Healthcare marketers track consumers, communicate with them, engage with them, build relationships with them, and then convert them. That’s the true goal of marketing success.
So how is it that so many of us have come to focus on awareness as our key success measurement? Look at our marketing today. Campaigns that say little more than “look at me, look at me!” Billboards and TV ads with no call to action. Web efforts measured by the number of visits.
Does any of that really matter? Does it move the needle of success for your organization? Does your CFO care?
The answer, of course, is “No.”
“You can only manage what you can measure.”
– Peter Drucker
It’s easy to get obsessed with numbers and metrics when you’re working with the Web. There’s no shortage of information about what’s happening with your website, app or campaign. The cup of data overfloweth.
For a certain set of people, and I count myself in this category, data is just fascinating. I find myself getting lost in spreadsheets and databases while attempting to tease out just one more insight.
But the point of data isn’t in the data. It’s often not even in the insights that come from the data. The point is the act of measurement itself.
Measurement creates focus. This is really the reason why we do it. This is really why it matters.
If you’re doing your metrics properly the process starts with defining goals. Aiming only matters if you know what your target looks like. So you start with goals and the goals lead to metrics.
Pay-per-click advertising (and specifically, Google AdWords) is making it easier than ever to target users where and when it matters to them. Google Adwords is launching Enhanced Campaigns – a new way to manage ad campaigns in today’s multi-device world. This is making it even easier to drive targeted traffic to your site, no matter where visitors are or what device they’re using (desktop, mobile, tablet, etc.).
How Do Enhanced Campaigns Work?
Google AdWords Enhanced Campaigns allow you, the advertiser, to create ads that capitalize on the context of someone’s search… things like time of day, device they’re using, and location.
For example, to promote your emergency room, you may want visitors on a mobile device to see an ad with clickable phone number and driving directions, while visitors on a desktop computer view an ad that drives them to a landing page with an online form to reserve a spot. Your ad may even change depending on what time of day it is, or how far the visitor is from your hospital.
Rather than creating several ads for multiple different scenarios, Google will be able to detect the situations, and use your criteria to automatically tailor your one ad to fit the visitors’ specific needs.
The possibilities are endless.
VitalSite 6.4 introduced a powerful feature: promotional codes. It’s been exciting to see how our clients are using them to promote their calendar events and drive revenue for their organizations.
So you’re probably wondering, “What’s the best way to use promotional codes?” Well, reach into your marketer’s toolbox and pull out two proven tactics: Limited Time Offers and Exclusive Offers.
Recent comments by Brad Smallwood, Facebook’s Head of Measurement and Insights, have really thrown marketers for a loop. At the recent Interactive Advertising Bureau MIXX Conference, Smallwood indicated, “It is the delivery of the marketing message to the right consumer, not the click, which creates real value for brand advertisers.”
In essence, Facebook is downplaying the role of the almighty click, falling back on long-term marketing truisms that recency and frequency are the keys to marketing effectiveness.
Most organizations waste a good portion of their marketing dollars, but lack of direct metrics leaves them at a loss as to what’s effective and what’s failing.
eMarketing is supposed to fix all of that, right? So Smallwood’s comments fly in the face of digital marketing dogma. We’re supposed to be able to see and track marketing effectiveness online.
Here at Geonetric, we’re constantly cooking up new and exciting ways for our clients to engage with their patients. These days that engagement conversation often turns to tools like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many others.
You know – that social media stuff.
But along with generating creative ideas, we’re in love with measuring the tactics we use. Some might even call it an obsession.
Healthcare marketers spend a lot of time thinking about how their website compares to other hospital websites. They even put a lot of energy into figuring out which sites to evaluate. Do you look at how you compare to peers around the country, or to that competitor up the street?
Although useful, this information doesn’t give a complete comparison. That’s because you don’t just compete with hospital sites – they don’t set consumer expectations. Consumers spend over 13 hours each week online, and most of that time isn’t spent on hospital websites.
When consumers come to your site, they don’t care how it stacks up with national healthcare leaders. They compare your site to the sites on which they spend serious time.
Look at popular sites across the Internet like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Expedia, Kayak, Mint and others. They all help consumers make decisions and complete transactions. And they create great experiences – consumers easily interact with the site and feel good about the purchases they make.
In the cockpit of an airplane, there are a fantastic number of dials and warning lights that, together, give you a complete picture of the state of the aircraft. Each element provides important information, but they’re not all equally important nor are they used in the same ways. If you focus too much attention on the wrong indicators, you’ll land in the trees!
Running your website is similar in many aspects. Getting data is easy; there’s more information available than you can even process. Verifying that you’re going the right direction, however, can be a little trickier.
The metrics most of us monitor are operational metrics: site traffic, visitor interactions and server performance. Although interesting, these numbers alone don’t provide a lot of insight.
The key is to understand the story behind the numbers. When visits go up, was it the result of a campaign you were running? Did your bounce rate increase because of the new health library you just licensed?
But they can be really deceptive.
The 2011 Healthcare Internet Conference is in full swing in Orlando and there’s more push than ever to demonstrate success with real numbers. The trick to working with analytics is this: the tools report the numbers but they don’t know what they mean. Before you present your numbers, and I’m more concerned about presenting them to your leadership than to a conference, you need to understand them.
I attended a session yesterday about a physician directory overhaul and how they used metrics to demonstrate success. The numbers that they shared were the following:
- Page views: before: 320,000, after: 300,000
- Page views per visit: before: 3.76 , after: 8.83
- Bounce rate: before: 48.12, after: 7.78
Understand that these were numbers that they shared with their executives. I’ll admit that, looking at these numbers, I’m really confused. Doing a little division, we find that they had around 85,000 visits per week before the redesign and only 34,000 after. Sure, those new visitors are more engaged (lower bounce rate, higher pv/visit), but that’s a big shift!
