Benchmarking Basics to Drive Results


How to scientifically benchmark your private practice marketing.

By Michelle Collie, PT, DPT, MS, OCS

Social media campaigns, direct marketing to referral sources, advertising, and outreach to past patients, no matter the marketing goal or strategy, benchmarking is an essential component to ensure maximum results.

When applying benchmarking techniques, you are essentially making comparisons. These include comparisons of different marketing processes within your organization, with competitors, with industry standards, or with another industry. These comparisons can result in effective operational changes, improved processes that can lead to better results.


Benchmarking your marketing results with other private physical therapy practices is a smart place to start. Peer-to-peer networking and relationships, whether formal or informal, can provide benchmarks on marketing strategies aimed at increasing the number of new and returning patients. For example, knowing that a practice of a similar size and setting has 10 percent of patients return for physical therapy when their physical therapist calls to check on them 6 months after their last visit is an important benchmark to know as you decide if this marketing strategy is worthwhile for your practice. Additionally, the 10 percent benchmark is a goal for your callback campaign, and your processes can be trialed and improved until the 10 percent goal is met.

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Considering sending e-newsletters to past patients, with the goal being to increase friends and family referrals? Online marketing websites that send e-newsletters provide a significant amount of information, but it’s important to understand the meaning of this information. Key benchmarks include the open rate, the percentage of recipients who received the email who actually opened it, and the click-through rate, the percentage of people who clicked at least one link in the email.2 Benchmarks for 2016 health care open rates are reported to be between 22.36 percent3 and 16.89 percent.2 Click-through rates range from 9.75 percent4 to 7.28 percent.2 These benchmarks are important to review to ensure your potential patients are at least interested in your e-newsletter, even though they are not yet patients. The next step is establishing benchmarks for open rates and click-through rates to a friends and family referral.

Internal benchmarking compares results from past performance to current and future performance.1 Every marketing campaign or strategy can be measured to establish systems and processes that are the most effective to drive the results you want in your market. Analyze the processes and results of your marketing strategies to determine best practices and benchmarks. Continue to challenge these processes and benchmarks by comparing them with new processes. Consider the physician who refers an average of four patients a month. The marketing strategy to reach this benchmark was to develop a relationship by dropping by the office every three months with brochures, prescription pads, an annual calendar, and Halloween candy. Knowing the benchmark is four patients a month enables you to assess new processes such as altering the frequency or day of the week of visits, supplementing with phone calls or emails, and updating the kind of information provided to the referral source.

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The same can be done for the e-newsletter campaign. Trial different days and times for sending your e-newsletter, review subject lines that resulted in the higher or lower open rates, determine content by assessing which links were clicked through. This will fine-tune the effectiveness and results of your e-newsletter campaign.

External benchmarking compares physical therapy marketing activities with those of companies from other industries but with similar processes.1 This is an important type of benchmarking to consider and can certainly help a private practice strategically evolve its marketing strategies. The average open rate for emails across all sectors is close to 25 percent and the click-through rate almost 11 percent.4 Reviewing methodologies and processes from other industries could result in a boost in your open rate and click-through rate. What are the marketing benchmarks for other types of health care providers relying on new referrals or new patients in your region? Learning these benchmarks may provide subtle insight to make changes in your marketing strategies, significantly improving your results.

Benchmarking leads to strategic changes in marketing operations and processes that, although they take time and effort, ultimately can have a dramatic effect on the success of your practice and will drive results.


1. Introduction to benchmarking. www.marketingteacher.com/benchmarking/. Accessed December 2016.

2. The average open, click-through, and bounce rates of other Constant Contact customers by industry. https://support2.constantcontact.com/articles/FAQ/2499. Accessed December 2016.

3. Email marketing benchmarks. https://mailchimp.com/resources/research/email-marketing-benchmarks/. Accessed December 2016.

4. The ultimate 2016 email marketing benchmark guide. https://econsultancy.com/blog/67649-the-ultimate-2016-email-marketing-benchmark-guide/. Accessed December 2016.

Michelle Collie, PT, DPT, MS, is the chair of the PPS PR and Marketing Committee and chief executive officer of Performance Physical Therapy in Rhode Island. She can be reached at mcollie@performanceptri.com.