Whether you want to face it or not, the internet has fundamentally changed the way people find, share, discover and connect.
In today’s digital world your online reputation can be the difference between a patient scheduling an appointment with your office or a competitor’s down the street. That’s why, in part, so much of marketing efforts today are focused inbound marketing strategies that include content management and social media. But, how can you tell if you’re getting a quality Return on Investment (ROI) for your content creation and management?
The truth is, it’s hard to quantify because there aren’t always “hard numbers.” If you create content once a week for a month, will you get more leads? What about twice a week? There’s really not a set way to tell. It may take up to six months or more before you start to see your leads grow. The key, however, is continuing to provide consistent, quality content in your posts even if you think no one is looking at them. After all, you have to tend to your garden if you want it to be beautiful. And we all know that doesn’t happen overnight.
The bottom line is that content costs money to create, whether you spend time creating custom content yourself or you pay a medical-focused content management marketing firm. Success is measured in brand awareness and lead growth. Ultimately, those factors will lead to phone calls and appointments set. That’s why you’re spending your money.
In fact, a recent study by Hubspot says that customers who practice inbound marketing (where patients find you and content is a core element) increase leads an average of 4.2 times within a few months.
So what should you do? Here are four steps to effectively measure your content strategy:
1. Understand What You’re Measuring
Let’s start with the big issue when it comes to measuring content conversion rates: what exactly are you measuring? Traditionally, media companies would use readership, viewership and ad revenue as the measuring stick for content’s success. But with content marketing, the goal is to achieve a conversion (like a phone call, for instance) or to build the ever ambiguous brand awareness of your office.
Our recommendation to measure your “immeasurable” content is to set a goal.
First, set up a baseline for a number you’d like to try and grow. If your normal inbound call rate sits around 20 per day, plan to increase your call volume by two calls per day by the end of the quarter. Then, measure your results in a few months against the baseline. Admittedly, two calls per day doesn’t sound like a lot, that is until you realize it’s 40 new potential appointments by the end of the month.
2. Measure a Few Forms of Conversions
Let’s stick with the phone call example. You want to increase phone calls, so that’s your goal. But, content in the social media landscape is viral, evolving, ever finding new ways to survive. In other words, just because your goal is to increase incoming appointment calls, that doesn’t mean that’s all your content is doing.
Of course you’ll want to track your target metric (phone calls) but don’t put the blinders on to other forms of success your content may be responsible for creating. And create it will.
We see it all the time with our clients, we’ll post a piece of customized healthcare content or video designed to generate website hits and suddenly we’re earning more Facebook fans and gaining quality inbound phone calls. It’s a bonus, and it’s worth tracking.
Some of the easiest ways to track how you’re doing and what’s working are free, simple to understand and provide more data than you can shake a stick at. For Facebook, simply use the Facebook Insights that come built in to every fan page. You’ll be able to track upticks in fan count, how many people you’re reaching with each posts, demographics and much more.
For your website we recommend using Google Analytics. After placing a simple code on your page, Google will provide you with all sorts of free data including unique visitors, time spent on each page of your site, what content is popular, demographics, search engine terms and so much more.
3. Enjoy Your Initial Successes
Odds are your practice is starting out small in the world of content management and social media integration. No worries. Take a second to enjoy those small victories, and keep key measurements handy. They’re easy to track and far more encouraging (initially) than Search Engine Optimization (SEO) measurements – which may take some time to manifest.
A few ways to tell if your content is working:
- Likes or comments on Facebook
- Other shares (LinkedIn, email, etc.)
- Comments on the blog itself
- Average page views per visitor (a great metric provided by Google Analytics)
These factors will help you monitor how well you’re building your audience and how much they trust you. That trust will eventually turn into loyalty, which will put patients in your waiting room.
4. Be Patient!
Content creation and management take time to grow before you’ll fully see their benefits. It’s important not to expect overnight results and not to get upset when you don’t instantly jump to the top spot on Google.
That’s why we talked earlier about ROI taking time to become clear. It’s a different world in the digital space, and you have to adjust your expectations accordingly.
By Jennifer Thompson
Looking for more information? Contact Jennifer Thompson today for a free consultation and marketing overview at 321.228.9686 or e-mail her at Jennifer@InsightMG.com
Jennifer Thompson is president of Insight Marketing Group, a full-service healthcare marketing group focused on digital and social media administration, referral and partnership development, creative services and graphic design, online reputation management/development and promotional products. She is co-author of Marketing Your Medical Practice: A Quick Reference Guide and an avid Twitter user, regularly posting medical practice marketing tips, articles and more at www.Twitter.com/DrMarketingTips. You can learn more about her and her company at www.InsightMG.com.