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I’m Having Trouble Tracking Patient Referral Sources. Any Suggestions?

I’m having trouble tracking patient referral sources.  When I ask them how they found Dr. Cohen, the response I’m getting is “the website” or “the Internet”. No one seems to remember exactly how they find the website. Any suggestions?

It’s a good problem to have – a steady stream of new patients from the Web.  But it’s very common that by the time you connect with the patient that they have forgotten exactly how they found your site.

Most Online Leads Can Be Tracked…

We have special code which we install on all of our client sites that includes the original referrer (the site the person was on just before they arrived at your site).  When that person submits a form or registers using our lead capture systems, we record and transmit that original referral data with the lead data.  That is how we are able to reliably audit how many leads directory websites, PPC programs, and even specially tagged offline programs are driving to each of our clients.

…But Not All of Them

If someone calls the practice without registering online we sometimes lose any chance of capturing their referral source automatically (unless we are using dynamically displayed, trackable, custom toll-free phone numbers, which we can do).  In that case, you do rely on the person’s memory.

When you think about it though, all you really care about is whether they (a) typed your Web address in directly because they saw a print advertisement, (b) found you in a search engine, or (c) found a directory website or PPC campaign where you pay to be listed.

A simple operational change can help you get the data you desire.  First, before each consultation check the patient’s record in your system.  If the referrer field is blank or just “Internet” then make a note to ask for more detail in person.

Be honest.  Let the prospect know that you are trying to understand how people are learning about the practice.  Ask if they heard about you first offline, and if so, where.  If they say they found you online, ask them if they used a search engine…most will say yes.  If they suggest at any point that they found you on some other site, it was almost certainly one of your directories.  Print out your practice’s profile page from each of the directories, put it in a binder, and show it to the prospect during consultation to see if the visual jogs their memory.  I’ve actually done this while sitting in on a consultation and the whole process took about 1 minute!

That small time investment will ensure you have the business intelligence needed to make smart online marketing choices.


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