In a lot of ways, online marketing has very much become a “pay to play” space, especially for medical practices who want to expand their reach or need to get quick results in a saturated market. Online ads can be a great way to get the results you want for your practice, but it’s important to choose the right ad network to fit your needs. In this episode, we’ll discuss two of the most effective and popular ad networks for medical practices: Google Ads and Facebook Ads. Learn more about the pros and cons of each option, and how to choose your ads.
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Michael: Welcome to the Paradigm Shift of Healthcare, and thank you for listening. I’m Michael Roberts here today with my co-host Scott Zeitzer. Today, we’re talking about advertising for your practice, Google ads versus Facebook ads. We’re going to talk about a whole bunch of stuff about it, so let’s jump in. In a lot of ways, online marketing has become a pay-to-play kind of space. And this is something we’ve talked about before, but this is really becoming true more and more for medical practices who want to expand their reach or need to get results in a saturated market. Online ads can be a great way to get the results you want for your practice, but it’s important to choose the right ad network to fit your needs. So in this episode, we’ll discuss two of the most effective and popular ad networks for medical practices, in particular, we’ll talk about Google ads and we’ll talk about Facebook ads. We’re going to talk more about the pros and cons of each option and how to choose your advertisements.
Scott: Yeah, this is a topic I talk quite a bit about with a lot of the customers on the platform. And so first, it’s deciding to start an ad campaign. Michael, you mentioned saturated markets, and you mentioned, “Hey, I just want to get started. I want to get found,” that type of thing. We talked a bit about search engine optimization and natural search engine optimization. Harder to say than I thought. But I think having some goals in mind, what kind of patients do you want to get in the door? What kind of procedures you want? Do you want to build awareness about a new service, or this happens a lot, a new location opening up? Always good. And please this is a critical thing that, Michael, I really want to elucidate. How important it is to have a good landing page.
Scott: That’s the page guys, right? When you make an ad, it’s got to go somewhere, right? So, wow, I’m interested in it, and you hit click. That’s the landing page. It’s where the potential consumer lands. And you really want it to be relevant to the procedure, and you want it to be informative and alluring enough to hope that the prospective patient wants to make a phone call or make an appointment request.
Michael: For sure. For sure. There’s so many things to cover about advertising and about what that experience is after somebody clicks. I think we’ve talked quite a bit about on the show before about landing pages.
Michael: But just kind of very briefly, like along the lines of what you’re talking about, is the page informative enough? Does it look good enough? Is it very closely matched to the ad that you saw? Can people tell that they got to the right place after they clicked on your ad? Because we’ve all had that experience where you click on something you go-
Michael: Oh, that wasn’t it. That was not what-
Scott: Yeah. You even feel cheated in a way.
Scott: And so if you’ve got an ad about a particular procedure, and you go to another procedure or you go to the bio of a doc, I’m telling you a lot of patients get irritated about that. They know it’s an ad, they’re expecting to get exactly what the ad promises, and you’re not delivering on that.
Michael: So, here’s the interesting thing about they know it’s an ad. And this kind of gets into some of our details about how Google ads work.
Scott: Right, and Facebook. Yes.
Michael: And how all this stuff is changing. But, you can take a look at, sort of, the progress through the years around how Google ads were very clearly differentiated from the search results, the organic search results. And that difference is becoming slimmer and slimmer. The little disclaimer that this is an ad is just [crosstalk 00:04:14] blending in more, and more, and more. And so, at one point there was like a yellow background behind the word that said, “ad.” Now that’s gone. The latest that I remember seeing, and as of this recording in October, 2021, they just have the black letters there in bold, so it’s something. But it’s becoming harder and harder to tell, and you can go into a whole like, is that fair? Is it not?
It doesn’t really matter for the sake of if you’re going to be advertising and you’re trying to get your business out there. This is the landscape that you’re going to be doing it in. So, let’s kind of talk a little bit about Google ads.
Scott: The different dynamics.
