A Counterintuitive Approach to Marketing Funnel Mapping, Part 1

Peter J. Polack, MD, FACS, is a cornea, refractive surgery, and external disease specialist at Ocala Eye, a large multi-specialty firm in North Central Florida and founder of Emedikon Marketing Systems. He has written and podcasted on EMRs and technology in healthcare and is also a co-author of The Ultimate Ophthalmic Marketing Guide.

Disclosures: Polack reports that he is the founder of Emedikon Marketing Systems.

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In previous articles, I’ve described using marketing funnels to define what’s known as the customer’s buying journey.

Here, I’ll explain how visual mapping of your marketing conversion funnels can help identify constraints, dependencies, and black holes while potentially increasing conversions.

Our first funnel was developed to stop LASIK lead leaks. We never thought about how to improve the number of “opportunities” in our pipeline. We were using a manual process with paper messages and voice messages which, perhaps, were sent to our refractive coordinator. The issues were 1) we had no idea how many incoming LASIK calls were made or 2) how many abandoned calls along the way to planning a prospect’s review.

Peter J. Polack

When we mapped out our first LASIK phone application process, we started at the most obvious place: at the very beginning with the initial incoming phone call. But we ended up doing a lot of iterations because we discovered – after the fact – that there were several constraints or hiccups along the way. (By the way, this exercise works for any procedure or service.) Later you will see how doing this backwards, starting at the end, can be more effective.

In your mind, you can imagine a potential patient calling to learn about LASIK, making an appointment for an evaluation, and then having surgery. It’s a straightforward process, right? But your mind cannot foresee all the permutations that might take that prospect off the optimal path to the goal of scheduled surgery.

What if it was all about price shopping?

What if they just want some information but don’t want to schedule an assessment yet?

What if they are pregnant or still breastfeeding?

What if they’re not sure they can afford it?

What if, on initial examination, they have a large suction cup or a dry eye or asymptomatic retinal hole?

These constraints could have been identified at the outset by visualizing the purchasing journey with a funnel map. This not only works for existing procedures or services, but especially if you plan to add new ones, as this process can save you a lot of work and headache (not to mention lost revenue). So before you design, let alone create, a web page for a new service, you first need to define its marketing funnel and sales pipeline.

Why map the funnel instead of just spitting it out and tweaking it on the fly?

Mapping your marketing funnel gives you four features you wouldn’t have without a visual representation of your patient’s buying journey.

1. Alignment. Planning and mapping your strategy creates a unique version of the truth. Presented internally, this aligns your team around a process so everyone knows the prospect’s end-to-end journey as well as their role (as participants in the process) along the way. You will discover tasks or functions that have been overlooked due to previous lack of clarity.

2. Simulation. Use it to set goals or targets along the way, such as conversion rates or other metrics that keep the process running smoothly. This allows you to simulate several scenarios before creating to see if the marketing and sales numbers show it will be profitable. Running projections allows decision makers to “see” alternatives for the investment they are funding.

3. Performance. A well-made funnel can track performance and present data in a meaningful way: how far have they scrolled on your squeeze page? Did they watch the whole video? At what stage are they most likely to drop out of the sales journey?

4. Optimization. You can optimize your funnel by making the changes revealed by your simulations. Initially, all you have to do is compare your “planned versus actual” and identify any constraints, gaps, or inefficient sub-processes that are affecting the conversion and costing you money.

Eli Goldratt’s constraint theory says that just tackling a single bottleneck doesn’t necessarily improve the system as a whole. It may seem obvious to respond to a drop in a particular service like LASIK by turning on the prospecting tap: not enough cases = not enough traffic, not enough traffic = not enough leads (which is typically what is needed). ‘a marketing agency will suggest you because “it’s a numbers game”).

Maybe you have a marketing sieve, not a marketing funnel. Opportunities are leaking because prospects don’t get the information they want when they seek them out, maybe the coordinator is too busy to call them back the same day they call, or maybe they don’t. there aren’t enough assessment windows or conversely it’s too easy for a patient to book an appointment online and the schedule is full of tire shooters and non-candidates.

In the next blog post, I’ll show you why working backwards from the lens (surgery) instead of the beginning (initial phone call) can give you better insight into what’s going on in your LASIK (or whatever. procedure or service) marketing funnel.

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