Boost your healthcare marketing conversion rates

In this episode of our popular Tips in Ten(ish) minutes video series, Kirsten Lecky, EVP insights and growth at WG Content, sits down with Jessica Walker, founder and CEO of Care Sherpa. Jessica shares actionable strategies to enhance patient acquisition and improve conversion rates in the ever-evolving healthcare landscape.

Watch this 12-minute video and learn how to:

  • Perfect the art of nurturing potential patient relationships
  • Apply proven pipeline methodology to healthcare
  • Remove barriers at every step in the journey

This video was recorded on August 15, 2023, before WriterGirl became WG Content.

Watch the video

0:00:11.8 Kirsten Lecky: I’m super excited to have you. So why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself to our audience and tell us a little bit about your very cool business. We’ve all gotten to know you over the years, you personally, but we have been so intrigued and impressed with your business. So tell us a little bit about it.

0:00:25.6 Jessica Walker: Thank you so much. Well, as you mentioned, we’ve known each other going on, we won’t say how many years.


0:00:30.3 Jessica Walker: But I started Care Sherpa back in 2019 when I really saw this consistent trend of that barrier for patients in that last mile. So we do amazing content campaigns and digital acquisition campaigns. But then when the time comes for the patient to pick up the phone and say, tell me more about this X, Y, Z elective procedure, that’s where a lot of our health system partners really struggle. So Care Sherpa helps patients get over the mountain of healthcare, manage the last mile access with a business development solution, both technology and services. And the way to distill it down is that we really help you grow your revenue by about, my best case study is 400%, with the growth to support patients in that selecting you.

0:01:14.9 Kirsten Lecky: Yeah. So it’s really kind of, I love the idea of thinking about a pipeline. You talk a lot about that. And of course I’ve spent my career in client partnerships and business development. And so understanding sort of that life cycle of a pipeline and all the steps in the pipeline. So applying that into the healthcare, into like patient acquisition strategies. What’s one thing a healthcare marketer can do today to address the cracks in the pipeline? I mean, certainly you’re a solution, but what are some things that they can do in the meantime as they continue to learn more about what you do, but to address kind of some of the cracks and what’s broken in the pipeline.

0:01:52.4 Jessica Walker: And you’re spot on. That’s exactly how we think about it too, is that you think of it as a sales conversion pipeline and where are those opportunities to plug the leaks. One of the areas that we find that is a simple, easy hack that costs you little to no money that will help plug the leak by about 27% is the moment that someone expresses interest. Whether it be coming from a referral from another provider, coming from your website, coming from a digital marketing campaign, you wanna have three points of contact immediately. So if they activate you immediately send them a welcome to the practice email. So again, digital free, right? And it gives them the what to expect and timelines. But this is tip number two. Within that email, you also give them a dedicated, we call it a bat phone, but a way to get ahold of someone at the practice that can answer their questions as a new patient.

0:02:43.5 Jessica Walker: You fought so hard to get this lead and to get them to get interested, don’t put the barriers in front of them of access, but also within that expectation setting, you’re telling them, a member of our team will be in touch with you within ideally today, right? But at least say within 48 business hours, whatever the case may be. But then that’s the other key is put in that direct contact. And then the third one then is that, oftentimes what we see, so 79% of healthcare marketing leads never convert and they never convert because of how we’re not treating it as a sales pipeline process. So the third tip in that is that the activation email immediately welcoming them, giving them the expectations, a phone number to contact. And the third is, I beg of you, please make more than one contact attempt with these individuals. What we often see is it’s a one and done. Someone from the clinic checks it off her list says, okay, I called Kirsten and I tried to get ahold of her. That’s it. But within that first day, when the patient’s in the hot zone, if you make two contact attempts, your likelihood to convert them goes up by like 352%. So those are the immediate tips and opportunities.

0:03:53.5 Kirsten Lecky: Yeah, I like that. Do you find that that second tip, the access like by phone, is that uncommon today? I mean, is it, do you see that that’s a missed opportunity? That there’s not an easy way to, so that’s my first question. Then my second one is like, who owns this? Like, who owns this whole pipeline?

