The Role of Attribution in Evidence-Based Healthcare Marketing

In healthcare, evidence-based practice integrates a treatment approach that is based on facts, not intuition. 

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) describes evidence-based practice as “a way of providing health care that is guided by a thoughtful integration of the best available scientific knowledge with clinical expertise.”

The AHRQ notes that by using this approach, practitioners can “critically assess research data, clinical guidelines, and other information resources in order to correctly identify the clinical problem, apply the most high-quality intervention, and re-evaluate the outcome for future improvement.”

In a similar vein, when healthcare marketers implement evidence-based marketing, they can boost marketing efforts and improve return on investment (ROI). 

One way to do so is through the use of marketing attribution.

What is marketing attribution?

In its March 2023 report, Marketing in healthcare: Improving the consumer experience, global consulting firm McKinsey & Company refers to attribution as “the process of measuring the effects of marketing efforts and the rate at which they convert consumers to achieve desired consumer outcomes.”

Noting that many healthcare providers aren’t operating at full steam when it comes to marketing-attribution capabilities, the firm says attribution analysis is “a critical component of measuring the financial ROI of spending on digital marketing in healthcare.”

To experience attribution success, McKinsey & Company says cross-departmental collaboration is essential, especially between the marketing and IT departments.

Since marketers seek to reach consumers through multiple channels—or should be—it’s important to identify which efforts are most effective so time and money aren’t wasted on those which aren’t.

The benefits of using marketing attribution

In addition to identifying the most successful points of contact, it’s also important to understand the why behind the success of a specific connection.

“Marketing attribution gives marketers deeper visibility into which channels are most effective in driving conversions, which also helps maximize ROI,” digital giant Adobe says. “Attribution lets your team build a holistic picture of the entire customer path to purchase, from first contact through conversion.”

The organization also describes various benefits of using marketing attribution:

  • Better personalization: Understanding the why of conversions can inform marketing efforts.
  • Improved ROI: Focusing on channels which provide the best conversion rates can help optimize marketing investments. 
  • Enhanced product (or service) development: Gaining insight into what garners consumer response helps organizations better understand what consumers need and how to provide it. 
  • Easier justification of marketing’s value: Providing concrete data about the success of marketing expenditures fuels support from stakeholders and key decision makers. 

Methods for marketing attribution in healthcare 

As Adobe notes, there are many types of marketing-attribution methods, but McKinsey & Company says three in particular are commonly used and can be helpful for healthcare marketers:

  • Marketing mix modeling
  • Anonymized data
  • A/B Testing 

Marketing mix modeling 

In marketing mix modeling, regression analysis is used to help marketers “understand the specific effects of every interaction with healthcare consumers,” McKinsey & Company says. 

This method uses historical data “to estimate the effects of a particular marketing tactic,” and can be applied to both traditional and digital marketing efforts.

On the flip side, McKinsey & Company says this method is limited, since it doesn’t provide the “measurement granularity” that many marketers want.   

Anonymized data

For healthcare marketers, anonymizing data is key to aligning with HIPAA regulations within marketing personalization efforts.

“Anonymized data processing can encrypt personal identifying information (PII) or protected health information (PHI) to protect healthcare consumer information while still enabling marketers to send personalized messages, run longitudinal analyses, and port data securely across technology platforms,” McKinsey & Company says. “For example, digital healthcare platforms can encrypt the individual data fields in a healthcare consumer’s record while still sharing journey-specific marketing communications.”

The firm describes several key dynamics related to encryption, noting it:

  • Is vital “to healthcare providers’ ability to communicate with healthcare consumers and their families based on their own treatment journey and needs”
  • Can transform “the experience of consumers by enabling them to share their data privately and receive offline support outside of the clinical setting”
  • Has personalization limits and “requires rigorous testing to be compliant with industry regulations”

“Encryption at scale is also a massive undertaking that requires a robust core data infrastructure and operations that enable speed, accuracy, and security,” McKinsey & Company says. “Few providers today encrypt PII as part of processing anonymized consumer data, and the few that are doing so are not currently using it to drive personalized consumer experiences.”

A/B testing

Referring to A/B testing as “one of the most popular and well-known marketing tactics,” McKinsey & Company says this method measures how “discrete details” made a difference in a marketing campaign. 

“A/B testing can offer marketers an abundance of information about consumer conversion and sales—and which conversions would not have happened without the marketing campaign,” the firm says. “The A/B testing methodology is widely adopted because its results are accurate and easy to understand, and they don’t require complex analytics capabilities.”

Despite its popularity, McKinsey & Company says many healthcare providers don’t optimize the use of this method and some don’t use it at all. But those who implement A/B testing to its full potential may enjoy a positive impact on the bottom line. 

How AMG Healthcare Marketing can help

At AMG Healthcare Marketing, we’re all about implementing evidence-based marketing:  

  • We build strategies centered around the prospects and audiences you need to attract. 
  • We use data to build custom search strategies and custom audiences.
  • Our Ad creative and messages are engineered, tested, and optimized to produce results at the highest return. 
  • We deliver clear, concise reporting along with campaign reporting that you can take to the board room or your internal marketing partners. 
  • Each campaign is customized to fit your needs, meet your goals, and fit your budgets.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you ramp up your marketing efforts, please contact us today!

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you adapt to the evolving marketing landscape and ramp up your efforts, please contact us today.

Published On: June 6, 2023

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