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Digital Ads and Healthcare: What Makes Some Companies So Successful?

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Woman looking intently at laptop screen in a coffee shopIn marketing, the Pareto principle—or the 80/20 principle—applies to a lot of what we do. For example, more often than not, 20% of the healthcare organizations in any given demographic are responsible for 80% of the ad space.

The rest are missing out on a digital advertising opportunity—and that’s one of the most powerful tools we have today to ethically target more patients and better cases. So what sets these top 20% of healthcare digital advertisers apart from the rest?

Related: Which Healthcare Marketing Strategy Should You Use Next?

1. They test their ads

Far too often, people think of digital ad campaigns as a “set it and forget it” marketing tool. They simply run a couple of ads that look well enough and wait for the leads to roll in. The theory seems to be that as long as they have something up and running, it’s better than nothing.

But in many ways, it’s like throwing money away. The top 20% of healthcare advertisers consistently test their ads to make sure they have the potential to convert patients.

If impressions are high but clicks are low, do something about the ad copy. If the click rate is high but you aren’t getting any form fills, direct your ads to a new landing page. Top healthcare advertisers are constantly changing their advertising strategies.

2. They don’t give up

On the opposite side of the spectrum from the “set it and forget it” crowd are those who believe digital advertising just won’t work in their specialty. They’ve tried advertising before, didn’t see great results, and decided to stick with traditional media advertising, like billboards and brochures.

We believe all of these things are part of a well-rounded cross-channel ad campaign. But digital advertising is usually part of this, in some capacity.

Constant testing is one part of the equation to running successful ads. In addition, you have to understand what channels your patients frequent to determine where to shift the majority of your advertising budget.

3. They study their audience

When you know your demographic fairly well, it’s easy to believe you understand their behaviors. But you simply cannot determine the actions your patients take online unless you do the research.

For example, we hear a lot of doctors say that they don’t need digital advertising because most of their patients are seniors. But according to a 2018 Gallup poll, 52% of people aged 50-64 are on Facebook, along with 32% of people 65 and older.

Seniors see Facebook ads online every day, and many are actively searching for healthcare, or have children who may be making their primary healthcare decisions.

Another example: we often hear doctors say that they would never click on a paid Google ad, so why would their patients? But remember that you are not your audience. The only way to know about your audience’s behaviors is to study them--and they’re changing every year!

4. They care about ad copy and imagery

Typically, digital advertisements are quite short, so you may not think the text and imagery is of much importance. But effective ad copy and images are all part of testing your various campaigns.

That means scrutinizing even the images that seem like a natural choice. For example, a team photo of smiling doctors could help patients feel at ease with your practice--but it may not catch their eye in the first place. Test various photos, including “after” photos, or images of people enjoying activities that may have been difficult before visiting your office.

It also means researching and thinking carefully about what your patients want from your organization. Do they care that your team is triple board certified? It’s certainly a plus. But they may be looking for information about your level of care above your credentials. These are all things worth testing.

5. They set clear goals

There’s no use running an advertisement if it’s not connected to any clear goal. This is true of billboards, brochures, and Google ads alike. Understanding your goals helps you and your marketing team make better decisions about ad content, audience, and placement.

Looking to get more patients to one specific service line or specialty? Adjust Google ad keywords and make sure the landing page is relevant to those services. Want to build brand awareness in your community? Facebook ads can bring in high impressions without too high a cost. Want to get more prospective patients calling your office? Cohesive cross-channel campaigns can get you there.

6. They use negative keywords

Negative keywords are a huge part of constantly testing and adjusting your Google and Bing ads. We’ve talked a lot about finding what does work within your ads, but it’s just as important to notice what doesn’t.

Let’s say you’re running ads for an OB/GYN practice. You probably don’t want to advertise to someone researching a keyword like “define OBGYN.” Chances are high this person is not ready to have a baby.

You also don’t want someone searching for employment: like “OBGYN job” or “OBGYN salaries.” And of course, you don’t want to spend money on a click from someone searching for that “OBGYN tv series.” These are all negative keywords, many of which you may discover as you continue to run your ads.

Working with a Healthcare Digital Advertising Agency

Many of the top 20% of healthcare advertisers have a pretty obvious secret: they let professionals do the work.

Healthcare advertising agencies that specialize in digital ads already know the ins and outs of the digital space--and they won’t need extensive training in your specialty. If you’re interested in working with an agency that can handle all of your healthcare digital advertising needs (as well as traditional media marketing) give us a call: (800) 656-0907.

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