We all know that generating leads is important but what happens next? And how do you best get those leads to convert into paying patients? Many healthcare practices we speak with struggle with lead intake and lead management, knowingly or not.
What’s the big deal with lead management, and how should it be handled? Effective lead management helps ensure you’re making the most of your marketing dollars and can help you stay on track with paying off any device investments.
To get a complete picture, we spoke with Executive Healthcare Marketing Consultant, Ryan Files, who has worked in the industry for seven years, and Senior Account Manager, Ana Cristina Reaves, who manages over 35 BTL accounts in the aesthetic healthcare industry.
Moving Leads from Interest to Paying Patients
Many practices are focused on generating leads. How important is managing those leads?
Reaves: You can create a campaign that generates lots of leads. But proper management is not just looking at the quantity but also the quality of those leads. It’s not the number of inquiries but the number of times those have converted into paying customers.
Files: If you only have lead generation without lead management, you’ve just created more work for your practice and are hurting it more than helping.
Can you tell us about a case where lead management really made a difference in the outcomes for a practice?
Reaves: You can have two different practices that have the same device, running the same type of digital marketing campaign with the same software. And they can even be generating the same number of leads. What makes the difference is how they’re managing those leads. We see a higher appointments-scheduled ratio in practices that have a strong lead management process in place. Out of the 30+ body sculpting campaigns I’m managing, the ones that are blowing it out of water have strong lead intake and lead management processes.
Files: A lot of times, practices don’t need more leads. When I hear someone say, “ I’ve done this in the past, and it didn’t work for me,” the first thing that comes to mind is to look into their lead intake and lead management process. That’s a common struggle for practices.
How is the lead intake process different in the healthcare space than in other industries?
Reaves: Lead management is different for clinical than it is for aesthetic and cosmetic. Clinical healthcare is insurance-based. These patients call you, and that’s something practices get used to. In the insurance-based clinical world, patients choose you.
Cosmetic/Aesthetic healthcare is cash-based. Unlike clinical patients who need your service, cosmetic patients want or are considering getting something done BUT may or may not decide to pursue it. It’s also paid for out of their pockets if they do decide to move forward. When they call, they’re going to want to learn more, and the onus is on the practice to call them back and to educate and nurture them. For all of these reasons, conversion is harder. You need a lead intake process and need to follow it.
Files: That’s a big difference that a lot of healthcare practices don’t take into consideration, especially if coming from insurance-based and adding a cosmetic procedure. When adding cosmetic procedures to your practice, you have to ensure you have adequate time, resources, and infrastructure.
We see many who wonder why their usual method of digital marketing isn’t working. They may have added botox (a known service) and found it wasn’t hard to convert leads to patients, so they added a device. And now they find it’s harder and they have real money in the game.
Body Sculpting is a great example of this type of device. When these leads call, they’re still in discovery and fact-finding mode. Your practice has to move them through fact-finding, and there’s a process that you have to follow for that to happen. You have to educate them on the different options. You need people in your practice who are educated on your services and skilled at managing these leads. If they don’t effectively follow through with the lead management process, you’ll lose these leads that you paid good marketing dollars for.
Automating the Lead Management Process
Automating the lead management process would relieve the burden on staff, but we know that patients still like that human element. What are your thoughts on automation and finding the “sweet spot”?
Reaves: Automation isn’t enough. It can help, but a person has to call back. A lot of practices think, “oh, our practice can call back,” but underestimate the amount of work that goes into it.
Files: You have to have a blended effort. There’s no magic bullet. Sure, use automation, but combine that with manual effort of picking up the phone to call and doing that again. Follow the process. If not, then the automation may help but not enough to make an impact on patient conversion rates.
Lead Management Software Solutions
There’s a host of software solutions being offered. Do practices need a CRM? And how do they know which is best for them?
Reaves: First, it starts off with having the right people. You need to have the right people in your practice’s office following up with the leads your marketing team is generating. And you need those people to have both the time and the knowledge needed to convert more leads into paying patients.
Files: Software solutions are really important, and practices need them, but that’s not the first thing on the list. The first thing is having the right people, followed by the right process. Then, and only then do you need to worry about having the right software. You can’t just go buy a software and expect it to fix everything.
The Elements of Effective Lead Management for Healthcare Practices
What goes into effective lead management?
Files: (1) Start With the Right Technology. Marketing automation software is the most effective system for implementing lead management. (2) Work Closely With Sales. In this case, the sales team is your office staff or receptionists. Marketing and receptionists should communicate with one another. (3) Implement Lead Nurture and Remarketing Campaigns. (4) Track Your Progress.
Don't have a Lead Management System in Place? Here's how to get started.
What’s your advice for practices that don’t have lead management systems in place. How should they get started?
Files: You have two options. (1) Take a day to think about it and write down what the process should look like. Ask yourself, “What should my employee say and do when a lead comes through. How should they manage that lead?” OR (2) You need to speak with someone who has done it before.
Reaves: First, evaluate your staff to ensure you have the right people and enough of them to manage the load. And don’t do it yourself. It’s not realistic for you to balance managing a lot of leads and doing your procedures well.
Next, think about your process. Put yourself in the buyer’s place, not what would be convenient for practice. Ask yourself what it would take for YOU to buy. If you’re a lead, what way would be most effective to follow up with you? And what’s it going to take for you to go from a lead to a paying patient. Really take the time to document the process.
Once you have a process in place, you need to make sure you give your team enough time to work on this. You might have the right person, but they don’t have the time to do it. If someone doesn’t have enough time to manage the load, think about how to give this person some time back.
How to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Your Lead Management
Once my practice is doing lead management, how do I evaluate its effectiveness?
Files: Math. Start from the outcome — if there’s a device involved, how soon do you want to recoup your investment and work your way back. What does the device cost? How much do you get for every consultation? How many consults do you need to have? How many leads do you need to have come in to meet that number of consults?
To do that, you have to know your numbers and conversion rates. And remember, conversion rates depend on the device or services. The more expensive it is, the lower the conversion rates will be because people must be able to afford it and willing to pay for it.
How many leads are coming in? And how many are turning into consultations? What percentage of those consultations are turning into patients? If you’re throwing a ballpark number out there, you’re probably not evaluating the lead management process well. It’s worth time blocking to evaluate this process. When I tell a lot of practices this, the doctors say they don’t have time. But it’s costing them money by not doing it. And it’ll take twice as long to pay off the device if you don’t take that time. Schedule a few hours a week or month to evaluate the effectiveness of your lead management.
Reaves: Test how your practice is doing by being the patient lead. Go through the process yourself, see how your practice responds, and ask yourself if you’re satisfied with that. Did you get a callback or just an email? How many times did the practice attempt to reach you? Were they familiar with the product/service and able and willing to answer all your questions to a point where you’d be willing to come in for a consult? Many doctors don’t realize how much is falling through the cracks.
Lead Management is Worth the Time Investment
Set aside time to create a lead management process, and if you’ve already got one, ensure you’re making time to evaluate its effectiveness. Work with a digital marketing partner who specializes in the unique challenges the healthcare space poses and understand the importance of lead management in the marketing process.
Have more questions? We have a dedicated healthcare team who would love to talk with you.