Planning a healthcare advertising campaign can feel like you’re trying to assemble a giant puzzle – without knowing what the final picture is supposed to look like. There are so many audiences you want to target, so many channels to consider, so many call-to-actions, etc. Which pieces do you start with and how do they all fit together?

Often, the key to success in healthcare advertising is to keep it simple, use research, and make it easy for people to act. Small steps, taken with intelligent and data-driven reasoning, can add up to major improvements in the overall performance of your healthcare advertising campaign.

1. Remember: Search and Social Ads are Not the Same
Most likely, your organization has been working with traditional TV, radio, and print campaigns for years. Figuring out where search and social advertising fit into the overall mix poses a new challenge.

When planning your campaigns for Google and Facebook, it’s critical to remember that social does not equal search. With Google, your prospects are searching for you and are actively interested in what you’re offering. With Facebook, it’s passive, users are browsing and socializing, and you’re competing with loads of unrelated content. I also like to remind the partners I work with that, on social, you’re ultimately asking consumers to confront healthcare decisions in a social setting – which can be intimidating. Ask yourself, when determining the best ad copy and/or call-to-action, “does it make sense to ask consumers to do that in this setting?”

When serving ads on Google, you should target service-line specific keywords and location-specific searches. With Facebook, you’ll be better off building campaigns around your business goals (e.g. HRA completions, bariatric seminar signups, or a guide download for joint replacement).

And, as we shared in this previous post, there are search and social best practices that vary by service line, for example:

  • Search ads for bariatrics work best if they’re procedure-focused. Social ads perform better by showcasing engaging topics, like free seminars and patient testimonials.
  • Both search and social cardiology campaigns are most successful when they focus on same-day or next-day appointments. You can also use risk assessments and heart health content to engage.
  • In search, you reach orthopedic candidates most easily by targeting keywords around symptoms and procedures. In social campaigns, patient success stories tend to have the most impact.

2. Include Relevant Calls-To-Action
This may be one of the most important takeaways of this post - According to Marketing Profs, your Facebook ad is only as good as its call-to-action (CTA) and the user experience that follows. It's important to plan out not only whom you're targeting and where, but also how you plan to get them to convert. Every ad you run on Facebook should have a clear CTA, focused on the action you want users to take.

No matter which channel your ad appears in, be sure to include a call-to-action that connects to a relevant form or page on your website. Quick, close, near-me, same-day … all these things drive traffic with primary care search ads. Using “Make an Appointment” as a CTA should be standard practice. Across social promotion, you can bring awareness to locations and convenience.

Finally, even in traditional campaign elements, such as TV, radio, and print ads, your CTA should include trackable phone numbers so that you can evaluate your results by channel.

3. Optimize with A/B Testing
As with so many marketing efforts, A/B-testing is critical to your success with healthcare advertising. No matter how experienced you are as a marketer, it is nearly impossible to predict which ad design will work best for your offering or which audience will be more likely to convert (whatever you define as a conversion).

You can experiment by testing ad creative (copy and design), various offers, and target audiences. The author of this Marketing Profs post recommends that beginners start out by A/B-testing macro elements (such as which larger message appeals to which audience) before testing more specific elements of your ads (e.g. images, headlines, and CTAs).

4. When in Doubt, Partner with a Healthcare Advertising Expert
There is so much to consider when planning healthcare advertising campaigns. Even if your organization has been doing it for years, the rise of search and social can be difficult to integrate with traditional advertising channels. Just when you think you have mastered your online marketing mix – the rules are likely to change.

If you’re looking for more qualified leads and improved ROI, partnering with an experienced strategy and services team can help you stay on top of best practices so you’re always engaging consumers on their preferred channel with appropriate messaging that converts them to loyal patients.

Want more tips for healthcare marketing success? Download our Healthcare Digital Marketing Toolkit.