Deciding which projects to keep and which projects to end, pause, or adjust isn’t always easy. Simplify decision-making by asking the right questions when planning campaigns and assessing their results.
Preparing for Launch
Start by defining your objectives. Whether you’re preparing to launch a quarterly magazine or a direct mail, email, or social media ad campaign, make sure you understand:
- who you’re targeting
- what action you want your target audience to take
- how you’ll track and measure the campaign’s results
- what you classify as success
“Campaign success may be something very specific—like increased volume to a particular service line—or it may be more about brand recognition, which is much harder to quantify,” says Nancy Frank, True North Custom director of client services. “Setting goals, discussing your expectations, developing clear calls to action, and knowing what you want to measure—and what actually can be measured—are key steps at the beginning of any campaign.”
Measurement & Optimization
Examples of metrics you can measure during or after a print or digital campaign include:
- data derived from trackable phone numbers and URLs included in the calls to action found in print publications and direct mail pieces
- the open rates and click-to-open rates you achieved through your email campaign
- the number of people who visited your website or landing page
- the reach and number of impressions generated by a social media ad campaign
As you evaluate these metrics, make sure you’re looking at results with a critical eye.
“It’s important to ask yourself, ‘What do these numbers mean?’” says Eric Jackson, True North Custom vice president, creative services. “You may have 1 million impressions, but what does that mean if you haven’t seen an increase in sales? Cut through the buzzwords, and make sure you’re being honest and realistic.”
“Softer” metrics—brand perception, patient engagement, and brand awareness—are harder to quantify. However, these metrics are just as important as hard numbers because they offer vital insight into how your patients and community members view your organization.
“Hospitals, especially, need to make sure they’re providing a service people need and want,” Jackson says. “People get to choose where they receive care, so brand perception is always going to be a key metric for healthcare marketers.”
The Million-Dollar Question
Once you’ve identified your marketing goals, launched a targeted campaign, and reviewed the applicable data, it’s time to ask the tough question: Did the campaign meet its objective?
If you achieved your goal, ask yourself if the results are sustainable over time or if you’ve reached the point of diminishing returns for the campaign.
“There comes a time when you’ve reached and influenced those in your market,” Frank says. “At that point, you may want to pause the campaign until the people and/or circumstances in your market change.”
If you didn’t achieve your goal, you need to understand why and identify adjustments you can make to either optimize the campaign or inform future efforts. Consider these questions:
- Did something change in your market? Evaluate your current strategy and make sure you’re reaching the right audience with the right message at the right time and through the right channel.
- Did you give the campaign enough time to be successful? “Healthcare decisions take time,” Frank says. “In most cases, the correct question isn’t whether to end the campaign altogether but whether to pause the campaign and find out what adjustments need to be made to optimize results.”
- What did you learn that you can use in the future? Even if your campaign didn’t measure up to expectations, you shouldn’t consider it a failure. Instead, focus on what you can learn from the experience.
- How can you use the information you learned to better engage your target audience in the future? “At the root of all campaigns, marketers are trying to establish and build relationships,” Frank says. “I suggest thinking in terms of creating conversations, rather than creating campaigns, and shifting from a campaign mind-set to having an ongoing interaction with your audience. Successful marketing doesn’t come from a one-time effort, but through continual engagement. The key is to learn from our past efforts, make the correct adjustments, and continue the conversation.”
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