By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
Would a doctor prescribe medicine without knowing it works? Of course not. So why continue your marketing campaigns without any data to back up their value? If you’re doing any marketing at all, it’s vital that you have a system for measuring marketing effectiveness. Data-driven marketing helps to fine-tune your efforts for the best ROI—so you can find the right prescription for your marketing needs.
The Challenge of Measuring Marketing Effectiveness
The best healthcare marketers will tell you that no marketing strategy is ever really complete. Consumer trends and behaviors change, and you should continuously follow up on the data to see how well your campaigns are working.
However, measuring marketing effectiveness is not always easy. That’s because there’s a huge difference between impressions and engagements. What’s important to remember is that both are valuable to your medical marketing campaigns. Measuring marketing effectiveness has to do with a combination of calculation of ROI and insight into the public’s awareness of your brand.
1. Using tracking numbers on landing pages
One proven strategy to track leads uses a landing page dedicated to a specific specialty or service. Your landing page should include a dedicated phone number that is not used within your other marketing efforts. This allows you to see how many conversions are coming directly from that specific landing page, along with the paid search campaigns (pay-per-click and display) that lead there.
All in all, you’re able to see how someone gets from point A to point B to point C. What keywords did they search to reach your landing page before picking up the phone and calling? The data allows you to adjust keyword and bidding strategies to get the best ROI for your paid search ads.
2. Tracking form fills
Another simple way to track conversions is to place a contact form on your website or landing page. This contact form should be targeted toward a certain goal, rather than being a generic “Contact Us” page. It’s better than nothing, but the best contact forms are those that recommend an action like “Schedule an appointment” or “Schedule your free consultation.”
Whatever you do, it’s important to keep testing your form to see what wording, fields, and designs are working in terms of conversions. The little things matter. People may be more likely to click a button that says “Schedule” than one that says “Submit.” Even the color of the button can make a huge difference. A/B testing with contact forms—using two versions of the same page with different forms on each—helps you measure marketing effectiveness and adjust your strategy accordingly.
3. Checking the SERPs
Ranking at the top of the search engines can be a boost to any business. Checking the search engine results pages (SERPs, for short) or Google Analytics may provide a way to measure marketing effectiveness—to an extent.
However, search engine rankings aren’t everything. It takes a long time for even a well-planned SEO strategy to get off the ground. It may be several months before you rank for the content you’re sharing today. Besides, the SERPs are about more than just organic search. The top 3-4 results you see in most local (“near me”) Google searches are paid search results, which typically lead to high conversions.
4. Measuring your cost-per-lead
One of the best metrics you can use for measuring marketing effectiveness in digital advertising is cost-per-lead. With tools like Google Adwords or Bing Ads, you have a clear picture of how much you pay with each call to your office–at least in terms of your pay-per-click (paid search) ads.
The problem is that cost-per-lead isn’t clear with every type of campaign. For example, a display ad that appears on the side of a WebMD page may not bring an immediate conversion. However, it does make an impression on that person that could factor into their overall decision to buy. The same is true of your print marketing.
5. Counting the number of appointment requests
This is how most hospitals and practices judge whether marketing is working–determining whether or not they are getting more phone calls than usual. It’s certainly a starting point, but it’s not always the best measure of marketing effectiveness.
However, something to keep in mind is that you may be losing patients for any number of reasons. Insurance plans change, people relocate, and referring doctors retire. Just because the phone is ringing about the same as usual, doesn’t mean the marketing is not working.
So use appointments as a measure of marketing effectiveness, but do it wisely. Pay close attention to the numbers when you release a new brochure or when a TV commercial goes live, but don’t make this your sole measure of effectiveness.
6. Asking patients/callers how they found you
If you’re going to use patient inquiries as a measure of how well your marketing is working, there’s one phrase you must train your employees to use. “May I ask how you found us?”
It sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s something we see practices and hospitals fail to do time and time again. While it’s not an exact science and may not give you as much data or insight into ROI as other methods, it’s a key metric for understanding brand awareness and seeing how patients end up in your waiting room.