Practical SEM Tactics for Your 2018 Healthcare Digital Marketing Plan



One of the biggest challenges healthcare and hospital advertisers face when implementing a solid SEM strategy is questioning whether to focus their SEM budgets on driving users to engaging content or driving users to convert by either a phone call or a form submission. The goal of promoting engaging content is to eventually convert users when they are ready, but continue engaging them throughout their research journey. Most of the time, it is difficult to both convert users and engage them onsite, but there is a way to accomplish this and still be efficient with SEM to improve performance.

First, the expectation for engaging content should not be to achieve conversions. Conversely, converting tactics should not always have the expectation to improve onsite engagement. But these tactics can work together to improve both conversions and onsite engagement.

Here are some practical strategies for SEM that hospital advertisers can start thinking about to accomplish both goals converting and engaging in 2018:

Getting More Conversions

  • Primary Tactic: Your PPC campaigns in AdWords and Bing should focus on targeting keywords like “treatment” and “doctor.” This kind of targeting will pull in users who could be ready to make a phone call for an appointment. For example, a user searching for “orthopedic doctor near me” typically means these users are looking for an immediate appointment with an orthopedic doctor that is close by. Another user searching for “weight loss treatment methods” could mean they may not be necessarily ready to call, but are further into their journey to do so. Unfortunately, remarketing is not available for this part of the strategy, but remaining visible for these type of keywords will improve overall awareness of the services available.
  • Content onsite: To increase conversions, content onsite should give the user just enough information to feel they can make an informed decision. If the keyword targeting focuses on “weight loss treatment methods,” the landing page users are sent to should have scannable content for a number of treatment methods available to be as relevant as possible to the users’ query.

Increasing Onsite Engagement

I would consider this to be a 2-pronged approach in both social & PPC.

  • Tactic #1: The first tactic to consider for increasing onsite engagement through SEM is to launch social media ad units. Increasing engagement is supposed to educate the user and reengage them when they are not searching. Just to note: Facebook is a very good social channel to promote this engagement as audience targeting is quite sophisticated and qualified targeting can improve, the longer a campaign is active.

    Educating consumers via social media ads can be used to increase onsite engagement. A good example of how this can be used, is for hospitals to begin promoting their Telehealth services. This is one of the newest offering some hospitals provide where prospective patients can “see” a doctor anytime, anywhere, online without leaving their home. The challenge for hospitals has been getting appointments, so instead, the KPI here should be onsite engagement and activities leading up to a possible conversion. Content on site should educate consumers on Telehealth, link to blogs and articles as well as include call to actions to sign up for more information.

  • Tactic #2: In PPC, hospital advertisers can target more signs & symptoms related keywords. These users may not be ready to convert immediately, rather are very early in their journey. Content on these pages can be more involved and comprehensive as users are in full research mode for their ailment/issue.

    Engagement tactics in SEM for hospitals encourages users to return to the website throughout their journey. Conversion tactics increase immediate direct conversions. Both can work if implemented properly together. These tactics can improve visibility, credibility and ultimately drive users to return to the site and make an appointment.

If you would like more information on tactics like these, please contact Interactive Advertising at and an expert will be able to help.

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