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Written by Caroline Cox on Sep 4 , 2020

Paid search marketing for financial services can be a highly effective ROI driver — use it to build brand recognition and boost conversions quickly.

Here, you’ll find:

  • The regulations around financial services paid search marketing
  • Best practices for your paid search ads
  • The latest targeting updates
  • Why display ads are also worth exploring

Financial services encompass everything from credit unions, banks, and insurance to credit-card companies, financial technology (FinTech), and investment funds. But even though everyone should be thinking about at least some of these topics regularly, especially these days, not everyone does.

This makes it a challenge for financial services (or FinServ) marketers looking to attract new customers. Luckily, paid search or pay-per-click ads can give your digital marketing a boost by helping you build brand recognition, attract leads quickly, and drive conversions for your finance-based services. Below, we highlight 13 tips to help you develop top-notch search marketing strategies in the finance industry.

1. Understand the regulations

Financial products and services are highly regulated industries. This is why Google suggests that, when creating ads, you make sure to comply with local, state and national regulations. This may include specific disclosures that provide transparency to the product or services highlighted by the ad. Google and other search engines may also require specific information within the ad for it to be approved, such as:

  • Disclosure of associated fees
  • Contact information and physical location
  • Links for implied third-party endorsement or accreditation

Personal loan advertising must also contain info about the quality, fees, features, benefits, and risks associated with the product. The idea is that these disclosures provide valuable information to help consumers make informed decisions. When creating an ad, make sure your content contains:

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
  • Minimum and maximum repayment period
  • An example representing the total cost of the loan, including applicable fees
PPC for financial services

Whether you’re experienced in PPC or are new to paid search, starting slowly can help ensure you get the most efficient results possible. (Image via Unsplash)

2. Know the financial products Google won’t accept

Google doesn’t allow advertisers to promote a variety of financial products, including:

  • Short-term loans (loans that require full repayment within 60 days)
  • High APR personal loans
  • Trading binary options or similar products
  • Complex speculative financial products
  • Credit repair services

Advertising for loan modifications, debt services, and cryptocurrencies is allowed, but there are strict rules. If you’re planning PPC for financial services in these areas, review the guidelines carefully. Luckily, if your ad is not approved, Google provides guidance for what you can do to fix the issues.

3. Start paid search marketing slowly

Whether you’re experienced in PPC or are new to paid search, starting slowly can help ensure you get the most efficient results possible.

Start with one to three campaigns and a core group of four to ten keywords, then measure the results after a few weeks or so. You’ll see where your budget is being spent most effectively so you can cut the underperforming ads, continue to iterate, and put more effort towards what’s working.

4. Prepare for higher cost per click (CPC)

Financial keywords are competitive. When it comes to digital marketing for financial services, this often translates into a higher cost than for other industries. 

Focus keywords in your niche rather than the industry as a whole to help attract the most qualified leads, and leverage negative keywords when it makes sense to weed out unqualified leads.

5. Know your audience targeting options

If your company has physical locations in a few areas, tightly focused search engine marketing can help you make the most of your budget. In addition to targeting by geographic location, you were once able to can take advantage of other demographic options such as age, gender, household income, and more.

However, as of October 2020, Google will no longer allow housing, employment, and credit-related ads to target based on gender, age, parental status, marital status, or ZIP code in the U.S. or Canada. This applies to credit cards, loans including home loans, car loans, appliance loans, and short-term loans.

The more specific you are, the easier it will be to find your ideal target audience. For example, if you want to attract management-level consumers, use income levels, which should still be permitted. This can help you find the clients that want your products in a sea of those who aren’t the right fit for one reason or another.

6. Create original copy

To stand out from the crowd in the financial services industry, you’ve got to get creative. By writing unique copy that features offers and benefits, you can increase click-through rates (CTR) and attract the right consumers. 

For example, if you’re developing PPC for credit unions, credit cards or banking institutions, you may want to promote offerings like no annual fees or 24/7 customer service. If your campaign revolves around insurance company products, what perks or savings can you offer? Create a call to action (CTA) that stands out, catches the consumer’s eye, and inspires them to click.

7. Customize landing pages

If your ad simply goes to your company’s homepage, your campaign isn’t primed to convert. Keep conversion rates high by making sure the link on your ad goes to an optimized landing page that has the matching content.

The messaging across ads and landing pages should be consistent, relevant, and highlight the value to the consumer. From there, you can customize it based on the keywords and ad groups to encourage further interaction. The most effective landing pages feature an attention-grabbing headline, proof points, and an easy form. 

