Strategic healthcare marketers are always looking for ways to leverage existing data to improve campaign performance. And one of the most cost-effective ways to improve the return on investment (ROI) of an existing campaign is conversion rate optimization (CRO).There are certainly other metrics that healthcare marketers can and do focus on, from ad impressions and click-through rates to cost per acquisition. Conversion rates, however, tell a particularly important part of the story – how efficiently marketing teams are leveraging resources across channels.Put simply, CRO means experimenting with messages, formats, channels, and user experience (UX) to find combinations that increase desired actions from the target audience.That action could be anything that moves a patient or healthcare provider further along their buyer or engagement journey with a brand (e.g., filling out a form, signing up for emails or newsletters, or scheduling an appointment with a sales rep).Conversion rates can help healthcare brands better understand gaps in their patient and provider experience. But to get the most value from these metrics, brands need to make CRO a standard part of their marketing operations.
Don’t Trust the First Conversion Rate You See
The channel used for conversion-focused activities often depends on the product or service being marketed as well as whether the target audience is comprised of patients or providers. By comparing conversion rates for a specific audience across channels, marketers can often gain quick insight into which channels are best suited for the job.For example, imagine you’re directing patients to a page where they can sign up for a healthcare consultation using various tactics. You want to determine where to prioritize ad spending and see that search engine marketing (SEM) and display ads have conversion rates of 5% and 3%, respectively. (And for the sake of simplicity, let’s assume a similar cost per click for each of these tactics.)In that case, seeing that SEM ads convert visitors at a significantly higher rate, you might conclude that SEM ads are the best use of your budget for the foreseeable future. But that’s where you’re potentially walking into a huge blindspot.While this scenario is certainly an oversimplification of how this works in practice, it helps illustrate the problem with trusting the first conversion rate you see. Making that judgment assumes that your ads are already optimized for your target audience and the desired action you want them to take.In reality, there are dozens of tweaks that you could make to even a single paid ad to increase the rate of conversion. And you won’t know how many conversions you’re potentially missing out on until you start experimenting.
Tips for Optimizing for Conversion Across Digital Channels
One of the most common ways to conduct CRO is to run A/B tests. That can seem relatively simple for something like a digital ad – just change the graphics and headlines a bit, run both versions, and compare, right?In reality, A/B testing digital tactics can be incredibly challenging to run in a systematic way that delivers actionable insights. Change too much or too little about your ads and you’ll have no way to tell which of your tweaks are the reason for any increase or decrease in the resulting conversion rates.Instead, you need to focus and standardize your A/B tests by coming up with highly specific hypotheses that can be used to plan and design your ad variants. To come up with testable hypotheses, start by analyzing your ad performance and reflecting on the following questions:
Are these ads reaching the intended audience? Can I adjust the channel or targeting parameters (e.g., keywords for SEM, audience characteristics for paid social)?
Is the messaging appropriately tailored to a patient or provider audience? Is the language used clear, concise, and persuasive? Do I have any message testing results to use to write copy variations for new ads to test?
Is the call to action (CTA) clear and obvious to visitors? Do I have more than one CTA? How can I simplify the experience for visitors?
Is the digital experience optimized for conversion? How can I improve the UX of the page design and web performance?
Staying Balanced – Both Conversion and Retention Matter
Over the course of a CRO exercise, you may discover that you’re running ads that aren’t suited for traditional bottom-of-funnel conversions. For example, if you’ve developed a brand awareness campaign that’s more geared toward patient or provider education, you may need to adjust your ads to use calls-to-action (CTAs) with ungated offerings, like microsites or partnered or sponsored content.But it’s important to recognize that CRO shouldn’t only focus on how to convert patients and providers that are new to or unfamiliar with your brand. Customer retention matters, too, and up- or cross-selling products and services to existing customers can be significantly less expensive than acquiring new customers.At the end of the day, CRO is about finding ways to efficiently reach and convert the audiences most likely and ready to engage with your brand. By applying CRO methods to the patients and providers your organization already serves, your marketing team can identify messaging and marketing tactics that nurture long-term engagement and brand advocacy.Want to learn more about how to turn performance metrics into opportunities to test, optimize, and improve campaign performance? Keep up with the conversation through the OpenHuddle LinkedIn page or contact us to discuss how to apply digital marketing best practices to your healthcare brand’s unique needs.
Ben Cotton, HubSpot (2022). Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO): 8 Ways To Get Started
Scott Baradell, Newsweek (2022). 5 Common A/B Testing Challenges Marketers Face (and Their Solutions)
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