How Much Should Clinics Be Spending On Marketing in 2024?

In the fiercely competitive healthcare landscape, clinics are increasingly recognising the vital importance of specialised marketing. Why? Because, beyond offering top-tier care, clinics must ensure they remain visible and accessible to patients in need.

Yet, questions often loom large over clinic directors: "How much should we be spending on marketing?" “How much is too much?” “How do I even begin to know?”

We’ll level with you – navigating the waters of healthcare marketing can be a tricky task. You need to strike the perfect balance between investment, and return on investment (ROI). 

Overspending can strain resources, while underinvestment may leave you struggling to reach your target audience, leading to a painful slump in business. But help is at hand. In this article, we'll delve into the intricacies of healthcare marketing budgets, shedding light on the challenges clinics face, and how to chart a course towards optimised marketing investments.

The Accepted Wisdom

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half.”

- John Wanamaker (1838-1922), U.S. merchant & political figure

Part of the difficulty many clinics face, when making marketing investment decisions, is a lack of clarity between cause and effect. To put it another way: it can be… complicated… to draw a line between investment and ROI. (Some agencies would have you believe it's impossible.) 

But that’s where we stand apart from the rest. We don’t do smoke and mirrors, and we don’t confuse our partners with meaningless metrics; your KPIs are our KPIs. Focused on acquiring new patients? That’s where we’ll funnel your budget. Or, looking to cultivate authority and awareness on social media? We’ll allocate your investment accordingly. 

To get your free, personalised Rocket growth plan, contact our team today.

Generally speaking, there are some commonly-held truths around how much investment represents a good marketing investment. In brief:

  • Anything in the region of 5-7% of gross annual revenue represents an average for companies across healthcare sectors.

  • If times are hard, that number may drop below 5%. (We really wouldn’t recommend going lower than 3%, though. Marketing budgets increase year-on-year, and tightening the purse strings too much could see you sacrifice competitiveness.) 

  • More aggressive marketing strategies sit at around 7.5-9% of gross annual revenue, and those clinics who are really serious may commit 10%, 11%, 12%, or even more to their commercial activities. 

So there we are; if you were looking for a quick answer – there it is. 

There’s quite a bit more to this, though, as we’re about to find out.


How Much Is One New Patient Worth?

Determining the ideal budget for clinic marketing begins with understanding the value each new patient brings to your practice. In essence, how much is one new patient truly worth in terms of revenue and long-term loyalty?

For clinics, patient lifetime value (PLV / LTV) is a critical metric. It encapsulates the total revenue generated by a patient throughout their entire relationship with your practice. This includes not just the initial consultation, but also subsequent visits, referrals, and any ancillary services. To calculate patient lifetime value, consider factors such as: the average number of visits a patient makes per year, the revenue generated per visit, and the likelihood of referrals. 

However, it's important to note that the PLV can vary widely depending on the type of practice and the specific services offered. A cosmetic surgery clinic may have a higher PLV compared to a general practitioner's office, for instance, due to the nature of their services and pricing.

Complicating Factors
Marketing Challenges Faced By Clinics

While the importance of marketing for clinics is undeniable, it's not without its unique set of challenges. Clinics must combine a deep understanding of their target audience with a keen awareness of industry regulations, all while leveraging the latest digital marketing tools and strategies.

  1. Diverse Target Audience: Clinics often serve a diverse patient base with varying needs and preferences. Crafting marketing strategies that resonate with this multifaceted audience can be a daunting task.

  2. Regulatory Compliance: The healthcare industry is heavily regulated. Marketing efforts must not only attract patients but also adhere to stringent legal and ethical standards, which can be both time-consuming and complex.

  3. Competitive Landscape: The healthcare sector is highly competitive, with clinics vying for the attention of potential patients. Standing out in this crowded space requires strategic planning and a well-defined value proposition.

  4. Evolving Digital Landscape: The digital age has transformed how patients seek healthcare information and services. Keeping up with rapidly evolving digital marketing trends and technologies can be challenging for clinics.

  5. Budget Constraints: Clinics often operate with limited budgets, making it crucial to allocate resources efficiently. Striking the right balance between cost-effective marketing strategies and achieving desired results is a constant juggling act.

  6. Measuring ROI: Determining the direct impact of marketing efforts on patient acquisition and retention can be challenging. Many variables come into play, making it difficult to attribute specific outcomes solely to marketing campaigns.