Michael: Talk some about Facebook ads. But there are different categories within Google that you need to be aware of when it comes to advertising. You do have Google paid search. And so this is the old school what you think of when you think of advertising a lot of times. I’m going to bid for this keyword, and I’m going to write out a text ad, and this is the stuff that you’ll generally see at the top of your search results, especially if you’re doing any kind of high volume query. So by that, I mean if you’re getting super, super specific about the medical name of the procedure that you’re going after, you may not have any ads there because nobody’s getting enough-
Scott: Nobody searches for it.
Michael: Searches there on a frequent enough basis to get any kind of value out of it. There’s no reason to pay for that competition. But one you’ll definitely see is best surgeon insert your city name here, right? Best surgeon, New Orleans. That’s going to have advertisements. Best hospital, New Orleans.
Michael: Best medical practice, best… Those kinds of phrases are very definitely. And then even some procedures like, because we’re an ortho, knee replacement, spine surgery. Those kinds of things, you’re going to see lots and lots of ads.
Scott: Knee replacement, scoliosis, et cetera.
Michael: All of those things. Yeah. And so as you’re going into a campaign, those are the kinds of things that you can get some kind of understanding. Is this keyword going to have enough people searching for it? How expensive is it going to be to get that click? Because, it can get really expensive depending on your keyword.
Michael: Especially if you’re in fields like legal and stuff like that, which is a whole different subject matter.
Michael: Some of those bids can just skyrocket. I mean, it’s stunning how much you can pay for some of these different searches. But there’s enough value and enough intent to purchase or enough intent to move forward with a procedure that those keywords become worth it at that point.
Scott: Yeah. We’re going to get into right now what kind of Google ads there are, what the Facebook ad is, and then we can talk a little bit about how you figure out what to use, why you would use.
Scott: Right now we’ve got Google paid searches, one of the ads. That’s targeting specific keywords. The other two-
Michael: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Scott: There’s Google display ads, and then Google in general-
Michael: Google advertising options that you have. So, banner ads are the old school-
Scott: I was going to say, you were mentioning-
Michael: First thing popping up-
Scott: But I’m older than you, and I think banner ads are the really old ones.
Michael: I will say that the technology around how those ads are served up has improved a lot. So, it’s not just about what are they getting on the web ring and sponsoring a collection of websites and some of that kind of stuff. But Google has moved to more programmatic ways of handling that. What’s interesting about, and we talk something about this a little bit later on, as well. But what’s interesting is like how deep into the weeds you can get with some of those audience identifiers.
Michael: So, I’m specifically looking for people that need this kind of procedure. Well, what are their demographics that I can kind of easily pull out?
Scott: So guys, everybody is listening. Two basic Google ads, paid search for keywords, that kind of thing, banner ads, which we normally, Michael, we normally don’t suggest that for medical practices because it’s got a pretty low conversion rate, correct?
Michael: Thinking in terms of what’s the consumer trying to do at that point. Right?
Michael: So, just having your name pop up over and over while somebody’s browsing through the web is good from perspective of awareness. It’s good from maybe they will have more preference of you over the other surgeon or your practice over the other practice, hospital over hospital, that kind of stuff if they’ve just gotten enough repetition. But there’s more clearly lean intent when I’ve searched for something, and I’m looking for the person that score, I’m looking for the practice or looking for the facility that’s going to take care of this thing for me. That’s a much different discussion than, “Oh, I just saw this thing a bunch of times.”
Scott: And you know, most of the time when we talk to practices or surgeons specifically, they really do want to be found for a particular procedure. I don’t think they’re looking to build their brand, so to speak. “Geez, I wish more people knew how great a practice we have over here.” Banner ad. And if you think about it, like all those Coca-Cola ads that pop up and sneaker ads that pop up, that kind of thing. But if you’re really looking for like, “Man, I wish I could do more of procedure X. And I don’t know if a lot of people know that or not.” Certainly the Google page search is going to be a much better tool and something more trackable from return on investment perspective.
Michael: Yeah, Google does everything it can to try and link up that spend even with its display network, but-
Scott: Google likes making money.
Michael: Oh, they sure do. They sure do.
Michael: I think if you had a limited budget and you have to prioritize your budget is what it really kind of comes down to is like-
Scott: Yeah, that’s right.
Michael: Start with the search, see what you get out of that. And then, do consider what Facebook can do for you, as well.
