10 Common Hospital Paid Advertising Mistakes We See Far Too Often

paid advertising mistakes

Hospitals and/or health systems can be very old school when it comes to pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. That means they might be making mistakes that can (and should) be avoided. If you work at a medical facility and want to make your paid advertising as effective as possible, you must first know which mistakes to avoid. Let’s explain some of the most common ones below.

Mistake #1: Not using conversion tracking

It goes without saying how important conversion tracking is to the success of any Adwords or Bing/Yahoo account. Without conversion tracking in place, there’s no way to measure the success of the account. It would also be extremely hard to justify any type of an account expansion because there wouldn’t be any conversion data to back up the claim for more budget.

Mistake #2: Not using forms on landing pages

This point goes hand-in-hand with conversion tracking. Utilizing forms on your PPC landing page is the easiest way to generate leads. The user can fill out his or her information within the form and you’re done. It’s also important to limit the number of fields within the form, as you only want the user to fill in what’s absolutely necessary.

Mistake #3: Lack of custom landing pages

The pages on the website are most likely great for informational purposes, but not for a PPC landing page. Having a custom PPC landing page allows you to tailor the design, layout, and content of the page exactly how you want it. This also ensures your landing page content is cohesive with your PPC ads. It would be wise to have a contact form on the page above the fold to easily capture leads, as well. See point number two, above. Having custom landing pages is imperative if you’re looking to grow the service line and bring in new patients. These pages must be responsive with content specific to the keywords you are bidding on with clear calls-to-action.

Mistake #4: Keywords are too broad

I’ve witnessed first-hand health systems not taking advantage of the match types that Google and Bing offer. Utilizing proper match types will help the advertiser better match their ad to what the searcher is looking for. If keywords are too broad, the health system’s ad will most likely be showing up for irrelevant searches. Utilizing a broad match modifier instead will allow you to still cast a wide search net, but will keep the searches more targeted.

The following is a real example I will share to illustrate the point. Let’s say the health system is bidding on the keyword: (symptoms esophagus), but the query that triggers the ad is: “food gets stuck in throat”. Again, since the keyword was in straight broad match, it is susceptible to get matched to queries that are either less relevant or not relevant at all. By adding a plus sign in front of each word in the keyword string (using broad match modifier) it ensure those words must be present in the query.

See this page for more details on match type options

Mistake #5: Not using negative keywords

Negative keywords are so important when it comes to filtering out unwanted traffic. If the health system doesn’t have the proper negative keywords in place, the ads will show up for many searches that could be completely irrelevant. This could generate low quality leads and waste money. Once these keyword lists are in place, you can decide which negative keywords to apply to which campaigns. The broader the keywords, the more intensive negative keyword list you need. Just remember to add the appropriate negative keyword lists to any new campaign that you create.

Mistake #6: Not opting into mobile

Mobile is here to stay, whether we like it or not. Hospitals and health systems NEED to adapt and make sure their landing pages are responsive and opt into serving their ads on mobile devices. The longer it takes for the health system to make the switch, the further behind their competitors they will be.

Mistake #7: Geo-targeting too wide of an area

All too often I see health systems targeting a wide location net, let’s say 200 miles around their location. This is great if you want to cast a wide net. However, how likely is it that someone will travel 200 miles to your clinic? If you are limited by budget especially, you may want to consider narrowing down the geo-target to focus solely on the most important location(s). It may be worthwhile to add radius targeting (i.e. 10 miles from location, 20 miles, 50 miles, etc) and then adjust the bid modifiers accordingly for each geo set within the campaign.

Mistake #8: Lack of ad extensions

I cannot stress the importance of ad extensions enough. The more ad extensions you have the better, as Google factors this into their quality score algorithm which determines ad relevancy, cost-per-click and ultimately the placement your ad will show in the auction. Ad extensions may give that edge over a competitor that convinces the user to click the ad. Ad extensions also provide a significant increase in click-through-rate (CTR).

Mistake #9: No call tracking

Capturing all types of leads is important, whether it be appointment requests by filling out a form, general contact us leads, or phone calls.

Utilizing call extensions in the ad is great, but it’s important to track calls once the user gets to the landing page, as well. The phone number on the page that you want to display could be hard coded or a piece of java script code could be across the site and this will dynamically change the phone number displayed on the page. The health system could then segment calls generated from paid advertising versus other marketing initiatives. You can have the calls forwarded to where you would like.

Mistake #10: Outdated CRM

This is more of a “back-end” type mistake, but it all ties together with the advertising side. Having a robust CRM is important when it comes to keeping tabs on all leads in the database. PPC advertising can bring in leads, but it doesn’t do any good if these leads are not being tracked or followed up with properly.

For example, by properly tracking leads, a health system could say that paid search accounted for 500 leads and also say that 150 of them became patients. It is time for hospitals/health systems to move into the 21st Century and update their CRMs.

Are you making one of the above common paid advertising mistakes? It’s not too late to correct them and get back on track. For help, contact the PPC specialists at Fathom today.

Ben Goldman

About Ben Goldman

Ben Goldman is a Senior Online Advertising Specialist for Fathom's Healthcare Team. He specializes in paid search and display. Ben oversees the day-to-day management of his accounts, proactively coming up with new strategies. Ben is passionate about exceeding client goals. He really cares about his clients and will do whatever it takes to solve their problems. In his spare time, Ben enjoys spending time with family and playing sports.

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