Investing in Digital Marketing: The Numbers and What it Means

Published on 1 September 2023
Updated on 22 January 2024
by HeartBeat Digital Marketing
Investing in digital marketing is a big decision, one that's not possible without knowing how it works and how to calculate the ROI.
Two accountants looking at roi from digital marketing

If you’re in the business of providing healthcare for your community, investing in the right resources really helps.

As does understanding the maths behind it all.

We’re talking about financially healthy practices with a consistent flow of patients through the right channels—all from a cost-effective strategy.

In this article, we calculate the return on investment for GP clinics who invest in digital marketing strategies, including:

  • The maths behind the ROI
  • What investing in digital marketing means
  • Case study: a financially healthy practice
  • Case study: a dial-down proves costly
  • Costs and considerations to make it work for you

To help crunch the numbers, Cubiko has provided their expert insights

Cubiko’s actionable insights offer increased and optimised billing, reporting simplicity and more all in the name of better patient care for Australian practices. They’ve supported countless health and medical businesses realise the value of a digital presence.

“Talking to practices, what I often see is a few specialist GPs who are providing unique services but aren’t always well-known to local patients”, says Robert Dickson, Cubiko’s Chief Operating Officer.

“Put simply, it means services that could really help patients go under noticed and underused”.

This can mean specialised health professionals relocating to areas that see more of their demand.

In a recent survey, the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare found that the number of medical practitioners per head in rural/remote areas was 2.5 per 1000 people compared with 4.1 per 1000 in urban areas.

The situation has also been flagged in the 2023/24 budget.

And, it can mean lost revenue for practices.

Return on investment

“…our clients, on average, see a 298% return on investment.”

It’s a simple fact. Healthcare practices need to turn a profit on the services they provide to ensure patients benefit from consultations delivered to a modern, high standard.

When it comes to investing in digital marketing, ROI, like all investments, is impacted by multiple factors including, location, competition and technicalities like SEO, and online presence among others.

Using the national average of $71.65 for a standard level B consultation (up to 20 minutes), our clients, on average, see a 298% return on investment.

Of course, ROI is never a rock-solid promise, but the numbers are food for thought.

Worth mentioning are three long-term HeartBeat Digital clients:

  • Melbourne, inner-city clinic: $75,300 conversion value from a $6,600 investment, meaning an ROI of over 1,000% or $11.41 for every $1.00 spent
  • Perth, suburban clinic: $34,500 conversion value with a $3,000 investment, meaning an ROI of over 1,000% or $11.50 for every $1.00 spent
  • On the lower end, Western Sydney clinic: $9,200 conversion value with a $2,950 investment, meaning an ROI of over 211% or $3.11 for every $1.00 spent

Numbers are approx, and examples use month-on-month data from April 2023 and define ‘conversions’ as appointments booked online.

Sounds too good to be true?

As lucrative as it sounds, reaching that kind of ROI most certainly doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a serious and long term investment in digital marketing with regular eyes on analytics.

There’s also typically a ‘sweet spot’, whereby decreasing or increasing spends can negatively impact returns.

What investing in digital marketing means

“If you’re looking to grow your practice, it’s important to know that it will require investment”, says Robert.

“There are investments such as plant and equipment, staffing and rent, which are all well known. It’s important to also budget for investment in digital, beyond an off-the-shelf website.

“What I see working across practices looking to grow their patient base, are those that invest in digital. For instance, they provide a coordinated campaign around their brand, their vision for the local community, and market that appropriately to the right patients.”

“These channels work together for a strong online presence, why? The ROI at the end of the day.”

This investment includes a unique, modern website (with analytics) and strong SEO to back it up, a Google Ads strategy and active social media profiles, plural.

SEO works by funnelling people using search engines like Google through to a website. This means making websites findable, visible and trustworthy enough to click or tap on.