Scott: That’s a good segue there because [crosstalk 00:09:58] I, you try to segue to-
Michael: I nailed it.
Scott: Facebook. So, we’ve got for most of our clients paid search, and then Facebook’s a different conversation. So, walk us through that, Michael. Facebook ads.
Michael: Yeah. So, a lot of the things that we try to focus on for practices is what you see as sponsored posts. So, going through your feed, you get that story or that bit of information and you go, “Did I like that page already? Did I? I don’t remember that one.” And it’s something else, and it’s usually a sponsored post. And you can do a lot of that kind of demographic targeting. You can do some of that kind of stuff. So, in terms of getting in front of the right people, the difference in this from banner ads to Facebook ads is that you are almost in a part of this conversation, right? You’ve got people browsing through. They are interested in absorbing new information. And you do have to be careful about how you’re putting your information out there. Is this going to resonate within the feed? So going for a silly example, sometimes if you go really business-to-business advertising, and you’re like-
Michael: Really getting into the weeds of, “Well, how are your accounting services,” and all this kind of stuff. And you’re like, “Geez, I was just looking for, pictures of kids-
Scott: Whose birthday is it, and where are the baby pictures?
Michael: Right. How’s my friend’s kid doing this week and all this kind of stuff. So, you do have to very much consider the context of who you’re advertising to, what they’re seeing in their feed, all that kind of stuff. So, we’ve seen some pretty positive results from Facebook as well.
Michael: And so that’s the funny thing about talking about-
Scott: Surprisingly, quite frankly.
Michael: Right? It is so much more conversational than what display ads are. There’s some social proof that you can start gathering. And by that, I mean, somebody else has commented on the ad, and that person may be connected to you in some way. And you get somebody saying something like, “Dr. Smith was wonderful and did this particular surgery.” You’re nowhere near, as a consumer, you’re nowhere near like searching for somebody to take care of you yet. But you see that one of your friends said they had a positive experience. Well, now that you can kind of start kicking the wheels in gear and maybe I can go ahead and get that procedure done sooner than what I was thinking. So, it’s just interesting to see what opportunities pop up.
Scott: Yeah. And one thing I want to relay to everybody. It’s not like magic. There’s an art to it. And so when we run ad campaigns, we usually mix and match between Google and Facebook. And it takes a little bit of tweaking. So, I don’t care who you work with.
Everybody out there, you do your research, you look up. There’s a lot of tools that Google and Facebook provide to help you point yourself in the right direction. But it’s not easy, and it takes a little bit of tweaking, and it does take management on every month to take a look at what’s working, what’s not working, what to do. It could change on the seasons. We’re working with one particular surgeon where, hey man, it’s winter. So let’s stop showing golf pictures. I know that sounds silly, but it is important. But it’s more detailed than that. That’s a simple one. I guess what I’m saying is give your advertiser a little bit of time. Take a look at it after the first month. But I’m telling you guys it’ll get better with each month and you should be in a pretty good place within a month, two, or three. Would you agree with that statement?
Michael: Depending on your budget is how fast you’re going to be able to get to that-
Scott: That’s the point. If you got a really small budget, you got less clicks to kind of figure it out, right?
Michael: It’s going to take a while. And when you do have a bigger budget, it definitely requires more attention. People are going to be more focused on that to try and help you optimize that spend as quickly as possible. Nobody wants to come back from that and look bad. But you also do have a higher volume of information coming in. Something people may not know is, depending on the way that you’re Google ads are set up, you may have closely related keywords to something. So, let’s say you put in hip replacement. I’m going to use like a very silly example, but this is something that we have to watch out for. So, hip replacement. Well, dog hip replacement or pet hip replacement is one of those things that you have to look out for. And you have to say, “Don’t serve it here,” if you’re looking for your pet to have a hip replacement.
P3 Pro Tip
Hey, this is Michael with your P3 pro tip.
