Experienced marketers have a few mental models and strategic frameworks that provide the foundation for how they view and execute marketing campaigns. In this article, I want to share a few of the ones our agency has used that have been most impactful. In our experience, these are great for medical marketers looking to drive more patients for a physician or practice.
The Rule of 7
This marketing “rule” is one of the oldest in the book. The Rule of 7 states that it takes an average of seven interactions with your brand before a prospect will decide to take action.
In paid advertising, “frequency” is the number of times your ad is seen by an individual. Your paid advertising spend must be enough to build a high enough frequency to make a difference. In addition, the easiest way to achieve the Rule of 7 is to diversify your marketing efforts — run paid advertising across multiple channels so potential patients see you in multiple places.
The ‘Messy Middle’
The “messy middle” is a term coined by Google to describe the customer journey. In simple terms, the customer journey isn’t the step-by-step funnel we’ve been taught, but a much messier process that’s driven by an overabundance of information that can include hundreds of searches and site visits before a lead is submitted or a purchase is made.
New patients aren’t visiting your website once before they contact you. They’re actively researching their conditions, visiting your website and competitor websites, researching patient reviews on physician directories and much more. It’s important that you understand all the questions potential patients have, as well as what stage they’re at in the process. Patients looking for information around conditions are early in their journey, while those looking for specific treatments are usually further along in their journey.
Answering these patient questions, no matter what stage of the journey, is the foundation of an effective content marketing strategy. Build all content across your marketing to answer these questions.
One of the challenges to having a more complex customer journey is that it’s much harder to understand which digital marketing channels are having the greatest impact. You should know that most marketing uses last-click attribution by default. This means that the last channel a visitor clicks on before becoming a lead gets all the credit, despite many other channels being involved prior.
Although you will never have a 100% view into all the channels involved in acquiring new patients, you must have good tracking in place to get as close as possible. One of the most important tracking for medical practices to have in place is “call tracking,” including unique numbers for each marketing channel so you understand if new patients are coming from Google My Business, Google Ads, Facebook or other channels. In addition, make sure you pay attention to “Assisted Conversions” in Google Analytics. This will give you limited insight into what channels are involved in driving leads, even if they’re not “last click.”
Remarketing means running ad campaigns that only target people who’ve visited your website or interacted with your advertising. I’m still surprised by how many medical marketers don’t have these campaigns turned on. In a world where it takes multiple site visits and many brand interactions to make a decision, remarketing is a key strategy that all marketers should have as part of their overall marketing mix.
You must think about all your marketing as a bucket with a leak in it. Potential patients are going to leave your site without converting because they’re too busy to do it right now, or they’re still shopping around for another physician. Having remarketing campaigns is a way to plug that leaky bucket. I always recommend a remarketing campaign on Facebook, at the very least. It’s a small investment to make sure that a leaky bucket isn’t wasting opportunities from all your other hard work.
We have an instinct to look for social guidance to make decisions. Social proof can take many forms, with testimonials and reviews being the most common in marketing. Consumers are seeking out social proof as they research, and they’ve become a fairly standard part of marketing.
Social proof is especially important in medical marketing because new patients want to see that you’ve solved the tough problems they’re experiencing. It’s not enough to have a five-star review — you need to showcase patient transformation, casting a vision of success. One way to make this possible is by using a simple four-question formula for capturing customer testimonials:
1. What problem were you having prior to visiting us?
2. How did that make you feel?
3. What’s different about us from other providers you’ve seen?
4. What does your life look like now?
The Paradox of Choice
This principle is a key one for any marketer to understand. People struggle with important decisions when they’re given too many choices — it makes them worry if they’re selecting the right one, which leads to inaction.
It’s easy to overwhelm patients with too much information or complicated website experiences that leave them unable to understand what action to take next. Here are a few recommendations for how to counteract the paradox of choice:
• Determine your primary call to action and make it prominent everywhere on your site.
• Clearly outline the plan you offer in easy-to-understand steps. Think of these as the stepping stones you’re providing to cross a raging river.
• Lastly, simplify the navigation on your website. Aim to have the least possible amount of navigation links and your primary call to action.
Each of the above models and frameworks will help you be more successful. They form a foundation for how to view marketing and tackle some of the most common issues that I see medical practices struggle with in their marketing.
Previously published on Forbes.com