On today’s Reach, Dan Parscale speaks with Rob Kennedy from Audigy’s Marketing Team about tracking your marketing results! The two discuss traditional vs digital marketing, KPIs, shifting demographics and how you can get started making smarter decisions about how and where to spend your marketing dollars.
DAN: Good to have you here. You are the first guest on Reach who also has some radio experience. So it’s good to have a fellow radio veteran in the house with us today.
ROB KENNEDY: Pressure’s on.
DAN: Yeah, it is. That’s point of that. But we’re not going be talking about radio too much today. We’re going to be talking a little bit about metrics in reporting and how to really figure out whether your marketing is working. And I want to do that from your perspective, because– well, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you do at Audigy so we can set the groundwork for the rest of the conversation.
ROB KENNEDY: Yeah, of course. I’ve been with Audigy for just about seven and a half years doing marketing and really bringing as much analytical perspective to the position as possible. Today, I’m working with all of our marketing managers, along with our marketing shared services team, to really make sure everybody is aligned, moving in the right direction, as efficiently as possible.
So analytics and the way our marketing is performing on all different levels through all different tactics is very important into making sure that that efficiency is strong and continuing to get stronger.
DAN: What kinds of things in general are you tracking as a marketing manager?
ROB KENNEDY: We track as much stuff as we possibly can. It’s important that if you’re investing $1 into anything, you want to make sure you’re maximizing that investment and getting the most out of that dollar as possible. So if we’re spending anything, be it a branding ad to just a standard website, we want to be able to track that investment and understand how that’s working so we can monitor and continue to grow that particular tactic.
So what we’re tracking on the most part is inbound calls on the more traditional tactics. And there’s also a level of the digital metrics. We’re looking at clicks and exposure.
DAN: Why are those things in particular important? You talked about how you’re using them, kind of. You’re using them to measure return on investment. But why are those ones more important than other metrics that you might track?
ROB KENNEDY: You’re talking about the actual calls coming in?
DAN: Yeah. Let’s use that as an example. Let’s talk about calls. Why would you talk about that rather than, for instance, the length of the call?
ROB KENNEDY: Well, the length of the call definitely plays an important aspect in it. But that’s more on the professional development and operational side of things. So we as marketing managers, our number one duty is to really drive that inbound call, or that interaction, that conversion.
Going back to that call that we’re talking about, if we can break everything down, no matter if we’re doing a print ad, a direct mail, even an outdoor billboard, or a shopping cart ad, one thing that each of those tactics has in common is going to be that call that we’re trying to drive in.
So by tracking those calls and relating those back to the dollar amount invested into those tactics, we start looking at a level playing field to find out our ROI or our return on investment.
DAN: And I’m guessing from what you’ve said so far that you’re using that as one of the primary ways that you’re evaluating whether a campaign or some sort of messaging is actually working. Is that right?
ROB KENNEDY: That’s correct.
ROB KENNEDY: You’re getting the hang of it.
DAN: Some of these questions are rhetorical, Rob.[LAUGHING]
OK. So with all that in place, then, what can you tell me as a really high level observation about what you know about marketing for audiology practices? So for instance, can you tell me something about at a 50,000 foot level, what works and what doesn’t?
ROB KENNEDY: Sure. So investing money in marketing works. We see that the more dollars we put into the market through various marketing tactics, the more call volume we receive. So it’s a simple fact. Now when we start taking a look at how effective those dollars are working for us, that’s when the tracking really comes into play, because we really want to maximize each of those dollars, again, that we’ve put out there, so we’re not wasting money on a tactic that’s not performing as well as another tactic where we could be reinvesting those dollars back into.
DAN: There’s a direct correlation between how much you spend and how much you get back, but the rest of the game is really just fine tuning all of those particular practices and finding where you can make your money, go the farthest.
ROB KENNEDY: So all of that being said, we want to make sure that we’re not throwing too many dollars into a single tactic, where we’re realizing diminishing returns on that. So again, it always goes back to that tracking and how effectively are we tracking that return.
DAN: Let’s pretend that we just got to our monthly marketing report, and we’re looking at this to determine which tactics got us the most return for our money. What are you looking at on that report to figure out– to answer that question?
ROB KENNEDY: What we do is try to boil everything down to a cost per prospect call. We define a prospect as a lead. And really what that means is just a potential patient calling into the practice that we feel should have been booked into an appointment. So it’s not just any random call coming in. Those calls, are you hiring, where are you located, can we do your marketing for you– those type of calls we don’t count. That doesn’t really fit into the metrics with much value at all.
