Building Marketing Analytics Reports for Healthcare Clients

Published January 3, 2017
A doctor wouldn’t treat two different patients the same just because they were diagnosed with the same condition. As a doctor of marketing, shouldn’t your client campaigns be subject the same kind of nuance?
We’d argue yes.
Sure, there may be digital marketing guidelines and practices that are common across verticals, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room to refine your reporting practices based on a client’s specific industry. When it comes to healthcare, there are distinct procedural and user behaviors that can be used to strengthen both reporting and your marketing campaigns.
According to a report from Econsultancy, healthcare and pharma industries will spend $1.93 billion on paid digital advertising in 2016. Many digital agencies have the opportunity to work with companies in this space, whether specializing in the healthcare niche or having select clients in the field.
Healthcare clients are likely to have highly organized marketing staff who care about detailed data. They’ll want to see detailed breakdowns of campaign performance in regular digital marketing reports and hear thought-out explanations to justify recommendations.
In this article, we’ll cover a few tips to help you build better analytics reports for healthcare clients.


Building Marketing Analytics Reports for Healthcare Clients


Identify the Website’s Purpose

To start, identify why your healthcare client’s site exists and what their goals are. While this may seem like an obvious question to address, you should have clear goals in mind for running the campaign and accurately reporting on results.

Within the healthcare industry, your client could fit any one of several possible niches with varying goals. For example:

  • Hospital: goal of building trust in a community and acquiring new patients for a variety of services
  • General practitioner’s office: goal of adding new patients who choose this doctor as their primary care provider
  • Specialist’s office (internal medicine, podiatry, etc.): goal of increasing patients
  • Pharmaceutical company: goal of increasing medication sales to businesses and/or consumers
  • Health insurer: goal of increasing enrollment from business and/or individual plans

From here, identify the conversion points that equal “success” for your client, and focus on these metrics in your reports.

Report on Multiple Conversion Touchpoints

Within the healthcare industry, consumers often conduct multiple searches and hit multiple pages before making a decision to contact an organization. For instance, someone may not immediately be looking for a new primary care physician but may be researching causes for leg pain.

However, upon finding an article on a doctor’s site about possible causes for leg pain, the potential patient may then see that doctor as a knowledgeable practitioner and schedule an appointment. Eventually, after a good experience from that appointment, the patient may then choose that doctor as a primary care physician.

When deciding what online goals to track in Google Analytics and ad platforms, it is important to recognize that multiple interactions with a brand may be necessary to lead to a final conversion. For that reason, it becomes valuable to track activity from an entry point of interaction (for instance, downloading an ebook and entering an email list) to later points of contact (for instance, filling out a “Schedule an Appointment” form).


Google Analytics Goal Completions


It may also make sense to separate conversion points between potential and current patients/customers to measure both how you’re acquiring new people and how existing patients/customers are engaging with your brand.

For example, a health insurer should measure new leads from potential businesses looking to choose its plans but should also measure how often existing customers log into an online portal. Frequent usage of services by current customers may imply that they are more tied to your brand and less likely to consider switching to a competing insurance provider. Conversely, if clients are not taking advantage of these opportunities, that may represent issues with awareness or user experience that could be improved to strengthen existing relationships and increase retention.

Benchmark Performance Over Time

While reporting on long-term trends is crucial for any online campaign, you should especially focus on larger time periods for healthcare clients. The bureaucracy and regulations surrounding the healthcare industry often mean that campaign approvals move slowly. If you aren’t able to update and test as frequently as you would for clients in other industries. In addition, ad platforms can take longer to approve ads for the health and pharmaceutical realms.

As long as you have access to the data, you should look at not just monthly but quarterly and yearly trends. Watch for long term increases or decreases in traffic volume, conversions, conversion rate, and cost per conversion. For awareness-focused campaigns, monitor changes in engagement-based metrics like average session duration and pages per session.


