Welcome to part three of our best media series, where we’re arguing that each realm of the digital sphere – earned, owned and paid are the best for different reasons. Read why we think Earned Media is the Best Media and why Owned Media is the Best Media, or check back to see if we can come to a consensus.

Gathering, nurturing and converting more leads will always be the most direct way to increase revenue. However, finding those unknown prospects (and reengaging your current consumers) can be challenging in healthcare’s complex landscape. But let’s make a bold statement that helps focus your strategy for growing your business: Paid Media is the Best Media.

And with the news yesterday that Facebook’s latest algorithm change will reduce organic reach for brands, paid media will become more important than ever to reaching consumers on the channel.

Paid media includes any advertising your organization pays for an audience to see. For our purposes, we’ll focus mainly on digital ads – keyword ads on search and social pages, service-line specific advertisements, branding ads, etc.

Competition is fierce for consumer attention these days. And paid media allows you to build brand awareness, drive service-line revenue and find patients who need you so you can keep consumer healthcare dollars focused on you. But the world of search and social ads, not to mention your traditional campaigns, requires your marketing team understand consumer behavior in order to reach qualified leads without breaking the bank.

“Very few healthcare companies are large enough and have enough brand recognition to do an organic-only strategy.” – Michael Sengbusch, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Digital Marketing Cloud, Influence Health

People live online, on their phones, spending nearly six hours a day consuming digital media. With 90% of Facebook users accessing the platform from their smartphones and 23% of internet users turning to online platforms to help cope with chronic conditions, platform-native and mobile-friendly ads are increasingly important. But for maximum digital effectiveness, you need both paid Google search ads and Facebook ads working together to drive lead generation. Facebook and other social ads can build awareness and increase touchpoints, either using lookalike recipes or retargeting known consumers. And when a consumer finally decides to search for a provider or service on Google, you need great targeted, keyword-optimized paid ads so all your front-end awareness work doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

“In Google, paid media trumps organic results. You have the most control. And Facebook is a valuable tool that connects hundreds of millions of people in an engaging format. In social, paid is better.” – Sengbusch

The key to paid media success is understanding how best to utilize your advertising dollars. Whether you’re buying an ad on social media or search, you need to take advantage of digital’s capabilities for tracking and measurement, in real-time, so you know when to adjust your course in a campaign and when to hand off your leads for the next step in conversion.

How Do I Get There?

There are three simple steps you can take to make the most of your paid media.

1) Buy highly targeted keywords in search. If you look at any Google search results page, you’ll see that paid media trumps all others. The top of the page will always come from the organization who bought that space. No matter how sharp your SEO strategy, your competitors can beat your positioning with an ad buy. Beat them at their own game to dominate the search ecosystem.

2) Use data analysis for stronger social ads. Facebook’s newsfeed is no longer a chronological record of events, it’s curated by algorithms designed to show you more content like that you’re already engaged with. Essentially, it’s pay-to-play. Organic reach is now only 2-6%. To reach consumers, you need to purchase sponsored ads. And to reach the right consumers – someone in the appropriate age range and physical activity level for a knee surgery campaign, for example – you need to be able to segment and stratify the population. This way your message is only put in front of the people most likely to engage and not wasted on someone outside your campaign’s demographic.

3) Track and measure your successes. Without tracking campaign engagement in real-time, be that clicks or signups or scheduled appointments, you have no way of knowing when a strategy is working until it’s too late to do anything. And if you’re not following up with leads appropriately as they come in, not only will you lose some potential patients along the way, you’ll lower your return on investment down the line. ROI is the ultimate justification for an advertising budget, for both current and future campaigns. So measuring along the way keeps your dollars working for you in the most efficient way possible.

Juggling multiple campaigns and knowing search and social best practices can be overwhelming for your lean marketing team, so you’ll want assistance from advanced, automated, integrated technology solutions. Whether you need better data for reaching consumers, campaign management from creation to measurement or help tracking leads throughout their journey so none get lost, Influence Health offers scalable options with real-time reporting and metrics using an intelligent database and enhanced digital recipes.

Once you’ve implemented these three steps, congratulations! You’re dominating in paid media. But in a complex world of digital engagement, is that all there is? Next we’ll wrap up the series and argue that paid media can’t do it alone (and neither can earned or owned). Stay tuned.