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Connecting with your patients online is critical to the success of your business, but how can you tell which of your healthcare marketing efforts are actually bringing in customers?

Imagine a patient who’s experiencing persistent back pain, and considering seeking medical help. While browsing social media, they come across an informative video from a local chiropractic clinic discussing the benefits of spinal adjustments for back pain relief. Intrigued, they decide to visit the website to learn more. After recognizing the potential benefits of consulting with the clinic, they decide to fill out a form to receive updates. The next day, they receive an email from the clinic offering a free consultation for new patients and this reminder prompts them to schedule an appointment.

Here, we can see that multiple touchpoints influenced the patient’s choice of healthcare service. The social media video piqued the patient’s interest, the website provided valuable information, and the email reminder nudged them to take action. While each touchpoint played a crucial role in building their trust and confidence in the clinic’s expertise, determining the precise impact of each point of contact can be challenging.

What Is Marketing Attribution?

When we take into account that patients now use a range of technology devices, averaging over ten per person, it’s evident that understanding the complex patient journey is crucial for effective marketing strategies. Marketing attribution is the practice of evaluating different marketing touchpoints patients encounter on their journey. This way, it’s possible to identify which marketing tactics are truly working and contributing to conversions.

Marketing attribution goes beyond mere guesswork and provides concrete evidence of how marketing efforts inspire patients to take the next step and build lasting relationships with your brand. Identifying the specific marketing initiatives that someone interacted with before converting, such as clicking on ads, watching video content, or visiting your website, allows you to discern which touchpoints played the most influential role in the patient decision-making process.

Marketing attribution allows you to define new initiatives and make strategic changes based on data-driven insights. It uncovers patterns and actions that can be used to refine future marketing strategies, ensuring optimal allocation of resources and improved campaign performance. 

Moreover, implementing proper attribution models can lead to efficiency gains in marketing spend of 15-30%. This means that you can optimize your marketing budgets and allocate resources more effectively, ensuring that your marketing efforts are targeted toward the most impactful channels and campaigns. Using the insights from marketing attribution analysis helps you make informed decisions about where to invest your resources for maximum impact and return on investment (ROI).

Types of Marketing Attribution

Marketing attribution can be broadly categorized into two main categories — single-touch and multi-touch. These categories contain various core models, each offering valuable insights into how marketing efforts impact conversions.

Single-touch attribution models emphasize the influence of a single touchpoint on customer conversion. There are two primary models within this category: First-Touch Attribution and Last-Touch Attribution.

First-Touch Attribution

In the first-touch attribution model, the entire credit for a conversion is given to the first touchpoint that a patient encounters. For example, if a patient first discovers a healthcare provider through an online ad, all the credit would be attributed to that initial engagement. 

Last-Touch Attribution

On the other hand, the last-touch attribution model assigns all the credit to the touchpoint that directly precedes the conversion. If a patient schedules an appointment after receiving an email reminder, the last touchpoint would receive all the credit in this model.

Both first-touch and last-touch attribution have limitations. While first-touch attribution may overlook the influence of subsequent touchpoints, last-touch attribution may neglect the significance of earlier engagements. 

That’s why more comprehensive attribution models, such as multi-touch attribution, are often used to provide a more accurate understanding of the impact of various touchpoints throughout the patient journey. Some of the commonly used multi-touch attribution models are explained below:

Linear Attribution

The linear attribution model acknowledges the role of every touchpoint in the patient journey. It assigns equal weight to each interaction and gives each touchpoint the same amount of credit toward driving the conversion. For example, if a patient interacts with an online advertisement, visits the website, and later downloads a report before making a decision, the linear attribution model would give equal credit to all three touchpoints.

U-Shaped Attribution

In the U-shaped model, also known as position-based attribution, significant weight is given to two key touchpoints — the first touch and the lead conversion touch. Each of these touchpoints receives 40 percent of the credit, while the remaining 20 percent is allocated to the touchpoints in between. This model highlights the importance of the initial interaction and the touchpoint that directly contributed to the patient conversion.

Let’s say a patient discovers a healthcare provider through a blog post. Intrigued by the information, the patient explores the provider’s website, starts following their social media posts, and later attends a virtual Q&A session. The patient ultimately converts and schedules an appointment. 

In this case, the U-shaped model assigns 40 percent credit to both the initial blog post and the virtual Q&A session. These touchpoints, representing the beginning and the point of conversion, are recognized as critical influencers in this patient’s decision-making journey.

Time Decay Attribution

The time decay model assigns more weight to touch points that happen right before the conversion. It recognizes that these touchpoints typically have a more substantial impact on the patient’s decision-making process. 

Suppose a patient initially discovers a healthcare provider through a social media ad and later engages with their website, reads blog articles, and subscribes to the newsletter. The patient ultimately converts and schedules an appointment after receiving a personalized email. Under the time decay model, the personalized email that prompted the appointment scheduling and the touchpoints that occurred closer to the conversion would be assigned more credit. On the other hand, earlier touchpoints like the initial social media ad would be given less credit.

W-Shaped Attribution

This model uses the same idea as the U-Shaped model, but it includes one more core touchpoint — the opportunity stage. In this case, the first touch, lead conversion touch, and opportunity creation touch each receive 30 percent of the credit. The remaining 10 percent is distributed among the additional engagements. 

Let’s take an example of a patient who is looking for a healthcare provider for a specific medical condition. They start by reading a blog post about treatment options and continue exploring the provider’s website to gather more information. They then sign up for a newsletter to receive updates and relevant healthcare content. A newsletter informs them about a webinar focusing on the latest advancements in treating their specific condition. Intrigued by the expertise showcased by the provider, they decide to schedule a consultation. 

In this case, the W-shaped model attributes 30 percent credit to the initial blog post, the webinar as the lead conversion touch, and the newsletter sign-up as an opportunity creation touch. All of these touchpoints played a significant role in capturing the patient’s attention, nurturing their interest, and ultimately influencing their decision to schedule a consultation.

Overcome Challenges and Unlock the Potential of Marketing Attribution

As patients become more technologically connected and engaged, marketing attribution becomes more crucial than ever because it enables you to understand the complexities of the patient journey and focus your marketing dollars on activities that are truly converting patients. 

However, while 76% of marketers have or will have the capabilities necessary to use marketing attribution, it’s not without its challenges. In addition to the collection and analysis of vast amounts of customer data, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) adds complexity to the process. Additionally, accurately attributing the impact of each touchpoint in the patient journey can be daunting due to multiple touchpoints and cross-channel behavior. In fact, only 22% of marketers say they’re using the right attribution model. Finally, integrating different data sources and systems to capture and consolidate data from various touchpoints is a technical challenge on its own.

At SocialClimb, we understand that building a unified view of the patient journey requires effective data integration and analysis tools. That’s why we offer a suite of attribution tools that can provide solutions for these challenges. 

Our HIPAA-compliant platform enables you to track and measure the impact of each touchpoint in the patient journey. Using our advanced analytics capabilities and data integration tools, you can use your marketing budget more effectively and make data-driven decisions that result in measurable patient conversions.

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