So we are actually identifying a prospect or a lead calling in, and somebody that we should book into an appointment. Bringing that call back to the dollars spent on that particular tactic, we get what we call a cost per prospect. And that puts every single tactic out on a level playing field, no matter if we’re spending say, $100 a week, or $100,000 a week on a tactic. It all boils down to that cost per prospect.
DAN: So it’s not only one of the most important ones. It’s also kind of a roll up for other metrics that fall beneath it that determine its effectiveness.
ROB KENNEDY: Exactly.
DAN: OK. So let’s take this a step further to what I’m sure many of our listeners are wondering. What kinds of tactics are performing well? I’m not going to make you open up all the secrets and secret folders or anything, but what do the campaigns that perform well in general have in common with each other?
ROB KENNEDY: Well, a low cost per prospect.
DAN: Is that the only thing?
ROB KENNEDY: In my eyes, yes.
ROB KENNEDY: I’m really looking at driving down that low cost per prospect. Going beyond that, we can get a lot more granular and talk about, is our marketing message that we’re putting out there that’s driving a low cost prospect, is that driving in a patient or a lead that might have a lot of questions of what we’re advertising, and not quite understanding the message that we’re trying to get across? Are we creating more objections out there or questions than answers?
DAN: Now the way that you answered that, the first part especially, made me think that there’s no silver bullet out there, which I think is generally accepted, but everyone still seems to be looking for it, despite knowing that. So we’re standing by that, that there’s no silver bullet.
ROB KENNEDY: The silver bullet lies in your tracking.
DAN: OK. I love to hear that. I love to hear that. Which kind of campaigns tend to have the best cost per prospect?
ROB KENNEDY: It really varies. We deal in our particular industry, the hearing care industry, with a much older demographic. So our target audience can be 60 years and older. So they tend to respond to some of the older, more traditional print or analog tactics, if you will, like direct mail.
But that phenomenon or that trend is changing quite dramatically right now as all these Baby Boomers are aging into our target audience. So a lot of our traditional marketing, like the newspaper and direct mail tactics, we’re starting to lose some of our return on that, or some of the performance that that used to give to us. Really to answer a question to what is performing best, it’s really the marketing mix that is performing best. And that’s not just one single tactic.
Say we do a direct mail and we get 10 calls off that direct mail. We’re able to track that because we put on a unique phone number on that direct mail piece. What we lose visibility to is how many of those folks did we just create interest in with that direct mail and end up going to, say, our website to learn a little bit more about the practice or our services, ended up calling us on our website.
You can also go back as far as we send direct mail out. A potential patient receives that direct mail. Patient A has never heard of this before. Tosses it aside immediately. Patient B has seen our newspaper ad in the newspaper over the past couple of weeks and thinks, hm, this is a great offer. I’m going to give them a call, but I’m going to go to their website first. So that lead generated with our newspaper inserts, followed through that direct mail, but yet we received that lead off of the website.
DAN: OK. I’m going to try and condense this into something real quick, because we just covered a lot there. So our calculation is getting more complex. We started off with there’s a direct correlation between what you spend and what you get. But there’s also that diminishing return. So kind of the shotgun method, I guess you could say silver pellets rather than a single silver bullet, is also going to help to push those things up. So you’ve got these things kind of multiplying each other towards your total cost per prospect.
Is that accurate? They kind of work together?
ROB KENNEDY: Yeah. I like the silver pellet.
DAN: Yeah. That sounds like it works, doesn’t it?
ROB KENNEDY: I might have to steal that from you.
DAN: OK. So we know that we’ve got to balance what’s working and what’s not working. How do you know how much you should invest in something if you’ve got a precipitous decline in its effectiveness? I mean, we’ve talked on this show before about how digital and traditional marketing practices are becoming increasingly unbalanced. But they still work. I mean, if there’s any demographic that will benefit from traditional practices, I think that the hearing care industry is going to fit it. So we should be hitting up those avenues, correct? But how do you know how much?
ROB KENNEDY: You know, it really goes back to that tracking. It always goes back to that tracking for me. In our more affluent markets, we’re seeing newspapers say, the return on direct response activities really decline there. We see it in the news all the time. There’s been newspapers closing, circulation is down, readership is down. So it’s tactics like that where we really need to keep a very close eye on that return that we’re getting from those.
