It doesn’t matter if freelancers, outside agencies, an internal team or a combination of these execute your healthcare digital marketing programs. One thing remains constant, though. At a minimum, it’s critical to evaluate your marketing efforts at least annually to see how your efforts are performing relative to the key factors that determine your overall success. These factors can include your business objectives, local competitors and industry best practices. Evaluations are critical for several reasons.

The algorithms for the underlying technologies in your marketing efforts change constantly, as does the competitive landscape. Consider, for example, the popular mantra, “Medicine is local.” Your local landscape changes regularly as new practices move in and others close or adapt. Your healthcare marketing practices must adapt, too. A “set it and forget it” approach isn’t practical when it comes to your overall marketing strategy. Unfortunately, practice leaders often discover an issue only when the competition outmaneuvers them and patient volume is stagnate or declines significantly.

Healthcare compliance changes and grows. Marketing generalists may not know about healthcare-specific considerations, such as changes in a HIPAA-compliant patient form, or that HIPAA compliance must be documented on your website. Ignorance, as they say, isn’t a defense in the eyes of the law, and errors like these can cost your practice a significant amount of time and money. Staying on top of your marketing, including a regular review of new compliance standards and overall requirements, can help reduce the odds that you’ll end up facing expensive penalties.

Improving financial performance is critical. On average, Medicare reimbursement rates declined, 4.3% between 2014 and 2018. Many practices struggle with such losses. You may need to increase patient volume and reduce acquisition costs to survive in this competitive landscape.

Today’s marketing is data-driven. Marketing is no longer about being creative. Rather, it’s a data-driven pursuit that requires a multidisciplinary team, including writers, designers, programmers, digital marketing specialists, conversion optimization specialists and data scientists, to maximize your performance and achieve your goals. The cost of hiring, retaining and managing an internal team is often prohibitive, which is why most top-performing healthcare practices outsource their digital marketing initiatives to companies or agencies. By working with agencies, they can “rent” the specialized talent and resources required to compete cost-effectively.

Are you ready to evaluate your digital marketing programs and see how your healthcare practice is performing? Do you want to explore healthcare-centric benchmarks that you can use in your evaluation process? Read on to learn more.

The Patient Acquisition Journey: What Does It Look Like Today?

In simple terms, today’s patient journey has three distinct steps:

  • Source: The patient needs a specific service and generates provider options, typically through internet searches or recommendations from friends and family members.
  • Evaluate: Once the patient has identified potential candidates, the individual reviews the content and information available online to identify a specialist who seems like a good match.
  • Choose: Finally, the patient needs to book the appointment. In today’s consumer-driven world, patients are looking for frictionless appointment-setting. Providers who are unable to deliver it will lose out to those who provide that critical element.

Understanding the patient journey helps you determine where you need to focus your efforts, including what your potential patients might need to make more effective decisions about your practice and their overall needs.

High-Level Initiatives to Evaluate Relative to the Patient Acquisition Journey

As you deepen your understanding of the patient acquisition journey, you can review the elements that are most likely to improve the patient journey, including those listed below.

Your Practice’s Website

Your practice’s website is the virtual information source that patients are most likely to turn to when they’re interested in your specialization. You want patients to rely on your website as a trustworthy source of comprehensive information. Consider how these critical elements of your website design can affect your practice:

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance

To meet ADA compliance requirements, your website must be accessible to people who have disabilities. As a medical practice, you likely treat disabled patients. They may be visually impaired – a consideration that’s particularly critical if you serve a senior population. They might have seizures if exposed to flashing graphics or swirling lights. Others could have physical impairments that make it difficult for them to use a mouse or keyboard. Some could be hearing-impaired, which means they can’t watch uncaptioned video content.

Making your website accessible is a key part of providing a better overall patient experience. If your website isn’t ADA-compliant, not only can you end up facing expensive fines, but you may also lose patients who need accommodations to interact with your content.

Mobile Responsiveness

As many as 63% of searches are now performed from mobile devices. Many people look for information about medical care providers in their free time: during commutes, on their lunch breaks at work or in the evening, sitting on the couch. In addition, many people prefer to keep those searches private, so they perform them on mobile devices rather than on work computers. As a result, your website must be mobile-responsive and accessible from a variety of devices.

Organic Traffic Versus Your Competition

Organic traffic occurs when patients can find your website naturally. They’re already searching for the content you provide, and they find your website through organic search ranking.

Where do you rank compared to your competitors? What keywords are you ranking for? Consider these aspects:

  • Your location. Medicine is local, so you’re primarily competing with practices very close to you.
  • Your specialty. Your marketing efforts should focus on your practice’s healthcare specialty: the procedures and options you offer most often.
  • What people are searching for. For example, if you’re a pediatrician, parents might be searching for information about common childhood ailments rather than searching for new doctors.

Pay attention to your rank compared to that of your competition. Keep in mind that your rank will change naturally over time, especially if you don’t produce new content regularly.

