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Archive for the ‘Online Advertising / SEM / Display’ Category

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Count Down to Higher Click-Through Rates with Google’s Countdown Widget

By | January 29, 2015

Google has been making a lot of changes over the past few months, and if you read my blog Avoiding Dynamic Disaster then you know that I don’t agree with all of changes being made. With that said, one of their latest updates has a lot of potential for increasing both click-through rates (CTRs) and ad relevance.

The second addition to Google’s Ad Customizers rollout was something called the Countdown Widget. Located under the Ads tab when creating new text ads, the countdown widget lets you dynamically enter the number of days remaining to any days of importance. This will save a lot of advertisers time, effort and stress.

You will notice in the example below that setup is easy – a small additional step to creating a regular text ad. To access the countdown widget, you have type “{=” where you want to insert the countdown, and the widget will appear. Once in the widget, you can setup all of your options for the countdown, then apply.

Google AdWords Countdown Widget

I specialize in the education vertical, and this will be particularly helpful when it comes to counting down to semester start dates and/or enrollment deadlines. In the past, if you wanted to do “countdown” ad copy for colleges and universities, you would have to manually change the ad copy in editor every day (including weekends), and run the risk of a few ads slipping through the cracks, making the copy irrelevant.  With this new update the process in paid search for education is much easier, and I look forward to following up with the positive impact it’s having on our clients.

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The Right Way To Spend Millions on Senior-Living Advertising

By | January 16, 2015

little-old-ladyThe Fathom Healthcare team has had the privilege of running paid advertising for several different major senior-living and assisted-living community organizations. I know what you’re thinking: Why would anyone be excited to target senior citizens in need of long-term care? Well, this is actually a very fast-growing industry. According to Google, the senior population (of 65+) will grow nearly 100% from 46.2 million in 2013 to 92 million in 2060. This population explosion means more and more seniors will need care, especially as advances in medical technology and lifestyle changes allow them to live longer.

With all opportunities come challenges. One basic challenge in the digital advertising world is trying to determine WHO you are targeting. Like with some other healthcare organizations, advertising in this world involves targeting both caregivers and those in need of care. From experience with our clients, we know the majority of users (70%+) looking online for senior-living answers are actually the caregivers themselves. This means ad copy and landing page messaging needs to speak to caregivers, yet not completely neglect elders that might be searching on their own behalf.

Another critical element of advertising in the senior-living space is WHERE you target. About 30% of the time, the caregivers/influencers conducting the searches live outside the geographic area of the loved ones in need. Therefore, geo-targeting ads to specific locations based on the user’s IP address and sending that user to a landing page specific to the location could harm the chances of lead conversion (if that user was looking for care that would take place outside of the actual searching location).

That said, we’ve compiled 10 more of the best things we’ve learned from spending millions on behalf of senior-living clients:

1. Not All Leads Are Created Equal

Although this is a common observation across all industries and lead-generation campaigns, it’s super-important. You definitely need to track your ads and keywords in a way to understand which are generating high-quality and low-quality leads

2. Marketing Automation/Email Marketing Is Necessary To Nurture Leads

As a nice transition from the first point, generating leads is just the beginning. You must nurture these leads along the track of scheduling tours and eventually moving in.

3. Bing Performs Better than Google in Many Cases

From what we saw across our clients, we actually were able to generate leads at a much lower cost than compared to Google. This makes sense as the demographics of Bing and Yahoo are historically older when compared to Google.

4. Assisted-Living and Memory Care Keywords Are Most Expensive

If you’re wanting to run Google search campaigns on these type of keywords, be willing to pay anywhere from $10-$20 per click! That being said, making sure you have the proper negative keywords and a user-friendly landing page experience is crucial.

5. Keep Landing Pages Simple, Stupid!

If your organization has multiple communities within a specific location, do NOT list them all out on one landing page. Consider having a basic lead-capture form (even a multi-step process), a list of differentiators, and a short video to keep the user engaged … and more likely to become a lead.

6. Calls Matter

Make sure you’re tracking calls as closely as possible. This is probably no surprise, but calls are extremely important, especially in the senior-living industry. Your target demographic tends to be even more inclined than the general public to pick up the phone and call, as they might be afraid of what actually happens with their information when submitted via form. (Or they find it easier to simply pick up the phone and call.) Therefore, make sure you are tracking calls as carefully as possible to determine their quality.

