One in every 20 searches on Google is health-related, according to a study conducted by the search engine giant.

That statistic proves just how competitive a field healthcare is, particularly in terms of paid search. This competitiveness surpasses your primary purpose: attracting new patients. When it comes to the top spots on search engine results pages (SERPs), your practice is battling it out with:

  • Vendors selling to hospitals
  • Hospitals/private practices looking for patients
  • Health insurance companies looking for new customers

This type of competition leads to very expensive keywords. Couple that with the many restrictions and nuances aligned with the healthcare industry (HIPPA, healthcare reform, the inability to remarket per Google rules*, etc.) and it’s easy to see why many plastic surgeons either fail at paid search or avoid it completely.

*Google recently adjusted their policies and no longer allows healthcare marketers to utilize remarketing tactics. Remarketing has been one of the most effective ways to keep leads engaged during a longer sales cycle, which is typical in the healthcare industry.

But today’s digital world all but requires any business to incorporate some type of paid strategy in order to gain traction and build their base.

So how can you use paid search legally and effectively to grow your plastic surgery practice? Try implementing these five strategies today.

1. You have to know your audience to reach your audience

000019721033_XXXLargeAll paid search campaign has several components involved, including:

  • Targeted keywords
  • The ad text/messaging
  • Images (though not always)
  • Landing pages

But an effective paid search campaign ensures that each of these components speaks the language that your audience uses during their searches.

This can be tricky in the healthcare field. Doctors will oftentimes use highly sophisticated, technical terms throughout the course of the day. Despite those being the most accurate terms, they likely aren’t what’s used by your target audience.

For example, is your target audience most likely to use rhinoplasty or nose job in their searches? They might not even use either. They might, for example, use nose enhancement.

In the corporate world, the term buyer persona is tossed around quite regularly, but it’s applicable for plastic surgeons as well: who are the people you’re targeting with your ads?

Chances are you’ll have several types of personas; each one will use a different type of language within his or her search. Before you begin your campaigns, your first step should be to create patient personas that encompass all the people you’re looking to target.

We encourage you to create a name for each of your personas; this makes it easier for you to determine whether your messaging is on point.

For example, one of your patient personas could be Trudy, a 45-year-old recently divorced woman without children. She works in an office setting, where she’s either a manager or team leader who works long hours and has a ton of responsibilities.

The messaging you choose to target Trudy will differ from, say, Janet, a 62-year-old happily married woman who recently retired alongside her husband.

Knowing your audience, however, goes beyond just creating these patient personas. It’s important to understand that each persona (Trudy, Janet, and whomever else you create) will venture through various stages during his or her online searches.

For example, it’s important to determine whether Trudy is in a research-heavy mindset, weighing her options between plastic surgeons (thus in the comparison phase) or in more of an urgent state-of-emergency mindset. You want to make sure you create ads that target each of these scenarios.

walk-buyer-personaWalk a mile in their shoes

In order to know how to reach your various audiences, you have to put yourself in their shoes.

  • What makes these folks react?
  • What grabs their attention?
  • What, exactly, are they looking for, when they go to Google in search of the services you offer?
  • Are they really looking for a surgery, or are they looking to make an improvement in their overall life?

The keywords, language, and images you use will dictate whether your paid ads ever get noticed.

#2. Measure the metrics that matter

As referenced earlier, remarketing isn’t an option for healthcare marketers; in fact, display ads aren’t really an option either.

What that means is you need to really get the best possible real estate and visibility on SERPs so that those searching in a longer sales cycle don’t forget who you are.

By longer sales cycle, what we mean is that most of your prospects don’t conduct one search for plastic surgeons and then make their decision. Their search might encompass several days or weeks. With remarketing and display, brands can stay top-of-the-mind rather easily. Healthcare advertisers don’t have this luxury.

That’s why it’s important to play close attention to your average position and impression share. Your SERP positioning is essentially all you have at your disposal; dedicate yourself to making the most of it.

Monitoring these important metrics will also help you stay on top of algorithm changes, fluctuations in user behavior, as well as changes with your competition.

#3. Make sure your contact information is readily available

Just think about that prospective patient who is either in dire need of your medical services, or who feels utterly hopeless with his or her current appearance. These prospects want immediate access to a phone number, or address, to receive the care they need.

It’s important to provide as many opportunities as possible for prospects to get in touch. While many patients (particularly those at the bottom of the funnel) will call you directly, some prefer emailing or even turning to social media.

In order to leverage every opportunity to make your contact information readily available, do the following:

  • Set up call extensions, location extensions, and sitelink extensions for all of your campaigns. These extensions are easy to set up and will extend the real estate of your ad. Not only that, but they’ve been known to improve ad rank on SERPs.
  • Add your contact information to every landing page.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you have a landing page, then it must have your contact information. Period.

#4. Make sure your strategy is mobile friendly

samsungNearly 60% of all searches are conducted on mobile devices. Now consider that many people use mobile devices to conduct health-related searches because they don’t want their coworkers, friends, or family members to know their medical conditions.

A lot of conversions take place when people are on the bus, on the train, at lunch, or stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. In other words, mobile is huge, so what can you do about it?

  1. First, you need to know how mobile impacts your plastic surgery practice. Compare your desk and mobile ads in AdWords. If, for example, you see plenty of clicks taking place on mobile, but not many conversions, this could be a sign that your landing page isn’t suitable for mobile devices.
  2. If you notice you’re getting good results with mobile, you might want to consider making mobile bid adjustments for certain campaigns.
  3. Create mobile preferred ads. If you skip this step, your desktop ads will show up on mobile. It’s best to have two mobile focused ads (in addition to two desktop ads) per ad group, if mobile plays a big role in your strategy.
  4. Optimize your PPC landing pages for mobile. The best way to assess your landing pages is to access them from various smart devices. Look at how fast the page loads, if the content stays on the screen, and if all your contact information is easily accessible.
  5. Test out call-only campaigns. These campaigns remove the need for a landing page. They’re designed for urgent, on the go audiences who need to make a call, rather than take another step to visit a landing page.

#5. Go to town with your landing pages

landing-pageThe general rule of thumb is that less is more when it comes to landing pages. You want your audiences to get to the page, read a quick blurb, and then convert.

But plastic surgery prospects are a bit different. They want a lot of information readily available in order to make an informed decision about their health and beauty.

Unless they’re in that emergency state we referenced (which call-only campaigns can help with), in-depth research is usually very important to them. The more information you can provide, the more likely you’ll earn their trust.

Of course, you don’t want to overwhelm your readers with endless scrolls of blocked text. So, how can you find that happy medium?

Videos are an extremely effective strategy to use. In fact, we’d argue that videos should be a must for each of your landing pages. Videos – particularly ones that include interviews with the surgeon – help to create likeability and trust.

Just be sure to add captions to your videos, as most mobile searchers have their volume off as they search.

Images are great as well. For plastic surgeons, few things are as impactful as before/after images.

Organize your text with bullet points, headings, and sub-headings to ensure your page maintains a nice vertical flow that’s easy to skim and digest. And, don’t be afraid to test your pages!

Stick to these 5 tips for every campaign, and start seeing results immediately

Here’s the good news: thousands of people within your specific target area go online to conduct health-related searches, including searches based on your plastic surgery services.

The bad news is this type of demand drives up the price of your ad campaigns. But rather than shy away from paid search, or enter into it haphazardly, you can expect to enjoy a healthy return on your investment – in the form of highly qualified leads – by implementing these five strategies.