Do you need to get an important message out to your patients quickly? Facebook can be a great place to post an update, but as we all know, the algorithms can make it difficult to ensure that all of your followers will see your message. If the message is time sensitive, one option to get a broader reach on your message is to temporarily boost your post. Once you’ve posted your update on the practice’s Facebook page, you will have the option to boost it. You can set a specific number of days to boost the post, and you can set a budget cap to make sure you don’t spend too much. Make sure to include an image so your post stands out.While we don’t recommend doing this for every post, it can be very helpful and cost effective for your most important messages.
Michael: You know, if you’re just joining us, this is the Paradigm Shift of Healthcare. I’m Michael Roberts. This is Scott Zeitzer. And we’re, we’re talking through all the many things that go into advertising your practice. Scott, we’ve talked some about when Google Ads is right, when Facebook Ads are right.
Michael: I want to talk a little bit about some of the things that you have to kind of watch out for on those platforms.
Scott: Yeah, the limitations kind of a thing, right?
Michael: Yeah. So, there are some limitations that I want to talk about. And then, I think just being aware of what’s coming. This whole process is going to continue to evolve, especially with Apple updating things and Chrome updating things and all these different like tools where people are getting more interested in privacy.
Michael: But let’s talk first about some of the limitations for Google. One thing that you will run into, if you’re in something like regenerative medicine, is that Google doesn’t want to play in that space.
Scott: They really don’t.
Michael: They are really, really getting strict about what things they will and won’t allow within medicine, within advertising, within the space. Same thing if you’re in insurance, same thing if you’re in pharma.
Michael: All of these other kinds of fields. Google is trying to protect itself. And I think that they are trying to do right by the consumer, too. They really are trying to lock down on well documented, well proven claims, all that kind of stuff. So, if you’re in a field like regenerative, Google Ads aren’t going to be the right fit for you.
Scott: No they won’t.
Michael: You’re just going to have it elsewhere. That’s one thing to be aware of.
There’s another limitation where you’ll sometimes see the phrase “Health in personalized advertising.” Going back to this concept around where Google and, eventually, Facebook are trying to protect privacy more. One of the things that is a popular tactic in advertising, if you are in fields where it’s allowable, where it’s permissible. And let’s say I’ve got some brand new shoes to advertise. I run an ad for…what’s a shoe brand that you like, Scott.
Scott: Oh, let’s see. I’ll go with-
Michael: Just one.
Michael: Sketchers. Okay. That’s not really the one I would’ve thought of first for you.
Scott: Yeah. I just saw an ad for it. [crosstalk 00:17:02] That’s why.
Michael: So here’s a Sketches ad. Here’s a shoe that you can buy. You click on the ad. You go through. You see that. Maybe I’m not going to do it today, but that’s interesting. I’ll come back to it.
And then everywhere you go on the web, suddenly Sketchers ads are up.
Scott: Sketchers. Yeah.
Michael: If you’re using Gmail, and you’re not using the paid version, you’re using just like the free version. You’re seeing advertisements there. You’re seeing them everywhere. Right? That remarketing advertising is what that is. That’s not allowed in healthcare when it comes to very specific procedures. Now, there are some exceptions that you can run. And frankly, I don’t think it’s worth all the trouble of going down that path. But you think about like how personal the information is, even if you’re just considering like a hip replacement. You don’t want to have those ads popping up everywhere you go. That’s, that’s not cool. It’s not-
Scott: Yeah, you talk about privacy and how they’re working on that. I think the average consumer doesn’t care, but the Sketcher ad, to stick with that, is following them. But man, if you ever had…I was, from a HIPAA perspective, et cetera, it’s like, “Wow. My back really hurts, but I don’t want my boss to find out.”
Scott: You don’t want that ad following you. It’s like, “Yes, I have a bad back, and I didn’t want anyone to know that I had a bad back.” And that’s why those constraints are up there. I wanted to talk a little bit about Facebook, and you’ve said this to me, be very careful about speaking in generalizations. Those you statements. And I wanted you to kind of pontificate a bit about that if you don’t mind.
Michael: So, each network draws the line a little differently.
Scott: Yes, and Facebook definitely has its own line relative to Google. We could for that could be an entire show within itself.
Michael: For sure. But you think about the type of line like something like this: “If you have knee pain, we are here to help.” It’s very definitely assuming something about you, the consumer. Now you are the one that’s purchasing medical expertise for you.
