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Five Must-Track Digital Marketing Metrics for Health Systems

Five Must-Track Digital Marketing Metrics for Health SystemsThere are so many digital marketing metrics to track, it can leave marketers with a serious case of TMI. Having too much data is overwhelming and looking at the wrong data is a waste of time. The key is to find the data that illustrates the new website visitors you’ve acquired, but also shows opportunity for meaningful optimizations. That raises the question: what metrics matter most for your hospital or health system?

1. Website Visits - Examining visits to your website will give you valuable insights about how your efforts in other areas are translating to interest in your website. Google Analytics is a great source for capturing website data, such as “sessions,” “users,” and “page views.” This information is also likely available from your website content management system. It’s important to note that these data points often have a different definition across platforms, so it’s important to verify what they mean. Once you have defined your data points, you’ll be able to track whether traffic increases or decreases—and then ask, “Why?” 

While the “why” is is the most important question, it is sometimes the hardest question to answer. One thing to look at is seasonality. Compare this year with past years. Does traffic always go up (or down) this time of year? Also look at the sources of traffic. Which had the biggest impact on the change in traffic over time? Then, think about what you did within the sources with the highest impact. Did you pause a Facebook ad that was linking to your blog? Was there a press release issued? Did your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) rankings increase during this time? Changes such as these will affect web traffic one way or another, and keeping track of the outcomes will not only give you a metric to report on, but also help you plan for the future.

2. Organic Search Engine Rankings - A key tactic for increasing SEO is to target search term phrases/keywords for each page on your organization’s website. Ranking well in search engines for the terms you selected means that people can find you in search engine results when they search for those terms. Three is a good number of keywords to target for each page.  After incorporating the ones you’ve selected into the page content, you’ll want to track how you rank for those phrases over time using your website platform (e.g. Hubspot). If your platform doesn’t offer these metrics, there are many search engine ranking tools out there like Moz and Raven Tools

Ranking on the top half of the first search engine result page can do wonders for your business. While paid ads on Google AdWords are a quick fix, only 25% of people click them. The other 75% click on the organic search results. And, since 90% of people don’t go beyond the first page of search results, it is important to put effort into SEO1. If you want to increase your rankings, check out this search engine optimization guide!

3. Conversions - Conversions happen when visitors to your website perform an action that meets one of your conversion goals. Start by setting these goals. These might include scheduling or requesting appointments, submitting forms for newsletters, or perhaps downloading particular types of content. Determine the list of conversion goals and keep track of the number of conversions you get from each source in your marketing toolbox. You might have to piece together this information from various sources. If you use marketing automation software, you might be able to get a lot of it from there. You can (and should) also get data from the websites you advertise on and the vendors you advertise with.

As you track conversions over time, you’ll be able to attribute increases and decreases to various digital marketing efforts. Did you increase your pay-per-click bids for high performing keywords in Google AdWords? Did you recently upgrade your appointment options on your find-a-doc site? It’s also important to note the sources that yield the most conversions. This is where you should focus your attention! Is the successful ad on webmd.com, Google AdWords, or Facebook? Finally, as you measure conversions it’s important to note the quality of those conversions. Do they need a service that your health system provides? Conversion rates will tell you a lot about where to invest digital marketing efforts and what efforts are turning online researchers into patients.

4. Return on Investment (ROI) - Beyond conversion rates, it’s important to look at the ROI for each source in your marketing toolbox, as well as overall. To determine your ROI, assign a dollar amount to the conversions described in section #3 above and deduct the cost of that strategy, then divide that difference by the cost. Do this for each source and overall across your toolbox to keep a close pulse on what you’re marketing efforts are generating.

When evaluating conversions, key questions to consider are: Are you getting the most conversions from direct traffic and/or organic search traffic to your website (if the answer is yes—great, because those are “free” sources!)? Are you spending a lot of money on ads that do not convert to site visits? Are your conversions from third party marketplaces generating less revenue than they cost? If your ROI from any source is negative, you may want to remove it from your strategy completely. This can do wonders to your overall ROI number and ensure you’re allocating resources to successful strategies.

5. Content - What content brings in the most conversions? Is it an ad that talks about sleep apnea, an email you sent out about pediatric asthma or a blog you posted about mental health? Look at which messages bring traffic to your website and then which produce conversions. Are there messages that bring a lot of traffic, but don’t result in anything tangible? Also look at which messages bring in future patients versus those that bring in traffic that doesn’t ultimately convert. You should be able to extract this data from the same place you get your conversion data from - from the sources (websites and vendors) themselves and/or from a marketing automation tool.

Always remember, if the data doesn’t mean anything to you, it most likely won’t mean anything to people you share it with either, nor will it help you make decisions that produce a higher ROI from your marketing investments. Focusing on the right metrics will save you time while helping you boost marketing effectiveness. These metrics should come together to tell a story. Put it together and use it for reporting, marketing optimization, strategy development, and more!

Feel free to comment below with any questions or comments. And for more digital marketing insights, download our digital marketing guide today.


  1. Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. Inbound Marketing, Revised and Updated: Attract, Engage, and Delight Customers Online. Wiley. 2014.
Topics: Digital Analytics