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Bringing Closed-Loop Reporting to Life in Healthcare Marketing

Bringing Closed-Loop Reporting to Life in Healthcare Marketing

Picture this, you are a healthcare marketing director, sitting in another meeting where everyone’s talking about data, results, outcomes, and ROI, but you or nobody seems to know if your latest campaign brought in new patients.

Frustrating, right?

That’s where closed-loop reporting comes in – it’s not just another buzzword, but a real game-changer for folks like you in healthcare marketing and in marketing in general.

Closed-loop reporting (CLR) is a powerful tool or practice that can transform your marketing efforts. Whether you’re in healthcare, retail, or any other industry, understanding and implementing CLR can make a big difference.

Think of it as connecting the dots. It’s about tracking a patient’s journey from the moment they see your ad or social media post, all the way through to their treatment and beyond. It’s like finally seeing the whole picture, instead of just bits and pieces.

Some organizations have the technology, resources, and ability to this data easily. Others have it somewhat easier and others have to do it manually.  Regardless, having  some basic elements in place can unlock valuable insights.

This article will show you the benefits, steps, challenges, and solutions to make closed-loop reporting work for your business.

Why Should You Care About Closed-Loop Reporting?

Imagine being able to walk into that next meeting and confidently say, “Our last campaign brought in 100 new patients, and 80 booked an appointment online,  30 showed up to the appointment and completed their treatment with great results.” That’s the power of closed-loop reporting. It’s not just about numbers; it’s about understanding real people and their health journeys and knowing to specifically where the lead/patient came from (ie, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, programmatic, etc).

Understanding Closed-Loop Reporting

Closed-loop reporting connects your marketing efforts directly with sales and customer outcomes, creating a continuous feedback loop. Unlike traditional reporting, which often stops at basic metrics like clicks and impressions, CLR provides a complete picture by integrating data from various touchpoints—marketing campaigns, customer interactions, and final outcomes.

Imagine a customer sees an online ad, clicks on it, and makes a purchase. With CLR, you can track this entire journey, from the initial ad click to the final sale. This detailed insight helps you understand what’s working and what needs improvement.

Closed-loop marketing is a discipline within marketing that depends on data and insights from closed-loop reporting. In the literal sense, “closing the loop” just means that sales teams report back to marketing about the outcome of the leads that they receive, which helps us marketers understand their best and worst lead sources.

Here’s an example.

It all begins with a visitor arriving at your website. When a new visitor lands on your site, a cookie is placed on their browser. This cookie tracks where they came from, such as an email link, so you know how they found you.

As the visitor navigates your site, the cookie tracks their actions, like pages visited and paths followed. If the visitor fills out a form, they become a lead, and their information is stored in a CRM.

When the lead makes a purchase or books an appointment with your practice, the CRM credits the sale to the original source, closing the marketing loop. From this data, you can generate reports to see which marketing channels are most effective.

Benefits of Closed-Loop Reporting

Implementing closed-loop reporting offers numerous benefits for businesses of all sizes. Here are a few key advantages:

  1. Enhanced Customer Engagement: By using data to personalize your marketing efforts, you can ensure customers receive relevant information, making them feel valued and understood. If a patient booked an appointment, you could deploy email campaigns about what to expect when patient arrives to their appointment or links to videos about the providers at the practice.
  2. Continuous Strategy Improvement: CLR allows you to refine your marketing strategies continuously. Identify which campaigns lead to positive customer outcomes and allocate your budget more effectively. Are you Facebook Ad running stale?  Perhaps it’s time to increase your Google Ads budget if it’s leading to high conversion from lead to patient/customer rates.
  3. Better Resource Allocation: Pinpoint high-impact areas to focus your efforts on interventions that make a significant difference, improving overall efficiency and effectiveness. Do you need more staff to answer phone calls and responding to online inquiries.
visualizing closed loop marketing hubspot resized 600

A visual representation of closed-loop marketing can work. Source: Hubspot

Implementing Closed-Loop Reporting

Where do you start? Setting up closed-loop reporting may seem challenging, but with a clear plan, it’s achievable.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Set Clear Goals and Metrics: Define what success looks like for your marketing efforts. Establish specific goals and metrics to guide your team and ensure everyone is aligned.
  2. Invest in the Right Technologies: Use tools like customer relationship management (CRM) systems, marketing automation platforms, and advanced analytics software. Ensure these tools can integrate seamlessly with your existing systems for smooth data flow.
  3. Train Your Team: Ensure your marketers are comfortable using these tools and interpreting the data they generate. Ongoing education and support will help maintain high standards and drive continuous improvement.