  7. Nurturing Patient Trust: Building and maintaining patient trust is paramount in healthcare. Any marketing missteps can erode trust, making it crucial to ensure all messaging is accurate, empathetic, and patient-centric.

Where Does Your Investment Go?

Your marketing budget isn't a black hole (at least, it doesn’t have to be); it's an investment with specific utilisation that, allocated correctly, can elevate your clinic's presence and patient base. Let's explore where your marketing investments can make the most impact:

SEO

SEO is the cornerstone of online visibility. It involves optimising your online content to rank higher in search engine results. For clinics, this means prospective patients are more likely to find your services when they search for healthcare-related queries. Effective SEO can drive organic traffic to your website and establish your clinic as a trusted resource in the healthcare sphere.

Local SEO

Local SEO is a specialised subset of SEO focused on optimising your online presence for localised, region-specific searches. For clinics, this means ensuring that when potential patients in your specific area search for healthcare services, your clinic appears prominently in local search results. It's a powerful tool for attracting patients in your vicinity who are actively seeking care.

Content Marketing

Content marketing involves creating valuable, informative, and engaging content that resonates with your target audience. For clinics, this can include blog posts, articles, videos, and more. Content marketing establishes your clinic as an authority in your field, educates patients, and nurtures trust.

PPC

PPC, meanwhile, allows clinics to place ads on search engines and social media platforms. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad, making it a cost-effective way to reach potential patients. PPC campaigns can be highly targeted, ensuring your clinic's message reaches the right audience at the right time.

Marketing Consultancy

Engaging a marketing consultancy is like having a GPS for your marketing journey. Consultants bring industry expertise, strategic insights, and a fresh perspective to your clinic's marketing efforts. They can help you navigate challenges, identify opportunities, and develop a tailored marketing strategy that aligns with your clinic's goals and budget.

Web Services

Web services encompass website design, development, and maintenance. A well-designed and user-friendly website not only attracts patients but also provides a platform for showcasing your services, patient testimonials, and informative content.

Social Advertising

In this day and age, social media platforms offer robust advertising options. Social advertising allows clinics to target specific demographics and interests, ensuring your message reaches potential patients most likely to engage with your services. It's an effective way to build brand awareness and engage with your audience on a more personal level.

Lead Generation

Lead generation strategies are designed to capture potential patient information. These strategies can include gated content, email campaigns, and more. By collecting contact details from interested individuals, clinics can nurture leads into loyal patients over time.

Get in touch

We’re here to help, whether you want to schedule an initial healthcare marketing consultation, enquire about a job opportunity or discuss a potential partnership.

A Few Success Stories

OK, so that’s where your investment goes, but what kind of results can you expect? 

Below, we take a look at some success stories for our case studies portfolio.

Fitness and Dance Studio, North London

A new fitness and dance studio faced the need to swiftly reach capacity in their classes and studio bookings. This was essential to cover staff costs and operational expenses. Their objective? To connect with a diverse clientele, including parents, children, dance enthusiasts, and fitness devotees, and prompt immediate bookings.

5.5x
Return on
Investment
95%
dance classes
booked out
87%
fitness classes
booked out

Harley Street Fertility Clinic, Harley Street, London

At the forefront of London's fertility clinics, Harley Street Fertility Clinic (HSFC) had a clear goal: harness the power of SEO and content to enhance their visibility and connect with their primary target demographic. By crafting a tailored, community-focused SEO strategy, we saw a significant organic traffic surge.

165%
YoY increase in organic traffic
1.8k
additional top 100 keyword rankings
84%
increase in size of backlink profile

Psychiatry Clinic, London

To maintain the efficiency of their training program, the clinic depends on a consistent  flow of new patient leads. Before incorporating Google Ads into their strategy, the practice primarily relied on client referrals and social media platforms like Facebook – but the results following our partnership really speak for themselves.

95%
clinic booked to capacity
30%
increase in retention rate
55%
lower cost per lead

The Bottom Line

In a healthcare landscape characterised by both challenges and opportunities, determining the right marketing budget for clinics has never been more critical. As we've seen, understanding the value of each new patient, the complexities of patient acquisition, and the myriad marketing strategies available are all pivotal considerations.

The future of clinical marketing budgets holds the promise of continued growth and innovation. Digital tools, data-driven insights, and evolving patient behaviours will undoubtedly shape this landscape. Clinics that invest wisely and adapt to changing dynamics will thrive.

Are you ready to navigate this evolving terrain and propel your clinic towards growth and success? We're here to help. Contact us today for a free growth plan tailored to your clinic's unique needs and goals. 

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