I was recently interviewed for an article on digital marketing. We covered a range of subjects around measuring marketing effectiveness, processes for continual improvement and how to build better ROI.
Then the whopper of a question came — how important are conversions, really? I was a little taken aback. This is someone working in hospital marketing and someone I know is very Web savvy. Isn’t this obvious? Isn’t this what we’re all working for?
In shock I paused and the interviewer explained how conversions are hard to get. As she put it, a lot of the services we provide just don’t lend themselves to filling out a form online. This was all causing her to question if there wasn’t a more effective way of measuring the success of our online efforts.
Although she has a point, I’d like to reiterate once and for all: “Yes, conversions do matter!”
We’re in an environment where there’s pressure to demonstrate real ROI. Lower reimbursement rates are leading to tighter health system budgets, and non-clinical departments are taking the brunt of those cuts. Organizations that can’t demonstrate that they’re bringing in patients with their marketing investments may quickly find themselves without those capabilities in the future.
Just as importantly, without conversions you don’t really know if your marketing is effective. This is the great challenge for brand marketing efforts that lack a call to action. You can set a campaign in place, feel really good about your creative, win a few marketing awards, and still fail to drive business for the organization. Deep down I think more than a few marketers continue to market this way because they don’t really want to know if what they’re doing is ineffective.
The Web has a unique ability to engage with health consumers and convert them into patients. Digital offers the ability to share information and educate consumers as they work through health questions, choose providers and make treatment decisions. But we run the risk of the Web being no more than the new billboard — a tactic everyone is using but no one really finds valuable. Facebook executives last year encouraged digital marketers to look at impressions and ignore clicks, let alone conversions. Impressions may matter, but the only way we know that message is compelling is to watch those impressions work their way through the conversion funnel.
The question remains: do most of the services that health systems provide really not have an appropriate online conversion option?
No. Every condition has a pathway that can lead patients to a conversion. Of course, there are situations in which a non–specific pain leads a consumer to the emergency room and immediate surgery; however, the majority of services can be influenced by digital marketing. Here are some questions to ask to evaluate conversion opportunities that exist for a specific condition:
- To what extent does the condition involve patient choice for providers or treatment options?
- Is there a demand generation option, such as a test or screening or an online assessment that can rate the consumer’s risk level?
- Is there a demand capture opportunity, perhaps where patients either self-diagnose or are diagnosed by a clinician and routinely evaluate options for providers or treatments?
- Is the service principally referral–based? If so, what opportunities are there for digital marketing to potential referrers?
- Is there a long–term interest in the condition, where a regular email newsletter or Facebook connection could cultivate the relationship and lead to a service later when the patient is in need?
Answering these questions should provide excellent guidance in identifying potential online conversions.
And that leads to the next question: “How do you build your conversion volumes and overall conversion rate for your health system website.” To learn more about that topic, watch our webinar Web Conversions: A Journey Begins with a Single Step.