Google recently made some updates to existing features (location & call extensions) and added a new feature (image extensions) with their enhanced campaigns that could dramatically affect the online healthcare marketing industry. These changes provide medical businesses and healthcare providers with the opportunity to be more visible, have better analytics & tracking of conversions, the ability to target more precisely and scale their campaigns accordingly. Minor tweaks to Google’s call extensions, location targeting and image extensions (currently in Beta) will allow businesses, and more specifically SMB’s, the ability to manage campaigns more efficiently with precise and trackable measurement and results.
How will this affect the online healthcare marketing industry? Below I discuss the updates and provide examples of use in medical marketing terms.
Call Extensions: This feature has been available for Adword campaigns, but has received some updates that provide more insight into ad performance. Calls can now be tracked in Adwords and reported as conversions depending on the rules set in the campaign. In the past, the only easy way to track conversions was through form fills (when someone clicks on the ad and then fills out a form on the landing page). Now, with the recent changes to call extensions, campaign managers are able to provide detailed analytics on mobile usage and call engagement as well as form fills. Anyone using a mobile device who conducts a search and then calls will be tracked and counted as a conversion. Campaign managers have the option of setting a duration time for a call to count as a conversion. Example: any call over a minute is a conversion. Anyone using a desktop and calling, will be tracked as well and count as a conversion based on the same rule set. The number displayed on the ad is determined by the device (mobile/desktop). This data gives insight into how potential patients locate and engage with your medical business; whether through mobile devices or desktops and form fills or calling in to the practice. In our experience, we have found that certain specialties receive higher form fills than call-ins. Example: in the cosmetic industry, patients are more likely to fill out a form while in other specialties (oncology, incontinence, etc…), when more serious discussions are required, patients are more likely to call.
Location Targeting: This is another feature that has been available, but has received an upgrade recently. In the past, campaign managers have had the ability to target based on regions, but unless you wanted to duplicate multiple campaigns, bidding stayed the same across the region. Example: the Boston region encompasses areas as far north as New Hampshire and south to the Rhode Island border. Any campaigns in this area would be paying the same cost per click (CPC) across the region. What happens when you want to target a more specific area like a local town, city or county? With the new update, businesses can have a more targeted approach and adjust bids accordingly within one campaign based on people in a geographic region being more valuable to your business. Example: your medical practice draws patients from all over the Boston area, but a large amount of patients come from surrounding cities/towns. Within your single campaign, you can bid more aggressively in the designated towns and less aggressively in the Boston region as a whole, making your campaign produce much more efficiently with a highly targeted approach.
Image Extensions: This feature is new, currently available to select “beta” testers, but could have a dramatic impact on how ads perform; specifically in the medical industry, when using images can increase conversion rates tremendously. We are a visual society, naturally drawn to images, especially online. Take the below ads for example and see which one you are drawn to immediately.
Image extensions will only be available to ads in the top spot; so campaign managers must bid aggressively if they want their images displayed. Caution: While having the images displayed can increase your conversion rates (and thus referral numbers), proceed with caution. Targeting the wrong keywords or aggressively bidding just to have your images displayed can create major budget concerns. A poorly managed campaign will blow through budget quickly and can lose visibility on many other targeted keywords due to the increase in spend on the keywords using the image extensions. It is easy to see the benefits of images extensions in regards to the healthcare industry: increased visibility, higher click thru rates, more conversions/referrals and the ability to show results of specific procedures. Example: “Before and After” photos of a cosmetic procedure or a picture of the medical technology being used in a procedure like knee replacements.
Google’s changes will make it easier to scale campaigns, no matter what specialty you’re focused on, and allow campaign managers the ability to increase reach, visibility and referrals; even if they don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to their online marketing campaigns. It will be easier for medical professionals to target and reach their desired audience without having to duplicate multiple campaigns, while still achieving the desired geo-targeting results. With more access to data and analytics, healthcare marketing professionals will gain more insight into how their product/service is being searched online, what devices are being used when conducting the search and what are the preferred channels of communication (online forms or phone calls) for prospective patients.
These updates can be a major game-changer when it comes to managing an online marketing campaign and the healthcare industry stands to be a major benefactor. How are you planning on taking advantage of these new features?