When elective healthcare practices initially interview potential Web providers so much of the conversation focuses on initial cost when true financial concerns should revolve around potential ROI. But in reality, that’s not the most critical component. The most critical component is time. Let me explain.
The path that maximizes ROI
First let’s assume that you’re an elective healthcare practice so you’ve done your homework and learned effective website design, optimization and subsequent marketing initiatives returns on investment at rates of at least 8:1 or more. In many elective healthcare practices, online marketing done correctly earns hundreds of thousands of dollars while ineffective marketing costs tens of thousands of dollars without earning any significant demonstrable return. In fact, because bad marketing gives a false sense of achievement while delaying attention and investment from truly productive marketing, we would argue that bad marketing is worse than no marketing.
To answer the question of why time is the most critical factor, let’s consider a hypothetical practice following the perfect path in online marketing. Your typical practice wanders aimlessly for years wondering if their marketing is delivering at maximum productivity, but let’s assume our practice reacts immediately seeking answers and identifying productive providers. In reality, whenever online marketing is not demonstrably providing an ROI, there’s already a problem. Amongst the numerous advantages of effective online marketing, performance is trackable.
Our perfect path practice initiates a search by querying search engines, asking industry associates and talking to potential vendors. The practice insists on working only with providers that have industry experience and a successful track record. If they’re successful in their search, it will require 1-3 months to narrow the field from thousands to 2-3 providers. They’ll ask candidate providers for references and a detailed proposal. Successful reference doctors are busy so due diligence. That reassurance will require an additional week or two.
After choosing the exact right vendor, 2-3 weeks are dedicated to order entry, transfer of paperwork and payment. Now, the real work begins. The practice that has made the exact right choice and is actively engaged in the project with the right provider should expect 3-6 months for optimization, production and re-launch in the best of cases. There are certainly providers offering shorter lead times, but this usually signals a less successful vendor, one with a less thorough production process.
Copywriting is an obvious example. Any provider focused on optimization and excellent conversion in the website will know that effective copywriting is a critical element. Providing effective copy for 30-50 medical pages is an acquired skill requiring weeks and months. To resonate with potential patients, the copy must be created and compiled by trained professionals who know how to write at a certain level and in a certain tone that also happens to represent the unique voice of the practice. Proven copywriters write rich copy that also happens to appeal to search engines.
Upon re-launch of the new website and depending on the competiveness of the market, our perfect path practice should conservatively estimate 3-8 months before the website begins to rank favorably for relevant patient searches. Lastly, every practice will have a service cycle during which patients schedule a consult and ultimately receive services. This might be a week to 4 months.
Accounting for time on good and bad paths
For the practice on the perfect path, typical lag from realization of poor marketing performance to actual receipt of revenue will easily be a year or more. Of course, this ignores time in which the practice waits to take action.
For practices on the wrong path, those that choose vendors for the wrong criteria or those not fully engaged in their project, their timeline can easily double to two years or more. In financial terms, this is two years delaying available ROI; and it’s two years delaying groundwork for bigger and bolder initiatives. It’s also the money invested in projects and initiatives that will not deliver any reward. In broad terms, it’s loss of focus and human resources. If you’re wondering if you’re on the right path, it’s time for a frank conversation with your vendor and then possibly a proper provider search.
The first conclusion is that before choosing a website vendor for medical marketing…before using pricing as your sole decision criteria, consider how much time is involved to arrive at financially rewarding results. How much time is lost in correcting a bad choice?
The second conclusion is that once you’ve asked the right questions, performed due diligence and arrived at a worthy vendor, move as quickly through the project as possible so that you accelerate profitable groundwork and earn the significant ROI from proper marketing as quickly as possible.
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Brent Cavender is a co-founder of MetaMed Marketing. He heads up business development and marketing for MetaMed where he is the organization's chief practice educator and primary point of contact.