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Three Things You Are Missing in Your Provider-Directed Strategy

I spend a lot of time talking to clients about metrics, those that matter and those that, well, not so much. Oftentimes, it is a tricky conversation as our clients, who are focused on provider-directed strategies, struggle to make sense of their efforts. Steeped in a long tradition of Google Analytics, many clients get distracted with paradigms that provide unfair comparisons to consumer-focused metrics, distract the enterprise from the strategic imperatives and suffer from a lack of clear direction.

Here are three of the common disconnects between provider-directed marketing campaigns and true success:

No Clearly Defined and Trackable Conversion Journey

While a variety of CRM technologies are applied vigorously to consumer campaigns, they are rarely, if ever, applied properly to provider campaigns. This oversight manifests itself in poorly defined, or worse, non-existent conversion journeys for providers. Most often, we find the conversion journey begins and ends with a webpage providing Call Center phone numbers and, in some cases, online referral forms.

If referral phone numbers are not trackable to the initiative which is driving the user to make contact, it is impossible to track that user based on the outreach. Depending on Call Center personnel to distinguish between marketing initiatives is usually ineffective and takes the “ROI calculation” out of the hands of the person most invested in the outcome, the marketer. Online referral forms are better, but what we have found is that very few marketing departments have sufficient engagement with their web teams to discern the data which justifies the spend.

Our recommendation, before you launch a physician-directed initiative, define exactly the outcome you desire, then map a trackable journey directly to that outcome. This will result in tangible ROI that you own and can report.

Content Does Not Map to Definable ROI Models

In far too many cases, a generalist approach to content creation works against the effort to amplify ROI. Modelling traditional website structures, and navigating a lengthy list of internal pressures, some partners develop a “we have to include everyone” mindset when approaching content creation. This calms the masses, but it diffuses the initiative, at least at first.  

Instead, we strongly encourage clients to focus on the key service lines and procedures which drive the larger organizational strategy and which can be finitely monetized. This way, easy algorithms for defining ROI can be developed through an understanding of conversion rates, overhead and contribution margins.

Consumer Metrics Bear Little Relevance in A Physician’s World

After years of training our view on Google Analytics and “Awareness” metrics (unique visitors, pageviews, bounce rates, etc.), it is increasingly important that we reorient our view and begin to drill down on “Engagement” metrics (video completions, return visitors, time on site, etc.) and “Conversion” metrics (clinical referrals, CME completions, course registrations, etc.).

The simple fact is that if you are studying awareness metrics, and giving them importance in the evaluation of your efforts, you are likely to be disappointed. In provider marketing, your audience universe includes roughly 2 million targets in the domestic US. Compared to consumer markets which reach into the billions, it is unwise to compare provider traffic volumes to consumer volumes. Much better to focus on audience share defined by users within your audience universe who you can reasonably touch based on budget, specialty focus, geography, etc. 1,000 unique visitors a month won’t light the YouTube set on fire, but if those 1,000 represent a share of a universe of 5,000, 20% market share is halfway to market domination.

At the bottom of the conversion funnel, if revenue is your focus, it is also vital to understand the lifetime value of a referring physician. A self-referred patient can only ever refer two knees for replacement. A loyal referrer, on the other hand, can provide a steady stream of revenue-positive referrals over the course of several years.  

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at or tweet @peterkgailey.