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ppcMD: Pain Per Click

ppcMD: Pain Per Click

Pain Per Click

Running a Pay Per Click (PPC) account for a medical client can feel like pulling teeth. There are so many factors that go into running a medical account and no two medical clients are the same! Managing a PPC campaign for patients requires a different mindset than those targeting e-commerce. Users are doing more than making a purchasing decision, they’re putting their health in the hands of your ad.

When I began brainstorming ideas for this blog post on running a PPC account for a medical client, I decided to crowdsource topics from my peers and the answers came pouring in early on a Saturday morning. I was shocked – not only because people were up so early thinking about PPC on a weekend, but also to find how many insights the team provided!

It was quickly evident that I couldn’t write on all the ideas, I’ve narrowed down the list to a handful of insights:

Is There a Doctor in the House? 2 Doctors? A Clinic Full of Doctors?!?!

The 2 biggest differentiators between Forthea’s medical clients are 1) if they run a private practice or not and 2) their specialty and services.

Private practices are a little easier to build a campaign around, especially if the doctor’s name is well known. You can easily create a branded PPC campaign with both the name of the practice and the doctor’s name. However, if the client is a clinic, you must look at the budget and determine if you want to focus on bidding on the clinic’s name, the doctor’s names, or both.

The specialties and services can change everything about a campaign – from the demographics of the patients to the tone of your ads. If your client is a pediatric dentist, you will likely make your ads playful and uplifting with jokes about cavities, but if your client is a cancer center, having playful ads would destroy your campaign.

As with every client, keyword targets vary greatly depending on the specialty and the services offered. Someone with a cavity knows they need to go to the dentist so they are likely to search for a dentist instead of “cavity doctor,” but someone with inner ear problems probably doesn’t know to search for an Otorhinolaryngologist. Bidding on keywords about services are more necessary for less common specialties.

Elementary, My Dear Watson – Building Patient Personas

It is extremely important to take into account the customer buying cycle because not every medical practice has hundreds of thousands of dollars to devote to PPC (wish they did, though!). Unless your client is webMD, bidding on keywords like “red spot on skin,” “tooth pain,” or “headache” is a real waste of money. When building campaigns, it’s helpful to have a persona in mind. Here are three basic types of medical searchers:

  • The On-the-Go Researcher (AKA, The Hypochondriac): This user just found something wrong with themselves and Googles it for an answer. EX: “knee pops when I straighten it.”
  • The “I Need a Doctor” Searcher: This user knows they need a doctor but doesn’t know what is actually wrong. EX: “knee doctor in Houston.”
  • The Knowledgeable Searcher: This user knows exactly what is wrong – by name – and is trying to find the best doctor to fix it. EX: “chondromalacia patella surgeon.”

Leave the first persona to webMD and their competitors. Focus on bidding on keywords for the other two. The Knowledgeable Searcher is your best bet for high conversion rates, but it might have low impressions.

“Dammit Jim, I’m a Search Engine, not a Doctor!” – Google

Contrary to what some people think, Google does not know everything!

For example: No, Google does not know who your doctor is or their phone number (…yet) so this (real) search query will NOT be successful:

I need the number to the orthopedic doctor”

Being proactive through building negative keyword list is everything in medical accounts. No matter how many negatives I add, searchers still shock me about what they enter into search engines. Each of these searches came from high quality – high converting keywords:

“If you have replacement surgery on your left knee what is the best way to get in bed”

“Famous baseball player who had half hip replacement”

“2015 Farmer’s Almanac best days for knee surgery”

You can block your ad from showing from extraneous searches, but no one would’ve ever thought about negating those keywords! To get a head-start on those search queries you never want to appear on (or pay for), be sure to negate as much as possible. Try using these topics when building your list of negative keywords:

  1. Specialty specific negatives
  2. All types of animals, the more the better!
  3. Keywords a medical student might search
  4. Lawsuit keywords

A Conversion a Day Keeps the Doctor Away!

Conversions for medical clients are actually pretty straight forward. Your client should have a contact form, an appointment form, and a phone number on their site. It is important to keep in mind that these are patients, not just tally marks – they are living people who, depending on the specialty, might be scared and feel alone. We have found that potential patients often opt to call to make an appointment. Having someone on the other end of the phone listen, take their problem seriously, and help schedule an appointment can win a patient for life. So it is very important to emphasize to your client the importance of answering the phone. It seems obvious, but we’ve seen companies of all types ignore phone calls that could lead to new business.

Either Help or Do Not Harm the Searcher

It is important to note that Google has numerous rules about how you can and cannot use PPC for medical clients. It is quite easy to get an ad disapproved for the “Healthcare and Medicine” category. If this happens contact your Google Representative for help!

For instance, Google doesn’t allow advertisers to create Remarketing and RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) campaigns to reconnect with site visitors. However, since display advertising is a great way to reach new customers, we advise getting creative with other types of display campaigns. For example, we did research into who would be likely to need one of our clients and then cross examined the list with data from Google Analytics, and created a campaign to aim at a specific demographic and an in-market audience.

It’s Alive! It’s Alive!

As with all clients, it is important to always keep testing new techniques. Medical clients are no different and are actually some of the best and easiest clients to run A/B testing. Personally, I am currently testing:

  1. Unique selling points: “$50 Consultation Fee” vs. “Only $50 Consultation”
  2. Description text that provokes emotion vs. states reputation

But A/B testing goes beyond ads. Test ad extensions focusing on: services, awards, BBB ratings, testimonials, doctor bios… the possibilities are endless!

In closing, a good medical PPC account should focus on the needs of the practice and treat the patients with respect and dignity. It requires thorough optimizations to make the account successful and not waste time and money on searchers that aren’t potential patients. If you don’t feel like your agency is treating your practice uniquely and want to discuss ways of taking your account to the next level, then give us a call (713) 568-2763.

Davis Baker
Davis is the PPC Team Lead at Forthea and a digital advertising veteran of six years. Outside of the office, you can find Davis running, riding his dirt bike, or searching for the perfect cup of coffee (freshly ground and brewed with a French press. Anything less just won't cut it).


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