Pro tip: It’s a good idea for your landing page’s H1 (main headline) and H2 (subheadline) text to either match or resonate with top keywords you’re aiming to rank for. This alignment can help with quality score and engagement.

Paid Search Marketing for Financial Services: 13 Tips from an SEM Agency

Types of display ads include static, animated, interactive, video, and expanding. (Image via Unsplash)

8. Leverage display advertising

Sure, the requirements for advertising may be strict. But millions of consumers need financial products — from help with tax preparation, retirement, and home equity loans to auto insurance and basic banking accounts.

Display advertising offers several options to improve engagement and boost conversion rates:

  • Behavioral
  • Contextual
  • Geographical
  • Site-specific

Types of display ads include static, animated, interactive, video, and expanding.

Display ad best practices

The marketing strategy for an insurance company, banking institution, or financial products group must have the right mix of elements to be successful (no surprise there). Here are a few proven best practices to consider when creating your campaigns:

  • Go local: Localize your ad to make your interactions more relevant. Use familiar local terms and graphics to increase messaging and conversion rates.
  • Make it actionable: Consider adding a call to action (CTA) message or button to the banner itself to help inspire people to click for more. 
  • Add a focused hero image: If your product benefits a particular audience, use images that resonate with that specific consumer. For example, a happy young family in a yard for first-time homeowners may resonate better than a generic stock image of a wallet.
  • Build trust: Fear and uncertainty are common emotions associated with financial decision-making. Keep the message simple and repeat it, since most consumers need to see an ad several times before they believe it, without fear-mongering. Add any certificates or recognized local customers to establish trust.
  • Combine search marketing with display: Display ads increase brand recognition. As more consumers become aware of your product, they’ll search for it as they move through their decision-making process. As the search numbers increase, your search engine ranking improves, which can result in more sales.

9. Be aware of competitor positioning

Who are your top competitors? What features do they highlight? Research them so you can be ready to outdo them with your product’s value proposition benefits.

Consumers often comparison shop, so they’ll be looking for how you’re similar to competitors and what makes you different.

10. Make it a user-friendly experience

Keep your message simple and make it easy for consumers to understand what to do next. Use a quick form that lets them speed through the process, whether the desired action is downloading content, registering an account, or completing a request.

Minimizing the number of steps and removing unnecessary fields has been shown to increase conversions significantly. You can even test a short multi-page form that first asks a fun or simple question, followed by a page that asks for the required info.

11. Test, adjust, and test again

Take your PPC insurance, loan, or banking campaign’s search marketing results to the next level by testing individual components. Start by auditing keywords for funding value, rather than for leads or conversions, to help you score the highest return on investment.

Next, look at the segment breakdown for tablet, mobile and desktop to see which ads perform best. You may find that it makes sense to run some ads only for mobile and others only for tablets or desktops.

A/B testing can illuminate which ad elements resonate most with your audience. You can test things like the images, headlines, and ad copy by running two ads simultaneously. Just make sure you only test one element per A/B test so you can accurately pinpoint results.

12. Consider lead scoring

All leads are not created equal. Because of this, it’s a good idea to align your sales and marketing goals by using lead scoring. This method prioritizes leads, allowing you to respond quickly to people most interested in your products and increase the conversion rate. It assigns points to contacts so you know which leads require ongoing communication and which should be fast-tracked.

The most effective systems use a variety of attributes including but not limited to:

  • Demographics
  • Keywords
  • Clicks
  • Website visits

13. Add retargeting to your ads

Retargeting (also called remarketing) can be a highly effective method for increasing conversions. It encourages consumers to return to your website and complete an action they may have started but not finished, such as filling out a form or completing an order.

However, there are rules that may limit how much you can do in this area, so take some time to research the requirements in your niche to find out if it’s worth it for your company.

The takeaway

When people are seeking out financial services, they’re often in the midst of making their decision, so timing is critical. You have a short time frame to attract and convert prospects to customers.

Paid search marketing can jumpstart your efforts and show results quickly, which can help you tighten the focus of your messaging and improve ROI.

This article has been updated and was originally published in August 2019.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Jul 21 , 2020

How Google is helping nonprofits spread the word about their cause

Here, you’ll find:

  • How paid search marketing helps nonprofits
  • How Google Ad Grants works
  • Effective strategies for managing your campaigns
  • Expert PPC tools and tips to help you along the way

Nonprofit organizations make the world go round. These groups spend time, resources and money to further important causes and help those in need. But the most successful nonprofits know it’s equally important to invest in marketing to spread the word about their own organization to increase awareness and grow their donor base. 