7. Look to Other Channels To Generate Incremental Leads, Combat High CPC

Some media to consider include: Google Display Tactics, Yahoo Stream Ads, Yellow Pages, Gmail Sponsored Promotions, Similar Audiences. As stated in point #4, these keywords can be expensive. Consequently, testing out other channels (such as the ones listed above) to identify ways to bring in leads at a lower cost is prudent. Just remember to keep an eye on lead quality.

8. Use ALL Your Ad Extensions to Stand Out from Competitors

Yes, ad extensions work, especially if you’re trying to get more clicks than your competition.

Case #1: Google call-out extensions increased click-thru rate (CTR) as high as 79% after implementation:


Case #2: Google review extensions increased CTR as high as 160% after implementation:


Case #3: Google seller ratings (extremely popular in this space) contributed to an increased CTR as high as 30% after implementation:

seller ratings

9. Mobile Search is Outpacing Most Other Industries

Yes, we all know mobile search is growing and has been for several years; however, according to Google, 46% of all senior-living related searches is from a mobile device (phone or tablet). This means advertisers need to a.) advertise on mobile devices, b.) have a specific bid strategy, and c.) have responsive landing pages (which many companies currently lack).

10. Use Exclusion Lists

These lists—including negative keywords and placements—are an oldie, but goodie. Placing negative keywords across multiple campaigns through lists will save you time and money as well as improve lead quality. The same goes with negative placements across Google Display campaigns. You’d be amazed to see which sites your contextual display campaigns are being matched on—be sure to check placement reports regularly and add to negative placement lists rather than doing it at the campaign level. This will save time and allow you to exclude low-quality sites across multiple campaigns instead of one by one.

If you are advertising on behalf of a senior-living community, these tips should ensure your success in 2015 and help increase both leads and move-ins.

Interested in learning more? Read our guide to generating senior-living move-ins.

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Challenges with Marketing Healthcare Online (in Google AdWords)

By | October 29, 2014

If you are a healthcare marketer like me, you have probably noticed that there are several restrictions and limitations in this field, especially as it relates to online advertising. I wanted to take some time to write about the various challenges when advertising for healthcare organizations. The problem with many of these challenges is that there is no clear right and wrong, and many answers depend on the situation.

Challenge 1: Targeting Health-Related Content – The Google AdWords policy team also has a restriction on ‘healthcare-related content.’ This declares users are not allowed to promote various healthcare products and services. This list is very vague, e.g.:

  • Over-the-counter and prescription medication
  • Medical services and procedures
  • Pregnancy and fertility-related products and services
  • Medical devices and tests

Google ortho surgery

As one can infer from the list above, a lot of these categories are subject to interpretation and unfortunately, Google’s interpretation. “Medical services and procedures,” for example, generally is not restricted, as many of our health systems bid on keywords like “bariatric surgery” and “orthopedic surgery.” Google goes on to state:

“The restrictions that apply to this content may vary depending on the product or service that you’re promoting and the countries that you’re targeting.”

Challenge 2: Keyword and Ad Copy Approval (Request an Exception): With the lack of clarity (and case-by-case basis) for restrictions on “healthcare-related content,” many times when you try to upload new keywords or ads they are flagged, and you must request an exception within the AdWords interface or Adwords Editor. Although this is only a bit annoying, it can limit how quickly you can launch new campaigns, keywords, and ads.

recommended actions

Challenge 3: Retargeting/Remarketing – Retargeting is considered to be “interest-based advertising” by Google AdWords, and it restricts this based on “health or medical information.”  Therefore, retargeting for hospitals, treatment clinics, and other healthcare organizations is basically not allowed in Google AdWords. To read more specific details about retargeting, what is and is not allowed, and a work-around, check out:”What You Need to Know About Hospital Retargeting.”

My number-one recommendation is to ask Google or other advertising platforms if you’re allowed to promote certain conditions or treatments BEFORE you plan an online advertising strategy.

Another consideration that is not necessarily a restriction, but needs to be thought about is the ethics behind which users you are targeting and how. In the past, we’ve had healthcare clients ask us our opinions on this subject matter. Targeting users on Facebook based on their age, location, and interests can provide really granular targeting, but it can also offend your users and therefore negatively impact your brand. Let’s say for instance, you were promoting a bariatric information seminar on Facebook; you will most likely target users within your health system’s geographic location, age groups most likely to be interested in bariatric surgery, and possibly interests that imply users are obese and are more likely in need of bariatric surgery—eating, McDonalds, fast food, weight loss. Although this would be an extremely targeted campaign, a healthcare organization would need to weigh the pros and cons of this type of targeting with a full understanding of the implications.

audience details

To summarize, it’s extremely important to not only understand the restrictions with healthcare marketing and advertising, but also consider the ethics that go along with it.

