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Why Search Engine Marketing (PPC) for Doctors Is Worth It

Are you on page one of Google? Or are you just waiting for your SEO to kick in?

Pay-Per-Click advertising often gets a bum rap,  but the truth is people do click on sponsored ads if they are ready to take the next steps.  According to http://www.wordstream.com/articles/google-ads, almost two-thirds of clicks go to sponsored results for high commercial-intent keyword searches. Even better, 89% of traffic generated by the search ads is new traffic outside of the organic reach.

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What to know about PPC

It is appealing to think that natural searches and rankings can drive all traffic to your site, but in truth, Search Engine Marketing (also called SEM or Pay-Per-Click or PPC) should likely be part of your marketing plan. If you don't use it, and your competitors do, it is almost impossible to grow your customer base and your business.

MediaSmack does a nice job explaining SEO vs. PPC.  In a nutshell, SEO is an expensive, long-term approach to ranking well in an organic search. PPC is a more immediate way of ranking high and converting users. PPC advertising puts you in front of potential customers whether or not your site appears on the first page of search. Functionally, it interfaces directly with the effectiveness of your SEO. The more relevant your site is, the better your pay-per-click marketing performs. In turn, Google rewards you for relevance with better placement or better rates.

Why think about PPC

While we whole-heartedly believe that content marketing is best for organic/relevant search and key to any marketing strategy, it's hard to imagine a doctor wouldn't pay $200 to acquire a patient needing a $10,000 procedure.  If you look at PPC as a complement to your other marketing efforts, it makes sense.

How to do it

The key to effective SEM is fine-tuning your strategy before agreeing to pay-per-click charges so that the dollars you spend on clicks are most likely to convert into clients. This takes you back, once again, to knowing your customer. Are your clients male or female? Young or old? Where do they live? What procedures do you offer that they want most? Over time, you can adjust your placement and pricing to ensure the necessary return on investment for this marketing outlet.

As with SEO, you can set up SEM on your own, but SEM experts are plentiful and a worthwhile investment. There is an art and science to PPC and these professionals will save you tons of time evaluating the most appropriate SEM programs. As with all of your marketing tactics, the more research you and your SEM vendor conduct, the more accurately you target your customer at an ROI that works.

Be sure to tie your PPC program to Google Analytics (see Google Analytics post). This is one more nugget of valuable customer insight.  Google Analytics can track all PPC data for Google Adwords to help you get the most from your investment.

What to expect

Effective SEM will require up-front planning on keyword strategy and good control over a clean client database so you can target your marketing geographically. Once your campaign launches, review results regularly!  Look at click rates, conversion rates, bid rates, and cost-per-lead numbers to optimize your program. You’ll want to routinely test ad copy and landing pages to maintain – no, maximize success! It’s really an ongoing review and tweak-as-necessary process. As the program pays for itself, plan to increase the amount of your budget you spend on SEM

For more information about PPC and other essential marketing tactics, download our Marketing Checklist for Doctors and Dentists (Download PDF for Free)

Simple Metrics for Smarter Marketing – Google Analytics

Google Analytics

Excerpt from Marketing Checklist for Medical and Dental Practices: Download full PDF here.

Our clients have a million things requiring their attention these days, from marketing to state requirements and inspections to yes, being a doctor.  In an effort to save time and increase reach, we have set out to explain some of the marketing tools out there, why they're valuable, and how to get started. Today, we demystify Google Analytics and offer tips on utilizing the treasure trove of information at your fingertips.

What to know

Google Analytics is a free service that gathers information about how many people visit your website, which sites or search engines they came from, where they clicked while on your site, how long they stayed, and more. These factors help you determine where to advertise and evaluate how your site is working.

Why think about it

This information powers smarter marketing decisions. Google Analytics provide a window into your audience so you understand who they are and how they interact with you online (visit our post about Knowing Your Customer for more ways to identify your target audience). When you understand the behavior of your audience like where they go on your website, how long are they on each page, what site referred them to you - you can tailor your marketing and increase the odds these visitors become your patients. In the past, small business owners haven’t had easy or affordable access to this type of data, so take advantage and avoid spinning your wheels with ineffective content.

How to do it

Set up a Google Analytics account or use an existing account. To avoid accidental overlap of business and personal content or any other activities you conduct with your current Google account, sometimes it’s easiest to establish a devoted gmail account for this purpose. Once logged in, visit Google Analytics where you will be guided through the process of setting up your account with the various features you need.

If you have a vendor who is managing your website, your search engine optimization, or your pay-per-click ads, simply request to add Google Analytics setup and regular reporting to your services.  You likely already have an account so it’s just a matter of requesting the data.

It’s worth spending some time with Google Analytics and exploring the endless amount of topics for analysis and numbers associated with your site.  This data dump can be overwhelming so we’ve trimmed the analysis possibilities and recommend you review the key evaluators listed below on a monthly basis.  Over time, compare these statistics to 1) the previous period and 2) the previous year.

  • Visitors
  • Time on Site
  • Bounce Rate (how quickly do they leave)
  • Traffic Sources
  • Landing Pages

 

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Google Analytics Pages

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Google Analytics Dashboard

Google Analytics Traffic Sources

We also suggest adding a goal to track how well your site is converting ("Goal Conversion Rate"). Each page on your site which contains a form the visitor completes to contact you should result in a “thank you” page. Tracking visits that ultimately land on the thank you page provides an informative snapshot of conversions.

What to expect 

Clients who regularly track the metrics above will see patterns around visitors, their interests, who is driving them to your site and who is ultimately converting visitors into patients.  It will help you understand the dollars you spend on referring sites and the value it truly brings to your marketing strategy.

