Digital advertising is arguably the most cost-efficient and impactful way to generate new business for your medical organization — but only with the proper approach.
As digital technologies and media continue to redefine healthcare, they’re simultaneously enabling medical organizations to identify and attract new patients more efficiently than ever before. And it seems that the industry is taking notice — in 2016, healthcare and pharma digital ad spending totaled $2 billion, representing a 19.7% increase from 2015. By 2020, experts predict that number will surge to $3.47 billion.
However, as competition for patients’ attention online continues to increase, a medical practice or hospital’s success will largely depend on their understanding of the fundamental principles of digital marketing, and how to best apply them in a healthcare context. Here are a few key considerations to keep in mind before launching your first campaign.
What is Digital Marketing?
The rudimentary definition of digital marketing is more or less self-explanatory: any form of advertising that is displayed on a digital interface is a form of digital advertising whether that interface be your computer, your smartphone, or even an LCD panel on the side of a bus stop. But that simple, broad definition encompasses a wide and varied range of formats and media, such as search engine advertising, social media advertising, display advertising, retargeting, and ad networks, each of which requires a specific, nuanced approach to utilize effectively.
To grasp the common properties that unite all these various formats, a more productive question might be “how does digital advertising work?” Digital media has not so much replaced the traditional sales funnel as it has exploded and fragmented it, creating a process that is very much tailored to and driven by each individual consumer’s preferences.
The Digital Marketing Funnel
Rather than a salesperson moving the consumer from Awareness, to Interest, to Desire, to Action, consumers in the digital sales funnel take many of these steps themselves. Patients could be approaching and interacting with your content at virtually any point in their path to treatment, making it absolutely crucial to have personalized, targeted content for every single stage of the funnel:
Top of the funnel: At this stage, it’s all about introducing your medical brand to the prospective patient and establishing expertise and credibility. Top of the funnel ads should link to informative and concise landing pages about your company and your service offerings that educate prospects and increase general brand awareness and visibility.
Middle of the funnel: Now that the patient knows who you are, it’s time to convince them why they should choose you over one of your competitors. Patient reviews and testimonials, video interviews with doctors and other staff members, awards and accolades, and images of your facilities are all great ways to differentiate your practice or hospital and establish a meaningful connection.
Bottom of the funnel: Once a consumer reaches the bottom of the funnel, the goal is making it as easy to convert as possible. You should be directing bottom-of-the-funnel traffic to online appointment bookers, click-to-call ad extensions, question or email address submission forms, and general practice or hospital listing info. Just make sure you’re providing a clear path to action for your leads and not overwhelming them with too many options.
Applying These Lessons in Google AdWords
With AdWords, you should be crafting campaigns that bring prospective patients through the beginning and middle of the funnel by getting in front of the right readers, letting those readers know your services will meet their needs, and ultimately convincing them to convert. A successful campaign achieves all three goals through the following three processes:
Targeting: Selecting relevant keywords and that will be searched by those users most likely to need your service, as well as choosing the ideal time and geographic location for each campaign.
Messaging: Choosing the right message will decide whether your ad is an irritating distraction from users’ health research or an essential resource in it.
Landing pages: What users see once they click-through to your ad will play a significant role in whether or not they ultimately trust you to play a part in their treatment.
By mastering these three basic components of search advertising, you’ll be able to craft effective AdWords campaigns regularly and efficiently, driving new patients to your hospital or practice and generating a solid ROI.