What does a funnel have to do with your ability to increase the number of leads and improve the lead-to-patient ratio? A lot. In fact, it is all about the funnel.
Over the past three decades, many companies focused on developing a structured process that allows them to more effectively manage the sales process. The theory (and practice) is that sales are like one big giant funnel. New leads pour into the top of the funnel and go through different phases (e.g. Initial contact, Needs analysis, Proposal, Price negotiation, Closed won, Closed lost). Along the way you lose leads. In every phase of the process there is some attrition and at the end of the marketing funnel you have fewer people coming out then going into the funnel. However, of the ones that make it through the marketing funnel, the people coming out are considered “leads”.
Even if you don’t think in these terms, as a healthcare provider you still go through the same process. More importantly, though, as a healthcare provider, you have to be even more concerned with the Marketing Funnel then with the Sales Funnel.
Increase revenue and reduce the cost of marketing per lead/patient:
Over the years, I have developed my own process and framework on the right setup of a client’s marketing and sales activities. I found that if you treat all outwards facing marketing activities as a structured sales process in the form of a funnel, you are not only increasing your revenue and growth, but you increase the effectiveness of your marketing and therefore reduce the cost-per-lead or cost-per-new patient.
The Marketing Funnel
Above you see the marketing funnel on top of the sales funnel. The marketing funnel is divided into three main channels:
- Offline Marketing: Traditional marketing like print, events, radio, Offline PR, TV etc.
- Online Marketing: SEO, SEM, Online PR, Social Media and Website related activities
- Mobile Marketing: Mobile site, mobile apps, mobile advertisement
All of these channels are important as it relates to Healthcare Marketing, although the offline channels have lost a lot of its past relevance.
In the second dimension of the funnel, the three main phases every potential lead goes through are:
- Attract: The objective of the “attract phase” is to utilize any of the above channels in order to get relevant high quality leads either to your website or to call you. Over 85% of patients first go online before making a decision on a healthcare specialist. For this reason, as a healthcare provider, it is crucial to understand how important it is to ensure that your marketing activities have a clear path to your web presence.
- Explore: Once a potential patient has come to your website or social media account, your next objective is to have an online presence that is interesting and good enough to make your potential patient explore your site, your services and your practice. If they come to your website and turn away right after getting there, you have lost that patient. Very likely, you don’t even know that you lost the patient. If this doesn’t concern you, let me ask you, would you feel the same way if every day, you have 5 people come into your practice, look at the waiting room and turn around and walk out?
- Engage: The # 1 objective you have to be most concerned about once people explore your site or brochures, (and this is by far the most difficult but also the most critical step) is convincing them to engage with you. For that, you have to have a good conversion strategy and you have to measure important metrics throughout the marketing funnel (more later related to this). A few examples:
- Clearly defined calls for action (“Call us at xxx.xxx.xxxx” or “Click here to request an appointment”)
- Online chat: this feature is quickly growing in the medical community and a very effective way to increase your patient conversion
- Well positioned contact forms and contact information
- Request an appointment feature
- Constant measuring of your website performance (what works, what doesn’t)
If you have setup your marketing funnel well, new patient leads via a call, email or other means of communication exit from the bottom of the funnel. At that point the “sales process” begins. The better your marketing funnel is setup, the higher the quality of your patient leads, the less it will cost to get this patient to walk into your practice and the more likely you will retain the patient.
Measuring and Fine-tuning Your Approach
What makes your marketing activities a well performing lead generation machine is the constant measuring and fine-tuning based on the metrics and results.
- How many leads coming from the mobile site vs. organic search vs. paid search explored and then engaged?
- What is the cost-per-lead for your print campaign vs. your SEO activities vs. your SEM activities?
- Why do people exploring the mobile site have a low engagement rate?
These are just a few examples of measures that should be tracked and monitored regularly. This information is invaluable in making adjustments to each channel and helps you to identify the high performers of your marketing activities. Knowing where to increase and where to decrease your marketing budget will, over time, help you to reduce your cost-per-lead/patient.