3 Top Reasons for Poor Conversion from Interest to New Weight Loss Patient & What to Do About It
— By Karol Clark, MSN, RN
Converting potential new patients from interest to selecting you and your team to help them accomplish their weight loss goals requires addressing some of the top causes of poor conversion.
With nearly one-half (49.1 percent) of adults trying to lose weight in the United States, it should be easy to have a continuous stream of new patients coming through your door.1 Yet, at any given time, these same individuals have thousands of weight loss products, commercial programs, and medical or surgical weight loss options to choose from. This can cause confusion for the patient as well as a great deal of competition for anyone offering weight loss products and services. Yet, patients do make a choice as evidenced by the fact that the weight loss industry revenue was $3.7 billion in 2022 alone.2
Even if you have a steady stream of potential new patient leads coming into your practice each month, you and your team can face many challenges when it comes to converting these prospective patients into paying patients. In fact, this problem is more common than many realize or admit.
Weight Loss Patient Lead Conversion
Lead conversion is the process of turning a lead or someone interested in the products or services you offer into a paying customer or new patient. Lead conversion can be measured in many ways. For example, from a marketing perspective, lead conversion may be defined as an interested patient visiting your website opting to complete an online quiz or insurance check. Yet, at the end of the day, what matters most, are the total number of new people who become an actual paying patient in your weight loss practice.
There is some controversy over what the average conversion rate is for weight loss practices. While there isn’t a definitive industry-wide average conversion rate specifically for weight loss practices, you will find estimated conversion rates ranging from as low as 10 percent to 60 percent or higher. The variation is particularly influenced by the quality of the lead that you have coming through your paid and organic marketing efforts — essentially, your weight loss clinic’s lead generation strategies.
Whether you are tracking numerous conversion rates such as your conversion rate from inquiry to consult, qualified lead to established patient, or consult to surgery, the equation for calculating your conversion percentage is essentially the same. To determine your patient lead conversion rate, simply take the total number of conversions such as new patients or paid consults for a given period of time, then divide it by your total number of qualified leads for the same time period and multiply by 100. For example, if you have 120 leads that came in last month from various sources (i.e. website, chat and phone call) and of these 45 became new patients, your conversion rate is 37.5% (45/120 X 100).
Primary Reasons for Poor Weight Loss Patient Lead Conversion
Poor conversion can be frustrating for you as well as patients making inquiries. It is important to identify potential reasons so that you can avoid such frustration. This will also help prevent you from wasting your time and financial resources.
Below is a review of the top three reasons for poor patient lead conversion followed by what you can do about each in order to improve conversion rates for your weight loss practice.
1. Attracting the Wrong Leads: As a clinician, medical weight loss marketing is not usually your forte or something you particularly enjoy. You likely depend upon outsourced experts and may commit to a marketing campaign that doesn’t resonate with or attract ideal patients who are seeking the programs, services, and products you offer. This results in leads that lack interest and motivation to move forward and a poor return on your marketing investment. For example: You may drive online traffic to your website to complete a questionnaire or BMI check to see if they qualify for weight loss surgery. While helpful, you may get people very early in their research journey versus those that request an insurance check or take the time to watch an online webinar who may be ready to act.
What you can do about it:
- Clearly define the ideal patients you want to attract to your practice. An easy way to do this is to identify the demographics, pain points, goals and payer mix of those patients you enjoy working with the most. Document this specific information so you can convey it in your marketing and share it with any outsourced marketing resources so they have a clear understanding of the patients you want to attract.
- Review your marketing content and messaging to ensure it resonates with the pain points and desired goals of your ideal patients. Tailor your messaging to address these pain points, needs and goals. At the same time, highlight why you and your products, services, and programs are a perfect fit to help them attain the transformation they desire.
- Test various lead qualification processes and marketing channels. Evaluate the marketing channels you are using and their effectiveness. Test out what resonates with your patients through your non-paid organic strategies and then turn what creates the most engagement into paid marketing efforts if desired.
- Measure and adjust your marketing strategies. Continuously monitor and analyze the performance of your marketing strategies. Track conversion rates, lead quality, and feedback from your team. Use this data to optimize your efforts to attract the right leads.
2. Insufficient Follow-Up: Converting leads into paying patients requires consistent follow-up. If your team does not respond promptly and keep your potential new patient engaged, it can result in missed opportunities. Leads may become disinterested or seek alternative options.
What you can do about it:
- Make sure your entire team understands the importance of prompt and convenient follow-up with new leads.
- Create a systematized follow-up process that includes multiple touchpoints with leads — ideally all in one HIPAA compliant application. These can include phone calls, e-mails, and secure text messages (a favorite for most patients).
- Learn the barriers your leads are sharing and create ways to help them overcome as appropriate. Incorporate this into your marketing and follow-up system.
- Continuously provide valuable content online and via e-mail so you are top of mind when they are ready to get started.
3. Financial Concerns and/or Insurance Issues: As you know, financial concerns and insurance limitations impact the conversion process for many people. If the cost of services is perceived as too high or not covered by insurance, potential new patients may become overwhelmed, disappointed and not move forward.
What you can do about it:
- Provide transparent pricing as you converse with a potential new patient. People do not like surprises and find this refreshing. If your pricing is higher than your competitors, clearly explain the benefits and unique aspects of your program, as well as the transformation your patients typically experience.
- Clearly communicate the cost of services and any available financing options.
- Provide them with packages at up to three different price points so they have options.
- If insurance is not an option, share how common it is for patients to use your self-pay options. Explain how you have made it as affordable as possible and the benefits of self-pay such as no insurance hassles and often a lower out of pocket alternative.
Effective lead conversion is critical to overall success for your practice. Attracting the right leads in the first place and having a team committed to prompt and effective lead follow-up while positively addressing patient barriers is shown to improve your conversion rates. As with anything, what is measured tends to improve so be sure to include conversion metrics as a part of your regular reporting process.