Regardless of who executes your healthcare digital marketing programs (freelancers, outside agencies, an internal team, or a combination), it’s critical to evaluate your marketing efforts at least annually to see how you’re performing relative to factors that determine your success. These include your business objectives, local competitors, and industry best practices. Evaluations are important for several reasons.
The algorithms of the technologies used in your marketing efforts change constantly. For example, Google continuously updates its SEO ranking system. The latest change on Dec. 2, 2022, aims towards prioritizing content people cite as helpful and relevant. Staying on top of these shifting algorithms ensures you are suitably marketing your practice.
Your competitive landscape changes constantly. Consider the mantra “Medicine is local.” Your local landscape regularly changes as new practices move in and others close or adapt. The healthcare industry is both competitive and costly. You want to ensure your healthcare marketing practice adjusts accordingly so the competition does not outmaneuver you and cause your patient volume to stagnate 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 they must document HIPAA compliance on your website. But as the saying goes, ignorance is not a defense. Errors like these can cost your practice significant time and money. Regular review of new compliance standards and requirements can help you avoid expensive penalties.
Improving financial performance is critical. On average, Medicare reimbursement rates declined by 4.3% between 2014 and 2018. Many practices struggle with such losses. Increased patient volume and reduced acquisition costs are a must to survive in this landscape.
Today’s marketing is data-driven. Now more than ever, Marketing 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. Hiring, retaining and managing an internal team is often costly, so most top-performing healthcare practices outsource their digital marketing initiatives to companies or agencies. By outsourcing, they can cost-effectively “rent” the specialized talent and resources required to compete.
Are you ready to evaluate your digital marketing programs to see if your healthcare practice marketing is up to par? Do you want to explore healthcare-centric benchmarks you can use in your evaluation? Read on to learn more.
The Patient Acquisition Journey: What Does It Look Like Today?
Today’s patient journey has three distinct steps:
- Source: The patient needs a service that generates provider options, typically through internet searches, such as Google.
- Evaluate: Once the patient has identified potential candidates, they will likely review the online content and information to select a specialist.
- Choose: Finally, the patient needs to book an appointment. Patients are looking for quick and easy appointment setting in today’s digital world. Providers are unable to deliver it will lose out to those who provide this critical feature.
Understanding the patient journey helps you determine where to focus your marketing efforts, including what potential patients may need to decide on your practice.
High-Level Initiatives to Evaluate Relative to the Patient Acquisition Journey
To further deepen your understanding of the patient acquisition journey, you can review the elements listed below that determine the patient experience.
Your Practice’s Website
Your practice’s website is the virtual information source patients will most likely turn to when they need your specialization. You want your website to be a trustworthy and comprehensive information source. Consider how these critical elements of your website design can affect your practice:
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance
Your website must be accessible to people with disabilities to meet ADA compliance requirements. As a medical practice, you likely treat disabled patients. They may be visually impaired – a critical consideration if you serve a senior population. Others could have physical impairments that make it difficult to use a mouse or keyboard. Some could be hard of hearing, so they require captioned video content.
If your website isn’t ADA-compliant, not only can you end up facing expensive fines, but you may also lose patients who need those accommodations.
As many as 63% of Google 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 sitting on their couch in the evening. As a result, your website should be mobile-responsive and accessible from various devices.
Organic traffic occurs when patients search for content that you happen to provide, so your website appears in their search results.
Where do you list in those organic search rankings compared to your competitors? What keywords are you ranking for? How high up is your practice in these keyword searches? Consider these aspects:
- Your location. Medicine is local, so you compete primarily with practices close to you.
- What people are searching for. If you’re a pediatrician, for example, parents might be searching for information about common childhood ailments rather than searching for new doctors.
- Your specialty. Your marketing efforts should mainly focus on the procedures and options you offer.
Remember that your rank will change naturally over time, depending on how regularly you produce new content.
Website Conversion Rates
When evaluating your website’s success, you should look at one key factor: conversion. 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: What percentage of your website visitors do you expect to convert? Keep in mind that many visitors in the early stage of the buying journey will visit your website multiple times before deciding to convert.
Several performance factors can influence your website’s conversion rates:
- Google Analytics: Are your goals set up properly? Have you clearly established the keywords you’re aiming for and what 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 seeking? Surveys can help you understand what patients want when they visit your website. For example, your patients might be looking for deeper insights about specific procedures, costs or your medical care team.
- Effective calls to action: A good call to action, or CTA, establishes the step for your patients and encourages them to take immediate action. Are your calls to action clearly worded? Do they encourage patients to take immediate action?
Reviewing those performance factors will help you understand your website’s performance and the steps toward improvement, if necessary.
