The patient journey is no longer linear. This is the disruption that has left many addiction treatment centers stuck in the past.
Before, it was easy. Patient went to a referral source, like their primary care doctor, and that doctor referred them to your center.
Or the patient or patient’s family was in crisis, they did a Google search, and they made a call.
While that still happens, the market has changed and clients have changed. The field of addiction treatment has exploded, driving competition through the roof. There are counties in California and Florida with over 1,000 treatment centers, which make it imperative that for your treatment center to thrive you need to leverage the expertise of a proven rehab marketing agency like Circle Social Inc.
At 50 beds each, and with only 1,000,000 residents in West Palm Beach County, for example, 5% of the county could actually sleep at a recovery center each night!
In the marketing world, we talk about top of funnel, middle of funnel, and bottom of funnel. These are stages of people in their journey towards seeking treatment.
There Aren’t That Many Patients in Crisis
Someone at the bottom of the funnel is in crisis. Maybe their husband or child just walked in the door, high on heroin for the umpteenth time, and they decide they need to make a call now.
But that’s a very, very small number of people. And to catch people at just that right time in their moment of crisis is extremely difficult.
This is the problem that most centers are experiencing. Before, when there was a lot less competition, you could rely on this small number of people to find your center in their moment of crisis. Now you can’t.
Rehabs Need to Be Focused on Patients BEFORE They’re in Crisis
Instead, what centers need to be doing is building strong ties with potential patients and families BEFORE they are in crisis. These are potential patients who are at the top or middle of the funnel in terms of their journey towards seeking recovery.
These people have not yet admitted that they need help, or they are in research mode and still looking around at different options and centers.
Think about it like building up ties with churches in your community. You’re not just going to show up at a church’s door and ask if they have any members in active addiction that need help, then walk away forever. They don’t know you from Adam, and they’d never think about you again once you left.
Instead, you go to the churches and get to know the priests, pastors, elders, and other key leaders. Maybe they offer an AA meeting there on Thursday nights that you send one of your counselors to once a month to help out.
And what happens? 2 months from now, or 5 months from now, suddenly you start getting patients coming from the church. Some come from the AA meetings, some come from members of the church who have never been to AA, but to whom the priest has recommended you, some come from friends of individuals in the AA group who have never even attended that church.
And why are they choosing you? Because you built up trust very early on. Again, in disconnected marketing speak, you’ve engaged them at the top of the funnel (connecting with the church leaders) and middle of the funnel (actively participating in AA meetings). So, when members or those they know come to the conclusion that they need professional treatment, when they reach their moment of crisis, they’re not going to their primary care physician or Google, they’re calling you.
And that’s how ALL of your marketing needs to work from your Facebook campaigns, to your billboards, to your community outreach.
Centers MUST Integrate Marketing Efforts across Channels
What’s more, it cannot be disconnected. Most centers make the mistake of trying to treat each communication channel as a separate marketing campaign. This should never be the case.
As I mentioned in the beginning, the days of linear journeys are largely over. A traditional path of someone calling to your center for treatment is:
- They see your billboard ad while driving to work (but they forget about it by the time they get there and it’s not until the 8th time driving past it that they finally remember to look you up once they get to work).
- They visit your website and explore what you have to offer.
- Your tracking pixel on your website picks up their visit and sends them a re-targeted Facebook ad.
- They click on the ad, visit your website again, then do a quick search for online reviews of your center to see what others have said.
- After seeing mostly good things in the online reviews, they go back to the page they’d landed on from the Facebook ad and give your center a call.
So what got them to give you a call? Was it the billboard, your website, the Facebook ad, the online reviews? Of course, it was all of it.
None of these items, on its own, was enough to prompt a call, but, working in conjunction over time, you ended up with a new intake.
Managing Attribution in Complex Customer Journeys
So this is the challenge. How do you analyze what’s working? Well, the easiest way to do it is to determine the average cost you pay for a new patient intake. To make the math really simple, let’s give the unrealistically low number of $100.
From our customer acquisition cost (CAC) amount, we then want to attribute a value to different stages in the customer journey. Let’s start with the website. Let’s say that this month, we got 1 new intake that cost us $100.
If we go to Google Analytics, we can see that we had 1,000 visits to our website, 5 form fills, and 2 phone calls. So we can then work backwards to assign a value to each stage in that journey.
I now know that it takes 2 phone calls to get one intake. So, based on the $100 CAC, we can say that each phone call costs $50, each form fill costs $20, and each web visit cost 10 cents.
What this does is allows us to estimate the value of different touch points in our customer journey that are not dependent only on final attribution (which is not a very accurate approach anyway).
So, let’s say that we use Facebook to drive a lot of traffic to our website, but, actually, all the final calls come from the Adwords campaigns. This makes sense, right? Because the Facebook campaigns might be driving initial awareness, but it’s the Adwords appearing at the top of the Google search that gets the click that leads to the call.
So, even though Facebook doesn’t show any calls as part of final attribution, we know that the top of funnel traffic it drove led to the bottom of funnel call through Adwords. THIS is the reason it’s so important to assign values across channels, so you can accurately measure the value each channel brings to final patient intake.
And you can do this with all your channels, even billboards. Now, for traditional channels, like billboards, you have no idea how many people actually viewed it, unlike your website. But advertising companies that sell billboard space do have estimates of how many people pass by the sign each day and what percentage of those people have probably seen the ad.
So you can do the exact same thing. If you got 6 calls this month and the only advertising you were doing was on the billboard, then you divide your total cost by the number of reported impressions (views) on the billboard. Other creative strategies are to have unique phone number or unique web urls on billboards to help track.
You Can’t Achieve Perfection, But You Can Become Strategic
Of course, life isn’t that easy and no center should be relying on a single channel for marketing. As we mentioned above, it’s much more likely the billboard, your website, online reviews, advice from a friend, and a Facebook ad all worked together to make that decision. But, honestly, you don’t need to worry about that level of complexity to be able to understand the effectiveness of your marketing channels.
Your attributions will never perfectly map onto the customer journey. There are simply too many unknowns, but, doing it this way, you’ll have more than enough data and tracking in place to be able to make strategic decisions on where to focus your marketing efforts.
For example, if you know that most people are first seeing your center on Facebook and it took 1,000 page visits to get 2 calls and 1 intake, then you want to put more money into Facebook to get 2,000 visits that lead to 4 calls that lead to 2 intakes.
Or, maybe you decide you don’t have more money to push into more Facebook ads, so you focus on a way to improve your website landing page so that you get 4 calls per every 1,000 visits (Protip: a contact form landing page should be converting at at least 2%. Otherwise, it needs to be revamped). There is a lot you can do with the information once you’ve got proper tracking and attribution in place.
Another advantage is that you can truly map out these customer journeys to see where most people enter, how they evaluate you, and what the most commonly used paths are that end up leading to contact or an intake. We’ll save that high level mapping for our next post, so stay tuned.