0:04:11.0 Jessica Walker: And I think that’s the challenge, right? So I’m hyperfocused on those high margin elected medical areas that are the ones that are the profit center for the health system, right? So I realize when we’re talking about general family med and other areas that there are things that aren’t as the ROI for investment in this. But when we look at where they engage partners like you, WriterGirl or other partners for digital patient acquisition, it’s typically in these high value, high margin areas. So our tip is always like focus on really getting that right. So unfortunately many times the marketing team doesn’t own that last mile. They’re dependent on the clinic, right? And so ultimately how can you make that ease of access? So the phone is a big part of that. Of course if you’ve got digital, self-select tools, that’s fantastic. But outside of that, like even the simple act of asking for the business, calling that patient back, trying to make it easy to do business with you, that’s where you see a significant uptick.

0:05:06.4 Kirsten Lecky: Do you feel like that’s a real under-leveraged touchpoint today is phone? I mean, it’s like we’re getting to work further and further away from phone, but maybe that’s like now there’s more of an opportunity for that. Especially with those, some of those more long game elective surgeries that could be used a month or longer?

0:05:25.2 Jessica Walker: It is absolutely bariatric conversion path is typically 18 to 24 months for someone to go from interest to surgical table because of the pathway of interest. So I use phone in this ubiquitous, as in people always have their phones on them, right? And so it is, in our experience, it takes six to nine contact attempts to get to someone to potentially convert them. And so the phone is both digital with an SMS or text as well as a voice. But at least having that multiple touch points is what makes a difference to tell the patient that you care enough about them to provide that service.

0:06:01.0 Kirsten Lecky: And like traditional marketing, it’s like seven touches. And do you find, like in this type of marketing, it’s nine, I think I heard you say nine. Nine or more? Yeah.

0:06:10.0 Jessica Walker: So, depends on the service line. So we actually find bariatric, it does tend to be more 13 Orthopedic, it tends to be a little bit lower in like around a five touch point. So we average it by saying six to nine by looking across these service lines. Because one of the things that we find is that that emotional part can often play into the journey, right? When we’re thinking about bariatric or fertility services, a lot of emotio 0:00:04.8 Kirsten Lecky: Well, hello Jessica. Welcome to our Tips in Ten Minutes. It’s so nice to have you.

0:00:09.9 Jessica Walker: Than nal kind of barriers. So by that we’ll call it proactive outreach can really overcome that and help you. Now, outside of that, I understand some of your listeners may not have the magic ability to have an outsource partner or an in-house team. So that’s where you go back to how do you have good content that feeds them through the journey. So that way when the patient is at activation mode, they’re gonna be very proactive about outreach, but at least giving them those tools and nurturing them along the journey so you don’t lose them with their interest.

0:07:05.1 Kirsten Lecky: Yeah, that was actually, you just took the words I was gonna ask my next question was like, the role of content in this. And so do you find that there’s sort of a magic bullet around types and frequency and distribution strategy? What have you learned as like a really good cadence for using content to help someone through the pipeline journey?

0:07:24.0 Jessica Walker: Yeah, you really wanna think about, I mentioned the emotional journey, right? But then you also think about, how people make a buying decision. I know like in healthcare we don’t wanna think about buying, but it is the decision to move forward, right? And there are different ways of people selecting. We look at it from quadrants of those that are the emotional buyers versus social buyers versus the thoughtful versus the referring. By understanding the persona and then how do you build content? So for an example, use our bariatric patient, someone that is emotional social. They are the ones that are likely to go to your in-person seminar, information, right? Or go online and view your seminar. That person who is more intellectual researcher, they’re gonna need more like facts and information. What’s the recovery time?

