Google Ads and Physicians: Get the Most for Your Money

Based on consulting nearly 5,000 medical marketing campaigns over a decade, I can tell you that Google Ads alone are a complete waste of money.

Too many doctors invest in designing a website and then jump right into Google Ads to promote their services. Let me tell you this from experience of consulting nearly 5,000 medical marketing campaigns in the past 10 years - Google Ads alone are a complete waste of money.

Here are two reasons why Google Ads are not cost-effective:

1. Many of the Google Ads for physicians are unethical. From advertisements like “Best doctor in N.J.” to “Live Pain-free” these are the types of ads commonly seen and the companies putting these ads together are not the ones at risk of getting in trouble; the doctors are. Internet companies serving other industries are perfectly safe advertising “best ‘product’” if they have data to back it up but in medicine it’s just cheesy. Patients have begun to filter Google Ads too. If your ads are displaying “Top Knee Surgery Doctor” and your website is talking about all surgeries from feet to back, it’s a red flag. In a market where every other doctors is “Best Doctor” what else is there to differentiate one between the other? So please review ads before they’re published.

2. Google Ads for doctors are put on auto-pilot and they’re not giving any other data. Ads are written, keywords are selected, and then they’re launched. Doctors then pay for monthly access without even reviewing ROI. Google advertising needs to be constantly tweaked, needs to be relevant, and needs to be monitored daily for its cost-effectiveness. The system comes with top-notch tools and the doctors are paying $5,000 to $9,000 for advertisements … shouldn’t they get some real data on how their practice works?

Here are three benefits you should be looking for from Google Ads:

1. Great website content. Recently we had an orthopedic surgeon as a client to whom Google Ads yielded over 90 patient calls, showing us everything about their online behaviors, demographics, socio-economics, and what was the exact reason why they were looking for a doctor. It was data that led to some great content for the website. Some newly developed pages had conversion rates of two patient appointments for every 30 visits. Why? Because Google Ads allowed us to test it. We knew in real time that the content on those web pages was compelling enough for visitors to schedule appointments instead of continuing their search. Now these same pages will keep on yielding similar conversion rates organically (without revenue spent on any advertising but rather how the website appears on search results).

2. The second benefit you should be seeing from Google Ads is patient selection and screening. Perhaps you’ve already started seeing too many patients, but they’re not fully qualified for your practice. Google Ads, together with website content, can help screen patients out. Does your pain management practice have too many people requesting pain killers? Advertise for non-pharmacologic treatments? Do you want to see more patients for face-lifts? Start advertising your expertise in face-lifts, not “plastic surgery.” Do people complain they can’t afford your out-of-network fee? Instead of advertising for the entire state, why don’t you choose demographics by carefully selecting or excluding specific neighborhoods and towns. Again, these are tweaks that can be made in real-time, changing the patient demographics completely and can save thousands of dollars on Google advertising campaigns.

3. Test the way your practice works. We were also presented with a challenge. In the orthopedic practice example above, the person answering the calls was not converting calls into appointments. The most common question was “Do you accept 'X' insurance? And the answer was always “No, the doctor sees only out-of-network patients.” As you can imagine, the calls immediately ended without an appointment being scheduled. Once instructed to say “Doctor accepts out-of-network benefits from X, Y, and Z insurance companies," conversion rates from Google Ads jumped to 10 percent (nine of 90 calls), yielding an ROI of $63,000 (gross) to $4,500 spent!” What was the best part about this? We found this issue only after one week of running the campaign, and this person was answering calls for this practice for three years.

Next week we’ll explore the top two tips how medical bloggers and website owners can benefit from their EHR.

Find out more about Simon Sikorski and our other Practice Notes bloggers.