The behavioral health consumer is a challenging consumer. This is even more the case when you are trying to reach that consumer on the Internet. It’s a tough conversion funnel with many points of leakage. First you have to make sure they can find you; then convince them to call; then help them through an often tedious admissions process (verification of benefits, authorizations, clinical assessments, and transportation); then get them to walk through your doors. It’s not even over then: you also have to convince them to stay. It is one of the toughest online conversion funnels and if there are weak points in the system, your cost per acquisition will skyrocket.
The weakest point in most systems is the interaction with the client. Whether this is a poorly written ad or a landing page that turns off your demographic, your first interaction determines whether the right potential client will contact you. Listen to your call center. The relationship between your Internet marketing team and the call center is critical here. You can discover quickly if you are targeting incorrectly when you hear this type of feedback:
- Everyone who calls is looking for a free or cheap program
- The callers seem to be confused – like they didn’t know who they were calling
- The callers are not actively seeking inpatient treatment (seeking AA meetings or advice)
- The callers only have Medicaid or Medicare
- The callers are angry: they feel tricked by the advertising that led to the call
Bad keyword choices or deceptive dynamic ad copy can undermine your credibility with your intake team. Trusting and listening to your call center are critical skills for a behavioral health, direct-to-consumer marketing team.
Another weak point is tracking. Phone systems, CRMs (e.g., Salesforce), and call tracking software need to be integrated to be able to understand what is happening with your campaigns. You want your Internet team leaders to be able to run reports on the fly throughout the day to assess what is happening. Take note: If you have anyone leading your marketing teams who does not know how to run their own CRM reports instantly, you are in deep trouble. They should be running multiple reports four or five times a day on their own. If they are waiting for someone else to create reports weekly or even daily, they can never be nimble enough to run a direct-to-consumer behavioral health marketing team.
Optimization is about data, speed, and creativity. You need to be able to understand the messages your data are giving you, react quickly – not waiting for someone else to tell you what the data indicate – and have creative solutions to improve the results.
Optimization is also about instincts: what will appeal to potential clients? Remember there are major obstacles to converting this particular consumer, so if your marketing team has no clue about the messaging that will appeal to them, your campaigns will be very slow to get off the ground. Ideally you have an optimization-oriented team that includes writers who specialize in persuasive copy that works with this type of consumer, designers who have thick skin and move quickly, and team leaders who have creative expertise in developing campaigns for consumers with mental health disorders. Without an overall understanding of what moves this consumer your campaigns can suffer from the following issues:
- Too broad and generic
- Not empathetic or persuasive
- Not enough information to move the potential client to take the next step
This type of creative instinct can take years to develop and rarely do marketers from other fields have these instincts (although they often believe they do, much to their own dismay when their campaigns fail over and over).
Optimization doesn’t end with answering the phone call. Ask yourself these questions. The answers can lead you to improved results.
- Do you have intake systems that confuse or confound your potential clients?
- Do politics vs. best practices determine who answers those calls?
- Do your intake advisors have trouble getting anyone on the phone at the treatment center?
- Do your systems such as your CRM make it easy for intake professionals to move the admission to the next level?
- Do you empower those professionals who take the initial call to take the steps necessary to move the client to the next stage of admission?
- Are you collecting sufficient data in your CRM to be able to optimize advertising campaigns (e.g., closed reasons, insurance type)?
An honest analysis of your conversion funnel and where the logjams are occurring can have a dramatic impact on conversion rates. Consider the fact that if you are getting 100 inquiries a day and currently converting four of those inquiries to admission, if you increased your conversion rate to convert one more admission that is another 30 admits every month. The impact will be dramatic if you can honestly face what political, systemic, and operational issues undermine the movement from ad view to admission.
Vera Appleyard is the founder of Tabitha Digital. She has a BA from Columbia University and an MFA from New York University. She has worked in the behavioral health space since 2000.