Challenges and Solutions

While the benefits of closed-loop reporting are clear, implementing it can come with challenges, especially for small to mid-sized businesses. Here are some common issues and solutions:

  • Disparate Technologies: Many businesses use different systems that don’t communicate with each other. Invest in middleware solutions that facilitate seamless data exchange and integration. In healthcare marketing, teams have difficulties extracting patient lead source information from their EHRs from their marketing CRM, or vice versa. Its huge burden for marketing teams to be able to tell the full story of the patient across their lifecycle.
  • Siloed Data and Information: Data often exists in silos, making it difficult to get a comprehensive view. Develop a robust data management strategy to break down these silos and ensure all data is accessible and integrated.
  • Manual Processes: Relying on manual processes can lead to inefficiencies and errors. Automate as much as possible using marketing automation platforms to streamline workflows and improve accuracy.

Steps for Implementation

  1. Identify Your Site Users: Use tools like Google Analytics to understand your key sources of traffic.
  2. Explore Visitors’ Interests: Segment your audience based on their interactions with your content.
  3. Create a Customer Database: Use a CRM system to collect and organize customer information.
  4. Manage Customer Relationships: Foster collaboration between marketing, sales, and customer support to build strong relationships and improve communication.

A “Cheat: Code”: UTM Codes

One of the simplest ways to implement CLR that doesn’t break the bank with expensive tracking software is the use of UTM parameters. UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes are simple snippets of text added to the end of a URL to help you track the performance of online campaigns. When someone clicks a link with a UTM code, the code is sent back to your analytics platform, giving you detailed information about the visitor’s journey.

For example, if you’re running a Facebook ad campaign, you can use UTM codes to track which specific ad or post brought visitors to your site. This way, you can see exactly what’s driving traffic and conversions, making it easier to adjust your strategies and maximize ROI.

UTM codes/ or parameters example

See the “utm_” gobbledygook text? Those are the parameters added to URL links to track the traffic that comes from a link. Source: Buffer

These UTM parameters can be captured with hidden fields in forms and can follow each prospect through their journey across your digital ecosystem. Hubspot’s Marjorie Munroe puts it very simply with UTM use cases: “you can use UTM parameters in email, messaging, or even social campaigns to determine which of those channels work best for your buyer personas and current website audience.”

Future of Closed-Loop Reporting in Marketing

Let’s face it, the need for accurate marketing attribution isn’t going anywhere. With all the technology available and the ferocious competition for traffic and attention, knowing where your leads come from is crucial for healthcare marketing teams. And for any industry.

The future of closed-loop reporting indeed looks promising, with emerging technologies set to enhance its capabilities even further. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are poised to play a significant role, enabling more sophisticated data analysis, predictive modeling, and all-in-one solutions.

AI-powered tools can help identify patterns and trends that might be missed by human analysts, providing deeper insights into customer behavior and preferences. This advanced analysis can drive even more personalized marketing efforts, further improving customer engagement and outcomes.

Closed-loop reporting is an important advancement in marketing, offering a data-driven approach that connects marketing efforts with patient and customer outcomes. By implementing CLR, businesses can enhance customer engagement, continuously refine their strategies, and allocate resources more effectively. Despite the implementation challenges, the benefits of CLR are clear, and its future potential is immense. Even small steps can help tremendously.

As technology continues to evolve, the need for CLR practices will undoubtedly become an integral part of marketing, driving better customer experiences and business success.

Last Updated on July 9, 2024.