Website Conversion Rates

Ultimately, to determine whether your website is a success, you must look at one key factor: does it convert? If your website isn’t converting potential patients, there may be something about its design that’s causing you to miss out. Set a conversion rate benchmark: Do you expect your website to convert 3% of visitors? Four percent? Keep in mind that many visitors who are in the early stage of the buying journey will visit your website multiple times before making a decision.

Several performance factors can influence your website’s conversion rates:

  • Google Analytics: Are your goals set up properly? Have you clearly established what keywords you’re aiming for and what type of traffic you want to bring to your website?
  • Design and user experience: Is your design user-friendly? Can potential patients find what they’re looking for on your website? Is your website laid out well and easy to understand?
  • Content: Are you providing the content that patients are looking for? Get a feel for what patients want when they visit your website and how you can ensure that you provide it. For example, your patients might be looking for deeper insights about your practice that will allow them to learn more about specific procedures, costs or your medical care team.
  • Effective calls to action: A call to action, or CTA, establishes what you want your patients to do next and encourages them to take immediate action. Are your calls to action clearly established? Do they encourage patients to take the next steps in connecting with your brand?

Reviewing those performance factors can help you understand how your website is performing and next steps.

Keep these key benchmarks in mind: The average website conversion rate for medical practices is 6%. The average for the top 25% of performers is 20.4%.

Digital Advertising

Your digital advertising efforts will go a long way toward getting your practice noticed and helping interested patients find you. Google’s Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing program can help you establish your place in the market and ensure that your practice gets noticed. Meanwhile, social media marketing can help you get a better feel for your brand’s effectiveness.

Search Engine Marketing

Google accounts for more than 88% of online searches, while Bing comes in second, with about 9% of the global market. Effective PPC marketing, in which you pay to have your practice show up in the top search engine provider’s top results, can help improve your practice’s overall visibility. Over time, those efforts can even help you improve your organic search ranking. Cost per conversion can vary based on your specific keywords and your targets. Pay attention to what keywords are most effective for your practice, including those that people are most likely to search for.

The average industry PPC click-through rate for medical practices is 3.82%. The average industry PPC conversion rate is 2.4%. At the top of the industry, in the 25% of highest performers, the conversion rate is 5.31% or more. The average industry cost per lead on Google PPC is $125.

Facebook/Social Media Marketing

Today, 82% of the U.S. population has a social media profile. Social media is a popular option for connecting with friends and family and following the brands people love. An effective social media marketing campaign can help you connect with a broader range of potential patients. Your social media marketing efforts may need to include posts intended for your followers as well as boosted or paid posts intended to reach who might be interested in your brand.

Retargeting

In some cases, potential patients may need multiple contacts with your practice before they’re ready to make a decision about who they want to trust. As they see your practice more often, including its appearance on their social media pages and ads, they may develop a higher degree of trust in your brand. Your healthcare marketing efforts can make your brand more trustworthy.

Retargeting reaches potential patients who visited your website in the past and shows them new ads and content from your brand. By retargeting effectively, you can bring back potential patients who may have forgotten about their searches or keep your brand at the top of their minds.

Performance Factors to Consider

Be sure to consider several factors when determining whether your digital advertising efforts are effective. Be sure to review the elements below that could decrease your overall performance and make it difficult for you to achieve your goals:

Your ad copy doesn’t match with your landing pages or keywords. When customers click on an ad, they want to go straight to the content they’re anticipating. If your content and your ads don’t match, patients will be dissatisfied with what you have to offer, and it may prevent conversion.

You aren’t targeting the right audience. Consider your patient demographics. Who do you offer services for? By adapting your ad targeting to those specific patients, you can increase the odds of conversion. On the other hand, if your targets are too broad, too narrow or don’t reach the right audience, you may find it difficult to achieve your goals.

You aren’t managing your keywords effectively. Doing your keyword research and knowing the type of content users are searching for when they connect with your brand is critical. If you aren’t managing your keywords effectively, you may find it very difficult to attract traffic. Address the following:

  • What are patients searching for in regard to your practice?
  • Are you highlighting those all-important local keywords?
  • How are your keywords performing over time?

Keep in mind that as consumer needs change, their searches will, too – and you’ll need to adjust your efforts accordingly.

You don’t have landing pages (or your landing pages aren’t achieving your goals). An effective landing page contains the information and links potential patients are looking for. Generally, they contain little to no “extras,” including links that take patients anywhere other than where you want them to go. Landing pages allow you to track conversions and provide more effective resources for your patients.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical to your website’s performance. Dozens of practices in your local area may offer services similar to yours, especially in large cities. SEO helps place your practice at the top of search results for critical keywords in your local area. Twenty-five percent of people who perform a search will click the top Google result. Seventy-one percent or more of Google search traffic will go to the first page of results. If your practice doesn’t appear on that first page, you may be missing out on considerable traffic.

What’s your search ranking compared to your competition? In general, does your site have a higher authority rating? If so, it could go a long way toward improving your search ranking and helping you appear in those critical results.

On-site SEO: Common Factors

Several factors may contribute to your SEO, including:

  • Keywords
  • Title tags, meta descriptions and image optimization
  • Geotagging for local search
  • The images you use
  • Mobile responsiveness

Your website content can boost your search ranking significantly. Google also rewards websites when searchers stay on sites for longer periods. When patients hang around on a given site, it indicates that the site meets their needs.

