5 Questions Your Medical Practice Should Ask Before Hiring a Paid Search Firm

August 25th, 2017 by Paula Keller French

When it comes to choosing a marketing firm for your paid search campaign, it’s important to do your homework—especially if you’re in the medical industry. According to Pew Research Center, 8 in 10 online health inquiries start with a search engine, and 72 percent of internet users said they looked online for health-related information. Beyond patients frantically Googling their symptoms, they’re also searching for medical care providers. The right ad agency will make sure you show up on page one of the search results.

But on top of a highly competitive and saturated market, medical practices also face added challenges to adhere to strict medical guidelines and discuss sensitive and highly personal topics appropriately. All said, a paid search campaign can do wonders to both improve your brand awareness and get new patients in your door. Here are five questions you should ask your prospective paid search agency before signing a contract.

1. What Experience Do You Have Working With Clients in the Medical Industry?

Your ad agency shouldn’t just know costs per click and search engine optimization, they should also know how to speak your language. More than that, they should know how to speak your language to your prospective patients. Search Influence has been helping clients in the medical industry stand out and rank in search results since 2007. In that time, we’ve worked with medical clients in 30+ cities across 18 states. Our experience ranges from plastic surgeons and dermatology clinics to hospitals, counseling services, and physical therapists. We use a holistic approach for every campaign to create brand recognition, improve ranking, and—most importantly—deliver qualified leads.

Our years of experience have helped us build a database of technical and demographic knowledge in order to strategically reach your desired patients where they’re at. In fact, we have helped our clients stay on the frontline of innovation by optimizing their sites for procedures as soon as they are approved and available to the public. For example, when the FDA approved gummy bear implants in 2013, we already had content written for our clients and were ready to run promotions to highlight this highly desirable option at the time.

We also understand the meticulous detail required to accurately reflect the standards and restrictions of medical societies, HIPAA, and the platforms where we promote your content. We know how to accurately post images in accordance with both American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) and American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) promotional guidelines or how to use language that aligns with Google’s expectations for websites in the medical industry—an issue that can even cause Google to suspend your site.

Stethoscope on a computer keyboard

If you’re curious about the current state of your website or worried about a site suspension, you can contact us to help you get on the right track.

In addition to meeting all of the medical industry standards, it’s also important that you position your practice as a thought leader. Our deep knowledge of the subject matter ensures that your content is optimized and technically accurate. More than just knowing that gynecomastia is the condition and breast reduction surgery is the procedure, we also understand the discreet and laser-precise writing required to appeal to men who are searching for this sensitive topic. As your PPC agency, we will deliver results because we start with strategy, and we understand your business.

2. What Is My Cost Per Lead?

Your cost per lead will depend on market factors such as seasonality, the size of your city, and the number of advertisers in your area. However, at Search Influence, our typical target for plastic surgeons is $50-$60 per lead. For us, we care most about delivering you qualified leads that actually become patients.

So how do we actually calculate your cost per lead (CPL)? Let’s say, as an example, that you offer a procedure for $5,000, and you’re willing to pay 10 percent (or $500) in order to get a lead for that procedure. However, you know that not every lead that contacts you is going to become a patient. Let’s say that 1 out of every 10 leads who contact you about the procedure will actually become a patient. That’s a 10 percent conversion rate, which results in a CPL of $50.

Of course, if your conversion rate is higher or if your cost for acquisition is higher or lower than the example, we can adjust accordingly. The table below outlines seasonal averages for some of our plastic surgery clients to show how we can achieve results for your practice.

As a medical practitioner, your bottom line all comes down to how many patients are walking through your door (and how much you paid to get them there). For you, a worthwhile investment in paid search results in qualified leads that can translate into actual patients. We get that. That’s why we have built-in systems to seamlessly track your leads, and a post-launch schedule to fine-tune your campaign as quickly as possible. Not only will you have clear reporting, but you can also use our lead tracking system to create an organized database of qualified leads, allowing your team to close leads faster.

3. How Do You Measure Return on Investment?

PPC is not a “set it and forget it” machine. Successful online ad campaigns should run on a continual loop. You have to look back to determine what’s working and adjust in real-time to build on successes. Our reporting can help you pinpoint the average cost per patient so you know your exact return on investment. You’ll know if your leads prefer to call or fill out a contact form, and you’ll gain valuable insights like location demographics.

Physician holding a tablet

Your PPC agency should also collect continual feedback from you about the quality of your leads in order to apply that information directly to your campaign and avoid any wasted ad spend. With endless customization opportunities—not a prix fixe package—your marketing firm should have a system in place to make things easy, but also be ready to break the rules to fit your budget and make your campaign a success for you.

4. What Procedures Are You Promoting and What Drives the Most Leads?

Remember that thing about endless customization? Yeah, that applies here, too. Your ad agency should have the know-how to build a holistic strategy that both grows your brand and promotes your most important services.

Brand building and search engine optimization are definitely comparable to the age-old chicken and the egg situation. You have to have some brand recognition if you want to rank high on search engines, and once you rank, you’ll get greater brand recognition. So what does that mean for you? Well, if you don’t rank yet, you’ll need to do more than simply optimize your content and build your link profile. You’ll have to create a dynamic strategy to build the overall awareness of your brand. After all, in the age of the internet, who says you can’t have all your eggs in your basket and eat some chicken, too?

Your online marketing agency can help you do just that. That’s why at Search Influence we start with a comprehensive kickoff meeting to understand the details of your business. Why? It’s simple. Formulating the right strategy first will save you money and get you the right leads.

Once we understand your business goals, we can target the right procedures and help you establish your brand around specialties and services that matter to you. We can also help you identify missed opportunities. For example, while aesthetic services aren’t the highest revenue driving procedures, they’re a great way for plastic surgery practices to continue generating revenue even when the doctor is booked with another client. Or, perhaps you specialize in rhinoplasty and want to be established as the leader in your market for that procedure. We can center your campaign on your qualification as a rhinoplasty surgeon to build your brand as the preferred specialist. It all depends on your needs, and your ad agency should do the setup work to understand those needs from day one.

5. On What Page Do Leads Land During a Campaign?

You can have beautifully written ads, but without the right landing page, your leads are highly unlikely to convert into patients. Especially when it comes to AdWords, you have to optimize for both your human readers and Google’s Quality Score. Google can spot landing pages that don’t align with the search term in the ad and actually make you pay more as result. For example, if someone searches for liposuction, clicks on your ad all about liposuction, then lands on a general page about body contouring services, then you’re missing the mark on user experience and Google’s best practices.

Without optimized content and a dedicated landing page, your chances of converting are slim.

A recent report from Unbounce placed the average conversion rate in the healthcare industry at only 2.9 percent. And if you’re using your homepage as your landing page, then you’re totally missing out. Your ad agency can create dynamic landing page content that makes it easy for prospective patients to take an action, with custom forms and click to call buttons that prove your return on investment. In fact, the same Unbounce report shows that healthcare businesses in the 90th percentile achieve conversion rates at 9.3 percent, and the right content and strategy can help get you there.

Landing pages are just one key element in a successful ad campaign. At Search Influence, we care about delivering a holistic advertising strategy focused on results. Contact our team to see how we can help optimize your medical practice’s online presence.