When it comes to marketing, paid search (also called pay-per-click or PPC) is one of the most effective tactics used today. By following paid search best practices, having strong SEO, and leveraging an ad tool called Google Ad Grants, nonprofits can position their campaigns for maximum conversion. 

How paid search marketing benefits nonprofits

Many nonprofits limit their digital marketing strategy to just maintaining their website. Some also post organically on social media and send out regular newsletters. And sure, these tactics can be effective for engaging donors, showcasing your mission and cause, and running your campaigns. But without more of a digital presence, it’s difficult to expand your organization beyond those who already know about you. 

That’s where paid search comes in. These campaigns can do wonders to increase your donor base and spread your vision to a wider audience. Nonprofit paid search is the digital marketing tool that can take your organization to the next level. 

hawksem blog: nonprofit paid search

When Google approves your nonprofit, your nonprofit’s Google Ads account is allowed to spend up to $10,000 per month. (Image via Unsplash)

Making nonprofit paid search more affordable

We get it: Nonprofits have to be especially mindful when it comes to the cost of paid search ads. Luckily, a tool called Google Ad Grants can help. 

This tool allows eligible nonprofit organizations to spend $10,000 per month to advertise on Google’s search engine at no cost to the organization. Yes, you read that right: Google could give you a free $10,000 to spend on Google ads each month!

How it works

When Google approves your nonprofit, your nonprofit’s Google Ads account is allowed to spend up to $10,000 per month. The maximum cost per click (CPC) is set at $2. 

Once you hit your $10,000 advertisement limit, your ads automatically stop until the end of the month. The ads automatically continue to run again when the next cycle begins. This way, there’s no need to worry about going over your monthly cap and spending extra budget.

How to qualify for Google Ad Grants

Google’s acceptance for nonprofits depends on meeting the following criteria:

  • Must be a valid 501(c) nonprofit
  • Needs to have a functional website with enough quality content that clearly illustrates the nonprofit’s mission and purpose
  • Must be headquartered in the U.S. or anyone of Google’s eligible countries

The biggest hurdle to being awarded a Google Grant is the application process. It includes a writing section where you must specify how you will use the grant, the ads you intend to create, and why your nonprofit deserves the grant money.

The application process is no easy feat — it can take four to six hours to complete. And, of course, not all applications will be accepted. If rejected, you may have to wait months before you’re eligible to reapply.

Maintaining your Google Grant

If your application is accepted, you must maintain the following criteria to keep it:

  • Link your ads to only one website
  • Avoid linking pages where the majority of hyperlinks are to other websites
  • Must log in at least once per month
  • Must update ads at least once every 90 days
  • Only promote events, products, or services where 100% of the proceeds are going directly towards your cause
hawksem: nonprofit paid search blog

What makes Google Ad Grants particularly useful is its ability to set locations, keywords, and demographics to help you reach the exact audience that resonates most with your cause. (Image via Unsplash)

How Google Ad Grants can boost your paid search efforts

A large network user base

Google currently holds nearly 92% of the internet search engine market share worldwide. This makes it the most influential marketing and advertising platform on the planet. Google’s incredibly large user network base can spread your cause quickly, leading to up to 5,000 new monthly visitors to your website for free.

The ability to connect you with your target audience

With all those monthly users and activity, Google also has an incredibly diverse audience. What makes Google Ad Grants particularly useful is its ability to set locations, keywords, and demographics to help you reach the exact audience that resonates most with your cause.

An increase in your online visibility

If your nonprofit is relatively new or not ranking from keywords relevant to your cause, Google Ad Grants helps your organization get closer to the top of keyword search results. Being placed at the top of Google search results increases organic traffic and awareness for your cause. 

Even if your nonprofit is already ranking well in search queries, Google search ads allow you to show up multiple times on a page, which maximizes the chance a casual visitor clicks to your website.

How to manage your Google Grant

Although it’s possible to manage your Google Grant on your own, it requires a decent amount of time and dedication to have a noticeable impact on your nonprofit.

Once approved, it’s up to you or your team to take time crafting compelling and optimized content targeted to your specific audience and demographic. Likewise, Google Ad Grants holds high standards for its advertisement content. For example, all nonprofits must have a clickthrough rate of at least 1% to continue qualifying for the grant.

The takeaway

There’s no doubt that Google Ad Grants is an incredible nonprofit paid search platform. While the barrier to entry isn’t exactly low, the potential payoff means it could be worth exploring if your nonprofit meets the criteria and has the resources to maintain strong paid search campaigns.

Need more help with your nonprofit’s paid search strategies? Let’s talk. 

