Successful Healthcare Marketing Requires Continuous Calibration 

(Healthcare Marketing OPTICS™ Series - Part 6 of 7)

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November 22, 2022

This post is the sixth in a seven-part series on healthcare marketing, which outlines six critical phases of marketing that all marketers -- especially healthcare marketers -- should master if they want to accelerate patient/client growth, increase revenue, reduce marketing expenditures, and build a high-performing internal marketing team.

We call these six critical phases OPTICS, and in this post, we present the fifth phase, Calibrate, the process of monitoring the metrics that matter and refining tactics for maximum results. We will address the final phase in the next post.

Checkout the entire series:

OPTICS framework

Gearing up for success.

If you’ve ever watched a film produced by the entertainment company Lionsgate, you may recall the opening sequence, which shows a set of "golden gears" turning. Although the company replaced that sequence a few years ago, it is iconic.

Gears connected and turning each other is a perfect analogy for the OPTICS™ Framework as it integrates and operates your marketing machine. Each stage of OPTICS™ represents another gear, if you will. All of them working together makes your marketing machine run with precision. Skip one step or get a gear worn out, and the entire machine breaks down or fails to operate at peak performance.

The Calibrate Phase: Test, Monitor, and Refine

In the Implement phase, you put everything into motion.

You developed an evidence-based strategy with clearly-defined goals and KPIs, assigned team members to realize them, and outlined a plan to measure progress.

In other words, the “machine” is running. That “machine” can represent your entire marketing department, it can be a campaign, or it can be a specific tactic.

Remember, though, the goal isn’t to build a machine, per se. The goal is to get the machine to achieve a specific objective. Baked inside of that objective are other questions like “can we do it faster,” “can we do it more inexpensively,” “can we get better results,” or “can we scale it without adding more people” – just to name a few.

That's where the Calibrate phase, the fifth part of the OPTICSTM Framework, kicks in. Here you will focus on reviewing, refining, and improving the process to make it better, increasing the likelihood that your team or your campaign will not only reach their goals, but in all likelihood they’ll exceed them or set it up so they’ll get better next quarter.

In fact, the Calibrate phase and the Sync phase are to marketing what Kaizen is to lean manufacturing.

These final two phases of OPTICS™ are about building a process, mindset, and culture of constant improvement in your organization.

Like the other phases, Calibrate incorporates several components:

  • KPI Review
  • Campaign Refinement
  • Marketing Process and Automation
  • Reputation Management
  • Conversion Rate Optimization
  • Patient/Client Acquisition
  • Online Visibility
  • Digital Experience

KPI Review

During the Implement phase, you should have assigned KPIs to appropriate members of the team, and those KPIs should be specific to the tactic or channel being utilized and the outcome you’re seeking to achieve.

In the Calibrate phase, you’ll establish the process for reviewing assigned KPIs by marketing team members, as well as the necessary responses when indicators hit certain thresholds.

For instance, assume you’re running an online Google display ads campaign. Some of the metrics that are typically monitored are number of impressions, clicks, and click-through rate (CTR). However, perhaps more important are metrics such as cost-per-impression, cost-per-click, and cost-per-conversion.

If you’re outsourcing your ads campaign and the company providing that service doesn’t provide you with the latter set of metrics, then you’ll want to 1) ask them why they aren’t providing them, and 2) calculate them yourself.

You should have thresholds established for each of those metrics, and when one metric is off, then a decision should be made as to what adjustments should take place. Is it time to replace the creative? Is the target audience too small or too nebulously defined? Is the keyword strategy in need of refinement? Should you wait another week to let the algorithm shake things out a bit more?

In either case, measuring and refining are the key to successful campaigns, regardless of whether the tactics take place online or offline.

Campaign Refinement

You have a campaign calendar and are running two-week sprints, so you know what campaigns are active at any given moment. Theoretically, you could refine them in real time.

However, you don't want to get into the habit of daily refinement. The frequency of refinement will depend entirely on the channel and on the tactic being employed. In some cases, bi-weekly would be fine. In other cases, monthly might be optimal. Occasionally, a weekly schedule of refinement might be in order.

We have had vendors in the Facebook ads space and in the Google ads space tell us that it’s ok to let campaigns sit unattended for a month or even two, but to me that's more financial risk than I want to take. You could burn through a lot of cash very quickly by leaving the campaign unattended.

Personally, I’ve noticed that when we change a Google Ads campaign, Google will serve up more ads (more impressions) in the initial stages just so the algorithm can get to work, and then it dies down for a while. It can also work in the opposite direction — slow at first but ramping up over time.

Regardless of the pattern, strategically rebooting or adding a new campaign more frequently can pay off better than letting one sit for a couple of months.

Marketing Processes and Automation

Marketing processes and automation need regular tweaking, especially marketing automation.

When you put your automation sequence in place, things may run smoothly for a while. Typically, however, as people go through the funnel, you will begin to see areas for improving both the automation and the message.

Let's say you've created a quiz funnel that asks the user health questions, then emails custom recommendations for lifestyle changes based on their responses. After enough people take the quiz, you might further segment the audience and provide even more personalized answers in your email follow up.

The Calibrate phase also gives you the opportunity to tee up additional email follow ups that drip out over a few weeks or even months

After enough time passes, you will find many ways to refine both automation and messaging.

Reputation Management

One of the most critical things you should be monitoring, especially if you’re in the healthcare space, is your online reviews. Those might be reviews from Google, Yelp, WebMD, Vitals, HealthGrades, or Facebook, but regardless of source, they should be monitored and addressed on a daily basis.

You should assign a team member who is specifically responsible for monitoring and managing your online reputation. You never know when you may receive a bad review, and you will want to respond to each review regardless of the sentiment.

