Tracking Healthcare Customer Journeys

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Whether you are marketing to a payer, a practitioner, or a patient, mapping and monitoring their progress through the online customer journey helps you discover gaps, opportunities, and pain points hiding in your online experience.  Web and app analytics data alone never paint the entire picture of your total customer experience.  Using those tools to chart user flow across multiple sessions, devices, and marketing touchpoints can greatly inform a complete customer journey map.  Use online analytics to enrich the full story and back it up with data. Your analytics tool can identify unique customer types and note the different (or the same!) ways they go about completing tasks or moving through funnels.

Execute on the Basics of Attribution

Regardless of industry, sector or size, answering customer journey questions begin similarly— where and how the user started the journey. It is critical for all Google Analytics users to be able to answer this question with accuracy and relevancy. 

Lucky for the digital marketing world, the attribution standard of UTM tagging is an extremely simple, free and effective way to unpack fundamental attribution answers. 

If unfamiliar with UTM tagging, see this as a reference.This plug-and-play open source solution is designed to be a relatively free-text method to give the marketer flexibility in meaning when done with precision. 

To exemplify this effectiveness, here is an example of where we have inherently told Google Analytics where and how the session began (email newsletter), what campaign this content pertains to (July 2020 Feature Launch), and specifically which click contributed towards the visit.

In light of this flexibility, we recommend as many marketers in the organization collaborate in establishing a comprehensive UTM naming convention. 

You may be an organization currently paying for a marketing service automating UTM parameters by default. There is a chance there are syntax / taxonomy changes your organization would like to make within the configuration. 

You may be a small healthcare organization wanting to save a nickel on a tool to automate yet still want to leverage UTM tagging—Google’s free Campaign URL builder makes that an easy task. Simply input the landing page URL, the respective values your organization has established per source, medium, campaign, term, and content and include within marketing content embedded links. 

Taking the time to establish a consistent and organizationally-understood UTM taxonomy is a low-cost-high-reward essential to set the stage for uncovering future customer journey and/or conversion questions. 

A couple things to keep in mind with UTM tagging: 

  • Be sure to only use UTM tagging on external content. One common mistake is to include UTM tagging internally within the site—Unfortunately, Google will interpret these clicks as new sessions and will lead to inaccurate reporting. 
  • For medium,there are several predefined variable names Google Analytics recognizes and in most cases it’s in your best interest to adhere where possible. If you opt to go rogue, traffic may end up separated out from its natural habitat.

Lastly, UTM tags are only as good as how often they are being used. The more consistent your organization makes use of them, the better reporting you will have in the long term. 

Discover Actual Customer Journeys with User Explorer and Behavior Flow Reports

Instead of guessing, actually see how your most valuable or most typical customers are interacting with your site over time.  Visit the User Explorer report in Google Analytics and filter the list of anonymized users by segment to get your candidates.  Start at the top of the list, sorted by revenue or number of sessions and spend a little time looking through session history for a few different ID’s to get a real-world sense of how your users are or are not accomplishing tasks on your site. These anonymized IDs within Google Analytics comply with regulations and do not include Personally Identifiable Information (PII). 


Google Analytics User Explorer Reports are pure gold for turning up real-world user journeys.

The Behavior Flow report visualizes the path users travel from one page to the next. This report can help you uncover what content keeps users the most engaged. It can also help identify potential content issues. By analyzing the behavior flow, you should be able to see which paths through your site are the most popular so you can confirm whether those are the paths that you actually want users to follow. 

A Behavior Flow report can provide a sense of content and event flow across areas of the site.

Top Conversion Paths Report Reveals Marketing Touchpoints

When it comes to understanding how your marketing efforts are drawing users through the customer journey, the Top Conversion Paths report in Google Analytics is another great place to derive useful insights by toggling to different goals and to uncover common paths. Discussions about first vs last vs distributed touch attribution models have their place when it comes to budget allocation, but for customer journey mapping, you can dispense with all that and focus instead on what mix of channels and campaigns most often result in a success for you and your users.

Like with the User Explorer Report, there are often surprises and “aha” moments when reports don’t exactly match our preconceptions.  Occasionally, especially for this report, those “aha” moments are realizations that your campaign tracking and attribution data maybe isn’t in great shape.  That’s never a happy insight, but it is definitely a useful one.  It’s also not that uncommon.  Let us know how we can help.

Assuming your analytics data is in good shape and mapped to channel categories and groupings that are meaningful to your business, these reports help marketing teams avoid tunnel-vision and embrace the impact of marketing mix and attribution over time.

Google Analytics provides a rich set of reports that should be a starting point for understanding and charting your customer journey.  Instead of guesswork, opinions, and over-reliance on anecdote, begin to understand the customer experience with real-world insights based on solid, validated web and mobile analytics data. This will not only provide near-term value in its own right, but will also help lay the foundation for future steps on an Attribution roadmap

Empirical Path Expert Consultants Can Help

Medical marketing is evolving and embracing more advanced digital strategies. Tracking your customer journey can help discover gaps, opportunities, and pain points hiding in your online experience. If you’re a healthcare marketer, contact us to discuss your most pressing measurement challenges.

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