Stephanie Burton

Denied a CRM? Here’s what healthcare marketers can do.

By Stephanie Burton on October 13, 2016

How to prove your worth as a healthcare marketer without a CRM system.

I totally get it. We all need tools to do our jobs. Carpenters need hammers, surgeons need scrubs, cooks need pans and healthcare marketers need customer-relationship management platforms.

The good news? More and more health systems are introducing a CRM platform to their suite of marketing tools. The bad news? The State of Digital Marketing in Healthcare 2015, suggests that only 50 percent of senior healthcare marketers use a CRM system.

Unfortunately, if your budget request for a CRM platform was denied, you’re in good company. But, it is still possible to prove your worth while you sharpen your argument for a CRM system in preparation for the next budget cycle. Here are three things you can do: 

  1. Build your own CRM. One of the most valuable sessions I attended at the 2016 annual conference for the Society for Healthcare Marketing and Strategy Development featured members of the marketing team at Nationwide Children’s Hospital who, when denied a CRM platform, decided to build their own. The great thing? They discovered that by obtaining three simple pieces of data – a first and last name, gender and date of birth – they were able to assign a unique medical record number to every inquiry they received. This information allowed them to follow prospective patients through the system until they converted or for up to two years, whatever came soonest.
  1. Introduce market research. In a perfect world, your health system is conducting consumer market research at least once every 18 months, whether or not a CRM platform is in place. Market research can measure the impact of elements most CRM platforms can’t – variables such as top-of-mind awareness, advertising recall and brand perception. And, it can provide excellent insights that may help fuel the strategy behind your health system’s marketing communications campaigns.

Consumer market research has its limitations. Specifically, it doesn’t allow us to determine a true ROI of our marketing efforts. But, it does allow us to measure the effectiveness of our marketing efforts over time.

If consumer market research isn’t a true substitute for a CRM platform, why am I mentioning it? First, it gives you a baseline metric and some valuable insights. Secondly, it can be used as a foot-in-the-door persuasion technique if a CRM is not approved as part of your budget. “We didn’t get a CRM system, but can we look at the possibility of conducting consumer market research this year?” It’s more affordable and requires less commitment, but can still deliver results.

  1. Focus on what you can count. Here’s the cold, hard, honest truth. Sometimes, senior leaders just need to see numbers. A needle moving. Proof. Fortunately, you can deliver on that. But, make sure you deliver where it counts – patient conversions. A simple Google AdWords campaign driving users to a high-converting landing page (we particularly like Unbounce can provide just the outcomes you need to raise eyebrows in the right direction without making a monumental investment.

One important note: Any measurement you put in place is only as good as the objective you have established. As Albert Einstein once said, “Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.” Make your marketing efforts and the numbers you report truly count. 

Stephanie (Hungerford) Burton, APR, is the Director of Healthcare Marketing at Core Creative. Follow her on Twitter @shungerford.