so...What can you do for me?
When a fertility doctor (or any business owner for that matter) hires a marketer, they very often want to know, to the dollar, what the results will be.
Imagine if I bragged, "My company will increase your new patient visits by 40%!" Would they know, even remotely to the number, what a 40% increase looks like? Would they know to what they could attribute the increase? I've found that the answer is almost always no, because in the fertility field, we rarely have the data we need to gauge the effectiveness of our marketing. Even less often is that data readily accessible. I called this The Biggest Marketing Challenge Facing Fertility Centers, back in 2016. Unfortunately, not much has changed.
To be completely fair, incomplete or non-existent tracking of key performance indicators (KPI) is not a phenomenon that is unique to fertility clinics, or even small healthcare practices. I've written about it at length in The Ultimate Guide to Fertility Marketing; many marketers complain that their clients don't track the volume and sourcing of their customers and revenue. How can one be held to a measure of success if we don't have enough (or any) measurements? Years ago, I decided to hone the focus of my marketing company to the field of fertility, because I needed to take extreme ownership of certain Indispensable Indicators. Collecting, reporting on, storing, and making decisions from these Indispensable Indicators are part of the Fertility Bridge Proven Process for Tracking Results.
6 Indispensable Indicators Every Fertility Center Needs To Know
- The total number of phone inquiries, contact submissions, new appointment requests, new patient e-mails, webinar registrants, and seminar attendees who give their contact information to the IVF center.
- New Patient Visits
- The total number of appointments scheduled by new patients or returning patients starting new treatment.
- New Patient Sources
- All of the ways that new patients learned about the practice before scheduling their first appointment.
- IVF cycles
- The total number of unique IVF cycles started or billed to a particular month.
- Conversion Rates
- The percentage of leads that become new patient visits and the percentage of new patient visits that go on to start IVF cycles.
- Gross Monthly Revenue
Indispensable Indicators in action
In the following example, watch how effective these figures make our decisions on patient recruitment. We have a year of data on IVF cycles, patient volume, and referral sourcing. At month 12, we feel comfortable making a shift in our marketing strategy. We decide to take half of the budget that we had spent on print advertising, and spend it on paid social media advertising. Why?
Instead of gambling on a hunch, we operate with data from our Indispensable Indicators. Between months 12 and 15, we see a
- 30% increase in new patient appointments.
- 18% increase in new appointment requests submitted from visitors coming from social media
- 50% increase in the number of patients who report coming to our practice after having seen us on social media
We had enough data to reasonably make this first marketing decision, and now we have even more data to make the next one.
is branding dead?
Instead of thinking in terms of practice development, we frequently view marketing as tit-for-tat; purchase x advertising, receive y result. There are plenty of lead-generation sites, agencies, and pay-per-click platforms from which we can buy leads. Sometimes it's prudent to buy appointments in these ways, it's just not business development.
One REI from a small U.S. market, who participated in a fertility marketing network asked me, "how do I know whether or not the patients they send would have come to me anyway?"
Until we have access to some kind of Orwellian brain-mapping technology, we'll never know all of the reasons that someone came to our practice. To think that we can account for every one of our team's achievements with six key performance indicators would be very short-sighted. In fact, it would be very limiting to the brand and long-term vision of the practice.
Rather than accomplish top-line marketing goals, our Indispensable Indicators measure the bottom-line of our marketing efforts. Without them, we spend time, money, and energy aimlessly. With them, we have real, specific, and measurable objectives to which we are accountable. At last, we can focus on the progress of our long-term strategy.
Not sure where to start with your Indispensable Indicators? In my next blog post, I outline the steps of the Fertility Bridge Proven Process for Tracking Results! In the meantime, click below to read Chapter 1 (Defining Marketing Strategy) of my absolutely free e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Fertility Marketing.