0:08:08.6 Jessica Walker: That information kind of spelled out so they can understand the journey and place themselves in there. So what we talk about with our partners is you can definitely early stage do a one size fits all and just tell people about your brand, tell people about your program. But once they’ve kind of crossed that threshold and given you permission to engage with them with their contact information, do as much as you can by even simple on the web form, asking a couple simple questions so you know how to guide them on their journey. And that’s what this is about is that, Care Sherpa is guiding patients on their journey, but you can do that as well and say, how do we understand you better? And then give you the tools and resources that you need.

0:08:46.4 Kirsten Lecky: And I imagine so much of these decisions too are because they’re elective in this particular case. Like it’s so much about, influencers, and hearing from others like them that have gone through this journey before. So really leaning into patient stories and hearing from others and incorporating that into content. And so that, it feels like they’re able to rely on somebody that’s been on it before.

0:09:10.0 Jessica Walker: Well, they see themselves in that seat, right? So we talk about that a lot too. We see the content that performs well and again, I’m not dogging stock images and stock videos, but like that personalized real person. So for an example, we had a client in St. Louis and we actually did some A/B testing about what they had previously that was just stock images compared to when we put in real patients that you can see geographically demographically fit within their community and that were not doctored, were not overproduced that was more performant because now it’s a human story. I get pulled in and I can see myself there. And so that really, I mean we realize that customized content takes a little bit more time to prepare, but it perform. We see how it performs so much better.

0:09:51.9 Kirsten Lecky: Yeah. I really appreciate you sharing, so many of your tips and I know, there’s more to come. I know you’ve spoken at conferences, on this very topic. You are publishing and producing a white paper, in partnership with WriterGirl to really tell more of this story, which is rich with all kinds of insights and tips and tricks to either adopt pieces of this on your own or lean into, your organization to support the effort. So I really, look forward to, getting that out there and getting that in everyone’s hands so that they can learn more. And before we say goodbye, you’ll have to share your, the story of the Sherpa or the, is it a llama? So does everybody get a little llama?

0:10:31.8 Jessica Walker: The alpacas? Yeah [laughter]

0:10:32.2 Kirsten Lecky: Yeah. Tell us about that real quick. ’cause I wanna hear more. I know you [0:10:35.5] __, but I wanna be reminded.


0:10:37.1 Jessica Walker: So, Care Sherpa really is the idea of like all the mountains that we put in front of patients to get them to the care they need, right? So Care Sherpa is the guide over the mountain and a Sherpa is truly the individual that knows the pathway over the mountain. Well, every Sherpa also has their steady steed, which is the alpaca. The alpaca carries the tools and the resources. So we refer to ourselves as the alpaca pack where we have, kind of embraced the spirit of the alpaca of that steady steed that has the tools and the resources and makes your journey easier. So that coupled with our Sherpas, the agents that are there to help you is really the core of our mission, right? Do the right thing by the patient and you’re doing the right thing.

0:11:15.6 Kirsten Lecky: I love that.

0:11:15.9 Jessica Walker: And plus, let’s be honest, they’re cute and they’re fun and it’s fun. [laughter]

0:11:19.4 Kirsten Lecky: I know. I love it. It’s such a great, such great branding, really well done. I love your colors, I love the alpaca. All of it is really great. And I usually, when I see you, you’re in a bright purple jacket. I think this might be the first time I’ve seen you without a bright purple jacket. [laughter]

0:11:31.7 Jessica Walker: It’s on brand. Yes. Like, it’s funny you called me out on that ’cause I just forgot were on camera. I was like, oh no, I missed the opportunity. But yes, living the brand, feeling the brand and, but anyways, anyone watching this, if you would like some sweet alpaca swag, reach out to me on LinkedIn, I’d be happy to hook you up ’cause they’re fantastic fun t-shirts. So.

0:11:46.6 Kirsten Lecky: Yeah. It’s super fun. Well, thanks again Jessica. And we will, put more information out once we post this with access to the white paper and we’ll see you, here very soon.

0:11:56.1 Jessica Walker: Sounds great. Thank you so much.

0:13:52.0 Kirsten Lecky: Bye.