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 give you insight into your brand’s effectiveness.
Search Engine Marketing
Google has accounted for around 85-90% of online searches since 2010. Effective PPC marketing, in which you pay to have your practice show up in the top search engine provider’s top results, can improve your practice’s visibility. Over time, those efforts can even 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 people are most likely to search for.
The average industry PPC click-through rate for medical practices is 3.82%. The average healthcare PPC conversion rate is 4.63%. The average industry-wide cost per lead on Google PPC is $40.72 in 2022.
Social Media Marketing
As of 2022, around 82% of the U.S. population has a social media profile. Social media is famous for connecting people with their friends and family, as well as with popular brands. An effective social media marketing campaign can connect you 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 those who may be interested in your brand.
Continuous brand exposure will make your brand more trustworthy to consumers. Potential patients may need multiple contacts with your practice before they’re ready to convert. So, it’s wise to focus your healthcare marketing efforts on retargeting.
Retargeting reaches potential patients who previously visited your website 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
There are several factors to consider when making sure your digital advertising efforts are effective. Below are key elements to promote website conversion:
You have landing pages (and your landing pages are helping achieve your goals). An effective landing page contains the information and links potential patients may look 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 patients resources.
Your ad copy matches with your landing pages or keywords. When consumers click on an ad, they want to go straight to the content they’re anticipating. If your content and ads match, they will be satisfied, encouraging conversion.
You’re targeting the right audience. Consider your patient demographics. For whom do you offer services? 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 challenging to achieve high conversion.
You’re managing your keywords effectively. Doing your keyword research and knowing the type of content users were searching for when they found your brand is critical. If you manage your keywords effectively, attracting traffic will be much easier.
Address the following:
- What are patients searching for regarding your practice?
- Are you highlighting 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 accordingly.
Search Engine Optimization
Dozens of practices in your local area may offer services like yours, especially in large cities. Search engine optimization (SEO) helps place your practice near the top of search results for keywords patients in your local area are likely to search. Twenty-five percent of people who perform searches will click the top Google result. Seventy-one percent or more of Google search traffic will go to the first page of results, while only 6% will reach the second page. If your practice doesn’t appear on that first page, you’ll 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 ranks.
On-site SEO: Common Factors
Several factors may contribute to your SEO, including:
- Title tags, meta descriptions and image optimization
- Geotagging for local search
- The images you use
- Mobile responsiveness
Your website content can also boost your search ranking significantly. Google also rewards website if searchers stay on the sites for longer periods. When patients hang around on a given site, it indicates that the site meets their needs.
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, your search ranking will improve.
Medicine is local. You likely won’t bring in patients from across the country, but you’ll attract patients in your local area. Make sure you claim your Google My Business listing and keep it up to date. Furthermore, ensure you include those vital local tags and keywords on your website to draw local traffic.
Patient reviews are virtual recommendations from people who visited your practice. Patients count on online resources and reviews two times more than personal referrals. Ninety percent of patients use online reviews to evaluate physicians, according to a survey by Software Advice, and 42% of consumers have used social media to access health-related consumer reviews, according to a report by PwC Health Research Institute. The more reviews you have, the better potential patients can get a feel for your practice. If you don’t have those reviews, patients may turn away instantly.
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? Finding 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 the main source of those calls. What platform convinced patients to schedule appointments?
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 provide the right tools to encourage patient conversion. 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, may 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 a reminder tool that notifies patients of upcoming appointments or encourages them to schedule appointments?
- Recall/multichannel campaigns: Engaging patients across multiple platforms can 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 surveys can help you identify changes needed to keep your patients happier over time.
Meaningful Analytics and Reporting
It’s critical to have your marketing information in one place. That way, you can see how your practice is performing over time. Do you have a consolidated dashboard with meaningful key performance indicators? Can you track your performance across each of your healthcare marketing strategies? Make sure your dashboard includes insights from your website, your social campaigns and more to help improve overall effectiveness.
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 visit your website are new visitors versus returning visitors?
- How are most people accessing your website?
- Where do visitors 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 better understand how your potential patients interact with your site and the changes necessary 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?
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 of 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 reviews
- Patient retention rates: How many of your patients are likely to go elsewhere?
- Patient interactions: How often do patients use your services?
How is Your Digital Marketing Performing?
Unfortunately, not all digital marketers are created equal. The complexities of digital marketing are growing, especially in the medical field. There’s a vast disparity in the industry knowledge, technical skills and resources required to be an effective marketer. Practice leaders should be diligent in reviewing an agency’s marketing performance to ensure they’re meeting key benchmarks.
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. At Evolve Healthcare Marketing, we specialize in medical practice marketing that can take your practice to the next level. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you market and grow your brand.