We’re in a very interesting era right now in the way of the decline of more traditional marketing, direct marketing tactics, like direct mail and newspaper. The decline is getting so great that we are tracking that, and in some markets, it’s not working and we’ve had to step completely away from those tactics. And in other markets, the tactics are still performing fine. So we want to kind of still live there and milk all that we can out of those tactics before they start to decline too much. But in the long run, most everything’s moving on to that digital platform.
DAN: Are there any similarities between the markets that are succeeding with some of these tactics? For instance, does direct mail happen to work better in small rural communities than it would in, let’s say, Manhattan? Is that true, or can you even really say that definitively?
ROB KENNEDY: You can make generalizations that support that. But a lot of that has to do with how much competition you’re dealing with in the market and how much they’re actually mailing as well. Because when you start to really clutter up that mailbox, if we’re going to stick with the direct mail example, a patient could potentially get– and we hear this from a lot of our doctors out in the market– three, four, five, six direct emails per week from different competitors.
Now on a more dense market like Manhattan, yeah, there’s going to be a lot more competitors you’re dealing with. But you could also be in like a [INAUDIBLE] and be really focused on battling against a lot of competitors as well.
DAN: So there still is no silver bullet here, is what you’re saying. And there’s nothing that we can take from our global efforts and condense with certainty into any particular market.
ROB KENNEDY: Well, again, that silver bullet is tracking and analyzing all of your effort.
DAN: Fair enough. Let’s get back to the people that we’re hitting up. We talked a little bit about demographics. And I think that when we were talking about the shift or the unbalance between traditional and digital marketing, one of the things that is in the back of people’s minds is going to be the demographics that would traditionally use those platforms. Can you talk a little bit about how older and younger demographics might factor into audiology marketing?
ROB KENNEDY: Yeah, there’s some interesting dynamics there. Again, going back to our target audience, they’re still apt to use, say, tactics like the yellow pages, where– and I would say probably a 60-year-old or older is looking at a Yellow Page for practice or for information, whereas a younger generation, the Baby Boomers, they’ve already adopted the Google. And Google is the new Yellow Pages.
So there’s some interesting dynamics when you boil it down to even that level. So you’ve got sons and daughters out there doing research online for their moms, for their dads. So going back to kind of like that 80-20 rule that you hear a lot about, that’s kind of the 20%. But that’s growing as well. So we’ve got this whole spectrum of people looking just online, people looking just in print, and then there’s a whole gray area in between. So like I said, it’s an interesting era that we’re in right now as things are continuing to migrate to the more online digital platform.
DAN: So Rob, we’ve been focusing a lot on the show about tracking results, but let’s talk about the actual processes that go into that. Could you tell me what tools you use and how you use them to track these results?
ROB KENNEDY: Sure. There’s quite a few tools out there. There’s some online options and everything. I’m kind of old school. I love Excel. So for the way I track my marketing, pretty much any type of spreadsheet program is going to work for you. I simply log every single event in Excel, the tactic, the dates, the message or creative that I’m using, and then the cost. So we’re logging those elements before they happen. And then we’re tracking the call volume that each of those elements or each of those tactics produce on the back end. And really what we’re able to do in Excel specifically is you can filter by tactic, or sort by date, et cetera, and you can start to match up side by side how each of these tactics have performed against each other.
When you start to get a lot of data and you want to start summarizing, then pivot tables is a really key instrument within Excel. And if you don’t know how to do pivot tables, there’s a ton of YouTube videos and other resources out there that can talk about those type of pivot tables. But pivot tables essentially within Excel are a great way to take a lot of data and summarize it into a couple of points.
DAN: Just in case people don’t know, can we summarize in like two or three sentences what a pivot table is and why it’s so important to this?
ROB KENNEDY: Yeah, that’s a tough one to explain. You’ve got say, 200 points of data that you’re tracking. Some of it’s direct mail. Some of it could be some online. Some of it’s newspaper, newspaper insert. Some of its newspaper ads. And so you’ve got 200 different points of reference there. A pivot table can really transform all of that data to where you’re seeing all of your newspaper inserts summed up against all of your direct mail against all of your online ads.
And that’s just by choosing tactic as kind of the main data point that you’re looking for. You can do that by dates. You can do that by message or campaign. So there’s a lot of different ways you can summarize your data by slicing and dicing it via the pivot table.
DAN: So it sounds like it takes a lot of data entry, which is time consuming. But that sounds like the only way that you could really tell what’s working and what’s not.
ROB KENNEDY: True.
DAN: I get why you’re saying that this is so important.
