Podcast #49

How to Stop Wasting Money on Google Ads

Due to current economic uncertainty, many healthcare groups have become more cautious with their budgets and are looking for ways to reduce ineffective marketing activities. By optimizing their PPC campaigns, healthcare organizations not only eliminate unnecessary spending but also improve campaign performance.

Episode Highlights:

Rich Briddock

Rich Briddock: “If you’re looking to scale back and just become more efficient, typically you’re going to have a structure that you would call like alpha and beta. The alpha campaign is going to be exact match terms typically that are very transactional long tail, drive conversions, drive them at a good CPA. They’re kind of, your core go-to reliable terms. Beta are going to be phrase-match keywords that are there to find incremental scale to then add into exact match and add into alpha.”

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Announcer: Welcome to the Ignite Podcast, the only Healthcare marketing podcast that digs into the digital strategies and tactics that help you accelerate growth. Each week, Cardinal’s experts explore innovative ways to build your digital presence and attract more patients. Buckle up for another episode of Ignite.

Lauren: Welcome back everybody, I’m sitting on the other side of the table today. I’ve got Rich Briddock here for you, he’s our SVP of strategy and analytics. Welcome to the podcast, Rich.

Rich: Thanks for having me again.

Lauren: Nice to be over here, I don’t have to do all the talking this time. Thank you guys for joining us. Today we’re going to talk a little bit about fears of the recession and economic uncertainty, and how that’s impacting clients and their marketing spend. If going into a recession we have to look at reducing spend, or making the most of the spend that we do have, what are some tips and tricks on how to maximize your digital spend?

Rich, one of the things that we propose to our clients the most is maximizing the bottom of your funnel, especially when new patient acquisition is really the focus of the initiative. Looking at best practices when clients are pulling back budget or there’s a need to find cost savings, what are some of the things within the account that we can do, some of the best practices to make the most of the budget?

Rich: First and foremost, it’s about making sure that you– this sounds overly simplistic, but making sure that you just have a well-managed and well-monitored account. We see this all the time when we take over accounts from other clients where they’re spending thousands and thousands of dollars on keywords that aren’t converting, and even worse, they don’t even have conversions set up correctly to even understand if those keywords are driving the right kind of leads, that they’re driving new patient appointments, and so they have no idea, essentially if those keywords are driving anything at all, or if what they are driving is then equating into growing their bottom line and driving revenue.

Going in and being regularly on top of the keywords that you’re bidding on, making sure that you’re regularly applying negatives so that you’re not matching to queries that are erroneous. Like all of a sudden you get a new competitor that comes into your space, into your geographical region, and they’re bidding on keywords in a non-brand sense that maybe have part of your brand name in. They’ve got dental or dentist in their brand name, and all of a sudden you are bidding on that on phrase match, and you’re matching to their brand name and spending a bunch on their brand name.

Something like that that you really want to monitor and just make sure that you go through those search query reports sounds really simple, and just make sure that you’re not matching to anything completely erroneous.

Lauren: Common negative issues, jobs, salaries, research, grants we just saw come up in an audit. Those types of things that are not someone looking for an appointment right now in a immediate need.

Rich: Yes. Another good one. Speaking of that example that you just gave, another good one to reduce wasted spend is to concentrate your spend when you’re actually going to drive the right type of lead, when the business out, when your business is typically open. Things like, think about your ad schedule, right? If you’re getting a bunch of leads at 10:00 o’clock at night on a Thursday or 3:00 o’clock on Saturday morning, chances are those leads are not real leads. Chances are they’re spam, chances are they’re not going to go anywhere, they’re unqualified.

Focus the effort of your spend or the majority of your spend when your business is open, when you’ve got people ready to pick up the phone, or when people can quickly call back any form submissions or request for a callback. That’s when you’re going to drive maximum amount of revenue from your ad spend.

Lauren: Yes. When we think about Google ad structures in particular, when funding an investment is ample, we’re often talking to clients about a full-funnel keyword strategy, so top funnel queries that are very, the head terms of what you offer, then mid-funnel where someone may be comparing and bottom-funnel where it’s book now and brand. If you’re cutting back budget, do you start at the top by eliminating those terms that you have coverage on, or where would you cut from first?

Rich: If you’re looking to scale back and just become more efficient, typically you’re going to have a structure that you would call like alpha and beta. The Alpha campaign is going to be exact match terms typically that are very transactional long tail, drive conversions, drive them at a good CPA. They’re kind of, your core go-to reliable terms. Beta are going to be phrase-match keywords that are there to find incremental scale to then add into exact match and add into alpha. Those are to match for queries that are a little bit outside of the keyword set that you already have on exact, that are going to help you get more scalability.

Lauren: Yes.

Rich: Obviously when you’re cutting back and trying to be efficient, you don’t need to scale anymore. What you’d probably do is you turn off beta, because you’re not looking to scale, you’re just looking to be super-efficient. That’s where you’d spend almost all of your money on your Alpha campaign. That way, by and large you know exactly what you’re going to get, because you’ve been on those keywords for a long time, they drive a good amount of conversions, the CPA’s pretty stable, so you can almost understand when you’re looking at turning those campaigns off exactly what you’re going to yield from Alpha, just based on pausing beta. It’s an easy way to get more efficient quickly.

Lauren: Now I think all of that makes sense in a landscape where things are status quo, right, but let’s say recession is coming and everyone’s doing what we are doing, so they’re taking their money out of top funnel, they’re putting it in the bottom, maybe there’s fewer users searching as a whole because consumer behaviors are to pull back a little bit. All of sudden your CPCs are not what they were and some of your– therefore your conversion costs are not what they were. What would you propose that people do to offset that? What’s an area that they should be focusing on that would help offset those rising costs?

