Guidelines for Measuring Health Care Marketing Results

By David Marlowe posted 15 days ago


This is the third in a series of three blog posts by David Marlowe featuring key takeaways from his recently released SHSMD publication entitled, Health Care Marketing Plans That Work.

One of the key elements of any marketing plan is the quantification of results – whether positive or negative. Whether we call them metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) or some other terminology, it is almost impossible to call a marketing plan a success without a clear attempt to measure what came from the use of organizational resources dedicated to marketing.

Related to metrics or the quantification of results is a discussion of how those measurements get reported – an approach often referred to as a “Dashboard.”  The following excerpt from Health Care Marketing Plans that Work, a publication I recently wrote for the Society for Health Care Strategy & Market Development, looks at some key factors driving the effectiveness of such a dashboard.

  1.  Choose metrics:
    • That matter to the audience(s) receiving the dashboard.
    • That contribute to the strategic direction of the organization. Remember the “so what” factor – does the metric impact operational or strategic decisions.
    • That are connected to the marketing plan objectives. In fact, if a dashboard metric or KPI is not in the marketing plan objectives there should be a close examination as to why.
Remember that “production” metrics are probably better limited to internal departmental tracking purposes.


  1. Don’t assume that the reader understands marketing (or CRM or digital communications) jargon.


  1. As much as possible, keep the dashboard visual (graphics over data tables unless absolutely necessary).


  1. Keep the information as current as you can, or, frankly, don’t bother with the dashboard. If the majority of the data just can’t be updated monthly, drop back to quarterly or even semi-annually.  Reporting less often but with updated information is better than reporting more often with the same, old, unchanging results.


  1. Make the dashboard simple to access, read and use. And check occasionally to see if the people receiving the dashboard are actually reading it.


  1. Be honest, if the results are not up to the stated objectives, acknowledge the problem and look for solutions. Poor results hidden away from view have a bad habit of coming out into the light at the worst possible moment.


  1. Decide how often to report. This will be driven by:
    • How often the key metrics can be updated. There is no point in trying to report monthly if two-thirds of the metrics can’t be updated more often than quarterly.
    • The marketing function resources (largely staff time) available to manage the dashboard.
    • The patience/interest of the target audience.

  1. Decide how many metrics or KPIs to include in your dashboard. Factors to consider here include:
    • How available are the data needed to support the specific metrics?
    • How much support and resources (staff time, budget, etc.) does the marketing function have to implement this dashboard?
    • How many of the metrics really resonate with both the leadership of the organization and with the staff of the marketing function? You may be better served with two levels of metrics – one for the leadership and board (strategic and perhaps some operational) and one for the department (more operational and production).

Experience shows that financial dashboards often focus on perhaps 10-12 key ratios and results.  Maybe that is a good guideline for a marketing-related dashboard.


  1. To the degree possible, review the dashboard with the key audiences in person. The reality is that senior executives, board leaders and other key individuals are busy and they often don’t read dashboards or review them in any detail.  While it likely isn’t necessary or perhaps even appropriate to review monthly, quarterly or other time period with every audience, it will notably help raise the level of the key audience’s familiarity with and understanding of the dashboard details if an in-person review is conducted from time to time.


By David Marlowe | Posted March 6, 2019
Strategic Marketing Concepts
Ellicott City, Maryland