Don’t Talk about Marketing with Medical Practices without This Metric
May 11, 2017
In marketing, we tend to use a lot of different statistics and metrics to prove the value of marketing services. While all of these metrics certainly have their place, they’re not always as helpful for medical practices.
At medical device and pharma companies, you typically have a large budget for marketing and a need to create brand awareness. Many medical practices operate more like small businesses. They don’t have a large budget for marketing. Their primary focus is getting patients in the door. Clicks, pageviews, and search ranking are all well and good, but the practice with the most online traffic may still not be getting enough patients in the door.
When talking to physicians and surgeons about marketing, there is only one metric that really counts: How many patients took action (called, filled out a form, etc.) as a result of marketing?
In marketing terms, we’d call that “conversions.” But rather than speaking in marketing terms, you need to help practices understand that “conversions” actually mean more of the right patients.
Why Conversions Are the Most Important Metric
Patients are a medical practice’s livelihood. Practices need patients to keep their doors open. Typical marketing metrics like clicks, pageviews, etc. don’t necessarily translate to new patients. Practices need to plan their budgets carefully, and if a particular marketing method can’t show them a true return on investment, it may be difficult to justify the expense.
Practices shouldn’t spend money on marketing unless they can see a result. The problem is, unless you plan your campaign specifically to be able to track response, your results will be anecdotal at best. With patient privacy laws, it’s not as easy to track patient interactions as it is to track customer interactions at other types of businesses. However, it is possible.
If you want to convince practices to spend money on marketing, you have to be able to show them how they can benefit. If practices can start to tie marketing efforts to actual appointments and procedures, they can compare the cost of marketing with the amount of money they earned by marketing. Practices earn money by seeing more patients. If you can help them connect the dots, you can earn their trust.
For example, we worked with a surgeon who would smile every time he had to pay Google AdWords $500 for his pay-per-click campaign. Why? He had determined that every $500 payment usually translated into 2 total joint patients. Those $500 investments helped him make the money back and then some. This is what we want for all practices that we work with.
Making Patients the Conversion Focus
In making patients the primary conversion metric, we need to understand what influences patients to make an appointment. Marketing via social media and advertising are fine, but if practices don’t have a solid foundation of a website, online reviews, local SEO, and content, other marketing efforts may be a waste of time and money.
When patients are searching for a physician, many begin that search online. When patients search online for a physician, they see a number of things in search results. They’ll see a combination of local listings, review sites, and practice websites. These “first impressions” often impact patients’ decisions when making an appointment.
To that point, physicians need to focus on patient reviews through reputation marketing. They need to focus on local SEO so that local patients find them when searching for a physician. They need a website with good content to help inform patients of their expertise and get them the information needed to make an appointment. Once the appointment is made, the right tracking methods can help practices determine return on investment.
Patient-focused marketing allows practices to spend their marketing dollars wisely. Marketing helps with branding, but ultimately if it doesn’t help practices get patients, it isn’t serving them well.
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