Last-Click Attribution May Be Jeopardizing Your Medical Practice's Digital Marketing ROI

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In an omnichannel healthcare environment, last-click attribution models have become a relic of the past. Here’s what medical marketers should do instead.

Consumers access information about healthcare providers on more channels than ever before, including mobile, social media, and digital ads. Though these additional channels give prospective patients more opportunities to engage with your brand, they also make it more difficult to determine which channels are actually responsible for generating the bulk of your new business.

For years, medical marketers focused on the “last click” — the touch point that comes right before a conversion — to measure the effectiveness of a given channel. This strategy provided a relatively simple answer to the complicated question of attribution. But, as tracking technology improves, forward-thinking medical marketers are now opting for attribution strategies that account for other interactions with their brand across channels and domains.

Last-Click Puts Medical Marketers in Last Place

Last-click attribution provides a cursory picture of how prospective patients find your practice, but the model has a number of flaws. For one, it ignores the other interactions that users have with your brand before they submit an appointment request. Google Analytics reports that on average, consumers engage with a product or service 4.3 times before converting. Last-click attribution gives you information about one of those touch points, but what about the other 3.3? Without a more holistic model, you’ll have no idea.

A last-click model ignores the reality of the healthcare pipeline — that patients conduct research about medical care over a number of sites, devices, and platforms. Without taking those additional channels into account, you’ll miss out on a fuller picture of your marketing efforts and see the consequences in your bottom line.

A Better, Omnichannel Strategy

A cross-channel, or omnichannel, attribution model will identify the supporting players and help your practice devote resources to the right channels at all stages in the conversion process. Direct traffic — where users enter your web domain directly into their browser — tends to be the most overrepresented channel in a last-click model. With a “first-click” attribution system, you can determine how people found out about your site in the first place, whether through paid ads, organic search, or social media.

By enabling cross-device and cross-domain tracking in your analytics software, your practice can assess whether it should be spending more money on mobile, or on paid ads that direct to a certain subdomain. We also advocate investment in phone tracking to improve automated call experiences for potential patients and gain valuable insight on which campaigns drive the most value for your business.

No analytics model is perfect, but it’s clear that last-click attribution is outdated and a poor reflection of the modern medical marketing funnel. An omnichannel strategy will align your organization with best practices, increase your insight into your marketing data, and help you invest in the channels that will actually grow your business.

Medical Marketing Guide: Google Advertising