Blog Insight

Is your healthcare marketing flatlining?

For healthcare marketers to create effective digital marketing campaigns, they need to know what worked and what didn’t in past campaigns—in short, what yielded the best ROI. You likely already know that tracking performance is important; however, in this article, we’ll provide clarity into which metrics to track and why, drawing on learnings from GLG’s own healthcare clients.

Search engine rankings

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a critical component of your digital healthcare marketing strategy. Today’s healthcare consumers are digitally savvy and research healthcare providers online, much like they do other products they want to purchase. In fact, about 20 percent of all Google searches are health related, and more than 70 percent of the search results clicked on are on the first page.(1) For this reason, it’s important to track and optimize your search engine rankings to ensure that your practice appears as close to the top as possible.

The correlation between search engine ranking and lead generation cannot be overstated: when we did SEO work for Eviva, a leading bariatric surgery center in the Pacific Northwest, we saw a 152 percent increase in leads. If you’re not pleased with your website’s search ranking, we recommend keyword research and regularly publishing high-quality, relevant content that’s optimized for search.(2)

Lead volume and attribution

It’s important to track the volume of contact form submissions, calls, and chats that are being generated by your various marketing activities because this data helps gauge the flow of patients to your practice. Tracking these metrics allows you to determine if existing marketing and sales outreach are as effective as projected, and it gives you the information you need to optimize your mix of marketing activities for maximum lead generation.

We’ve found that tracking lead attribution requires a multifaceted approach. Contact forms should include a “How did you hear about us?” question, call tracking should be used on TV and radio spots, and your Google Analytics account should be set up to track live chat events. In addition, your call center staff should be trained to ask the “How did you hear about us?” question and to enter this information in a specific CRM field. This helps you know exactly where your leads are coming from.

Number of appointments scheduled

Drilling down into the quantity and types of appointments being scheduled can help you determine which marketing tactics successfully resulted in booked appointments. It can also help you determine your most requested service lines and where you may need to expand your capacity to meet the demands of your patient base.

Patient acquisition cost

Patient acquisition cost is the quintessential metric for tracking ROI. Understanding how much it costs to acquire a new patient through various marketing channels is important for tracking the overall success of your healthcare marketing efforts. You should regularly track this metric against a specific benchmark, and if it consistently runs high, act to lower it.

If your patient acquisition cost is high, consider rethinking your personas, or the specific segments you’re trying to target. After all, healthcare is becoming increasingly consumer driven, and in-depth knowledge of your audience is key to profitability. A full quarter of all consumers(3) today—and 54 percent of Millennials(4)—research providers online prior to choosing one, so having deep insight into what your target audiences are looking for and knowing their preferred channels for consuming healthcare information are necessary for successful patient acquisition.

Content engagement

Content engagement is a driver of conversions,(5) so it’s important to measure how well your target audiences respond to different types of content in terms of number of views, downloads, comments, and shares. This insight will help you optimize your content marketing strategy and increase conversion rate, be it for leads or appointments.

On a side note, when established patients engage with helpful, relevant content about health conditions, treatment options, and how to navigate the healthcare system, they’re improving their health literacy. Research has shown that such patient education can lead to improved treatment compliance and health outcomes.(6)

Patient satisfaction and retention

The success of a medical practice, like many industries, relies on repeat business. When patients come back to your practice, it increases their lifetime value. So don’t stop tracking performance when the prospect converts to a patient. It’s important to continually measure your patients’ satisfaction and gauge ways you can improve their experience, from initial outreach and marketing all the way through to after they have received care. The feedback you receive can inform future marketing messaging and generate ideas for new services.

Patient lifetime value

The lifetime value, or LTV, of a patient means understanding the value a patient brings to your practice in the long term. This metric is a great way to learn how patient satisfaction and retention boost your bottom line. Also, you can determine which marketing tactics yielded patients with the highest LTV, and which of your services are ultimately generating the most value for your practice. You may be surprised by the answer!

Tracking the above metrics may seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Even though the data is likely coming from different sources (Google Analytics, CRM, etc.), you can synthesize your information streams by creating an integrated dashboard. This will bring the data together into one cohesive view so you can easily track the metrics that matter and see how they interrelate. If your medical practice needs marketing or data management services, just reach out to us at GLG!


1. Jarrod Smith, “The Importance of Internet Marketing for Medical Professionals,” SEO Hermit website, March 23, 2016,
2. Howard Edgar, “8 Ways to Improve SEO Ranking of Your Healthcare Website,” Practice Builders website, June 30, 2017,
3. Kimberly Leonard, “Poll: How Do You Choose a Doctor?” U.S. News and World Report website, March 17, 2014,
4. Jonah Comstock, “Survey: 54 Percent of Millennials Look Online before Choosing a Doctor,” MobiHealthNews, August 31, 2015,
5. “Conversion Marketing for Healthcare Providers: A Quick Guide,” PatientPop website, April 18, 2017,
6. Daniella Koren, “The Impact of Knowledge: Patient Education Improves Compliance and Outcomes,” Milner-Fenwick website, October 4, 2016,