Responding to comments is trickier in healthcare, because HIPAA restricts what you can say. For instance, you can't acknowledge that the person is a patient, because that could be a HIPAA violation. However, you can acknowledge their complaint or concern and direct them to a number or email address, or, if you can identify the patient, you should have someone immediately reach out to them and discuss the situation. With any luck, you can rectify the situation and encourage an updated review.

The latest research shows that one bad review can drive away 1 out of every 10 potential customers or patients.

That means that if 1,000 potential clients or patients checked out your reviews and read that single bad review, you would have lost 100 potential clients. If the average customer had a lifetime value of $10,000, then that bad review potentially cost you $1 million.

The bottom line is, don’t under any circumstances discount the importance of your online reputation.

Conversion Rate Optimization

Conversion rate optimization, the practice of increasing the number of leads generated online from each conversion point, must also be ongoing. There are many optimization points to focus on through the funnel: landing pages, email messages, forms, shopping carts... the list is long.

You need to look at the drivers that bring people to the website and address any friction that gets in the way of them finalizing a conversion point. A conversion point is something specific, like signing up to download a document, attend a webinar, schedule a meeting, or make a phone call.

It’s critical to look at all steps in the funnel to determine where the conversion process is falling short, and to refine the hooks or steps that lead to the conversion.

The beauty of digital marketing is that you have plenty of data to guide your decision-making.

Patient/Client Acquisition

Getting leads through your marketing efforts is certainly a critical goal, but it’s equally important to track how many of those leads actually convert to patient or client status.

Sometimes, improving patient and client acquisition is as simple as improving the speed at which your team responds to an inquiry. At other times, it's how cordial you are when they call, or how well you answer their questions or provide necessary feedback.  

In either case, every lead needs to be tracked and a conversion ratio established. 

Each quarter, that ratio should be disclosed and discussed for refinement in the Sync phase, but in the Calibrate phase, those goals would have been set and the measurement and refinement really needs to take place in realtime.

Online Visibility

Online visibility refers to the search engine ranking of your website and content, as well as the visibility of your Google business profile. Your search engine visibility is only as good as your SEO or Search Engine Optimization efforts.

Google and Bing are both constantly changing their algorithms for content ranking — 500 to 600 times a year, according to some estimates.

Maintaining the rankings of your pages on any search engine is much like trying to walk up the down escalator.

That means you need to constantly monitor the visibility of your content on search engine results pages (SERPs) and continuously adjust your content marketing tactics to maintain or improve your rankings. Don’t believe the myth that organic search rankings get you free traffic. Organic rankings take an enormous amount of skill and time -- and therefore, money.

Google also changes its business profile program frequently with new features and updates. You can do many things to enhance your profile: post photos, update information about your business, respond to reviews, share announcements and special offers, link to blog posts, and much more. Your profile can and should become a vital part of your marketing activities.

The same is true for your social media presence.

You don't want to have a “dead” social media presence, so maintaining an active one demands that you make routine updates. Those updates shouldn't all be the same, but rather, they should fit the nature of the social network.

Facebook is more personable, LinkedIn is more business-centric (although that's changing). YouTube lends itself well to more educational content, and Twitter is more of a news ticker. There’s also Instagram and TikTok to consider, but those fall more into an entertainment type category.

While you want to put a human face on your brand, you must also appear professional to ensure the prospective patient or client knows that yours is a place that's going to take care of them.

Digital Experience

Finally, you should monitor the complete digital experience that you’re providing. It's just as much a part of your brand as the physical experience you provide patients and clients.

When a patient arrives on time for an appointment and is forced to sit for 45 minutes waiting to see the physician — that does not constitute a good patient experience!

Likewise, digitally, if someone makes an inquiry on the website and you take two days to respond, that doesn't speak well of your brand. On the other hand, if a prospect fills out a form on your website and you respond within minutes via email or phone, that is a great digital experience.

So, it would be well worth your while to add metrics that measure response time and other aspects of your digital engagement with visitors.


The Calibration phase is all about the continual optimization of the output your marketing machine generates by monitoring the right metrics and responding to them in a well structured process.

While calibration is typically thought as in terms of refining campaigns and tactics, it also provides insights into team performance, as well.

Because everyone is assigned and responsible for their own set of KPIs, this level of responsibility and accountability provides employees with focus as well as a sense of pride and accomplishment as they watch their numbers improve by their own actions.

When you pair this responsibility with the celebration for a job well done in the Sync phase, you’ll watch performance and morale improve dramatically.

Now that you have a system in place for establishing benchmarks, setting goals, refining your targeting and messaging, implementing the strategy and tactics, and monitoring and refining based on sound metrics, it's time to review outcomes and set yourself up for success in the next quarterly iteration.

That involves getting all stakeholders across your organization together in quarterly planning sessions to, in essence, start the process all over again with new benchmarks and goals. We call that phase the Sync phase, and we will address it in the next post.

If you're unsure if OPTICS™ will help your organization, schedule a no-cost, 1-hour Marketing Diagnostic Consultation with us. We'll help you uncover any weak spots in your marketing process and identify new ways to accelerate your patient/client growth over the next 90 days.

If you want to get started right away implementing OPTICS™ through our immersive training, sign up for our next cohort here.

This post is the second in a seven-part series on healthcare marketing. This installment looks at the first of six critical phases healthcare marketers need to go through to accelerate patient/client growth, increase revenue, reduce marketing expenditures, and build a high-performing internal marketing team. We will address the other phases in subsequent posts bi-weekly.

Checkout the entire series:

Check out the rest of the series:

OPTICS framework

November 15, 2022

November 17, 2022

November 22, 2022

November 22, 2022

November 22, 2022

November 22, 2022

November 22, 2022