Michael: Not necessarily for a relative, not necessarily-
Scott: That’s right.
Michael: There’s just a different levels of, again, intent that we’re talking about. So, the ads that you may even run on Google may not work on Facebook and vice versa. The way that things are phrased. I mean, we’ve already talked about something like regenerative medicine. It’s just not going to fly in the other network. So, there’s definitely things where you have to watch out. We’ve got to note here, your ads can’t sound like they’re singling out anybody that actually has this medical condition. Now, I can say that I, the surgeon, treat knee pain or I treat, or I even perform these types of procedures.
Scott: But you can’t say Bonnie Smith, my patient.
Scott: Which, most practices know they’re not going to talk about specific patients. But it’s those specific ways that you word it or say it that you got to be particularly careful about.
Michael: And think about how creepy it could be.
Scott: Oh gosh, yeah.
Michael: Because you could do things like dynamically insert this Facebook person’s name in. [crosstalk 00:20:09] So, it even goes back to that Minority Report movie and-
Scott: Oh, yeah. Tom Cruise.
Michael: How it was like everywhere he was walking, he was like, “Hey, whatever your name is.” Like, “Hey Tom Cruise, get this service.” “Hey Tom Cruise, maybe you need this service.”
Michael: And that kind of stuff is possible now.
Scott: Oh yeah.
Michael: It’s just that we’re trying to actually-
Scott: Hey, is your knee bugging you?” “Hey.”
Michael: “Hey, Scott.”
Scott: “Look at the chamfer cuts from this guy.” Don’t want to go there. And a little bit about ads, especially Facebook ads, they do have images within the Facebook.
Michael: Sure. And you can do things like video, and you can do a bunch of other things too.
Scott: But then you have to worry about image size cropping. It’s just something to be aware of.
Michael: For sure.
Scott: I will say this. I remember 10 years ago, I had a lot of customers who would like, “I’m doing it on my own man, and I’m good.” And I get very little of that now. Now, that’s not to say there are a lot of practices that have marketing people working there.
Scott: And by marketing people, everybody wink, wink, nod, nod, I do not mean your office manager who’s also taking care of…it’s not what I mean. It’s going to quickly go over that office manager’s head. And in all fairness, most people’s heads, unless they’re really into this kind of stuff. And it’s critical for you to kind of understand that. I also want to say before we get into this what ad network is right for your practice, if you’re going to pay money for ads, I will say this. Make sure that you’re going to do your part.
So whatever agency you pick that’s going to help you, on your end you’ve got to make sure you’re making money off of this. Right? So, I always tell people, you’re going to spend a few grand, a grand, two grand, three grand, whatever that number is. Hey man, you need to be making money on that. And if you are, that’s great. Ira Kirschenbaum, who we just had an interview with, always used to make that joke about “Please don’t run ads unless you’re going to smile when you pay for it, that kind of thing. He’s over in the Bronx right now, so I don’t think he’s running any ads now. But it’s something to be cognizant of. It’s a business decision, right? So Michael, I want to jump into when you should choose Google, when you should choose Facebook, whether it should be a mix, that kind of conversation. So you choose Google Ads.
Michael: We’ve touched on this a little bit. So I’m just going to cover this kind of quickly. We have talked about, again, if you have to prioritize your budget, I would start with Google ads.
Scott: That intent is there, right?
Michael: Yeah. It’s-
Scott: That you’ve mentioned.
Michael: Probably the most closely aligned consumer. They are showing intent. They’re trying to make a decision. They’re getting down that pathway, especially if you’re narrowing in on your keywords and you’re matching up your content well.
Scott: And I’m going to add the evil side to that. So hey, I’ve got knee pain. My primary care providers told me it’s not going to work anymore. Or my rheumatologist is saying, Hey man, the Aleve, the cortisone, et cetera. It’s time to move on and you’re searching. And so that specific parameter for Google ads, really great. The other one is that you can get ahead of your competition, which a lot of surgeons are quite competitive in nature. I love them all. And that is something I know brings a wry smile. Like, “You mean I got ahead of blah, blah, blah? Oh, yeah. That’s good.”
