The internet has changed how clients find a healthcare provider. What remains the same is when they want to make an appointment, people still pick up their phone. Healthcare providers need to be able to track those calls so they can identify which of their marketing activities are working.
In a study by Google it was found that 56% of people who searched for a healthcare provider online would follow-up their research with a phone call. People like the wealth of information that is available online but when it comes time to actually booking an appointment they want to talk to a human.
There are very good reasons why patients still prefer to call to schedule an appointment. Firstly, there is the issue of certainty. A patient is very likely in discomfort or anxious about their condition. They don’t want to submit an email or contact form and wait for a reply that may or may not come. They want to make a phone call and have their appointment confirmed.
Secondly the serious and individualized nature of health problems means that people want to talk to a human to discuss their issue. They want to be confident that they are being booked in to see the most appropriate healthcare provider.
For clinics, surgeries, and hospitals the continued preference of calling to make a booking presents both a challenge and an opportunity. Healthcare providers who don’t track their calls will have almost no visibility over their marketing. They have no way of identifying which of their marketing methods are delivering phone calls. They are in effect flying blind.
The opportunity is that call tracking hasn’t yet been universally implemented in the healthcare industry. Providers that do implement call tracking will have a significant advantage over their competitors. They can be much more accurate with their marketing spend and avoid wasted budget.
Identify the most profitable marketing channels
According to a report by eMarketer in 2019 the US healthcare industry will spend approximately $3.14 billion¹. In such a crowded market it may seem like it would be very difficult to stand out. But even marketers acknowledge that a large amount of that spending is wasted. In a 2018 survey it was found that marketers believed as much as 1 in every 3 dollars spent on digital advertising was wasted².
The primary reason for wasted ad spend is attribution. Organizations are unable to attribute which advertising campaigns lead to appointments being made. More often than not the reason is that call tracking is not in place.
Call tracking dynamically generates a unique phone number on the website which corresponds to a specific marketing campaign. When the patient calls the phone number, they are still connected with the organization’s primary phone line. So, from the user and call handler’s perspective the dynamic generation of the tracking phone number is undetected.
This allows the healthcare provider to work out where their phone calls are coming from. Once identified those organizations can increase spend on advertising campaigns which are delivering a positive return on investment and eliminate advertisements which aren’t. This targeting can be done at the keyword level making it possible to laser target the ads which are delivering the highest quality phone calls.
For any healthcare organization running paid Google ads call tracking is not something that they can afford to be ignored. Chances are the last time you were looking for a doctor or a dentist in your area you pulled out your phone to perform a search. In fact, 70% of all web traffic happens on a mobile device³.
After you have finished looking through the websites of those doctors or dentists, perhaps reading the Google reviews and understanding what services are on offer, you will want to make an appointment with your favored provider. You already have your phone in your hand and so it makes intuitive sense to hit the call to connect button. Making a phone call means you can immediately establish whether there is a suitable time available for your appointment.
If you found that doctor or dentist through a Google Ad then there is a reasonable probability that your user journey will have started with a phone call. Google Ads allow companies to add a phone number as an extension into the ad. A prospective patient can press that phone number and connect with the clinic. It’s an option that many people choose to take. Having a phone number in your Google Ad can increase the number of people who click on your ad by as much as 8%.
Provide superior customer service
Calling to making a booking at a healthcare provider can be a stressful experience. The caller is often in pain and may have serious concerns about the implications of their health condition. They may also need to take time off work in order to accommodate that booking.
The difference in the quality of the service that they receive will impact whether they decide to confirm their booking. With healthcare customers are particularly sensitive that their needs are being understood and that the clinic they are booking with offers the right solution.
The experience that the patient receives when they make that phone call can vary widely. Often the person who is answering the phone call has other duties. Their work may be stressful and that can continue through to the conversation that they have with the prospective patient. Even when the phone call is answered by a full-time customer service representative there is still usually room for improvement.
Call tracking makes it easy to identify which phone calls result in an appointment being scheduled and which don’t. Combined with customer surveys at the end of the phone call this can quickly let you identify where there may be issues in the way that phone calls are being handled. Looking at the recording of the phone calls it is possible to see where there may be areas for improvement.
Improving the quality of how phone calls are handled will improve the number of inquiries that convert into bookings. This means that you can increase bookings without necessarily spending more on your marketing. At the same time the patients benefit from a higher quality experience.
The healthcare industry invests billions of dollars each year in reaching customers. It is clear that a large amount of that spending is wasted. Tracking your calls is a simple way to gain visibility over what is working in your marketing and where there is room for improvement. More often than not increasing the number of bookings doesn’t require spending more, it requires more accurate data and clearer thinking.
Resources: (1) https://www.emarketer.com/content/us-healthcare-and-pharma-industry-statpack-2018 (2) https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-organizations-anticipate-26-percent-marketing-budget-loss-in-2018-according-to-new-rakuten-marketing-survey-300612875.html (3) https://www.ciodive.com/news/70-of-internet-traffic-comes-from-mobile-phones/510120/ Image: <People vector created by katemangostar