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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Written by Jane Serra on Jun 1 , 2020

Check off these boxes to ensure your paid search marketing strategies are on the right track for your software as a service (SaaS) brand.

We’re calling it now: “pivot” is the theme of business in 2020. That goes for digital marketing, too. Across industries, customer needs and wants are changing. If you haven’t revisited your strategy playbook, now’s the time.

Luckily, SaaS teams are often more familiar with ever-changing goal posts than most. Whether B2B or B2C, SaaS products and platforms play a huge role across many industries, from finance to project planning and everything in between.

As your SaaS company adapts its marketing strategies to the changing times, there are a few key areas to focus on to make your paid search campaigns more effective. As one of the most effective digital marketing tactics in terms of ROI, this strategy can help ensure your SaaS company is set up to forge ahead. Here are some expert insights for how to do it right.

1. Aim for the right type of lead volume

Of course, there’s a drastic difference between increasing your SaaS lead count and attracting high-quality leads. If more people are clicking on your ad but there’s no increase in on-site conversions — or, ultimately, sales — you know adjustments need to be made. (This is especially crucial because you’re paying for each click.)

Sometimes, aligning yourself with well-known clients or customers can encourage higher caliber prospects to jump on board. Consider using recognizable industry names from your portfolio of happy customers in ads or on landing pages. This, paired with any industry awards, certifications or accolades, can boost your credibility and authority in the industry. 

2. Focus on the facts

As a SaaS company, successful sales often rely on how effectively you demonstrate the value of your product — and how it stands out from your competition. When you know the challenges faced by your prospective clients, you can cater your ads and content to the product features that will be most relevant to their needs.

Showing metrics is also a good way to prove your offering’s worth. It’s one thing to say you can save a company money, for example. It’s quite another to say you can potentially save them at least $50,000 — and have the data to back it up.

3. Know how to properly use LTV

Too many SaaS marketing agencies focus on lead volume. But especially with the longer sales cycles that tend to come with SaaS, it’s crucial to be calculating lifetime value (LTV). This figure can be used to make critical decisions, such as how much you pay for user acquisition and how your target through paid search ads. This is why lead scoring, as we’ve mentioned before, is crucial for a strong SaaS marketing strategy.

Hubspot explains you can determine lifetime value by calculating the average purchase value, average purchase frequency rate, customer value, and average customer lifespan. Ultimately, multiplying customer value by the average customer lifespan should give you your LTV. Once you have an accurate number, compare that with your customer acquisition cost (CAC) to make sure you’re getting the ROI you want. 

4. Understand what constitutes quality conversions

Speaking of LTV, your goal should always be to create clients for life. Because it costs money to acquire new clients, the more clients you keep, the less it’ll cost you (no surprise there). Plus, an increase in client volume coupled with a decrease in cost per acquisition (CPA) can save you serious money.

Understanding this can help you market with the long game in mind. Big players and key clients will sometimes visit your website or contact you with questions many times before deciding to make a purchase, but that type of client can be more lucrative in the long run. 

Pro tip: Investing in remarketing is a great way to keep your brand top of mind with those who are already aware of your business but maybe weren’t yet ready to buy the last time they interacted with your site. 

10 Tips SaaS Companies Need to Know About Paid Search Marketing

Using charts, diagrams and grids can allow you to clearly display how you’re different from your competition. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Consider your landing page your lifeline

A landing page is where a user ends up after clicking your paid search ad. This page needs to present the purpose and products of your company clearly and convincingly. It should give viewers a reason to take an action, whether that’s downloading a piece of content or filling out a form. 

One way to create landing pages that offer a wow factor is to use impressive numbers and statistics as proof points. Think of it as walking the walk — not just talking the talk. For example, stating that you can save clients up to 50% or cut their customer service calls in half (and even offering a past customer example) is more convincing than saying your product “utilizes the latest technology.”

Along with potentially incorporating metrics, visual aids can be effective at drawing attention to the desired call to action (CTA). Using charts, diagrams and grids can allow you to more clearly display how you’re different from your competition in terms of:

  • Cost
  • Features and benefits
  • Contract or subscription type
  • Results

You can also mention specifics, like cost per user and “freemium” models. This helps attract clients’ attention and makes it easier for someone to familiarize themselves with your offerings before making a full-on purchase decision.

Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to target your competitors and their keywords with your SaaS paid search. This helps increase your exposure and gives you a chance to highlight what sets you apart from the rest, whether it’s a certain feature or a special offer.

6. Study your ideal client and current clients

If your search marketing strategy isn’t working as well as you’d hoped, you may have misread what matters to your target audience. Especially for technical and niche business, keyword targeting is crucial.

