Hospital marketers understand the importance of digital advertising — but do they know what actually goes into managing a successful campaign?
It’s probably safe to assume that by now, the vast majority of hospital marketers are investing in some sort of pay per click (PPC) digital advertising campaign. Last year, Google processed approximately 28 billion health-related search queries in the U.S., and 25% of those queries were resolved by medical ads.
Of course, it’s one thing to understand the value of investing in PPC advertising on search engines, but achieving a solid ROI on your campaign is whole other ballgame.
Pauline Jakober recently wrote a great article for Search Engine Watch that explains all of the considerations and tasks that must be taken into account in order to effectively manage a PPC campaign. Here are a few of the key takeaways.
Regularly Auditing Keyword Trends
Optimizing your spend requires constant monitoring and revisions in accordance with evolving consumer search habits. In other words, approaching your hospital’s PPC campaign with a “set-it-and-forget-it” attitude is probably going to backfire — quickly. By regularly observing fluctuations in volume around specific terms and phrases, you can actually get out ahead of trending keywords and capture that traffic before your competitors have the chance.
Setting Quality Score Benchmarks
You’d think that a properly managed ad campaign would naturally result in a high quality score, but that’s not necessarily the case. Often times, the root of the problem doesn’t lie with the ads themselves, but with the landing page that the ads are directing traffic to. For example, if your hospital is using a single landing page with multiple conversion paths, there’s a good chance that the keywords on that page won’t be adequately aligned with all of the ads connected to it. As a result, it’s likely that Google will penalize the page for “serving irrelevant information to users.” Generally, this issue can be resolved by auditing the landing pages and adding in a few missing keywords.
Avoiding Duplicate Keywords
AdWords recommends avoiding duplicate keywords in your PPC campaigns; however, this can be a difficult thing to do, especially if the program is a relatively expansive one. To avoid being penalized for duplicate keywords, check out Google’s handy (and free) Adwords Editor. It works like a charm!
Optimizing Click-Through-Rate Is an Ongoing Process
Of course, monitoring keyword click-through-rate (CTR) and pruning the underperformers is crucial when it comes to generating a solid ROI on a new campaign. But it’s not just the newcomers that need special attention — you should be monitoring CTR on more established campaigns as well. As Jakober aptly points out, “Sometimes CTR stats change suddenly, which could indicate that a hot new competitor has entered the market — which could require some adjustments to your PPC strategy.”
The main takeaway here is this: it’s not enough to simply pump some of your hospital’s marketing dollars into an AdWords campaign and expect miracles to come out on the other side. Rather, keeping the new patients flowing and your spend at a minimum is a balancing act — one that requires careful monitoring, consideration, and a great deal of expertise. That said, I’d argue that today, PPC advertising on search and social media is a hospital’s most important and impactful patient acquisition tool — all it takes is the right mindset and a little bit of elbow grease.