natural language. People want to know “what are the symptoms of COVID-19?” They don’t know to necessarily search for “symptoms, COVID-19.” They’re actually typing into Google and now into the WHO’s COVID-19 website to power the search results through that experience just to give people the right information that they need.

And the WHO, I mean, that’s all very international. It’s not like it’s the CDC, just here in the US but the World Health Organization. So we’re able to give that info to people based on what they wanted to provide. They uploaded it to our platform. We built the search experience. And then people can search in natural language. It was a cool experience.

Ahava: That’s amazing! Okay, so before we jump into how cool your job is and all the fantastic knowledge you’re going to drop for our audience, tell us a little bit about Carrie the prom queen.

Carrie: That’s really funny. Okay. What would you like to know?

Ahava: Okay so, in the last 7000 years. What have you done with your time? Did you learn any new hobbies?

Carrie: Did I learn any new hobbies? I don’t think I’ve specifically learned new hobbies. I used to be on the road every day of every week. My headquarters is in New York City and I live in Boston. My husband is a doctor and he practices here in Boston. So any time I would have to do something, I would either be going to New York or I would be “WFP” or Work From Plane. I am now “WFH” or Work From Home, and it’s actually been really nice. I’ve had a chance to have a regular schedule. I do lots of things with my husband that I didn’t get to do because I was always gone.

But I would say the biggest thing that I’ve done is cook. I’ve always cooked, but my big thing now is I’m just pulling things out of the refrigerator and just throwing things together. And I feel liberated to be able to experiment, whereas before, I would have two days, Saturday and Sunday, and it was like OK, here’s what we need to do, I need to prepare, here’s what I need to get done.  I never really had a chance to have that creativity. So that was probably my biggest thing is getting in the kitchen and just going crazy. For lunch today, I had Chicken Satay skewers that I took off the skewer. I made the Satay dressing and I had pickled cucumbers that I made last night and it was just leftovers. But I’m eating like a queen.

Ahava: Can you cook for me? Because I need a chef. That’s really great. My hobby has been Settlers of Catan. That’s what I learned. You’re cooking thing is very cool. So in terms of the always working from a plane and things like that, I totally relate to that because I was usually on the road every other week for two or three days: conferences, speaking, clients. It’s interesting talking to my other road warrior type of friends. Everybody keeps saying to me, “I can’t believe how crazy I was.” And I’m like, “you didn’t know that you felt that way because I always felt that way?” And it’s hysterical, after two weeks of being home, I was like, I need to get out of here.

Carrie: I thought I would miss it. I mean, I traveled a ton for work, and then I would also travel mostly internationally to go on vacation, just take two weeks and go somewhere where the cell phone didn’t work. And what I miss is that stuff. I don’t miss the hopping from here to there making connecting flights, and then you’re going to this hotel. I don’t necessarily miss that. And I don’t think I really truly realized just how stressed I was, how stressed my body was and how tired I was until I had a full stop to it.

Ahava: Yeah, no, I think a lot of people felt that way. I knew that I was super-stressed because my body internalized it. I was always sick or tired. You know, I wasn’t as patient with my children, although they probably tell you I’m still not that patient, but they’re always underfoot! That’s really interesting. I think it’s fascinating to hear how different people have responded to being grounded. Like I always think about what is George Clooney’s character in “Up In The Air” doing?

Carrie: I know! I always felt like that was my character, like I would get mad at the people in the TSA line like, “Families not in this line. Families not in this line, this should be the business traveler line.”

Ahava: The rage I would feel when they didn’t have CLEAR. That’s not normal! So talk to me about what you wish you had known before this started? Like if somebody had whispered in your ear, you know, six months before this started, what do you wish they had told you?

Carrie: I think the first thing that I wish that they had told all of us is, how long is this going to last? Because I think all of us were operating under “okay, it will just be a little while longer, and then we’ll go back to normal and not the new weird.” I would love to have been told “this is going to last for a year or this is going to last for six months.” Not that you could be told, like this is not ending and this is the new thing. But the interesting thing is that it’s changing so much, which I think is changing for the good. Even though we’re all sitting here, we’re working from home. We were just talking about how great it is to a certain extent, to work from home. You know, I’m a little frustrated by it too, I would love to go and actually physically be with somebody and have that meeting. But on the other hand, I’m just thinking about all of the changes when I think about digital, all of the changes in healthcare that are happening now as a result of the forcing mechanism that this pandemic literally forced upon healthcare organizations and marketing teams just to get refined. So I wish they would have told me this is going to be X number of days or months or years long. But what can you do?

Ahava: So can you talk to me. I know that a lot of marketers are constantly being told, look at your data, Look at your data, make decisions with your data. And I always say that data is like a decision triangle. It’s like common sense, politics, actual factual data that you’re getting. How do you help them interpret what really is important at this moment and what you sort of just cut out because it’s not worthy of sort of cementing any decisions on?

Carrie: Wow, good question. I would say there are many organizations aren’t looking at their data at all. And you and I have talked about this, I would say, during the COVID time frame, even understanding the plain language and seeing it from the search side. We see how people are searching for COVID and things around COVID and coronavirus. And it wasn’t reflected on let’s say health system sites and how they’re getting information out there. And if they would just have looked at their data just a couple of days’ worth of data, there would be a real realization that we need to name things differently. We need to provide content differently. We need to make sure that we’re answering these questions because lots of people are asking questions in this way, not in a way that was you know, highly medicalized or clinical or any other way. So I would say a lot of organizations aren’t looking at that. So when we’re advising organizations, many times when we come to them with data and we come to them with analytics, it’s the first time they’ve ever seen anything like that at all.

