When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of your marketing, there’s almost no metric as important as the cost to acquire an appointment (which is sometimes called a CPA). After all, appointments are what brings in the revenue that supports your office — and even a steady supply of leads won’t mean financial success if a significant portion of them don’t make appointments.
Thankfully, figuring out your practice’s CPA is fairly straightforward — and if you’ve already calculated your cost per lead, you’re already familiar with the general process. Read on to learn exactly what the CPA measures, how to calculate your own CPAs and keep your marketing costs low so you can run your office on a lean budget.
What exactly is a CPA, and why does it matter to your practice?
The CPA measures a simple metric: how much you spent on marketing for each appointment booked at your practice. That includes one-time appointments — the patient who gets sick on a business trip and books a consultation with you before transferring care to their primary care physician back home — or appointments from regular patients, like a family who moves to town and seeks a new primary care physician. Unlike cost per lead, which tracks the cost of attaining new contacts who may or may not book an appointment, CPA tracks only contacts that actually bring revenue into your office and add to your bottom line.
Measuring your CPA, then, lets you know roughly how much you need to spend on marketing to bring in the appointments you need to stay profitable. If you need to book at least 2,100 appointments per year, for example, and your CPA averages $16 per appointment, you should plan to spend $33,600 a year on marketing to get the appointments you need.
Comparing the CPA across multiple marketing platforms also lets you know which methods work the best. If paying for Google AdWords ads brings in appointment bookings with a lower-than-usual CPA, investing in more of that advertising might make more sense than running a higher-CPA ad on another platform. Without measuring your CPAs, there’s no way to know which marketing methods work best, which sets you up to make marketing mistakes that could jeopardize the profitability of your practice.
How to calculate your CPA
Calculating your overall CPA is simple: just divide your marketing expenses by the number of new appointments they directly brought in. If, for example, you spend $30,000 on marketing efforts all year and bring in a total of 1,450 new appointment bookings, your overall CPA works out to $20.68.
You can also track your CPA across multiple marketing platforms. Facebook, Twitter, Google AdWords all include functions to track your CPA, and Zocdoc’s Sponsored Results advertising makes it easy to track your ROI to measure the success of your marketing. You can also track the CPA of other marketing methods — like blogging or direct mail — by asking patients how they found you in their initial appointment, then dividing your marketing expenses by the amount of new appointments booked.
Managing your marketing costs
While you should look at the money spent on marketing as a crucial investment in your business, you also want to keep your CPA as low as possible to make each appointment more profitable. One way to do that is to design your marketing strategy to create longer-term patients — ones who will come back and book several appointments, year after year with minimal marketing. Small investments in things like, patient email newsletters, giveaways for patients who write reviews or refer new patients can help you cultivate long-term relationships. And patient surveys — while not public-facing advertising — can help you grasp what your practice is doing right and where you could improve to keep your patients happy.
As always providing excellent patient experience is key. Offering convenience and a warm, welcoming ambiance in your office not only keeps your patients coming back, but also helps you provide the top-of-the-line care your patients deserve.