Planning Your First Quarter: Tips for Success at the Start of the Year
Quarterly planning helps in many areas, letting organisations regroup every few months to assess their performance, set new targets, and aim to try something new. This isn’t foreign to the healthcare sector either, since private medical providers also encounter challenges and possibilities like in the business world.
Though each quarter reflects on the last, since Q1 represents the first one – the new year – it’s founded on the lessons and experiences from a year’s worth of strategies and operations. That’s why Q1 planning can set you up for a number of benefits, affecting the number of potential patients you reach, how you keep them interested, your conversion rate, your reputation and ultimately your revenue.
There are differences between healthcare providers that have a process of planning and those that don’t, which clearly shows itself as a competitive edge. Here’s how to prepare yourself and some ideas for an effective start to the year.
Foundational Changes: What Works and Where Can You Improve?
The nature of dealing with patients and their individual healthcare needs means providers are always going to have certain core elements that they should keep checking up on. It’s good to evaluate the following before going into a new quarter, so you can start it with the strongest possible basis:
Are you communicating the optimum patient experience?
Consider the patient journey in its entirety, with all its unique points of interaction. A bulk of these will be before the commitment to booking, followed by the pre- and then post-treatment phases – that’s a lot of opportunities to check in with patients and make a framework for patient relationship management.
It’s therefore a good idea to blueprint the patient journey as part of your Q1 planning and strengthen your messaging. For example, have personalised marketing material ready for your leads, send out automated reminders and keep up a programme of staying in touch.
How is your operational efficiency?
Refining your administrative tasks is going to free up more time and effort for the medical care itself, and will boost the patient experience by reducing waiting times and being more focused on individualised care. There are a number of ways you can plan for this for your next quarter; try digitalising your document transfers, automating your email campaigns, setting up a unique telephoning framework or offering video consultations.
Are your budget and pricing well-calibrated?
A staple part of any quarterly planning is to review your pricing by attuning it to the financial climate and cross-referencing it with your competition. Also, lay out the data of all your marketing efforts to see where you succeeded best; strip your strategy of ineffective methods to really centre your marketing investments on generating leads and revenue.
Healthcare providers should always cast an eye on these key areas to make sure the basics are as optimised as possible. Q1 planning is the ideal time to review them and make changes, and neglecting this chance will shut you out of the competitive benefits it brings. But there are also some new ideas to consider for your new year quarter.
Formulate Q1-specific Performance Marketing
Performance marketing is results-driven, focusing on measurable outcomes derived from clicks, conversions, sales, etc. to gauge the success of the very marketing initiatives they originated from. It also leverages data analytics and digital platforms to optimise campaigns in real-time, ensuring adaptable cost-effectiveness and a clear correlation between your efforts and results.
When applied by healthcare providers, performance marketing can be a great way to bring in leads and treatment bookings.
‘New year's resolutions, and the “new year, new you” trend that starts in January make for an increase in interest of up to 40% higher than the average of the year. People are more interested in and more likely to make healthcare decisions in this period. Because November and December are expensive months for advertising due to Black Friday and Christmas, in January there is lower competition. Together that makes for a bigger market and a higher conversion rate – a perfect time to invest.’ – Marco Eggens, VP of Marketing
But how can you roll out an effective effort for the upcoming Q1?
Data analysis and budgeting
Refine your performance marketing by looking at last year’s successes. Use lead generation and bookings as your points of reference, and look at numbers like search volume data in Google Ads. This can then help you figure out important aspects like cost per lead for your upcoming quarter, and generally how you want to split your budget. Your Q4 data is invaluable here.
Weigh up competitors
These days there are more competitors entering the market, so analyse the strategies and size of both, respectively. See if this alters the way your USPs differentiate you from the crowd – are they no longer unique or don’t provide the same value anymore? To adapt the way you convey them, there are a few avenues of competitor analysis to explore, such as:
SEO: exposure in the online realm relies on optimising your website for search engine ranking. Since you and your competitors will be aiming to rank for the same keywords, it pays to stay on top of where they are succeeding to gauge their strategy and shape your own. SEO tools like Ahrefs have a competitor report feature, comparing their traffic directly to your own domain. You can also track how they’re doing based on individual keywords, plus you’ll see the amount of backlinks they’re getting too.
