As you adopt new operating strategies to reflect changing consumer demand, your marketing efforts may fall by the wayside. Your budget may simply be stretched thinner than usual in the face of fluctuating patient volume and the cost of new technology. Nevertheless, marketing remains a crucial investment.
Continued focus on new patient acquisition will always be critical to ensure revenue, maintain patient volume, and safeguard the long-term success of your practice. Efficient campaigns will allow you to reach patients with news of newly offered services, engender loyalty and attract new patients. To make the most of your budget, it’s crucial that your marketing campaigns are efficient and effective.
With nearly six million monthly online visitors, Solv is no stranger to marketing to consumers. We know that right now, maintaining visit volume is more important than ever and pocketbooks are stretched thin across the board. In our continued mission to provide the tools and resources needed to adapt in the wake of COVID-19 to convenient cares nationwide, we’re sharing some tips and time-tested strategies for creating effective marketing campaigns.
As patients return to your clinic, you’re probably busier than ever. It might be tempting to choose a generalized, cookie-cutter marketing approach to get your messaging out quickly and without too much effort. These campaigns are, by nature, ineffective and will only lose your business precious time and money.
Generalized campaigns that rely on list purchases and blanket messaging will only waste your resources. Choosing a fixed radius from your clinic as a target audience, for instance, will discount the specific geography of your community. An approach that works well and generates more income for an office in a bustling, densely-packed urban area will likely just waste time and money if replicated by a clinic located in a more rural environment. These campaigns also fail to take into account local competitors, the socioeconomic status of your target audience, and demographic differences that might affect the likelihood of recipients choosing your clinic.
Even the most well-crafted marketing message won’t convert unless you put it in front of the right audience.
Identify Your Target Audience
The key to any successful marketing campaign is defining a target audience. By taking the time to identify a specific audience, you ensure the resources dedicated to a campaign are being used efficiently. It will result in higher patient conversion rates, and ultimately produce more sustainable business growth.
To define your target audience, begin by taking a look at your current patient population and identifying behaviors you would like to replicate. What you seek will vary with your specific practice needs and the surrounding community. There are many characteristics that can benefit your business in any number of ways. Examples include:
- Visit Frequency. Patients who tend to visit your clinic several times a year.
- Family size. Engaging one person in a household and gaining access to several others in the same family.
- Cash payment. Patients who tend to pay in cash and thus reduce remittance time and can generate accessible income more quickly.
- Profitable visits. Those who tend to visit for specific reasons that have the potential to generate more revenue at a lower cost to your clinic.
- Clinic reputation. Patients who leave high-quality online reviews and subsequently increase your practice’s visibility in the community.
Once you’ve chosen the attribute(s) you’d like to see more of, begin building a patient profile or persona representing consumers who exhibit the tendencies you’re pursuing. Be careful to create a profile that’s not so basic that it is no better than a cookie-cutter approach, but not so restrictive your campaign would miss potential patients.
Using your EMR, run a report to generate data on existing patients who exhibit the behavior you seek. Any sort of data may prove relevant, and it’s best to start with more and whittle down, so compile all the statistics you track. This might include work and home address, income, age, primary care physician, method of acquisition and insurance provider. Finally, look for any patterns in these statistics to develop a patient profile.
Playing this out, imagine you are looking to increase revenue by attracting high-spending patients. You would begin by running a report on anyone who has spent more than a specified dollar amount at your clinic within the past 12 months. You would then determine what else high-spenders have in common. By plotting their work and home addresses on a map, charting their family size, income, and age, you find that your existing patients fall into two buckets:
- The first group works downtown, has a household income in the six figure range and has a smaller family size
- The other lives in a secluded neighborhood, is retired, and is over 50.
These shared attributes make up two distinct profiles. Members of the community who share these demographics but aren’t yet patients at your clinic comprise your target audience and give you something to market to. And you have already proved through your existing patient panel that your clinic can service these patients well.
Connecting with Your Target Audience
Now that you’ve done the work of defining a target audience, it’s time to design a marketing campaign specific to their demographic. Taking the time to craft specific messaging for your target audience ensures the content they see is relevant to them and more likely to result in conversion.
Using the patient profile you used to define your target audience, determine what might be relevant to them. For instance, a campaign targeting parents of school-aged children who usually visit your office for vaccines would be most effective when timed with the school schedule and flu seasons, and more likely to draw their eye if it includes photos with children and messaging relatable to school and parenting.
If you are unsure of what draws a particular audience, it’s worth taking the time to gauge their interest before investing completely in a fully-fledged campaign. To do this, we suggest taking advantage of the audience targeting abilities of a social media platform such as Facebook or a larger online ad platform like Google.
Begin by replicating a patient profile on your chosen platform. Create a few different online advertisements you imagine would appeal to your target audience with varying message copy, buzz words, color scheme, imagery or even font. Track engagement and conversion rates for each ad to determine what catches your target audience’s eye. This method facilitates message refinement without excessive financial risk.
Propagating Your Message
Now that you’ve identified your audience and designed your campaign content, be sure to choose a messaging medium that will reach them. Whether that’s online engagement, direct mail, signage on public transit, sponsorship opportunities with local sports teams, niche publications, setting up a booth at local events, or a combination thereof, think critically about the likelihood of your intended audience seeing and engaging with the content.
If you put all the effort into defining your target audience and messaging, yet still decide to put money into activities and venues that don’t align with them, you should probably just consider them donations and not marketing. Choose wisely in order to maximize your marketing investment.
Throughout your campaign, continue to measure ROI to determine whether your investments are paying off. Don’t be afraid to change your strategy, adapt or ditch the campaign altogether if it isn’t worth the lost resources. And as you open additional clinical locations, don’t try to force the same target audience from other locations onto new ones. Consider that they may be different for different areas.
Unsure of how to measure ROI? Interested in learning more about Google Analytics? Tune in soon for our next blog to hear our suggestions on gauging campaign engagement and conversion rates.