Do you know the lifetime value of each of your patients and what it costs to get them? In these increasingly competitive times for Dentists, these should be the two critical questions you should be asking to understand the health of your practice both now and in the future.
There are lots of articles on the web about measuring Patient Lifetime Value (PLV) but in this article we are going to concentrate on how to work out the true cost of acquiring patients through that often misunderstood medium – marketing!
Traditional marketing theory talks about AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire and Action – which is an acronym that still lies at the heart of all successful marketing. What has changed from when it was first introduced is the ability to measure the action your prospects take and attribute this to the first three (AID!) This can be done by using call tracking in your marketing.
What on earth is call tracking?
Call tracking involves putting a different telephone number in each piece of marketing and then measuring the response from that number. The more numbers are used, the more granular your results will be. As a result of this critical management information, by using call tracking you are able to attribute your enquiries to your marketing efforts and ultimately to a sale which will allow you to work out the PLV.
In this rapidly changing world, the way potential and existing customers interact with your practice has changed. The bulk of your prospective patients’ communication will initially be on the phone to either make an enquiry about your services, sort out an emergency or change an appointment. Once they have come in and had the treatment that drove the initial phone call, they will go onto make the next appointment face to face.
As a result of how your patients will interact with your practice it is important to understand the telephone touch points that will drive the initial enquiry (service or emergency based) into someone who will become a valuable long term customer.
If the patient is new to your practice then they can be broken into two areas – an emergency, need for a specialist service (say teeth whitening) or to register if they have just moved into a new area, for instance. In the case of an emergency, a customer is likely to use the internet (and nowadays probably a tablet or smart phone) to find you by typing in “dentist” followed by their geographical location.
In order to be the first result they see it is important that your practice is up to date on Google Places, in various online directories and by acquiring positive reviews. Using different numbers – preferably geographic – will let you see which online site has driven the enquiries.
If a patient is calling about a specialist service you provide then they are likely again to use the internet to search with a location based keyword, but in this instance they’ll have more time to research whether your service fits their needs.
As the bulk of consumers use the internet for their research (think of how your own behaviour has changed in the last five years) then it is vital that your web site and how it is marketed creates that Attention, Interest and Desire to get them to take action, pick up the phone and do business with you.
If you want to be more sophisticated with your call tracking for these brand new researching customers you can use Visitor Level Call Tracking (VLCT). VLCT works by assigning a unique number to each unique visitor to your web site.
The advantage of is that you can then measure what drove someone into your web site – i.e. whether it was a PPC campaign, particular keyword or a referral site – as well as which pages they browsed on your site before calling, and which page it was they called from.
If you record the calls you can then listen to the quality of your receptionist for capturing and dealing with the enquiry. VLCT will allow you to have a much closer understanding of how the internet is driving your enquiries and then you can tailor your marketing more effectively from there.
If you are not using call tracking as part of your marketing strategy you will be missing out on a vital understanding of what elements of your marketing mix are making the phone ring. With this vital information you can then be more scientific in making your marketing efforts to be more effective. Furthermore, with call tracking you also have the benefit of understanding how your staff are responding to your enquiries which is a whole extra article in itself.
How well is your practice doing with its marketing? Are you measuring your efforts using other methods? Share with us in the comments below.