Compare Marketing Results vs Average


For businesses that see seasonal trends, make sure to identify those on analytics graphs. For instances, health insurance companies will encounter a spike in new business activity around the period of open enrollment. In this case, comparing data to the same period last year will prove far more informative than comparing to the previous month, before open enrollment started.

Identify What Consumers are Asking

72% of consumers look for health information online, and 77% of those start with a search engine, according to a Pew Research Center study. Reporting on what these people search for will help inform current performance and future strategies. For this purpose, there are a couple of trends to watch for when reporting on search queries.

First, “near me” searches have grown concurrently with the omnipresence of mobile devices. According to Google, over 50% of health-related searches contain the phrase “near me.” People search with local intent, expecting that Google will automatically find the best results near their current location. For local hospitals and doctors’ offices, these searches indicate the importance of both local organic ranking and geotargeted paid campaigns.

Next, consumers increasingly use Google to ask questions about health concerns, such as “Is bronchitis contagious?” or “How long does the flu last?” By showing search queries in your reports, you can identify what users are searching to get to your clients’ sites and help to inform future content. Conversely, you can identify what queries are not in the list of those leading people to your site. Use reporting to call out these opportunities and present possible tactics to draw in more searchers.

If you’re running paid campaigns, you can show search terms matched to paid keywords. For organic search, you can show queries from Google Search Console. Use these to inform both observations on queries that correlate with positive performance, as well as finding opportunities to inform new content recommendations.


AdWords Search Queries for Healthcare Providers



In this article, we’ve highlighted several areas of importance to consider for healthcare analytics reporting. Identify goals and report on the multiple stages potential patients or customers go through during research. Benchmark data over time to account for long-term acquisition cycles and slow approval processes. Finally, highlight search activity to capitalize on current performance and inform new content.

By keeping these steps in mind, you’ll present better reports to your healthcare clients. In addition, you’ll find more opportunities to present them with ideas for future campaigns and content.


When the client first came to you, you talked up the value of Google Analytics. You emphasized the importance of seeing where your traffic was coming from. You went on and on about how Google Analytics can show traffic sources to pinpoint whether people came from search, social media or a specific site referral, and how valuable this data was. You sold them on it, so much so that your client looked forward to receiving that first report, the magical day when they would finally understand where visitors were coming from.
But then the report came, and it looked like this:



It showed that 10% of your client’s traffic came from “(direct)/(none)”. What does this label mean? How do you explain Direct traffic to your client? Better yet, how do you explain “none”?
Let’s take a closer look at understanding Direct traffic in Google Analytics and how we can address it with clients.
Digital marketers spend a lot of time focused on PPC and SEO campaigns in order to drive desirable traffic to a website. The phrases we’re ranking for and bidding on get meticulous attention, so much so that we often forget about some of the other ways that visitors find us.

We put a tremendous amount of the effort we put into reviewing organic search data and PPC campaign performance in analytics. But how closely do we monitor referral reports?

If that’s not a channel you review regularly, you may be missing out on seeing traffic that is coming directly from links you’ve obtained around the web, local business listings, news mentions, and more. Many times, links are only considered as a means to an end, a metric that Google uses in determining how to rank sites in the SERPs (search engine results pages). But the fact is, many of a site’s links may be directly contributing to its traffic.

In this article, we’ll review how to look at referral reports in Google Analytics, and some of the many ways to use that data to better inform your web marketing decisions.


Remember how your mom told you not to stand too close to the television because it might hurt your eyes?

The same rules can apply to data. If you’re too close, you may miss the patterns and trends that are crucial to understanding your website’s performance. You can’t judge a site’s performance looking at data in the bubble of a single day, you must consider any day’s traffic compared to the days before and after.

Google Analytics makes it fairly easy to analyze trends over long periods of time. But it also allows you to stand right in front of that TV, to look at more granular levels of time, right down to the hour.
There’s a better way to get that close to the data, without burning your retinas. We’ll cover how to analyze traffic effectively in today’s post.