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3 Reasons Why SEO & PPC Are More Powerful Together

By | October 10, 2014

We all know that SEO can be a longer term investment and PPC can be up and operating in a matter of days. Both digital strategies require research, analytics and weekly, if not daily, management. Both are equally important. However, should companies be focused on one and not the other? Or, cut one program when the other begins to show results? The answer is no! SEO and PPC work better together and there are distinct advantages for continuing both simultaneously.

1. SERP domination and visibility

If you have specific keywords that have moved to position number one or two organically, this doesn’t mean it is time to turn off PPC. PPC still gives you the top two or three listings of page and having more visibility and page domination will ensure more traffic, leads and business. By utilizing SEO and PPC, you are pushing your competitors out of the most coveted spots in the search results page. Moreover, potential customers see companies with multiple listings as being more established and trustworthy.

2. Learn what keywords perform well with PPC, apply them to SEO

Take advantage of the quick-turnaround results in PPC by testing additional keywords to understand which produce more clicks and conversions. Integrate those that are performing well into your title tag strategy. You can also experiment with your meta descriptions depending what ad content is performing well.

3. PPC remarketing campaigns help drive conversions for ALL campaigns

Remarketing campaigns are paid ads that target customers that have visited your website, but did not convert. These campaigns can be set up to target second-time visitors to your website regardless of their original source – PPC campaign, social media, organic listing or even TV ads. These ads show up when someone is again checking out your company and will strengthen your brand identity and awareness which in turn encourages more traffic to your website.

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Facebook Relaunches Atlas: What Does It Mean?

By | October 8, 2014

Last week, Facebook announced the relaunch of its Atlas advertising platform. Facebook described it as a tool that delivers “people-based marketing.” So, what’s the big deal?

We already know that both Facebook and Google use our data to target ads – when you search for a washing machine on Google, you will notice that advertisements on appliances will follow you for a few days/weeks on sites within the Google ad network. It is important to understand the tipping point we are potentially experiencing.

What’s new?

The first part of the announcement states the fact that the platform will not be based on cookies. This will give Atlas an advantage in cross-device compatibility and the edge on mobile. (More details on how they did it further below.)

Second, we know that all online ad platforms collect data on us and our behavior. The new situation is that Facebook knows who we are and has an absurdly vast amount of data on us.

Google and other platforms know that an anonymous individual is looking for a specific product and will direct relevant ads to that user. They can also sell the information to marketers, but our personal identities are still protected.

Facebook, on the other hand, identifies you specifically and aggregates all the data in your profile. This enables the company to sell the data in the context of your personal information.

To simplify the difference, here are two examples:

  1. Someone was looking for a washing machine on Google. Google doesn’t have much to do with it except list target ads.
  2. You were looking for a washing machine. You also posted on your Facebook profile that your old one just died and that you just bought a new house. These facts—along with your personal information, shopping history and contact information—may perhaps be passed to any interested party that is willing to pay for it.

How Facebook did it: The not-so-innocent like

Facebook is achieving a “cookie-less” solution by using its current scripts that exist on almost all websites in the world. Every time a website developer adds a ‘like’ button, a ‘share this’ icon or any other Facebook widget, a script allows Facebook to identify the visitors to the site. The only condition is that they are logged on to Facebook … and this behavior can now be collected and stored by Facebook under your profile.

This access to your activity gives it an advantage over Google in supporting identity across multiple devices. Furthermore, it provides supremacy in mobile and potentially an appealing dataset for marketers: A package of personal/behavioral information.

Bottom line

Even though Facebook, Google and other major sites have been collecting information on us for years, the thought that every advertiser can buy our information is not what we signed up for. At this moment, Facebook is collecting and storing accumulative data and trends, but promises it will not be sharing our personal information with advertisers.

I wonder how this will develop: Will we see the migration of advertisers from Google’s DoubleClick to Atlas? What will Google do in response?


For more details, check out the WSJ’s “What Marketers Need to Know About Facebook’s Atlas.”

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