Ahava: From my perspective, marketing is going turn into customer experience over the next 20 to 25 years, and it’s powered by the changes that a technology like Yext brings to a marketing department. So my question for you is more and more, I think marketers are expected to manage the customer service experience from the digital point of view, but they can’t manage it from the operational point of view. Do you ever see that bridge happening like, do you think I’m crazy when I say that? Sometimes people look at me like that will never happen. But my point about the pandemic is that we’ve seen that when you integrate, you get much better results and that the hospitals that have been successful are the ones who banish the silos. I don’t care if you work in PR, content, digital, it’s like we’ve got to get this done. Do you think that that that will ever happen, that marketing will have a place at the table to affect what happens operationally so that somebody doesn’t get a text about the wrong doctor or the wrong procedure?

Carrie: I have to agree with you. I think that marketing is going to become more of the experience like customer consumer experience and patient experience. It’s already turned into that years ago in other verticals. In healthcare, it’s ripe for it. I did see the elimination of the silos too. I was talking to a healthcare organization last week in Ohio and she was saying, it was the most amazing thing ever over the course of a couple of weeks, where we all were operating like a symphony. Nothing was going awry because we literally knew the goal, we were trying to hit it, we had to do it quickly, and everyone took down all of the walls. We said we’re working together and then when we did the postmortem on it, we said, “how do we do this again?”

Somehow we need to figure out how do we help marketers get that seat at the table? What data do we need to arm them with? What stories do we need to arm them with? What experience challenges? And I’ve said this many times, and we hold workshops with our customers, well, when we used to be able to do this in person, we would hold workshops with our customers where we bring in the C-suite and we bring in the marketing teams. And we have everyone go through different persona experiences so that they can say, “how do I put myself in the shoes of the patient or the consumer? What does that look like? How does it feel? See where the broken points are?”

Many of these individuals and organizations haven’t ever done that, so that’s a really good first step, I think of helping the marketing team say,”If we’re going to be more experiential, we’re going to be focusing on this. How do we get all of these other people to do this to understand?” Yes, we’re going to be bringing this to all of you, and then we’re going to be able to actually make change. And I think marketing will stand at the crux of the core of that.

Ahava: What have you learned? In the Middle Ages?

Carrie: Oh, what have I learned? So I would say you can only focus on what you can control. I feel like we were trying so hard to figure out, how do we serve our customers? What is it that they need? How do we bring it to them? And how do we reduce the amount of effort that they need to spend on this so they can do the important work, basically? Get the message out, help the internal stakeholders and the external world understand what’s going on. And things were going crazy. I mean, they were going crazy internally. They were going crazy externally. They were going crazy everywhere. And the only thing I think I could come back to is the only thing we could do is just focus on what we can do for our clients and what we can control. And even as far as what I did for my team is just literally do weekly meetings, making sure that they’re sane. But then also keeping them up to date and educated on what is going on and helping them to understand all of the different elements and facets. What are we hearing? What value can we continue to be driving? And then externally, we tried as much as we could get people together, like we would bring CMOs together and just say, “Talk to each other.” We called them Collab Labs. But just talk to each other. You should all connect because there’s no playbook for this. We understand that we’re dealing with it too, but you guys are really dealing with it. There’s no playbook.

So, we want to facilitate communication because maybe this will give you a little bit of a break and it will spark an idea that was the only thing we could control, literally.

Ahava: Right You talked about, you can only focus on what you can focus on, and I learned that in the Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. One of the exercises he gives in that book is to write a eulogy for yourself, how do you want to be remembered? Who do you want to be in the world? What do you want people to say about you? And at the very beginning of this whole thing, I sat down and I wrote out what impact I can make for this industry, in this moment.

Carrie: But you can tell by what you’re doing. You can definitely tell that, now that you say that, I feel like everything that I see that you have been doing is totally impact-driven.

Ahava: That is that’s exactly right. It was why I always say, “We are here to serve our clients. But ultimately, we are here to serve the people who are scared on the other end.” And so are plain language stuff and our webinars and even these are like, you know, Collab Labs, also in a sense, like learn from the best in the business about what to do. Everything was about when people look back on this, I want them to say, “Ahava helped us get stronger and get better during this time.” That would be really important for me. And I think what you just said is exactly right.

What lesson haven’t you forgotten? What are you always going to keep close to your heart about the way you approach healthcare marketing as a professional?

Carrie: In anything that we’re projecting outward is it of value for people who are time-crunched, in a crisis like a pandemic? They don’t have time to just have all of this extraneous stuff. So have we’ve put out something that is of value? Are there nuggets in there for them? They don’t have to work with us ever. But did they learn something? Did they get something? Is there something that can be used, saved, utilized now or in the future?

Ahava: Carrie, where can people find you?

Carrie: You find me on LinkedIn, just Carrie Liken, like, you’ll be liken me, Liken. L I K E N But I’m also Carrie@yext.com.

Ahava: Awesome, well, thank you so much for being here. I’ve had the best time. It’s always so fun talking to you.

Carrie: Thank you for having me.

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About Ahava Leibtag

Ahava Leibtag, MA

Ahava R. Leibtag has more than 20 years of experience in writing, messaging and marketing. She is a well-recognized content expert and writes thought leadership about content strategy and content marketing. Ahava is the President and owner of Aha Media Group, a content strategy and content marketing consultancy founded in October 2005. She... More >