When you're running paid advertising campaigns, you want to ensure your dollars are being spent wisely. Keeping tabs on the right metrics can show the best way to keep costs down and assess how well your ad budget is working, as well as show stakeholders the success of your marketing efforts. Here are the top ten metrics you'll want your eye on to track your paid healthcare advertising campaigns:

1. Budget attainment
Budget attainment (what you spend vs. what you budgeted for monthly) can tell you a lot about how your ad campaign is being managed. This metric may not always be top of mind, but don't make that mistake. For instance, you cannot successfully measure the ROI if your budget is either over or under spent each month. While hitting a consistent budget can be challenging, it's truly the best way to assess the performance of your ad campaign.

2. Program cost
The cost of your ad campaign will typically include fixed and variable amounts that you can track with this metric. Finding out what has prompted new conversions by use of mention codes, trackable phone numbers, newsletter sign ups, attendance at events, and other campaign goals can help you keep track of the results of your marketing efforts. Brand awareness may be inferred by comparing the responses of an ad run for the first time to an ad campaign that ran previously.

3. Impressions
Impressions can let you know which outlets are giving you the most bang for your marketing buck. Combined with other metrics, impressions can show the difference between a marketing success and a marketing fail. While a high number of impressions doesn't necessarily spell a successful ad, it can help lead to an understanding of what's working and what's not. Impressions are often useful for advertising campaigns that focus on building brand awareness. In healthcare, awareness of your brand can be especially important to the success of your organization. A large number of impressions would indicate your ad is spot on in achieving awareness.

4. Clicks
If you run a campaign, you may receive a ton of clicks that could be irrelevant. Consumers tend to click liberally, even when they're not interested. Since your objective is to get people over to your organization's site, acting on clicks alone is not recommended. Instead, this metric should be watched in relation to click-thru-rates and conversions. AdWords recently introduced a feature that determines how much “credit" each ad click receives from a conversion, which is much more beneficial.

5. Click-thru-rate (CTR)
Your click-through-rate is a sign that consumers are heeding your call to action. It's a key among metrics that can let you know your information is resonating with consumers and inspiring them to click through to more. To calculate CTR, you can divide your clicks by your impressions, then multiply by 100 (CTR = (clicks/impressions) x 100). A 1- to 2% CTR may be acceptable at first, but to increase yours, you can try some targeted tactics such as using long tail keywords such as “functional magnetic resonance imaging" instead of “MRI," using negative keywords, words you don't want to show up in relation to your site, and incorporating clear call to actions (CTAs).

6. Cost-per-click (CPC)
CPC can be a general indication of how well your ad campaign is doing based on the cost of an average click from your ad to your website. If you have a high CPC, then you should check your CTR to assess its effectiveness. If it's low, your ad may not appeal to your target healthcare consumer or be off point, which means you should try copy, image, headline changes, etc.

7. Conversion rate
Conversions are the golden ticket of an advertising campaign. If you're spending money to bring in conversions, whether that's an appointment made, a video downloaded, or a sign up for a monthly newsletter, conversions justify your ad spending budget. Google can calculate cost-per-conversion and tell you exactly how much it costs to achieve one conversion. If you spend more on one conversion than its potential revenue, you'll need to evaluate budget, but if you spend less, you're on target. In healthcare, however, it may be more difficult to nail down an actual dollar amount of a conversion vs. a retail site's campaign who can clearly calculate a fixed dollar amount for a pair of pants. You'll want to consider factors like different lead times for different service lines, patient lifetime value, etc. to approximate a conversion's worth.

8. Cost per lead or action
The cost per lead or action is the desirable behavior that you expect from healthcare prospects after seeing your ad campaign. Depending on your goals, this could be a click to your website, a call for an appointment, or downloading an infographic. Keeping tabs on this metric can provide insight into your ad generation and its effectiveness. If you can lower the cost per lead, you'll manage higher conversion rates and possibly larger revenue for the same advertising budget.

9. Search impression share
Impression share, the number of impressions your campaign receives divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible for, is based typically on your ad's target settings, approval status, quality scores, and bids. If your campaign gets an impression every time it's in a relevant search, you're enjoying a large search impression share. However, most campaigns receive only a portion of the total shares usually because of either a low ad rank or budget restrictions. Impression share can tell you how much better you can do by helping assess which reason your impression share is low and improving it. Fewer impressions and/or a low average position likely mean you need to raise your bids to max out their performance. Boosting your keyword's Quality Score might also enable you to receive a higher ad rank without spending more. For budget restrictions or increasing budget, auditing and tightening keywords and optimizing your Quality Score may be what's needed.

10. Average time on page
When visitors engage with your ad campaign or website for a lengthy time, you know your content is resonating. On the other hand, a low conversion rate can tell you something may be wrong. The time on page metric is one way you can help address this. Changing the messaging or visibility of your opt-in may fix problems of time on page. Other reasons for poor time on page could include your campaign isn't connecting with the audience, the website is confusing or difficult to navigate, or there are user experience issues.

Taken together, these metrics can inform your healthcare marketing campaigns by creating a complete story of both the success and fails of your marketing strategy. Each metric works as part of the whole to provide a complete picture. Analyzing trends discovered from each one can help you uncover the obstacles and opportunities specific to your campaign.

Want to learn more healthcare marketing tactics and tips that maximize the effectiveness of your efforts? Download our Healthcare Digital Marketing Toolkit.