Rich: A couple of things. The obvious one that hopefully you’re working on already or your agency’s working on with you already is quality score. If you have a 1 out of 10 quality score, your cost per click is going to be exponentially higher than if you have an 8 or a 9 or 10. Right? Up to like 400% higher I believe. It’s a massive saving if you can get good quality scores, and quality scores are driven by three influencers. Ad copy relevancy, landing page relevancy, and then expected click-through rate, right? That’s expected click-through rate is really going to be governed by how good your ad copy is, but also like where you appear on the search engine results page, right? The higher you are up the results, the higher your click-through rate is going to be.

Google is looking for you to have really compelling and relevant ad copy, and then an incredibly relevant and compelling landing page, so with RSAs the responsive search ads, you can have up to 15 headlines, you can have multiple description lines. What we’d recommend is test a lot of copy, and Google also spell it out like what they’re looking for in a good RSA, so follow their guidelines to build good RSAs. That should help with your expected clickthrough rate and your ad relevance. Then work on your landing page, just make sure that you’re reiterating the promises that you make in the ad, that you are presenting information that’s vital to the user to convert, that you’re making it really easy for them to take the action that you want them to take, because that’s another benefit for good landing page is high conversion rates, if you’re making it easy to convert. There’s guidelines that are readily available on how to get a high-quality score.

Take a look at those, just do a Google search on ways to improve quality score. You’ll see like a million articles, you’ll see something from Google though that specifically sets out how to do it, and just implement as many of those best practices as you can. That is one obvious way to offset competition at the bottom of the funnel. Another thing, like I mentioned before, is just make sure you’re tracking the right conversions. If you’re tracking the right conversions that are actually driving the bottom line, then you can use smart bidding and you can use whether it be target CPA, max revenue with Target, sorry, Target [unintelligible 00:08:07] or Max conversions with Target CPA. You can utilize all of these audience signals and these other signals that Google’s feeding into its algorithm to chase the right user as opposed to just the right keyword.

It’s about finding that confluence between the right user who’s ready to take action based on all these other things that they’ve been doing online that Google knows about, and the right keyword that they’re searching as well. You can get all those things right, you’re still probably going to end up ahead of the game.

Lauren: Thinking about a little tangent here, but bid methodologies, there’s a lot of different approaches there and agencies are going to have different thoughts on it, but what is the best case scenario when you’re in a budget constrained situation? Is it to be driving towards [unintelligible 00:08:51] regardless? Is there a point at which you have to walk back into a lesser bid methodology in order to have enough volume?

Rich: Yes, [chuckles] that’s a great question. In an ideal state, you would be in a conversion-based bidding methodology, and in the absolute idealized state, it would be a revenue-based conversion bidding methodology. You would be waiting your conversion values based on the propensity of that conversion to turn into a patient, and estimated based on the patient revenue, you would back into a value for that conversion and you would assign it in Google ads to that conversion.

Now that that estimated revenue is being fed into Google, you would then say, “Hey, Google, go find me as much revenue as you can,” and Google knows, hey, if I drive five calls that are over two minutes on this specific service line, that’s the equivalency of driving 100 form fills over here on this other service line, so it gives Google that insight as to know what to go and chase. The only time that you would not do a conversion-based bidding methodology is if there aren’t enough conversions.

Lauren: Some of our higher funnel, higher acuity clients driving, big surgical procedures that may get 10 inquiries a month can’t quite optimize like a dentist can.

Rich: You want 30 conversions a month. Essentially a conversion a day per campaign, right? Again that’s another reason why you should be consolidated and not super segmented by campaign, but if you have a multi-location healthcare business, the chances are that you will have at least one campaign per location. When you’re cutting back your media spend you may only be supporting each location with a couple $100 and even if you’re a dentist at a couple $100 you’re probably not driving 30 conversions. Again, that could be a scenario whereby if you have to cut back so much you just can’t use conversion level bidding anymore because there’s just not enough data to support it and the algorithm will just start spinning out and especially if you’re trying to set a CPA goal if the algorithm doesn’t have enough data, it’s just going to choke out essentially, it’s just going to stop spending. That’s something where you might have to consider Max clicks or even ECPC just other bidding methodologies if the conversions are so constrained.

Lauren: There’s obviously business reasons why you would do something like this but maybe cutting in half the number of locations you’re supporting on search, doubling up the budget against the ones that are hurting the most within your business and having some sort of rotating quarterly initiative.

Rich: I mean absolutely getting creative with how you spread the budget if the budget is limited. We’re having a conversation with the DSO right now about trying to allocate spend in month towards capacity. They’re looking at capacity once to two weeks out and where are they really hurting from a capacity point of view and can we heavy up spend to try and meet those capacity goals and be more flexible with the way that we allocate dollars? I think if you’ve got some kind of mechanisms like that that you can rely on even when you pull the budget back you can be really strategic with how you allocate it and then you can make it work.

Lauren: Rich, thanks for joining us, I think we learned a lot today. If you’re facing budget cuts, look at your keywords, make sure you’re on the right terms, look at your landing pages. If you’re going to be getting fewer clicks make sure that you’re at least converting those clicks at the highest rate possible and please orient your entire strategy around KPIs that really matter. Thanks for listening guys.


Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to this episode of Ignite. Interested in keeping up with the latest trends in healthcare marketing, subscribe to our podcast and leave a rating and review. For more healthcare marketing tips, visit our [email protected].


[00:12:50] [END OF AUDIO]

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