Feedback on your site's usage gives you more insight into your customers, which helps you decide how to adjust the structure and content. Doctors typically find, for example, that before and after photos and prices are the most popular pages on their sites. As you learn what pulls visitors in and keeps them, refine your site for even better results.
Excerpt from Marketing Checklist for Medical and Dental Practices: Download full PDF here.

Before You Spend a Dime on Your Next Marketing Campaign, Know Your Customer

Know Your Customer - Questions to Ask Yourself

Excerpt from Marketing Checklist for Medical and Dental Practices. Download full PDF.

Two years ago, when we started HD Medical Marketing, we believed (and still do) that every video created should fit into a larger marketing strategy for our medical and dental partners.  It is a content strategy after all, which supports brand, SEO, social, leads, and better ROI.

To us, the most important consideration in designing your marketing strategy is this: know your customer.  You're likely to fail if you don't nail this one. Or, be highly successful if you do.

The business of figuring out who is a viable customer and who is not worth your marketing dollars can feel overwhelming and perhaps, like a waste of your precious time. But the truth is, this information clarifies who you are speaking to and why it matters to them.  Understanding the connection between what you offer and who your customers are is fundamental to all of your marketing efforts.

Why think about it?

The better you know your customers, the more precisely you can tailor your message to reach them both in and out of your office. When you know your target audience, you waste considerably less effort on disinterested patients and improve your ROI.

How to do it

Tackle this step by asking yourself some focused questions to clarify your customer base, their needs, and their habits. To get started, consider the following:

  1. Who are your customers?  Perhaps they are women in their 40s. They may be stay-at-home moms or professionals with greater discretionary income. Who they are will determine what they seek, how much they spend, and how well they match up with your services.
  2. Where do they go for research and fun? Your customers read magazines, take vacations, join clubs, support organizations, and sign up for new activities regularly. By discovering their interests, you can more easily align with their needs and passions.
  3. How do they shop and buy? Some people take two weeks to research before purchasing a product or service, and some people take two years. Determine how much your clients shop around and if they seek in-person or online consultations.
  4. Who influences their decision-making?  In addition to family and friends, these influences can include online forums, research, prominent authors, and thought leaders.
  5. Which competitors do they look at?  Nobody likes losing hard-earned customers to the competition. Research as if you are seeking the services you provide. Who pops up on searches? Knowing the field and all its competitors helps you better position yourself for potential patients.
  6. What objections do they have?  Most often it’s cost, but what about recovery time or fear the procedure won’t go as planned?  What if they have seen a lot more reviews from another doctor in the area? Get ahead of these objections and become a regarded resource.
  7. What makes your product or service different?  How you distinguish yourself from the crowd makes all the difference with your customers. Your job is to figure out how best to communicate your unique qualities and offerings to potential patients.

As you answer these questions and more, the connection between what you offer and who your customers are becomes clear. Your practice can then operate around specific personas - all email communication, web content, video content, office art, brochures - every message your practice puts out should be with these customers in mind. Intimately knowing your customer enables you to fine-tune your message and your message channels to more effectively stay in touch with them every day.

What to expect

Once you know your customers' needs and habits, you can expect to reach more of them at a quicker pace and convert them to paying clients at a lower cost to you. Expect your vendors to be more accountable in reaching your audience with a clearer strategy and expect more actionable learnings to improve your performance over time.

Knowing your customers is an area of continual inquiry, so as your customer base grows, it requires ongoing evaluation of who they are and how they interact with your practice.

Download the entire Marketing Checklist for Medical and Dental Practices for free. Download full PDF.

YouTube vs. Facebook – YouTube as a Social Channel

YouTube and FaceBook continue to battle in the race for unique users.

YouTube and FaceBook are neck and neck in the race for unique users.

What was once a platform to post cat videos, bootlegged TV interviews, and your kid’s star turn in the school play, has evolved along with the rest of us. YouTube is now a living, breathing social network – successfully battling with Facebook for unique viewers on a daily basis. In June of 2014, YouTube surpassed Facebook for this honor, but they've arguably traded places more than once since then.

As you read this, Facebook and YouTube are hashing out their roll in the new social networking landscape. Each has its strengths, perhaps simplified by giving YouTube the prize for videos with staying power and Facebook the award for fleeting, feel-good videos.

Marketing blogger, Brian Honigman, noted YouTube’s ramp up in community-building. YouTube understands the value of their enormous network of creators and promotes community among them. In turn, these creators develop their own communities of devoted viewers.

These viewers are not just watching YouTube videos, they are subscribing to channels so they can see your next video, they are commenting on videos - what they love and what they hate, and they are asking questions when they want to know more. They are sharing videos that move and inspire them. They'll even share videos that don't appeal to them, but they think might appeal to someone else! YouTube offers a truly powerful brand-building opportunity with an engaged community of viewers. As we duly noted last week, you need YouTube!

Since forever, YouTube leads the online space for video play. But with 500 years worth of YouTube videos watched on Facebook every day, it was only a matter of time until Facebook got their video act together. In the last several months, Facebook did just that, and surpassed YouTube for the most videos played and viewed per month.

Facebook now has more video watched per minute than YouTube.

Facebook’s new video autoplay feature is largely responsible for this increase. Instead of user-initiated views, FaceBook videos play automatically as users scroll through the feed. It’s a great tool to ensure your video is watched (and that your analytics look good for number of views!), but does nothing to ensure engagement. As always, content is king. No matter where you post it or how the view is initiated,  if the content is not interesting to your audience, it’s not worth the gigs on your hard drive.

So for now, we closely watch the video experience on the social networking platforms of YouTube and Facebook... and continue to post engaging, optimized videos on both!

Find out more about video and other marketing essentials with our free download "Marketing Checklist Essentials".  We will email you a downloadable file.