Off-site SEO

In addition to on-site SEO, you need to consider your off-site efforts. Do you have links back to your site? Are they in authoritative locations? As you build your backlinks, you’ll find that your search ranking improves.

Local SEO

Medicine is local. You probably won’t bring in patients from across the country, but you’ll likely attract patients in your local area. Make sure you claim your Google My Business listing and keep it up to date. Furthermore, make sure you include those vital local tags and keywords on your website to help draw local traffic.

Patient Reviews

Patient reviews are virtual recommendations from people who visited your practice. In fact, patients count on online resources and reviews two times more than they do personal referrals. Eighty percent of new patients screen their doctors on Google, according to PwC Health Research Institute. The more reviews you have, the better potential patients can get a feel for your practice and what you offer. If you don’t have those vital patient reviews, however, patients may fall away before they check out your practice.

How do you compare to your local competition? Do you have more reviews? Fewer reviews? What do patients say about you versus your local competitors? Having the answers to these questions can help you improve patient conversions.

Call Tracking and Attribution

Do you know:

  • How many first-time callers visit your practice?
  • How many calls you miss on a regular basis?
  • Where your calls are coming from?

Pay attention to your callers. When patients call your medical practice, they need answers. They want to connect with providers who can help them with problems or allow them to schedule appointments. Furthermore, pay attention to where those calls are coming from. What convinced patients to schedule appointments?

Patient Engagement

According to Care Sherpa,79% of patient leads don’t convert, in part, because 30% of those leads don’t receive a response. It’s critical to ensure that you’re providing the right tools to help your patients get what they need from your brand. Consider:

  • After-hours call capability: What happens when a call comes in outside your usual practice hours? Routing to a call center, where patients can talk to a live person, can help with overall engagement.
  • Overflow call capabilities: If you have too many calls coming in at once, what happens to those excess calls? Do your patients get the support they need if they can’t connect with you directly?
  • Two-way text messaging and secure chat: Can patients send you text messages or chat with you on your website?
  • Intelligent reminders: Do you have reminder capabilities that will notify patients of upcoming appointments or encourage them to schedule appointments, when needed?
  • Recall/multichannel campaigns: Engaging patients across multiple platforms can help improve your ability to connect with them.
  • Frictionless forms: The harder it is for patients to fill out vital information, the more difficult it may be to attract and retain them.
  • Patient surveys: Patient surveys can help you track overall patient satisfaction and gauge your performance. Effective patient surveys can help you make changes that will keep your patients happier over time.

Meaningful Analytics and Reporting

Do you have a consolidated dashboard with meaningful key performance indicators? Can you track your performance across each of your healthcare marketing strategies? It’s critical to have all of your marketing information in one place. That way, you can see how it’s performing over time. Make sure your dashboard includes insights from your website, your social campaigns and more to help improve overall effectiveness.

Website Benchmarks

Be sure you can see these critical website benchmarks on your dashboard:

  • How many people visit your website?
  • How many pages do they view?
  • How many people who come to your website are new visitors versus returning visitors?
  • How are most people accessing your website?
  • Where do visitors come from? Do they arrive from social media? Organic search? Paid search?
  • What activities do visitors engage in on your site? What pages do they visit? How long do they stay?
  • What’s your website bounce rate?

With these insights, you can get a better idea of how your interested patients interact with your site and the changes you may need to make to improve engagement.

Digital Marketing Benchmarks

Review these vital digital marketing benchmarks to assess your performance:

  • How are your Google/Bing Ads performing?
  • How many users click on your Facebook ads?
  • What are your conversion rates for your digital advertising efforts?
  • What’s the bounce rate for people who interact with your ads?
SEO Benchmarks

Your SEO benchmarks can give you vital insights about your place in the industry. Track:

  • Your keyword ranking for critical keywords
  • Average session length on your website
  • Bounce rates from your website
  • Time spent on your page
  • Organic search traffic
  • The number of backlinks to your content
  • Domain authority
Call Tracking Benchmarks

As people call your practice, track:

  • How many calls you receive
  • The length of and purpose for each call
  • Where calls come from
  • Conversions/appointments from those calls
  • Hold times
  • Missed calls
Patient Engagement Benchmarks

Engagement is critical to conversions for your patients. Make sure you’re tracking:

  • Patient retention rates: How many of your patients are likely to go somewhere else?
  • Patient reviews
  • Patient interactions: How often do patients use your services?

How is Your Digital Marketing Performing?

Unfortunately, not all digital marketers are created equal. There’s a vast disparity in the industry knowledge, technical skills and resources required to be an effective marketer. In addition, you may need a digital marketing agency that focuses specifically on healthcare providers. These agencies can provide better overall insights into the strategies that will work best for your practice.

Trust is declining rapidly in many digital agencies, and with good reason. The complexities of digital marketing are growing, especially in the medical field. As a result, practice leaders must be diligent in continuing to review marketing initiative performance as well as your healthcare marketing firm vendor relationships to ensure they’re meeting your goals.

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