Driving leads into the marketing funnel in order to drive revenue is a major measure of healthcare marketing effectiveness. But in order to build sustainable engagement and loyalty campaigns across multiple channels and touch points, you need reliable metrics and a strategy to calculate return on investment (ROI) from every referral source you use.

Patient acquisition cost is one of the key metrics to help you determine ROI, but determining this cost can be tricky. To calculate this expense, you need the ability to aggregate the costs of various different lead generation sources, such as social media, organic search, and paid search. Because healthcare consumer journeys aren't a straight path, and because lead times are so long — sometimes 6, 9, or 12 months — only after comparing the costs to acquire a lead with the estimated lifetime value of a new patient in terms of revenue generation can you estimate ROI.

In general, you need to calculate ROI in order to distribute your budget most efficiently across each channel, giving more dollars to more effective channels, and so on. But, in order to accomplish this, you have to understand what effectiveness means for each channel. We've rounded up the best practices for measuring value across traditional and digital marketing to help you track ROI and create a balanced strategy.

Measuring Mobile
Mobile engagement with healthcare providers has become ubiquitous in today's marketplace, and patients are more likely to engage when offered simple tools on their smart phones, such as click-to-call functionality. In fact, a Kissmetrics survey found that 70% of consumers use click-to-call features on their mobile devices when it is available.

Another recent survey found the most common stats being used to measure ROI for mobile apps were number of downloads (76%), recurrent usage (48%), user engagement (41%), and leads generated (40%). To reach more valuable mobile measurement, it's important to understand how many of your website visitors are viewing on mobile, how many are searching for things like "doctors near me" on mobile, and how and where to make any other tweaks that might make their experience with your brand more convenient from their mobile devices. Being set up for mobile viewing, particularly through responsive design, can improve engagement on this important channel.

Paid Search and Social
AdWords and other forms of search engine-based online advertising remain an important part of the marketing technology mix for healthcare promotion. Historically, pay-per-click (PPC) tools have been popular because in theory, advertisers only pay for actual lead generation. In reality, advertisers now spend more than $20 billion a year on this type of advertising, so making sure it's effective is more important than ever.

One of the most significant advantages of search and social advertising is that it can be customized to meet your specific needs, based on target market demographics, patient population, and location. Google and Facebook, also provide robust tool sets to help advertisers define, track, and measure their advertising. You can use these analytics tools to identify actionable insights that help quantify the ROI across these various sources.

The Value of Content Marketing
Content remains one of the most reliable tools for engaging patients and prospective patients. And when that content works to "convert" your consumers, or provoke them to some desired action — like scheduling an appointment, completing a health risk assessment, or signing up for a seminar — boosting your website conversion rate by as little as 1% can have a dramatic impact on your revenue stream.

As noted in a recent report by Sirius Decisions, it is important to track both content that is consumed and content that goes unused. That's because more than half of the content currently published online generates little, if any, engagement. By tracking, you know where to invest more in the future.

Video that Converts
The use of video to engage patients is another valuable lead generation tool. In fact, consumers are more likely to make key purchasing decisions after having watched a video, according to Kissmetrics. In healthcare, these "purchasing decisions" more often look like choosing a particular provider or facility, hopefully after viewing an engaging provider profile video or watching a facility tour.

A key tool for determining ROI from video is the conversion rate, which refers to the percentage of viewers who watch and/or take action after watching your video. If you want to increase your ROI from video, be sure there is a compelling call to action at the end of each video. And to demonstrate the effectiveness of video content, it's important to track that click-through response.

Bringing it All Together
Once you have the data from all your different channels, you need to look at it holistically. Having a strong sense of your consumer journey will help you understand how each piece can lead into the next and which channels drop offs are most likely to occur in. As you look at your spend for each channel compared to the number of leads and qualified leads overall, you can begin to piece together a picture of true ROI. Just remember, nothing justifies continued or increased spending per channel than demonstrable ROI.

The final tool to help consistently deliver on the promise of your marketing efforts is a single dashboard or view of your campaign effectiveness, across channels, in real-time. You need this integrated view to be able to stay flexible enough to make adjustments when something isn't working ... before downstream results are available. When you can visualize both real-time and downstream effectiveness in one place, making smart decisions that drive better ROI is that much easier.

Want to learn more about your healthcare organization's marketing effectiveness? Read our post on the Worst Advice You'll Ever Get for Your Service Line Campaigns.