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Successfully Leveraging Online Ads to Grow a Practice



By: John Sung Kim

Adrienne Lara, a gynecologist, started her career as part of the clinical staff at Harvard Medical School before entering private practice with her own OB/GYN clinic in Ventura County, Calif.. In 2012, she partnered with marketing professional Tristan Schaub to transform the practice into a hybrid med-spa and clinic called Celebrating Women, providing a broader suite of services for their key patient demographic as well as investing heavily into new marketing campaigns.

New investments into infrastructure, staff, and marketing meant that return on investment (ROI) had to be measured and show positive revenue growth. Without an extensive IT team or corporate resources, Schaub and Lara had to make calculated bets and then measure the outcomes of each dollar invested. 

Tristan invested in three different media channels: Google Adwords, AdRoll retargeting, and mobile videos. 

Google Adwords with Social Proof

While pay-per-click advertisements through the Google search engine had been available to healthcare providers for years, Schaub said, “For doctors, Adwords markets are hyper-local, meaning we found that most of the practices in the 15-mile radius from ours did not do Adwords very well, if they were doing them at all.” 

While most medical practices advertising on Google led visitors to their website’s homepage, Celebrating Women had their advertisements link to specific landing pages, which were essentially acting as interior child pages built specifically for those ads. What that means is if a Google advertisement was about liposuction, their landing page had images and content specifically about that procedure - in a structure much more focused than the website’s homepage. This required more up front website labor but the conversion rate (the percentage of website visitors that booked an appointment) increased more than 350 percent. 

They also added quotes from their existing patients to establish transparency to these landing pages. “We found success having our Adwords campaigns lead to our optimized third-party pages with reviews from Yelp or Kareo DoctorBase,” said Schaub. “We knew prospective patients were going to end up on review sites anyway so we thought, why not just place them on our own site and keep them here?”

AdRoll Retargeting

Retargeting is the technology that allows banner advertisements to “follow” consumers around as they jump from site to site. For example, if someone visits a shoe website but doesn’t purchase an item, ads for that item might show up as the person surfs the web.

AdRoll is one of the pioneers of this technology and operates one of the largest retargeting platforms in the world. This means that the network of participating websites that display AdRoll ads has a high number of viewers.

Celebrating Women created an AdRoll retargeting campaign so that when prospective patients clicked a Google advertisement and visited their website, they would then see advertisements and messages from Lara and her staff through their Internet surfing experience. This further drove ROI of their marketing dollars into Google Adwords.

Mobile Videos

Through website analytics they could see that over 55 percent of all of their traffic came from mobile devices, not desktop computers, so any video strategy would have to work on mobile devices. Tristan chose to simply leverage Youtube’s tools for embedding mobile-friendly video onto their website’s blog page for an easy out-of-the-box solution.

“From patients sharing a success stories to our team providing education and information to us being goofy with a Dubsmash, we try once a week to have video content produced from our smartphone or tablet,” said Schaub. “We found that our audience does like seeing our faces and stories and it’s become very easy for our office with today’s consumer technology to create decent looking video segments.”

While this channel has been harder to measure in terms of ROI, the Celebrating Women staff report that patients often bring up the fact that they saw the videos on the website.


Between 2012 and 2015 Celebrating Women spent $90,000 on traditional print, radio, and television marketing in comparison to $54,000 in digital marketing. 

 Traditional marketing (print, radio and television) averaged $400 in per patient acquisition costs versus digital marketing (Adwords, AdRoll and mobile video) which yielded new patients at an average cost of $54.

 When asked why, given the numbers, he still invested so heavily in traditional marketing channels Tristan laughed and replied, “Ego I guess.” Then added, “and because digital can help us afford it.”

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