Google Ads means advertising on search results pages and on third-party websites. It’s with PPC ads (pay per click) that you can really tweak and adjust both budget and campaigns per interactive results.

Healthy SME’s online advertising

A screenshot of a typical healthy SME’s online advertising statistics over a month.

Social media works by channelling people from platforms via posts and/or ads. The socials add a ‘people and story behind the brand’ dimension too.

Let’s not forget trustworthy and findable Google Business Profiles either, which ensure you’re found on maps for example.

Tracking results so that you can optimise your budgets and strategies is also a must. UTM tags, which identify where traffic comes from, among other things, are one example, but there are many tools available to help with tracking.

These channels work together for a strong online presence, why? The ROI at the end of the day.

Case study: a financially healthy practice

Location: Regional Victoria

Background: The medical centre satisfies its community’s GP needs, but also offers more complicated medical products and services.

This includes services like disease screenings, chronic disease management and minor surgeries.

The client began their journey with HeartBeat Digital in Q4, 2021.

Challenge: Letting their community know that they don’t have to travel to larger centres or into Melbourne for more complicated services.

Strategy: The client provides HeartBeat Digital with regular updates, photos and topics (if any) for social media, online advertising and their website.

With this information, our team keeps their digital presence churning with ads and other content tuned for a significant and stable monthly ROI.

Working in unison with Cubiko’s actionable insights also keeps appointments filled with more profitable consultations.

Results: Today, this client sees a monthly ROI of around 720%.

Case study: dial-down proves costly

Location: Perth

Background: This clinic has been operating for a short period and has established itself as reliable for the family-oriented community it serves.

The clinic changed ownership a few months after opening doors. The new decision makers chopped down their investment in digital marketing.

They based their decisions on gut feelings without consulting available data, in other words, an uneducated guess on a whim.

It meant axing social media and SEO efforts and significantly reducing advertising budget each month.

Situation: The clinic’s social media went from posting weekly with regular user engagement to stagnating with unanswered comments.

On the SEO front, results page rankings lost out to competitors meaning that prospective patients searching online were met with links to other clinics. This happens when search engines like Google devalue a business due to poor SEO/old content or others do a better job.

Results: Average monthly clicks dropped from the low 100s to around 9. Within a few months, the clinic experienced a noticeable drop in new patients, and was left relying on existing and returning business.

Business meeting about roi

So, how much does investing in digital marketing cost?

The first cost consideration should be time, not dollars. If you want instant results, online advertising has ideal options.

For the long-term, it’s more about organic strategies like SEO and social media presence as getting a following, along with a trustworthy website typically takes single-digit months.

As far as dollars do go, figures range from a few thousand for a modernised website with analytics and monthlies like SEO hours and social posts.

A rough minimum can start from around $1,000 to $3,000 per month as a basic digital marketing budget, depending on your circumstances, which include:

  • Competition
  • Location
  • Services
  • Time operating
  • Business goals

When it comes to online advertising spend, a big factor in determining overall ROI, it’s a case-by-case situation.

Factors that can affect advertising costs

  • Location and competition
  • Time operating (newly established businesses may require more to get up and running)
  • Demand and business offering
  • Seasonal flexibility (some businesses see demand change, skin checks in summer and flu shot in winter for example)

To find out numbers per your specifics, get in touch with us.

Summarising digital marketing ROI

There’s no business out there that aims to break even, and certainly none aiming to operate at a loss.

When it comes to the massive machine that is digital marketing, knowing what it all means and how it works is crucial to making the right decisions for your business.

In a nutshell:

What is it?

  • A modern website with analytics and a great user experience
  • SEO for long-term traffic to a trustworthy website that appears in a large number of search terms
  • Content to back up SEO, social media and advertising
  • Online advertising for fast and scalable results
  • Social media for advertising, sales and a personal touch

How much does it cost?
FROM a few thousand dollars and a few months (depending on circumstances).

Where do I get it?
That’s easy. Speak to us.

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