Michael: That’s worth it. That’s worth it for sure.
Scott: It can be worth it.
Michael: If you are trying to have something that’s as closely aligned, once you kind of like get something solid there and you’re wanting to kind of look beyond, that’s where I would look for. Mixing in that Facebook ad, trying to get word about anything that’s like a new thing for your practice.
Michael: Especially if there’s not a lot of search intent yet, or people don’t know to look for it, a new procedure, that kind of stuff.
Scott: New procedure, new location kind of a thing. It’s like, no one’s going to really search, “Do you have a new location in X city?”
Scott: But that’s a perfect example of Facebook being a very good driver of that. It’s like, “I know I need an orthopod. I don’t know where to go to, and I’m in whatever city I’m in, and here I think that could be very, very helpful.” Or, “We hired a new surgeon and we never had a hand surgeon before,” that kind of thing.
Scott: It can be very helpful as well.
Michael: So quick things to be aware of before we wrap. There’s a couple of things that are happening right now, and that are coming, that will impact this space. So Apple, if you’re an Apple user, if you’re an iPhone user.
Scott: There we go. Yeah. That’s me.
Michael: You’re already aware of this to some degree if you keep your systems updated, which is how much more Apple saying, “Hey, do you want this app to track you everywhere? Because you can say yes or you can say no.” And an astonishing number are saying, “No.” It’s not like there were estimates of like, “Hey, we think maybe 60, 70%.” I think the number, something like 95%, are saying, “Well, no. Why would I want that?”
Scott: Why would I want that?
Michael: And that’s the thing. So much of some of this technology was built around like, “Well, as long as we can, let’s go ahead and suck up every piece of information we can.” But if you give the consumer the choice, they’re going, “I don’t want that. I don’t want you to do that.” Like, it’ll be interesting to see where the, where it all lands after the dust settles because personalized ads are nice to a degree.
Michael: But invasiveness is not cool. Nobody wants that.
Scott: I have to say, based on that one thought. I haven’t seen any articles out there going, “Geez, I wish I had asked people to follow me so I could get more personalized ads about X car coming out.” [crosstalk 00:25:38]
Michael: The other thing that I’ll tag in there is that iPhones, obviously a very popular device, iPads, that sort of stuff. They’re all using this new way of interfacing. Google Chrome is the most popular browser that’s out there right now.
Michael: It’s the most popular way of accessing the internet from a laptop, and all the Androids are using that, as well, as their default,
Scott: Absolutely. That the default.
Michael: Chrome is going to be moving away from something called third party cookies. These ways of tracking you, that made a lot of information available to a lot of folks at the same time. So, that change is going to have effect on things like display ads, on things like Facebook ads, that kind of stuff, as well. So, you’ve got two major companies. Now, interestingly enough, Google’s still going to be okay when they roll out these changes to Chrome and not funny [crosstalk 00:26:29] how the advertising network should still be okay. So, everybody’s got their own motivations here. They’ve got their own initiatives to try and push this and try to make these things work. So, it’s just important to know and have your advertising partner be very aware of these changes because it will impact the performance of your campaigns. These are things that we’re watching out for right now. So, there’s a lot of promise and benefit from both platforms.
Michael: Google ads, Facebook ads. There’s a lot of good to them. There’s a lot of drawbacks to them, and this environment will be changing. But ultimately, the reason that we keep bringing this back up, and the reason we keep mentioning this to practices, is it is an effective way to get patients in your practice. We do think this will be helpful for you.
Scott: Yeah, it really is. Yes, it does cost money. Everything costs money. If you’re going to spend money on advertising, please have somebody or yourself take a look at those numbers, make sure that you’re getting those patients coming in the door via the advertising, and then you won’t feel so bad about it. It’s a great way to get the word of mouth out. All right.
Michael: Thanks so much for listening. Obviously, feel free to reach out if you have questions, thoughts about the show. We appreciate it. Have a great week.
Scott: Take care, everybody.
Announcer: Thanks again for tuning in to the Paradigm Shift of Healthcare. This program is brought to you by Health Connective. Custom marketing solutions for med tech and pharma. Subscribe on Apple podcasts, Google Play, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.