After much discussion, the disconnects were teased out:
- They didn’t measure the same thing – both sets of numbers were for an overall URL, but the old site included a health library that was dropped in the overhaul without recasting the old numbers to remove the irrelevant page activity.
- They changed tools – the old site used WebTrends while the new site uses Google Analytics. Past experience tells me that you really can’t compare numbers between these platforms.
- They really didn’t dig into the numbers to understand what was going on. Why did the bounce rate go down? It could be that large numbers of people were coming to the health library and then leaving, but it could also be that physician profiles aren’t indexed well in the search engines. You just can’t know without further exploration.
In the lineup at this year’s SHSMD annual conference was a presentation by Dean Browell, Ph.D. I’ve had the great pleasure of working with Dean this year on SHSMD’s Emerging Media Task Force, which he chairs, on the development of the SHSMD Emerging Media Handbook, and in the companion SHSMD U course this summer.
He’s a thought leader on social media use and I’d been looking forward to hearing him speak on measuring social media.
While the measurement of subscribers (friends, followers, likes, etc.) in social media has become commonplace, more meaningful measurement is a necessary component for building impactful social media engagement programs.
To begin, you should have a target to shoot for. Goals should be built based on audiences and what you hope to accomplish with those audiences. Social media outreach efforts should then be organized around those goals (service line growth or donor engagement) rather than the tactical efforts employed (Facebook, Twitter or blogging).
For example, more subscribers are rarely a bad thing, but the benefit of those subscribers can vary greatly. A pile of multi-level marketers following you on Twitter are unlikely to help you with your goals. Real insights come from digging more deeply into the data.
“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
There’s been much talk about hospital quality in recent years. We measure and report more and more metrics, as each new piece of healthcare legislation comes with new reporting requirements. We’re constantly measuring care data, but in many ways, we’re still far from where we need to be.
It seems we have a tough time determining what we should be measuring. What numbers really matter? Hospitals report metrics – but often disagree with the metrics or how they’re calculated. Patients judge healthcare organizations through a totally different lens.
A clear example of this appeared in Friday’s USA Today. USA Today compared top-rated hospitals, according to the new HCAHPS survey of patient experience, with Medicare mortality data from www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov. Top ranks from the patient experience survey were often at odds with top ranks from the mortality data survey. Patients often liked hospitals that had mediocre or even poor outcomes and vice versa.
So this leads to a single fundamental question: what is quality?
In March, we launched four successful new client sites. And although four launches in one month is impressive, we’re much more focused on the successful part of that sentence. Why? Because we believe a website, intranet or patient portal is only as good as the results it delivers.
We help our clients see the results of their efforts immediately. Not only do they hear the rave reviews and compliments from their own site visitors, we also provide them with a post-launch report detailing statistics on their key success measurements.
Here’s a look at our recent launches and some of the stats we’ve seen:
- MidMichigan Health started the month with the launch of its new website and “MyMidMichigan” patient portal. Within two weeks of launching, MidMichigan noticed an improvement in key site traffic measurements: visitors are spending more time on the site and the pages are relevant to visitors measured by a low bounce rate.
- Mid-month, Overlake Hospital Medical Center unveiled its new website and “My Overlake” portal, and also became the first hospital to launch a mobile site in the greater Seattle area! The new site generated 478 total portal users in a month and the first portal users signed up within an hour of launch. And after just four weeks, Overlake’s visits were up by 28%, a total of $93,201.41 was collected in online bill payments (a new feature for Overlake), and again, pages are relevant to visitors measured by a low bounce rate of 27%.
“If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.” – Albert Einstein
This past weekend my two-year-old daughter uttered, for the first time, a terrifying new word: “Why?” I’m now preparing for cross-examination of my every action.
This new phase (it is “just a phase” … right?) is a great reminder to consistently stop to examine why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s easy to actively create solutions. The key is to first make sure those solutions are designed to solve a problem.
This becomes especially true as you work with your website. From the first step of selecting a content management solution all the way through to design and continual management, it’s important to stay focused on the problem you’re solving. That’s the best way to ensure a successful result.
But sometimes that’s easier said than done. So here are a few thoughts to help you stay focused.
Match solutions to needs
Consider how connected technology makes us. Thanks to texting, instant messaging and email, there is no more waiting for a response. Yet during this time where instant communication and action is necessary, many hospitals run out to complete focus groups and don’t immediately take action until they’ve calculated all the odds. Is this really necessary in every situation? More often than not they need to act quickly and in real-time.
At least this is the position poised by David Meerman Scott during a presentation at this year’s Healthcare Marketing Strategies Summit, I attended Scott’s session Real-Time Marketing: How to Instantly Engage Your Market and Connect with Customers and let me tell you, his passion for real-time action is contagious. David talked a lot about the power of real-time email communication and responding directly through one-on-one communication. According to Meerman, one key to unlocking the door of success focuses on the need to earn customers’ attention by real-time actions.
A great example of real-time action and ROI in a crisis situation came during the Chilean mine disaster in 2010. David shared the story of how sunglass manufacturer Oakley saw an opportunity to provide comfort to each Chilean miner, get some good publicity, and effectively increase their market share by selling more sunglasses. As the miners emerged after being trapped for weeks, a pair of Oakley sunglasses was placed on the Chilean miners to protect their eyes. As a result of acting in real-time, Oakley captured 41 million dollars in sunglass revenue.
There’s no question patient portals are a hot topic right now. Not only are patients demanding more interaction with their healthcare providers, recent reform changes have left many organizations considering moving down the portal path sooner than expected.
What’s the biggest obstacle they face? It’s overwhelming. And expensive.
Or at least that’s the perception.