Content: broadening from SEO, your competitors’ overall website execution also gives valuable insights. Observe the quality as well as diversity (blog posts, videos, information pages, profiles, graphics, etc.) of a well-performing website’s content to learn how yours can improve. Though a lot of SEO tools will cover content quality too, services like Semrush aim to improve website visibility, with a toolset that includes extensive content analysis of competitors; for example, blog content is broken down into word count, structure consistency, image quality and more.
Social media: this is a big part of marketing and online presence now, offering a prominent space for you to interact with your potential patients. This makes it a competitive space too, so following competitors’ accounts will let you compare strengths and weaknesses, and if they’re engaging more, what type of content they upload to stand out more. There are analytical tools available that can report on competitors’ posts, comparing their performance even in terms of likes, comments and hashtags with yours.
Create your own assets
As a branding and efficiency matter, having consistency across all channels will be good for your professionalism and recognition. Get creative in how you present your website, emails, landing pages and ads. Collaboration across departments may help here too.
A lot of marketing will reflect the time of year to create more catchy content, with Christmas being the most obvious example. But Q1 has seasonality potential too, with New Year providing the perfect platform for clinics offering elective treatments; a campaign surrounding New Year’s resolutions can get people thinking about committing to a procedure – and trusting you as the professionals to perform it.
Convert current leads
When getting yourself out there and rolling out special seasonal offers, remember to target the leads you still have from Q4. Use your fresh promotional material to get them through the pipeline and convert them easily into bookings.
Make targeted campaigns
Splitting them between demographics like age and sex can help you to reach people in a more personalised way from the get-go. It’ll also let you break down your services and cultivate multiple segments of marketing reach.
Get your offers and ad copy ready so that it’s active from the very beginning of Q1. It’s an easy way to start competing before others.
Get the Most Out of Running Special Deals
Offering monthly discounts on treatments drives booking rates up, giving an instant competitive edge to those who offer them. It can be a delicate operation to carry out, being dependent on staff capacities to process higher demands and on whether the percentage saved is enticing enough.
For example, our parent company Qunomedical helps patients find the right doctors by pairing them with partner clinics. Every month, a handful of these partners participate in pre-negotiated discounts on their treatments, giving them a boosted promotional value. The certain outcome of this is a surge in bookings, however, experience shows that a 5% discount won’t generate a difference in lead uptake, whereas 15% or more absolutely will. By stating a notable price difference, you resonate deeper with the varying groups of people with the intent to get treatment.
Q1 presents one of the best chances to promote deals; the New Year seasonality has a very strong influence on many patients, and the DACH market’s high season (for elective treatments) is between October and March, making Q1 the last chance to attract this patient base at its full capacity. Consider these tips to get planning:
Think of prices beforehand
Get your discounted prices ready beforehand to know what is feasible and to estimate the potential revenue that could be generated. The more generous it is, the more patients you’ll attract, which will lead to many more benefits like reviews and referrals coming in in greater masses – just be aware of your constraints: balance your lowered rate with the increased bookings you expect to get in a way that will definitely benefit your revenue and won’t overload your staff. Consider the time and resources it’ll take to plan this too, to make sure everything is ready in time.
Project your deals everywhere
You’ll want your promotions visible on your website, doctors’ profiles, clinic pages, newsletters, reminders, landing pages, etc. Keep highlighting the benefits of the low price, putting it alongside USPs that exhibit the quality you get too. Past testimonials of success stories are also highly effective across these mediums.
Communicate it as private healthcare
To avoid the connotations of making healthcare exclusive, communicate your offers in terms of private care. This makes it transparent that it is paid care that is being made more accessible through an affordable offer.
Qunosuite: Ready for Q1 and Beyond
Qunosuite is a software solution tailored to healthcare providers, which incorporates patient relationship management, marketing, communication improvements and more. It’s the perfect platform to help you prepare for Q1, with all the tools to deploy your performance marketing strategy and promotions to their highest impact.
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