How Does Medical PPC Stack Up Against Other Industries?


The results are in on how medical pay-per-click compares to other industries — so what can medical marketers do to boost conversion rates and improve their ROI?

We all like to imagine that we’re the best at everything we do. Sometimes that’s true, but all too often, it’s exactly this attitude that gets us into trouble. For the medical industry, pay-per-click (PPC) marketing campaigns can be a game-changer, generating actionable new leads with an impressive ROI — but, as the latest data indicates, the medical industry is struggling to run cost-effective PPC campaigns. It might be time for healthcare marketers to rethink their current approach to paid search. 

Medical PPC Metrics, as Compared to Other Industries

Wordsteam recently compiled data points using 4 key metrics (see below) across many industries for both AdWords-based PPC campaigns and those on the Google Display Network. The healthcare and medical industries, while not the worst on the list, could definitely stand to improve their overall performance. 

  • Click-through rate (CTC): the percentage of users who click on an ad that’s served to them.
  • Cost-per-click (CPC): the rate that advertisers pay for these click-throughs.
  • Conversion rate (CVR): the percentage of users who take a desired action (conversion), after clicking through to your site.
  • Cost-per-action (CPA): the actual cost advertisers incur for each desired user action

For example, medical CTC rates (1.79%) are 6.7% lower than the average PPC search campaign and 11.5% lower over the Google Display Network. Similarly, CPCs for search are 36.6% higher than the average. These figures translate to an overall CPA on search of $126.29, a full 134% more than the industry-wide average. 


Unfortunately, these higher prices still translate to a below-average conversion rate of 2.51% for search, 7% lower than the average. While the lifetime customer value of medical patients is quite high (more than covering the cost of PPC campaigns), these numbers are alarmingly low.


Medical Marketers Need Help

One of the largest reasons behind the relatively high cost of medical PPC campaigns is a pervasive set-it-and-forget-it (SIFI) mentality. Usually intended as a cost-saving measure, SIFI campaigns are automated and left to run on their own once a small number of PPC ads, keywords, and target areas are chosen. While medical companies can use this method to avoid paying for in-house time or outsourced talent, SIFI campaigns usually become much more expensive in the long run because they don’t adjust when performance changes. 

Another reason is a general lack of understanding that the healthcare space is fundamentally different than other industries, and as a result, requires a unique approach. Non-experienced agencies typically have higher PPC costs because they don’t understand the patient’s digital search process. Many tend to focus on symptom and diagnostic-based keywords (as they have a much higher search volume), rather than condition, treatment, or resource-based keywords, which have a lower search volume, but a much higher conversion rate.

Moreover, the most successful PPC campaigns are always the ones that are actively managed — when campaigns are run by an experienced, hands-on professional, we consistently see cost reductions anywhere between 20-40%. There are many ways to actively maintain a low cost/conversion ratio: constantly updating keyword choices, filtering out ineffective options, optimizing website landing pages, tweaking ad copy (and running A/B tests), and closely tracking your results, to name a few. PPC campaigns should also always contain clear call-to-action buttons that instruct the user where to go. 

The truth is that the medical industry, while fairly advanced in its adoption of other digital initiatives, is often slow to the game when it comes to embracing forward-thinking PPC marketing techniques. Medical PPC may require a bit more care and attention than in other industries, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable as a marketing tool — it just needs to be handled correctly. 

Targeted Medical Marketing, Digital Marketing

(Main image credit: maxmann/Pixabay)