Lead Tracking May Not Be What You Think It Is

In this article we look at lead tracking in medical practices and why these efforts, for the most part, do not have the value you may think they do.


  • Most leads can be attributed to multiple touchpoints.
  • When you run marketing campaigns, you need to know which ones result in leads.
  • Lead tracking only matters if you use the data you collect.
  • If you are making decisions on self-reported data, your decisions are probably wrong.
  • Lead tracking means tracking everything related to a lead, not just the source.

Most medical practices incorporate some form of lead tracking into their registration process. For the overwhelming majority, this is simply asking the patient, “How did you hear about us?” Lacking a better option, this technique has some value, but it is wildly inaccurate and rarely provides the detail you need to make sound marketing decisions.

Discovering the Source of Your Leads

It is customary when a lead comes to you as a referral from another physician or a family member to send a thank-you note as an inexpensive goodwill gesture that helps keep the referrals coming. It is not enough for you to know simply that the lead came to you by referral. You want to know the name of the person who made the referral or you cannot send your note. The more detail you have about the source the more useful your note can be for generating additional referrals.

The same is true when it comes to other sources for leads. It is common to settle for referral sources such as the Internet, TV, newspapers, magazines, and billboards. But the exact source, such as the name of the magazine or the location of the billboard matters. The more detail we attempt to extract, the less useful the information becomes. When someone answers Internet, was it through a natural search, social media, or paid advertising? Most people will not remember, and you are left with the problem of not knowing which referral source works better than others on the Internet.

The problem is further compounded by leads having multiple touchpoints along the way that resulted in the lead. A friend mentioned your practice. The potential leads start seeing your ad in a local newspaper and visit your website to learn more about you. A month later they see an online ad while looking for something else, and the leads decides to take advantage of the offer and contact you. Are these leads from friend referrals? a successful newspaper campaign? Or an online marketing campaign? Does it really matter? The answer is yes, yes, yes, and absolutely yes.

How Important Is a “Last Touch” Source Anyway?

You are witnessing the marketing fact that most people require multiple points of contact with your practice before giving you the opportunity to make them patients. When you ask people how they heard about you, they will normally only give you the last type of contact, or touchpoint – often referred to as the “last touch” – and the picture you get from a single source is considerably different from the one you obtain when you can track back through several sources.

Is it possible to collect all of this information about leads accurately without subjecting them to intense and intrusive questioning? Once again, the answer is absolutely yes. This is the purpose of marketing automation and the software that manages it.

Numbers Only Matter If You Use Them

Let us look at another question about your current tracking efforts. How do you use the source data you collect to make business decisions for your practice? The point of collecting this information is to make better marketing decisions. Let us take our example of the lead who required three touchpoints to contact you. If this lead indicates that he or she heard about you from a friend, you could easily—and quite incorrectly—conclude that the money you were spending on online marketing was not providing a return. You might even decide to cut back on your online spending in favor of a refer-a-friend program. The problem is that because you could not see the full picture, you are removed from two of the necessary drivers to generate this lead. What you think you learned from this lead does not necessarily reflect the real picture.

To see any benefits from lead tracking, it is necessary to track everything you have access to, not just obvious things like what the lead tells you. If you take the self-reported lead data along with the list of web pages visited, articles read, videos watched, and marketing materials downloaded, then, and only then, do you have what you need to turn this kind of lead into a patient consistently.

And yes, this is what medical marketing automation software does for you.