Look back at your practice’s marketing efforts over the last year. Are you getting the return on investment that you hoped for?
Make it a part of your practice’s end-of-year routine to review key marketing metrics. This way, if you need to make any changes to your plan, you can start the new year fresh with a new marketing strategy.
How do you figure out what is working and what isn’t? Review these things to see where you can improve your marketing efforts.
First, look at your overall traffic for the year. Is it the same, better, or worse than the previous year? Decreasing traffic, in particular, is a sign that you need to change your marketing strategy.
If you’re doing content marketing, your analytics can also help you to identify which types of content work the best for you. You can see the pageviews for each individual page on your website by going to the Behavior section of your report, clicking on the Site Content dropdown, and selecting all pages. Here, you can easily see which pages are your most popular.
Your homepage and location pages are likely to have the most pageviews, but as you drill down further, you should see the pages that describe your specialties and your blog, if you have one. Identify your most popular content. Are there any similarities? For example, you might find that articles related to knee injuries and conditions are more popular than articles about hip injuries and conditions. If you have a blog, you might find that list-style post gets more views than a more traditional article with headings and subheadings.
Knowing this information can help to inform your content marketing plan going forward.
Patient Referral Sources
Do you know where most of your patient referrals are coming from? As is common among specialty practices, a large portion of your referrals are probably coming from primary care physicians. Are you still getting regular referrals from those physicians? If the amount of referrals is on the decline, it might be worth re-evaluating your referral process to see if there are any issues that could be contributing to the reduction in referrals, such as lack of communication between providers or a lengthy referral process.
However, you also need to consider that as hospitals buy up smaller practices, those referral sources may dry up. When practices are owned by a hospital, they are often required to refer in-network. If you aren’t a part of that network, you may lose those referral sources. This is why you should also focus on referrals from another valuable source: your current patients. If these patients are happy, they will more than likely recommend you to friends and family. If you aren’t marketing to these patients, you could be missing out.
If you don’t have one already, it might be a good idea to add a short survey on your sign-in forms to get a sense of where most of your referrals are coming from. A simple “How did you hear about us?” could provide you with that information.
If you run a paid search campaign, you’ll definitely want to review your campaign to see if it gets you a good return on your investment. How many clicks did you get in relation to the amount of money you spent? Is it worth it to continue the campaign, or would it be better to stop?
You also need to consider your market. If your practice is located in a big city, you are going to have a competitive market for paid search. You’ll likely need to have a rather large budget to get any momentum going with paid search. If your practice doesn’t have that kind of budget, it may be best to move on to other forms of marketing for your practice.
If your practice does any type of email marketing, like a weekly newsletter, you should review those efforts to see whether or not they are working for you. If you use an email marketing service like Mailchimp or Constant Contact, it will be fairly easy to get this information.
How many patients have signed up to receive your newsletter over the past year? Is that number increasing or decreasing? Also, take a look at how many people unsubscribed from your list. It’s normal to have a few people unsubscribe, but if people are unsubscribing at an alarming rate, it might be time to reconsider your content strategy.
You should also look at how many times people are opening your emails. Even if people stay subscribed to your lists, your messages won’t get through to them if they aren’t opening the emails. If your open rates are low, you may need to rethink your subject lines to entice more people to open your emails. In the new year, you might consider doing some A/B testing on your subject lines to see what works best.
Like many other specialty practices, you may also use non-digital forms of advertising like billboards, newspaper ads, and Yellow Pages ads. These marketing methods can be a bit more difficult to track than digital marketing methods, but it isn’t impossible.
Your advertising company should be able to give you an estimate of the number of “impressions” you got with your ads (i.e., how many people saw your ads). However, you might want to dig in a little deeper to see if those impressions are actually translating to patients. To do this, you could add a tracking phone number or URL to your ads. This way, you can directly tie phone calls and website visits to those ads. If you are wondering whether it’s worth it to keep those ads running, it’s certainly worth the extra time and effort to set that up.
If the ads are already running and can’t be altered to include a tracking phone number or URL, a survey on your sign-in forms (as mentioned above) could help you to get an idea of whether or not patients are seeing your ads.
All of this data can certainly give you a good idea about whether or not your marketing efforts are working. However, the answer to this question is the ultimate test: Are you getting the amount of patients you want, and treating the pathologies you want to treat?
If the answer to that question is “no,” then you should definitely rework your marketing strategy for the new year. Website traffic, phone calls, and opened emails are certainly helpful, but if those actions aren’t translating into appointments, those marketing efforts aren’t really helping you. You don’t necessarily have to increase your marketing budget to market yourself effectively; sometimes you just need to reallocate those funds toward more effective marketing techniques.
Here’s to a successful 2016!