Marketing attribution refers to the process of determining which marketing efforts or channels contribute to patient acquisition, and helps you understand which of those efforts or channels are producing the best results.
In some cases, a direct “connect-the-dots” path seems clear: patient tells friend, friend contacts the practice for a consultation, and the consultation yields a booked appointment. But the full path a patient takes to get to you isn’t always obvious. To start getting a better understanding of which marketing methods are providing the best return on investment, and give marketing credit where it’s due, keep these ideas in mind.
1. Most Consumers Make Decisions Based on Multi-Channel Influence
While the first and last marketing interactions are important milestones on the journey from having a mere notion to booking an appointment to getting a procedure, these shouldn’t be the only interactions you consider when it comes to determining marketing attribution.
For instance, a customer might reveal that they were referred to your practice by a friend—a former patient. While on the surface, this might seem like a simple case of good old word-of-mouth advertising, there could very well be more to the story.
Perhaps after learning about your practice, they went to your website for more information. Perhaps they read a blog post, or decided to subscribe to your email list. They may have viewed your RealSelf reviews and submitted an inquiry, or saw a social media post which led them to decide to call for a consultation.
In these scenarios, it would be a mistake to only attribute that visit to the initial referral, since all of the other marketing touchpoints were likely influential as well. These touchpoints won’t always surface if your survey or in-person questions don’t draw them out, so consider what you’ll need to ask to learn more about your patients’ journeys.
2. Different Marketing Strokes For Different Folks
Marketing attribution analysis can also highlight how different customers react to different touchpoints. This information can help fuel more advanced marketing techniques such as segmenting and targeting.
One way that online marketers plan their campaigns is by leveraging their knowledge of customer “personas,” then segmenting potential patients based on those demographic and behavioral attributes. Examples for aesthetics practices could include one persona group representing middle-aged women who have undergone procedures in the past, while another might focus on younger first-timers. Or people who want to undergo an aesthetic procedure to feel better about themselves after a medical procedure versus those who want to freshen their look before starting an exciting new job. Marketers will then adjust their tactics, preferred channels, and messaging styles based upon how those different groups are likely to respond.
Keeping track of how the real-life people behind these personas notice and react to various marketing methods can give your practice the information it needs to maximize marketing efficiency and return on investment. Asking the right questions of your current consultations and patients might reveal, for example, that your seemingly ineffective local television buy could work if you touted a different procedure that was more relevant to that audience. Or that your RealSelf profile might work harder for you if you swapped out the procedures you’re known for (an option available to RealSelf Network Doctors). Marketing attribution isn’t a yes/no question. It’s probing your results to figure out when, for whom, and to what end a marketing channel might be effective.
Consumer Journeys Are Not Linear
You know better than anyone that a potential patient has not been “won” just because they set foot inside your practice for a consultation. There’s a great chance that even after you’ve seen them, that potential patient will do more research and thinking before narrowing down their choice to the one provider they ultimately book with.
So while using the consultation as a chance to learn how your patients made their way to you is a great strategy, remember that even a complete picture of their journey won’t tell the whole story. That story will continue when they leave your office and visit additional sources to validate the claims you made in the consultation and read more of your reviews. Follow up with completed appointments to understand what their consultation-to-appointment process looked like. You might even consider polling those who didn’t book to understand what factors lead to their decision.
You should also be careful not to overlook your patients who have completed treatments. They may become return patients depending on the types of treatments your practice administers. And even as on-and-done patients, their feelings about their experience with you may very well fuel reviews: user-generated content that will have a major influence on your future success in attracting patients. Keep the marketing channels these types of patients will use and interact with in mind as you consider how each tactic is contributing to your overall success.
Attribution Doesn’t Have To Be a Guessing Game
Getting a full understanding of the direct and indirect influences that your marketing might have had on any one patient can be complex—this has confounded even the most advanced marketers. While there are sophisticated methods that can help, simply having a basic understanding of how a patients find their way to your practice is a great starting point. Luckily, getting this information can be as simple as asking the right questions.
You’ll want to know how they first found out about your practice (referral, web search, social media discovery, etc)., what actions they took (visiting your website, downloading content, following you on social media, visiting your RealSelf profile, signing up for an email newsletter, etc.), what other touchpoints they may have encountered along the way (an email, recognizing your practice as “RealSelf Verified,” etc.) and what ultimately might have closed the deal (an email touting a new procedure, positive reviews on the RealSelf platform, an informative social media post, etc.).
Ensuring that all marketing touchpoints are given their proper credit can help improve your entire marketing strategy, giving your practice the extra bit of information it needs to effectively adjust its messaging and add resources to marketing channels that are performing well.
Perhaps most helpful is that this analysis can prevent against unintentionally underestimating the effectiveness of a particular marketing channel which may not receive the same surface-level attention as others, but is no less important to the overall success of your practice’s marketing efforts.