Setting Objectives and Measuring Performance in Healthcare Marketing

There’s a similarity between healthcare marketing campaigns and those in other categories like beauty, CPG, financial services, toiletries and travel. In some way, shape or form, every one of these marketing campaigns needs to move the needle.

If as a healthcare marketer you can’t track (or don’t make the effort to track) how much you are generating from your various marketing activities, whether directionally or measurably, you’re wasting money (real dollars, time and resources) on activities that will never yield desired results. This also means that the agencies who often create these marketing campaigns — and who are being scrutinized for their contribution to moving the business forward — are also left exposed.

The Results Gap

One of the biggest mistakes we see among practitioners in their healthcare marketing efforts is their lack of tracking. Without tracking results:

  • they don’t know if their marketing strategies are actually helping them
  • they don’t know which marketing activities are generating the best results
  • they don’t have any way (nor do their agencies) to objectively assess their strategic options to decide the best path forward

Defining Your Marketing Goals

Analysis has caught up with intuition. While individual marketing campaigns have different goals and will therefore yield different results, determining effectiveness should be the culmination of every effort. This is the case whether, for example, you’re building brand awareness and reputation, generating incoming leads via phone or form submission, running a search engine marketing campaign, bolstering social media engagement, etc. As you plan any marketing campaign, define what your healthcare marketing goals are so you know what to look for in your results and can set yourself up to implement more successful campaigns in the future.

Gauging Healthcare Marketing ROI

In general, determining effectiveness helps a healthcare marketing department (and its agency):

  • To provide benchmarks and assess progress against business and communication objectives, whether raising brand awareness, improving your reputation/brand image, educating consumers, strengthening your patients’ mobile and digital experience, etc.
  • To learn from experience, so you do more of what works next time
  • To better understand your target market segments
  • To make previous activity accountable and justify future investment
  • All of which contributes to being on the same page with senior leadership

Here are some other considerations related to healthcare marketing ROI:

More Creative Work, More Effectiveness

The best way to create effective marketing campaigns is to run highly creative work. Creativity makes the single biggest known difference to sales.

Highly creative work sells more because it is more likely to appeal to the emotions than to reason, and it is more likely to garner additional coverage by being shared on social media and through PR. The result is greater exposure of a more powerful appeal and exposure that exceeds the value of the media that’s paid for.

It’s important to note that McKinsey reached the same conclusion after analyzing campaigns entered for German effectiveness awards. It concluded, “The more creative a campaign, the higher the likelihood that the featured product will sell…Other things being equal, creativity is the advertiser’s best bet.” McKinsey, 2006.

Set Hard Objectives

While campaign creativity makes the biggest difference to moving sales, the campaign objective is the next most important. Hard objectives sell best. Campaigns are five times more likely to sell when the objectives are set in terms of sales, profit or market share than when they are set in terms of soft objectives (such as awareness, image, conversion, etc.).market share by campaign objectives

At Trajectory, we like to begin a campaign brief by isolating our client’s business issue. If we can get a good answer to this question (before getting into the brand, marketing or communications issue), we’re more likely to be able to create an effective campaign.

Expectation Of More Personalized Experiences

Consumers are increasingly demanding unique brand interactions customized to their needs and seamlessly delivered across channels. Personalization is the only way to deepen relationships with your customers amidst the fight for their attention in our increasingly busy world. It’s important to understand how your marketing team can tap into all the data that is available within your organization and then use that data to continue to deepen customer intimacy. Providing more personalized connections using technology to bring you closer to your customers also builds greater profitability into your business.

Media Neutral Planning

Digital platforms are obviously important. Increasingly so as consumers spend their time there. But that doesn’t mean that traditional media like TV and print shouldn’t still be a core part of your strategy.  Start with your audience and what is it you want to be done. Is it to drive awareness, engagement or loyalty, and what is the best way to reach that audience?” Build up your strategy from that point, so you’re planning on a media-neutral basis.


If you’re a health system, hospital, physician practice or medical practice marketer who wants to better leverage the power of your healthcare organization’s marketing campaigns to build brand value and drive better business, reach out to our healthcare marketing agency for a conversation.



Eric Brody

Eric Brody is President of Trajectory, launched in 1999, the specialist health & wellness branding and marketing agency using every moment to move customers, brands and businesses upward. Prior to Trajectory, Eric served as EVP and Management Board member at Interbrand (the world’s most influential brand consultancy). Before Interbrand, he held senior marketing positions at Beiersdorf Inc. and L’Oreal and advertising account management positions at Marschalk and Benton & Bowles.He has also taught as an adjunct professor at Seton Hall’s Graduate School of Communications and has lectured at Wharton Business School and Emory Goizueta School of Business.