The holidays are a time to celebrate the past year’s successes while making plans for future success. Building a budget is a must for any practice owner, and money spent on marketing and advertising often represents a substantial portion of a practice’s overall spending for the year.
Because of the amount of money involved and competition from your competitors, it’s important not only to spend each marketing dollar wisely but track how it is spent and determine whether or not you received a return on your investment. Here are three tips you can use during year-end budgeting to ensure that the money you invest in marketing your practice in 2016 is well-spent.
Look at Your Books
Before you begin budgeting, you must know what benefits your practice has enjoyed as a result of marketing spending over the preceding year. Look back not only at the number of clients you had and the profits generated from that business, but how many leads you obtained through each marketing channel (i.e. website, pay per click, inbound marketing, etc.).
Knowing how many leads came from each section of your marketing efforts will help you understand not only ROI but the potential for ongoing success (while allowing for changes in the market). This should not feel like guesswork – it should be based on an informed understanding of how your practice is attracting clients and how those clients respond.
Some of the steps you can take to gauge the number of leads and revenue generated through each marketing channel include:
- Assess how clients are finding your practice and engaging with your staff. Look at website traffic, phone calls, and other means of communication, and how frequently prospects who use these channels become clients.
- Examine Google Analytics data for the year. This tool has a variety of applications for online marketing, including traffic tracking and segmentation, analysis of user demographics, and – perhaps most importantly – the ability to trace a user’s journey through your website and indicate how and where a conversion takes place.
- Compare spending to profits. Careful budgeting and diligent tracking of which client comes from which marketing channel will make it possible for you to get a full picture of the success of your online marketing campaigns. Once you have this baseline, take a long, hard look at the amount you’re spending on each type of campaign and make data-driven decisions on where you believe it would benefit your practice to spend more money, spend less money, or stay the course.
Some of these data will be readily available, while others might require the use of specialized tools or the input of an experienced Internet marketer to provide full context. Whether you can balance your marketing budget yourself or require the assistance of a professional, knowing your marketing profits and expenses is a critical part of achieving success for your practice in today’s competitive market.
Don’t Segment Excessively
Some practice owners have a tendency to think that money spent on one marketing channel is entirely distinct from money spent on another form of marketing. This type of thinking ignores three realities of promoting your practice, particularly online:
- It’s all your money. Even if you allocate a certain amount to your website, another set of funds to social media, and so on, the money you are spending all originates from the same place: your practice. Any benefits you reap from various marketing efforts will in turn go right back to your practice, so streamlining your marketing budget is logical.
- The strongest marketing is consistent. When you started your practice, you likely had a vision of how you wanted your business to operate and how you served clients. Your marketing should be infused with this same kind of vision, even if the amount of money you spend and the way your message is distributed might vary from channel to channel.
- Consumers are savvy. The influx of technology into your clients’ daily lives means that the days of prospects seeing a practice name on a bus stop bench or a television ad and immediately calling the first office number they see are over. Customers seeking a specific service can evaluate multiple businesses in minutes, and your practice needs to be able to stand out.
Thinking about your marketing holistically isn’t just a matter of retraining your brain to match the current marketplace. It can also be implemented practically.
For example, investing in both display advertising and marketing through your practice website allows you to stay at the top of a prospective client’s mind even after that consumer has moved on from your website. Display advertising campaigns are programmed to “remember” a user’s search and surfing habits, and generate ads on particular websites based on those behaviors.
Though Web marketing and display advertising are technically two separate channels, treating them as two parts of the same segment will make it easier for you and your team to treat both methods as a single campaign with multiple methods for success. Thinking of each marketing channel in which you invest as part of an overarching strategy – while maintaining awareness of the nuances each channel has – will allow you to track each dollar more closely and understand the impact of your investment.
The conversion of a prospect into a viable lead is the goal of any marketing campaign. However, the nature of these two terms varies significantly based on industry, individual practice goals, and a host of other factors.
As the principal of a practice, you and other stakeholders need to determine what exactly constitutes a lead, as well as whether or not that lead was properly nurtured. This requires close examination of not only your marketing budget but in many cases the intake process used at your office.
Say, for example, that your website tracks every form submitted by a user interested in your services. Though you might have notifications in place, the staff members responsible for intake consistently take several business days to follow up with the prospect. Your practice is almost certainly missing out on a sizable portion of these online leads, and the solution might be adjusting your marketing investment to provide additional training for your employees on how to integrate the lead-gathering system connected to your website with your intake procedures.
Every member of your team should know what constitutes success, including those not directly involved in marketing operations. When every member of the practice shares this same goal, you will be able to get the most accurate picture of how well your marketing budget is being spent, and how you can increase leads and drive revenue for the new year.
If you have questions about how to build your online budget in 2016, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Internet marketing consultant by calling (303) 233-3886 today. If you believe your marketing dollars could be spent better, please don’t hesitate to contact Page 1 Solutions online for a free evaluation of your practice website.