ROB KENNEDY: It is a lot of time up front, some manual labor involved. But I think the payout on the backend is what’s worth it.
DAN: What kind of questions should members be asking you or their marketing manager that you can answer because of this Excel tracking.
ROB KENNEDY: A lot of questions that we get that I find probably the most valuable coming from members is what is working in similar markets to mine, or what is working with other practices a similar size as mine? We’re looking at newspaper inserts. We talked a little bit about how newspaper and more traditional marketing tactics are declining.
It’s not so in every market. So we’ve got some members who are seeing this decline in their newspaper inserts. And if they simply asked their marketing manager, what else is out there, what is working in other markets, we have that visibility to what’s working in those other markets. And we can make strong recommendations with the confidence behind the data to say, you need to do more paid search and lower our investment in newspaper, or even vice versa.
DAN: Are marketing managers available if members have questions about how they can do this from their practice?
ROB KENNEDY: All of our members are more than welcome to contact their marketing manager at any time to discuss this material, the results, what’s happening within their market, their own practice or their own efforts, or what’s happening in other practices, other markets. Our marketing managers present us on a monthly basis with our members on monthly [? SBU ?] calls. Sometimes we do weekly marketing touch base calls with members.
So there, we’re looking at the results of what’s happening specifically in your market. We’re looking for any trends that we can identify. Is our results improving, or are they worsening? And what do we want to do strategically to either keep them improving or turn around a downward trend?
And then on a quarterly basis, we do what is called a QBR, or a quarterly business review, whereas opposed to just taking a look at what tactics happened last month and how did they perform, we take a look at the entire quarter. And that’s where we really start taking a look at or identifying the trends on a little bit larger basis.
DAN: Can we talk a little bit about some of the KPIs that you might find during these analyzes that might not jump out at you as the most important. So I imagine that dollars and cents are going to be really important to people. But other smaller metrics, such as reach and frequency of use could be something that you might want to pay attention to determine the success of something if the dollars and cents don’t necessarily tell the whole story.
ROB KENNEDY: The key KPIs that we are tracking are essentially boiled down to cost per prospect, call, and cost per appointment. Those are real key KPIs. We could boil it down to response rate to say, direct mail. But going back to the terms that you brought up for reach and frequency, when our media buyers are approaching a market with a budget, reach and freak frequency plays a big role in how they or we as marketing managers want to spend those dollars.
We want to get a good mix of reach and a good mix of frequency. And what I mean by that is reach is how many people within your target audience are you talking to? So reach. How many are you reaching out to? And then the frequency is how many times are you reaching out to them with that message? So going back to say radio advertising, that is a great frequency medium, meaning you’re not reaching a lot of people, but you have the ability to get your message out there several times a day.
Newspaper, on the other hand, you can really only hit them once a day, some newspapers only once a week, but they’re delivered to a lot of people. So newspaper’s strength is in reach. So when you’re looking for a good reach and frequency mix, if you have radio and newspaper in a market, you should be doing OK in the traditional media sense.
Now TV is a lot more expensive, but it provides good reach and frequency together, especially when you’re looking at broadcast as opposed to like the cable networks.
DAN: I see, I see. So you’re tracking these things in order to come up with your strategy.
ROB KENNEDY: Yeah. So reach and frequency, we’re using on the front end as we are strategizing. We’re tracking the performance of the tactics that we put out into the market on the backend, and then looking for trends and adjusting our marketing moving forward, our strategies and our recommendations moving forward based upon all those results.
DAN: All right, Mr. Kennedy, we are at the end of the show, so we’re going to wrap things up with our favorite part, the part where you tell us your top three takeaways. What do you got?
ROB KENNEDY: Number one is to make sure that you’re logging and tracking all of your tactics, whether it be newspaper insert, paid search, campaign, website performance, we want to log every single specific event, log the investment that went into that, or what that particular tactic cost, and then on the backend, track the prospect calls and the appointments that those tactics have generated. So that’s my first point.
Second point would be to take that data and look for trends. Is our performance getting better, or is it not getting better? That’s going to identify tactics that we need to pay closer attention to if we need to increase our performance. And my third point is really making those little microadjustments in each of those tactics to keep them improving month over month. They’re going to plateau at some point, but that is when tracking becomes even more critical, because sometimes at a plateau is an indicator of a decline.
DAN: All right. Well, we’re going to leave it at that. Rob Kennedy, thank you again. I learned a lot, just like I do every time I talk to you.
ROB KENNEDY: I had a great time. Thanks for having me.