Orthopedic, spine, and neuro practices across the country are scrambling to figure out next steps as COVID-19 restricts elective procedures, and patients are nervous to go out in public.
While some practices have opted to temporarily close their doors, others are looking for ways to help patients get the care they need. As you know, many conditions and injuries do not improve without treatment. While you may not be able to perform surgery, there may be other things that you can do to help your patients stay comfortable in the meantime. Some of our clients are implementing things like telemedicine and spaced-out appointment slots to keep patients safe.
If you are still open and providing care to patients in some way, the other obstacle is making sure patients are aware. Many patients are aware now that elective procedures are cancelled for the time being, and some may be nervous to go out for anything other than necessities or emergencies. As a result, you may have fewer patients seeking care.
We’ve certainly seen this for many of the practices we work with. Websites that normally have a high amount of traffic from search engines have seen decreases over the last month. With that said, you can’t rely on search traffic alone to get the word out about treatment options during this pandemic, even when the quarantine period is over.
Instead, we recommend Facebook ad campaigns. Here’s why.
Using Facebook Ads to Bring Awareness
We have clients that have run both Google Ads and Facebook Ads campaigns. In a pre-COVID-19 world, we recommended Google paid search ads as a way to bring more awareness to a practice and attract new patients. Since the ads only show for highly-relevant searches that the practice specifically wants to target, the return on investment is typically fairly high. Facebook is helpful in drawing attention, but it returns a lower number of patients relative to the amount of people that see the ads.
However, since search activity has decreased, so has activity from Google Ads campaigns. If patients aren’t searching for your services, they won’t see your ads. At the same time, our clients who had Facebook campaigns continued to see a steady stream of activity. This includes website traffic and phone calls or appointment requests.
We added information to our clients’ Facebook ads explaining that they were still open, and measures they were taking to keep patients safe. Unlike Google Ads, the Facebook ads have continued to get attention. Comments have continued to come in, and these practices have continued to get traffic to their websites.
While some patients will still want to wait until things have calmed down, these practices are building awareness at a time when many patients aren’t actively seeking out orthopedic treatment. This may put them in a better position to get new patients when the ban on elective procedures is lifted.
Tips on Setting Up a Facebook Campaign
Like most online advertising platforms, there are some restrictions and best practices for Facebook ads, especially for medical practices. These are some of our tips to running a Facebook campaign that is within the guidelines and successful.
1. Selecting Ad Images
Facebook is very particular about ad images that contain text. They will disapprove images that are more than 20% text. As a rule of thumb, we recommend avoiding text on an image altogether if possible. In the past, we’ve had images that appeared compliant, but were disapproved for having too much text. It’s best to avoid that headache if possible.
For our clients’ ads, we’ve tried a mix of stock photos that are relevant to the ad content (i.e., a photo of someone playing sports for an ad about sports medicine) and photos of the doctor(s). In our experience, the doctor photos always dramatically outperform the ads with stock photos. It’s possible that patients just resonate more with putting a face to the ad content. For this reason, we always recommend going with the doctors’ photos.
2. Writing Your Ad Copy
Facebook also has some restrictions on ad copy for medical practices. In your ad copy, you must be careful to avoid “you” statements. For example, an ad with a statement like “If you have joint pain, give us a call! We can help!” would be disapproved.
Facebook essentially considers these types of statements to be identifying PHI, because people can easily be identified on Facebook. If someone likes, comments, or clicks on an ad with a “you” statement referencing a medical condition, one can infer that the user must have that condition.
Instead, try to use more general statements, like “Our offices are open to treat joint pain and other orthopedic conditions.” These types of statements communicate how you can help, but don’t single anyone out in particular.
3. Monitoring and Measuring Your Campaign
Though Facebook tends to have a lower return on investment in terms of directly bringing in patient appointments, it’s still important to keep an eye on how you are doing so that you can make adjustments.
We recommend implementing a call tracking service on your website so that you can see how many people called your practice after clicking on your Facebook ads. Set those calls up as a goal in your analytics account so that you can easily see how many calls came from Facebook. If you have appointment request or contact forms, you should also set those form submissions up as analytics goals.
Another thing you’ll want to do is keep an eye on the comments. Though they are ads, users will still have the option to comment like any other Facebook post. Regularly review your comments to make sure there is nothing inappropriate, and so that you can respond to any questions that might be posted.
Bottom Line: Keep Your Patients Informed
Things are changing on a weekly, if not daily basis as our society works to figure out solutions to the issues brought on by this pandemic. The most important thing is keeping patients informed of updates so that you can best take care of them. Facebook ads are just one of the ways you can reach a large volume of patients at a relatively low cost. Eventually, all of this will pass, and things will get back to normal. Your patient volume may slow down in the meantime, but patients will remember and appreciate the efforts you make to take care of them during this stressful time. This puts you in a better position to attract patients once elective surgery is allowed again.