How many times have you heard that? The digital space offers great opportunity for tracking and measurement, but it is important to look beyond the surface. Objectives for display ads and paid search are not typically to interact with the ad itself, but to ultimately drive conversion on the web property – whether it be filling out lead forms, using click-to-call or engagement activities, such as video views or PDF downloads. If you are getting a report on the success of paid digital advertising, follow the digital journey through to your site analytics to ensure optimum return on investment. Don’t be fooled by looking at only a piece of the whole picture.

When buying digital ads, reporting on impressions and click-through rates (CTR) is usually part of the process. After spending money for results, it is natural to be excited by comparative jumps and traffic activity. But looking at the digital ad report is only the first piece; the next step is digging into your web site traffic.

If your CTR has gone up significantly, has your bounce rate as well? “Bounce” refers to the traffic that comes to your page, and then immediately abandons it. One must always be mindful of bots, inflated numbers and load times, but if your bounce rate has also gone up, it is time to check that your site content is supporting your ad messaging and if there is room for improvement. For example, if your ad proclaims “Premiums starting at $0 per month” and you drive them to the homepage, does your homepage immediately answer the $0 tease? Don’t presume your visitor wants to poke around looking for it. Before launching your buys, follow the web navigation through and make sure your ads are driving to relevant pages. If they don’t, consider building a landing page on the site to provide additional support for your marketing message. If you are teasing a new benefit this year, don’t bury it as a bullet point in your lists of reasons to choose you – give it some room, provide detail on how it works. In addition, review the ad copy and keywords you are using. More focused keywords can help to improve bounce rates as there is a clearer understanding of the searcher’s intent.

Take the same approach for paid search –‘be’ the user. Think about terms you would search for yourself and check to ensure your site sufficiently addresses those terms. At that same time, just because your plans may be on the federal or a state exchange doesn’t mean you should buy that term – people who are actually looking for that site will be frustrated that they are in the wrong place.

While you’re at it, when was the last time you were a user on your own site in general? Even without digital campaign drivers, have you reviewed your site for optimizing the user experience? How long does it take to get somewhere? Does your site use jargon? Is it too dense with copy? If you click on something, can you easily get back to where you started? Assign yourself a series of tasks under different segments (members, employers, prospects, etc.) and experience the site as your stakeholders do.

  • Search for a doctor – Is it usable for prospects who don’t already know their plan?
  • Search for plans in your area – Do the key differences between plans stand out?
  • Pose a question on coverage – If your drug is not covered under the formulary, what is the next step?
  • Log in – If you forgot a password, is it clear what to do next? Once logged in, is the information truly customized to your plan or is still generic?
  • Link to any third party point solutions (e.g. wellness portal, drug portal) – Is the experience disruptive in leaving your site? Are you required to log in yet again or does it recognize that you have already logged in?

Often these questions may not be asked until proofing your marketing materials. But web site changes can’t always be done on the fly, and your marketing should ideally be built around what conversion activity you want to see versus information you want to promote. Now is the perfect time to investigate and get longer term web site development in the works to see a true rise in engagement.