7 Common Mistakes in Healthcare Digital Advertising

wrong way sign on healthcare advertising article

A big part of my job as the VP of Digital Marketing at 5by5 is to help clients determine if healthcare digital advertising is right for them and if it is, how to go about it. Over the past 10 years in the industry, I’ve learned a lot about who digital ads almost always work for, who they definitely don’t, and the largest category – brands it works for if they have the right perspective. 

Digital remains the most trackable and in most cases cost effective way to reach new people with your message. 

That said, there are a lot of ways you can go wrong with digital. Any combination of the below can lead you to waste time, money, and in some cases hurt your brand with digital ads that do nothing for your awareness or bottom line. 

The most common mistakes I see in healthcare digital advertising:

  • Picking the wrong goal – There are 3 different goals that can exist for a digital ad campaign – more awareness, more leads, or more purchases. Of course everyone wants more purchases, but the directness of that path depends on what the customers want and are willing to do on your website. There’s no one size fits all solution here, but picking the right goal is critical because that determines how you make every decision after that. 
  • Not allocating enough budget – One of the big myths with digital marketing for a long time was that any size budget will work. And while that is technically true because Google or Facebook (or most other platforms) will gladly take your money any way you want to give it to them, there are certain minimum thresholds. The reason for the thresholds is typically due to the level of competition for the audience you want to reach. If you’re advertising for ‘cheap socks’ then those clicks will be much cheaper than if you’re advertising for ‘America’s best plastic surgeon.’ 
  • Taking a ‘set it and forget it’ approach – Over the past few years there’s been a big increase in the number of ad firms and freelancers who have taken a ‘set it and forget it’ approach to running digital ad campaigns for their clients. The rationale is that the platforms are constantly optimizing so maybe humans don’t need to be involved. I also think it’s a way for people to have a lot of clients that they hardly pay attention to. Either way, it’s not something I recommend because digital platforms, audiences, and competitors are always changing. Until the machines fully take over, a trained human should be checking your campaigns at least once every few weeks to make sure the results are still good. 
  • Lack of patience – One of the great myths about digital ads is that they provide instant results. Yes, as soon as you turn campaigns on, your ads will start showing which is great. But, the platforms themselves admit that it takes weeks for the machine learning to optimize your campaigns to perform well. The second reason for patience is that you need to consider how long it takes a typical person to go from a cold lead to paying customer. For many of our clients, that process is 2-4 months. A big mistake I’ve seen in the past is people start doing digital advertising and shut it down after a month and a half only to later realize it was working and their leads just hadn’t become customers yet. 
  • Expecting digital ads to fix a bad user journey – If your normal customers are having a hard time engaging with your brand because the technology doesn’t work well or you have too many barriers in front of them, there’s absolutely no reason to think that will get better by adding more people to the flow. If you’re driving leads (especially healthcare leads) online, there’s a good chance those same people reached out to 2-3 other brands. If you don’t have easy, fast ways for them to learn about what you do and get in touch, you will be paying for clicks that choose your competition. 
  • Not testing – The absolute best way to get the most out of your digital ad campaigns is to test, test, test. We often say that what we think doesn’t matter, we care the most about what our customers think. The best way to find that out is to test everything from ads to offers. 
  • Not paying attention to healthcare specific rules – digital advertising for healthcare has different rules that are changing rapidly. Luckily, google partners (like 5by5) are given more latitude with targeting than individuals are which is one of the reasons it’s good to work with an agency. 

In my humble opinion, you need professional help, but then again – don’t we all? If you’re curious how to solve for these problems or get started with digital in a way that helps your business or practice grow, reach out, I’d be happy to talk.  

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