Key Post Highlights
> What is paid campaign data really telling you?
> What potential pitfalls come with paid campaigns?
> How should healthcare organizations use paid campaigns?
Let’s face it — analytics isn’t everyone’s jam. However, we know that we need insights from data to help us make data-driven decisions. With paid efforts, it’s critical that we get those insights to determine what is yielding an ROI and what we should eliminate, and most importantly WHY we should eliminate it.
I like to see analytics as a love langues. They are either whispering words of affirmation that my efforts were successful or doing me an act of service by letting me know that it’s time to eliminate a program.
The reason I love analytics so much is because I love seeing that the work our strategy and content teams are putting in is paying off, as well as the opportunities to improve or change things up based on what they reveal.
But I also understand that if you don’t know what you’re looking at or what kinds of KPIs you are looking for, then your analytics aren’t going to be useful, or should I say, loving to you. So let’s talk about understanding paid campaign analytics.
Understanding Website Analytics From Paid Campaigns
- When you are using paid ads to boost or expand your reach, there will be two sets of analytics:
- The analytics you get from the paid platform itself. This is often Google Ads or Facebook Ads, but it can also include any social platform or channel that you use to pay for ads — even if it’s podcasts, commercials, or radio spots. All of these things come with metrics.
- The metrics you will see on your side of the wall, which are typically available in Google Analytics, Hotjar, HubSpot, or your CRM of choice.
It’s important to take the analytics provided by the paid platforms with a grain of salt. For a number of reasons, those numbers may not actually add up. When looking at the metrics related to paid campaigns, you really only want to know two things:
- What is working and why?
- What should be eliminated and why?
What Is Your Paid Campaigns Website Analytics Telling You?
In order to figure out what is actually yielding an ROI when paying for conversions or driving traffic to your site, the first thing you need to learn is what the industry benchmark is for paid advertising by platform. My favorite source for healthcare advertising benchmarking is produced by WordStream.
Now that you know what the goals should be, you may be patting yourself on the back because your metrics are spot on. Or you’re totally freaking out, because your results aren’t even close. Don’t panic, sometimes it takes a while to achieve these benchmarks. It’s totally doable over time by testing campaigns, promoting what is working, and eliminating what isn’t.
The next thing you need to do is calculate your:
- Average click-through rate (CTR) = clicks ÷ impressions
- Average cost per lead (CPL) = total marketing spend ÷ total number of new leads
- Average cost per click (CPC) = total cost of your clicks ÷ total number of clicks
- Average conversion rate = number of conversions ÷ number of total ad interactions that can be tracked to a conversion during the same time period
- Average monthly spend = sum of all the months spent ÷ total number of values (months) in the set
With this information, you can look at industry advertising benchmark data to make some determinations.
Here is where things get really interesting. The metrics from your paid efforts are indicating the performance of your ads and the performance of your landing pages and offer.
- Data Set 1: Average click-through rate (CTR), average cost per lead (CPL), and average cost per click (CPC) indicate campaign performance.
- Data Set 2: Average conversion rate indicates the performance of your landing page and offer.
This helps get to the reason WHY your campaigns are either performing well or not. For example, if everything is hitting the industry benchmarks in data set one, but your conversions aren’t hitting, what the data is telling you is that it’s time to optimize your landing page and/or offer for conversions.
It’s normal to have success in spots, even within the same data set. DON’T just throw the whole campaign away without truly evaluating each part on its own result. Once all things come together, that’s what I like to call the vein of gold.
The Potential Pitfalls Of Paid Campaigns
The first few times you pursue a paid campaign, you typically won’t get super high success metrics. With this in mind, I recommend that you look at your own site data.
It doesn’t matter how many conversions paid platforms report. Do you actually see those people in your own data? Did those people actually reach out to you? Did you get a phone call from them? Did they really fill out the contact form?
Even what Google Analytics reports as conversion and what actually is a conversion may not be the same. There could be inaccurate set-up. It’s also on your marketing teams to check their own CRM to see if there was follow through on the part of the user. That is what you should count as an actual conversion, whether you are looking at the analytics or not. Trust what you can actually see.
Remember: Paid campaigns are intended to pay off now, not later. When I hear people say, “Oh, it might take some time for my campaign to be effective,” I tell them, “No. Paid should be instant. If people aren’t converting or at least hanging out on your site for a while, that’s a failed attempt.” Depending on what the data is telling you, you may need to scrap it, pivot, test something else.
Another thing to keep in mind is that anybody in healthcare marketing should not be doing paid campaigns to immediately convert patients. This is mainly because that’s typically not how patients make decisions about their healthcare.
Surveys suggest that:
- About half of us pick our hospitals or healthcare providers based on word-of-mouth from family and friends,
- About 20% of us say social media influences our decision, and
- Nearly 70% of us turn to online reviews when picking a provider.
None of those things points to people choosing providers based on paid campaigns.
