The following is a guest post from Ken Robbins, CEO, Response Mine Interactive.
It was once considered improper for physicians to market their services at all. That notion has been shattered and many medical practices have seen the benefit of instituting intelligent strategies drawn from best practices in the marketing discipline and customized for the unique requirements of medicine. The rise of the internet and mobile devices has led to the largest shift in consumer behavior the world has ever seen, and effective marketing has become a requirement for success in building and maintaining a successful medical practice.
Many patients today would not even consider visiting a physician that does not have an informative website.
The old ideas about marketing that are common in healthcare are no longer sufficient. Making the transition to decision making based on quantifiable results-driven data is a process, but any marketer can get on the path by taking a few initial steps and begin realizing the benefits of an outcomes-based model quickly.
Before you can know where you are going, you must know where you have been
Understanding how – and why – dollars are allocated to each media channel is key to optimizing the overall marketing budget. An effective outcomes-based marketing plan starts with auditing your current marketing spend. The audit is a simple four-step process:
- Map budget allocation per media channel - Breakdown how much money is spent on digital advertising, print advertising, billboards, etc.
- Restate the goals for each spend - What is expected to be achieved through the messaging on each channel?
- Estimate a return - For each channel, estimate how much revenue the marketing is driving. If the answer is none, those efforts are branding or support campaigns.
- Quantify the results - Create a report that illustrates the ratio of marketing efforts to revenue realized to determine return on investment.
The act of going through this exercise helps you rethink how you are distributing marketing spend. Are you dedicating significant money to efforts that are not driving new patients to the practice? This will become quite clear.
Build metrics into all marketing campaigns
With a properly designed outcomes-based marketing strategy, ongoing analysis of results will continue to reveal opportunities for further optimization. Monitoring the performance of every channel in real-time enables you to make adjustments as necessary. The tools for achieving this are readily available and do not require significant investment to activate.
- Web analytics - Diving into where web traffic originates isn’t just for search engine optimization. Tracking which digital marketing materials drove traffic to your site provides a clear window into which messages are resonating and which are falling flat.
- Landing pages - The goal of most marketing efforts should be to drive traffic to your website, and creating specific landing pages for each channel helps determine where that traffic is coming from. The URL listed on your billboard should go to a different landing page than the one on your print and radio ads. This is the best way to know where leads are coming from.
- Call tracking - Similar to landing pages, it is easy to list different phone numbers on each campaign. Then when a call comes in, whoever answers the line knows before the call is even answered which message the caller is responding to.
- Marketing automation - It is possible to measure every action taken by recipients of email marketing materials. Everything from how long they spend reading the message to which links they click on can be measured and analyzed to optimize the messages to attract the most lucrative patient populations.
Avoid losing prospects at the bottom of the funnel
The metric that matters most is conversion; the job of marketing is not complete until a satisfied patient leaves the office. An enormous gap in healthcare marketing today is appointment setting. After you have won intent, it is possible to lose prospects when they are placed on hold or forced to navigate a set of voice prompts when they call to set an appointment. Every phone call should be answered quickly by a real person every single time without hold times and without voice prompts. Further, that person must be empowered to set appointments and answer questions.
Today’s consumers are more empowered than ever faced with a multitude of choices. They are quick to hang up when placed on hold or faced with voice navigation systems. Why shouldn’t they be? Consumers know that they can easily call another practice that will provide them with an excellent experience. The same is true of waiting rooms. Patients forced to wait for extended periods in waiting rooms will simply get up and leave and visit another provider.
This is why it is imperative to measure the outcome of every aspect of marketing, from building awareness to enabling service. The job of marketing is not over until the positive outcome of a satisfied patient paying a bill is achieved. And then, it begins once again.