September 28, 2017

Two Critical Steps Most Health Care Marketers Miss When Tracking ROI

We believe every dollar a health care organization invests in marketing should have a return on investment.

In our experience, though, tracking return on investment can be harder for many marketers than developing the campaigns to be tracked.

That’s why we advocate investing as much focus on tracking KPIs as we do in developing innovative campaigns that get noticed and encourage action from our clients’ patient audiences.

Several months ago, I had the opportunity to speak with Chris Boyer, a thought leader in digital health and co-host of the outstanding touch point podcast.

Chris pointed out a critical step in the ROI tracking journey that’s often missed by many marketers: identifying data gaps.

In every organization, especially with complex health care systems, there are multiple data points that don’t connect.

If you’ve spent any time in health care, you know what I mean!

It can be frustrating and challenging to close these data gaps.

And often, there are no easy answers to this challenge.

But unless marketers identify what the gaps are, they have no way of ever hoping to close those data gaps.

And to effectively track and measure your campaigns’ success, you need to minimize as many gaps as possible.

Two of the most common data gaps we encounter with health care organizations include:

  • Patient contribution margin (attributed to campaign activities)
  • Call volume to employed and affiliated physicians

There’s also another often missed step to effectively tracking ROI: knowing what level of reporting you want to review.

In our experience, we think of KPI reporting as three different types (or levels):

  • LEVEL 1 Raw Data Reporting
  • LEVEL 2: Isolated Channel Reporting
  • LEVEL 3: Closed Loop Analysis Reporting

1. Raw Data Reporting can be thought of as a deep dive into data points for any one channel or activity, such as Google Analytics.

With GA, you can measure an almost infinite amount of data points. It’s incredibly helpful, but for many health care marketing leaders, it’s often too much noise when they’re seeking clarity on what the data means and what to do with it.

2. Isolated Channel Reporting is often provided to marketing leaders from other teammates or vendor partners.

This often looks like performance with specific activities such as search marketing, Facebook ad performance, or call center tracking reports.

These reports can be incredibly helpful. But because these reports are focused on isolated activities, they often fail to “paint a picture” of the overall campaign or initiative’s success.

3. Closed Loop Analysis Reporting is the third level of reporting. In this type of report, the necessary work has been done to identify and interpret the most essential data points for each aspect of the campaign and initiative, and provides specific recommended next actions for improving performance.

We nickname this type of report the “Give It To Me Straight” report because our clients can quickly suss out the important takeaways on KPI performance and how the KPIs track against key business goals. 

Going back to the often-missed step of identifying data gaps, Closed Loop Analysis reporting can also help marketers to identify segments of the data set that are missing or incomplete.

We’ve yet to meet a health care marketing colleague who believes their entire data set is perfectly synchronized and working in harmony.

To close the data gaps requires cross-department support. This might look like recruiting the IS department to work with CRM partners on tracking contribution margin or getting different vendor partners on the same page of how the marketing leader wants campaigns to be tracked.

One of the ways we help clients to identify and work to close data gaps is by “painting a picture” of how different channels (and corresponding reporting) are interconnected.

Creating a visual representation of your KPIs as a closed loop helps stakeholders understand and interpret how the tracking pieces fit together.

For example, below is a closed loop report for a service line campaign that shows the entire path of a prospective patient on the journey of learning more about services, taking action to become a patient, and the downstream revenue attributed to the campaign.


We use Green, Yellow and Red to signify how the campaign is performing at each segment of the loop.

We designate the colors based on KPI benchmarks.

For example, if our click through rate on search marketing campaigns meets or exceeds industry or past campaign performance benchmarks, then we color that segment of the loop green.

On the other hand, if our conversion rate on the landing page is lower than pre-established benchmarks, we note this segment of the loop as yellow and needs improvement. We’ll then test different approaches to improve the conversion rate, such as changing the call-to-action or layout of the page.

The critical element of the loop is how many patient appointments our campaign is securing on behalf of the health care organization. If our rate is less than goal, we note this segment of the loop as red. We then work to improve the conversion of prospects to patients. Often this work involves service line and operational leaders in the organization to create more “radical convenience.”

Most health care organizations aren’t able to track every aspect of a campaign performance—at least on a consistent basis. There’s likely a segment of data that is hard to account for or a significant lag time for reporting.

That’s why we’ll often shade out segments of the closed loop reporting that cannot be accurately accounted for.


If you’re not already getting Closed Loop Analysis reporting from your team, encourage them to elevate their reporting so both you and the team are gaining clarity on what’s working and what’s not.

Common characteristics of closed loop analysis reporting include:

  • An emphasis on fewer, more significant KPIs
  • A narrative that “tells a story” about the data: what it means and its significance in satisfying business results
  • Marketing campaign KPIs map back to business/organization strategic KPIs
  • Focus on next actions: based on the data, what are the specific steps to take to achieve results
  • Color code specific results as green, yellow and red to aid to make the reporting easy to scan for key takeaways: on track, off track, caution

Now it’s time to add to the conversation. Share with us the one thing you wish your reports would consistently share or illuminate for you.