marketing budget_Insight Marketing Group_Marketing for Medical PracticesFor somebody, it’s always budget planning time.  As you begin to prepare your budget next year, it’s imperative you look at this year’s metrics before just settling on things to do throughout the next 12 months.

The goal is to analyze every marketing activity you participated in this year and determine if it’s worth your dollars and your time to participate in these events next year. You want to objectively review what worked and what didn’t. Rely on numbers here, not relationships. Below are a few areas you should consider when deciding where to cut and where to expand your marketing.

Referral Sources

Who are your largest referral sources and what are you doing to get those numbers? If it’s relationships with other doctors then that’s great, keep those up and be sure to send them a gift basket to show your appreciation (I’ll take one, too!). If you collect a few referrals from certain doctors and want to establish stronger relationships with them, this is a great place to allocate some of your time and effort, as the payoff could be huge for relatively little cost.

If it’s any kind of above the line advertising such as magazine, radio or television ads, then obviously you’ll want to stick with what’s working. But if those Yellow Page ads are only generating a few calls a year, you may want to consider shifting your dollars to one of the other mediums that has been working for you. Don’t know if your ads there (or anywhere for that matter) are even working? Consider adding a “dummy number” unique to each publication or station you’re placing an ad with so that when someone calls you’ll know that your ad worked. This way you can justify investing in that account. There are dozens of services that offer a number forwarding and tracking mechanisms, and a quick Google search will help you identify which is right for you.

Web Traffic

How is your website performing? How many unique users are visiting your site daily? Once they get there, are they clicking around to learn more or to contact you? It can be tough to devote time to log in and check your stats on a daily basis, but most web companies offer software that offers you all kinds of analytics and stats that help you determine what areas of your site are strong and which ones may need some further attention and tweaking. Have your office manager run a bi-weekly or monthly report so you can keep track of your efforts and make changes as needed. This is another way to increase patient count for relatively little cost.

What about your online advertising and search engine optimization (SEO)? When someone searches for your specialty, where are you ranked? Coming up with a quality online ad campaign and SEO-focused plan may be costly, but the benefits typically outweigh the cost as a handful of new patients will pay for the programs themselves. If you’ve never done this before, contact a pro who can help you hit the ground running. If you’re currently in the middle of a campaign, be sure to review the numbers and make changes if they aren’t working. What have you got to lose?

Email Database

You’ve been collecting email addresses from patients for years, right? Well if you haven’t, you should start and then skip this section of the article. For those of you that are still with me, hopefully you’ve been putting the email addresses to good use and have created some type of a patient newsletter that you send out to patients several times a year. Take a look at the stats from your email provider and check your open and click through rates. If these numbers are low, change your content up a bit and try different subject lines. If they remain low, maybe an email database isn’t for your practice.

Depending on your practice, you may also want to think about adding a coupon in your emails with a firm expiration date. Ideally this will motivate patients to come through the doors. It’s also a good way to measure how many folks are actually opening and reading through your messages.

Social Media

Spending a lot of time trying to build your Facebook Page but not sure what the payoff is? Facebook offers deep statistics that show you not only how many people are looking and interacting with your content, but also what their age ranges are, how often they check your page and much more. If you aren’t looking at your metrics here, you’re really missing out on a great, free resource that can really show you what you’re doing right and what you’re missing out on. When you’re editing your page, click on the “Insights” tab to see how your page is doing.

Now it’s Time to Prepare

Once you’ve reviewed where your dollars and time are going, it’s time to plan for next year. Be sure to carefully review every aspect and every piece of data you can get your hands on.