By Lindsey Viscomi and Becky Allen
With 8.5 billion daily users, many health systems marketers see advertising on Google as their first and best option. With this approach, your hospital will gain exposure and even a handful of clicks, but are Google Ads enough to convert prospective patients? And most importantly, are ads on Google worth the money you’re funneling into them?
It’s true that Google Ads can promise speedy results in terms of impressions and brand awareness. It can take years for some businesses to find their way to the top of search results, but advertising with Google gives you the chance to skip past your competition straight to the top of the results page where your customers will see you first.
However, you’re not making the most of your marketing budget by putting all your dollars in Google’s bank. Plus, you’re missing out on opportunities to truly “own search” and attract potential patients as they peruse the internet on their terms. Supplementing Google Ads with another advertising solution can further extend your reach and attract more high-value prospects who are ready to convert — all without breaking your budget.
Google is Not the Only Way You Should Advertise
Paid advertisements are still valuable, so we wouldn’t recommend doing away with Google Ads entirely. However, studies show that marketers may be overestimating these ads’ efficacy and overpaying for what they’re getting. Here are three reasons why Google alone isn’t enough to draw in patients.
Your Prospects Aren’t Actually Clicking Where You’re Spending
The first three paid ads that pop up on Google’s SEO rankings attract attention, but more consumers move their cursors onto the options right underneath them. The average click rate for Google Ads in healthcare is only 6.11 percent, yet marketers are spending 85 percent of their budget on these ads. That’s like spending most of your budget on a flashy electronic billboard on a remote country road instead of placing a modest sign near a high-traffic intersection where more people are likely to see and act upon it. It’s more effective to divert a more significant portion of your resources towards these organic spots that will bring you a larger target audience — and it’s a more sustainable marketing strategy.
Users Often Trust Organic Results More Than Paid Ads
One reason why potential patients might not be clicking where you’re spending is that, consciously or not, they don’t trust paid ads. Oftentimes, the initial hesitation to try a business openly promoted by Google is rooted in harmless skepticism. Consumers want to know, “Are they truly the best or did they simply pay the most?” In other cases, users actively avoid clicking on promoted ads out of fear for their online safety.
Intriguing ads sometimes lead to scams and hacking attempts, and many of today’s users have conditioned themselves to avoid blatant ads out of an excess of caution. It’s an understandable impulse considering that ad bots account for 56 percent of overall web traffic, according to a study by Invesp. Google Ads typically don’t lead to scams or hacking attempts, but some prospective patients might still pass them by just to be safe.
Consumers are also more likely to trust the alternatives they choose for themselves rather than jumping straight into the first recommendation shown to them. A natural hesitance and scrutiny comes with immediately saying “yes” without considering the potential of finding a better alternative, which gives organic ad placement an edge over paid spots.
Conversion Rates Are Just Too Low With Google Ads Alone
As health systems marketers are well aware, advertising on Google can get very expensive very quickly with no guarantee that you’ll see a return on your investment. Consistent high-level exposure depends on how much competitors are bidding for the same spot, how much you’re willing to bid, the types and amount of keywords you wish to bid on, and more.
Nonetheless, the few disadvantages of Google Ads shouldn’t dissuade you from using them. Combining Google Ads with an advertising solution for organic placement is the best way to own search and attract prospects at every stage of their journey.
Diversify Your Marketing Strategy
Google dominates the top of the consumer funnel — it’s a workspace for potential patients to figure out what they’re looking for and where they can find it. Placing ads this early on gives your brand a timely edge to influence prospects before they look to another healthcare professional. Nonetheless, the top three organic search results yield average click rates of 28.5 percent, 15.7 percent, and 11 percent, respectively, which are all higher than the 6.11 percent average for Google Ads. Your brand should address the entire consumer funnel, from exposure to engagement.
Media spend works most effectively when it covers the funnel from end to end. By balancing your marketing approach with a low-funnel-focused advertising solution and Google SEM, you can cover your bases and reach the largest number of potential patients without going over budget.
Vice President, Brand Strategy at Healthgrades
As Vice President of Brand Strategy at Healthgrades, Lindsey oversees Healthgrades brand initiatives across all audiences as well as B2B marketing. Lindsey has more than 20 years of experience bridging creativity and strategic thinking to drive results. Since 2011, she has led strategic, creative, and marketing teams at Healthgrades. In previous roles with organizations such as Bain & Company, Prophet, and Disney, Lindsey has helped world-class brands grow in industries including entertainment, fashion, retail, travel, and pharmaceuticals. Lindsey holds an MBA from The Anderson School at UCLA and a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Vice President, Product Marketing
Becky is responsible for partnering with Health Systems and Physicians to help educate and connect them with online consumers. Prior to joining Healthgrades, Becky’s career in product management and development focused on mobile and internet products for hospitals, with the healthcare clinical decision group as part of Thomson-Reuters, now known as IBM Watson. Becky received her JD from the University of Denver, and her undergrad from Whittier College, in California.