The only outliers are campaigns inviting prospective patients to get a second opinion and for touring specialty departments like birthing centers.
Then How Should You Use Paid Campaigns For Healthcare Marketing?
If you’re going to use paid campaigns, my suggestion would be to come up with a strategy to remarket to your patients. Now, you may be thinking, “Oh gosh, this is healthcare marketing, I can’t remarket. That’s a HIPAA violation.” No, calm down. I’m not talking about the industry standard of remarketing.
I’m talking about capturing audience members in a database so you can send them newsletters, ask them to follow you on social media, and stay in touch with you. You only want to pay to get them once, by giving them something very resourceful so that they sign up to get regular marketing communications from you that have nothing to do with their private health data.
- Always trust the results you can see, like a new lead in your CRM.
- Paid only works while you are doing it.
- Healthcare marketers need to remember: Audience behavior indicates that ads don’t typically drive new patient appointments.
All in all, you can’t succeed unless you try. So, go ahead and try to see what impact paid programs can have on your organization’s business goals in 2023.
Coming up in part 2: What language is your organic content metrics speaking and how can you use it to create more and better performing content?
Data is a girl’s best friend.
Maybe that’s not how the saying goes, but it should be, because data makes what I do possible. And there’s a good chance it’s a driving force in your business, too — or it should be.
Like a good friend, data can hold you accountable. Your analytics can let you know when you’re going off the rails a little bit and give you the reality check only your BFF can.
You know which friend I’m talking about.
While you and your organization’s analytics might not have matching friendship bracelets, it’s a good idea to get cozy with those numbers — and the story they’re telling. That way, you can address key challenges.
4 Communication Challenges Your Organization May Be Facing
- You don’t have any leads (or people answering your calls to action).
- You have plenty of leads, but none of them are engaging with you.
- You have a broad spectrum of services, but most of your clients have only heard of one or two.
- You’re struggling to get referrals.
Our job as marketers is to fix these breakdowns.
But you can’t just jump in and start making changes without a plan. That’s where your content strategy and analytics goals are key.
What Makes A Good Analytics Goal?
There are all sorts of acronyms and approaches to goal setting. You may love writing S.M.A.R.T. goals or you might plan out projects with a Gantt chart or two (or three or four). Or maybe you look at the world and set your goals through the lens of your organization’s key performance indicators (KPIs).
There are just as many ways to approach your goals as there are goals to set — how do you actually go about it?
Having worked with data for over 15 years now, I’ve developed my own approach for setting goals. Like any other skill, it takes practice, and my process has developed over time.
Whether I’m working with one of our healthcare clients or with my awesome CareContent team, it’s in my Queen Bee Role to set content goals and run the analytics to support them.
Here’s how I go about it.
1. Start With Your Strategic Goals
Determine which of those four communication problems you want to address. Are you looking for increased traffic? Engagement? Appointment requests? Membership Inquiries?
Figure out which of these is your number one priority, so you can build your goals — and your next content strategy steps — to match it.
2. Do Some Research
You want to know what the trends are for performance in your industry, so you can compare. Is your email open rate significantly below the industry standard? Are you actually doing better in some areas than you thought you were?
This will allow you to make the best decisions about what to invest in.
3. Set A Timeframe
If you’re familiar with S.M.A.R.T. goals, this may already be a part of your goal setting process. A timeframe keeps your goals realistic and shows which metrics will be most useful to you at this time.
You want to ensure that you are setting a timeframe for your goal that will allow you to actually analyze your metrics to see if there are substantial changes. Quarterly reports are great for this.
4. Write Down Your Goal
Based on your business goal, research, and timeframe, set your goal.
Write it down.
Share it with your team.
And get ready to collect the data that shows how you did.
This process does not begin and end with goal setting. It doesn’t even end with collecting the data to see if you met whatever your goal is.
You need to experiment and try out new things to achieve that goal. You may produce different kinds of content, run an ad campaign, or overhaul your website. But, if something doesn’t work how you think it will, ask your team probing questions to get at the root of your communication challenges.
How Do I Determine What Metrics To Measure?
With a brain that thrives on data and patterns, I love it when questions have simple answers.
This is not one of those questions.
For example, if you wanted your website to drive more engagement and conversions, your top three measurements of interest might be traffic, time on page, and pages per visit.
But if you were ramping up your email strategy to drive appointments, you might focus on open rate, bounce rate, and clicks instead.
The metrics that you make a priority to measure have to line up with your business goals — they have to be able to prove that you’ve been successful in doing the thing you’ve set out to do.
Time To Set Analytics Goals That Actually Work
If you take nothing else away, remember this: Data can tell you truths and lies.
If you want to find the data that shows that you’re a rockstar — you can. If you want to find data that paints the bleakest picture — you can.
But just because you can find the data to tell any story you want, that doesn’t mean you should. Ultimately, data is a tool that helps us get better. But it’s on us to use it honestly and effectively. Good goals can help you do just that.