Due to the hyper-focused nature of the lingo in some of these industries, one keyword may have multiple meanings, some of which may not apply to your business (like event planning software for businesses vs. ticketed event platforms). It can be helpful to go back through and make some of the following changes:

  • Adjust display times
  • Switch up keywords
  • Use more compelling ad copy
  • Tailor by language and location
  • Add negative keywords to your paid search campaigns

Sometimes all you need is a display campaign targeted to a very narrow audience to start attracting the right kind of clients. When you choose to go this route, however, it’s key to pick your placements carefully and make sure they’re on relevant sites.

7. Leverage long-tail keywords

When it comes to paid search marketing, longer search terms often mean higher intent. Think of it this way: someone searches “blender,” and someone else searches “Vitamix black 5200 standard high performance blender.” Who do you think is more inclined to make a purchase?

The same goes for SaaS. Going after more relevant, long-tail keywords not only targets those with higher intent, but it also snags those who are potentially in the “research” stage of the funnel, which can be just as valuable.

ten-tips-saas-companies

Offering educational content shows clients and prospects that you genuinely want to help them solve problems and illustrates that you’re a thought leader. (Image via Unsplash)

8. Aim to educate

While you’re certainly aware of the benefits your products and services offer, you have to assume prospective clients aren’t. That’s why educating your audience should be a big focus in your digital marketing strategy. You can do this through leveraging content like:

  • Demos
  • Video tutorials
  • White papers
  • Case studies

Offering educational content not only shows your clients and prospects that you genuinely want to help them solve problems, but it illustrates that you’re a thought leader in your space as well. You can offer this content via your paid search ad or on the landing page to get interested leads clicking around your site. 

9. Stay true to your brand

Using a variety of simultaneous campaigns and platforms is often a strong approach, since most viewers don’t become clients after one touchpoint or interaction. But even though you’re using different ad channels, your message and mission should be consistent across all of them.

Analyzing your data through Google Analytics or your CRM can highlight typical user patterns. This lets you focus your efforts on the best channels to increase ad effectiveness. When you know your standard user goes from an ad click to remarketing to white paper to a YouTube video before converting, you can budget better.

10. Look beyond Google Ads

There’s no denying that, by and large, Google is the top search engine around. But that doesn’t mean others, like Microsoft’s Bing, are worth ignoring. In fact, Microsoft Advertising makes it easy to export your Google Ads campaigns to their platform. 

Not only that, but you could see better results with a lower average cost per click (CPC). Depending on your target audience, you may even find less competition on the Microsoft Ad platform, which includes those searching on the Bing, Yahoo, and AOL platforms.

The takeaway

As you talk through your paid search marketing goals and strategies, you may find that a SaaS marketing agency is what you need to take your program to the next level and leverage ideas you might not have thought of before. 

For example, you may achieve a lower CPC when you push content downloads and assets and then follow up with an email or retargeting instead of focusing solely on free trials and demos. Whether you partner with pros or keep things in-house, the above best practices will set you up to craft winning paid search campaigns for your SaaS company.

This post has been updated and was originally published in August 2019.

Jane Serra

Jane Serra

Jane Serra is the VP of Marketing at HawkSEM. She's an accomplished marketing executive with more than 12 years of experience leading digital marketing teams across demand generation, branding, events, content, and communications. When she's not strategizing, networking, and honing her craft, she enjoys traveling and scrolling Yelp for new restaurants to try.

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Written by Caroline Cox on Mar 5 , 2020

Tips for creating successful healthcare PPC campaigns in this highly regulated industry

Here, you’ll find:

  • How healthcare marketers can leverage paid search
  • Regulations for healthcare-related ads
  • The latest data surrounding healthcare PPC
  • Tips for standing out from industry competition

Marketers who are seasoned in the healthcare space know that it can be, in a word, finicky.

For that, you can thank Google’s core algorithm updates in recent years. At times, these updates have thrown the industry into near-chaos, with some sites losing nearly all of their traffic while others see huge growths. 

Because of this unpredictability, it makes sense that marketers would turn to healthcare PPC. Not only does paid search allow for audience targeting, but it can help you get to the top of the search engine results page (SERP) more quickly than relying on SEO and organic rankings. 

Around 80% of internet users have searched for a health-related topic online, according to Pew. And NewsCred expects that voice searches for healthcare topics will continue to rise.

Add to that the recent Moz data showing the #1 positioned organic search results are now further down the page than the worst-case scenario positioning in 2013, and it’s clear paid search can be more beneficial than ever.

For best practices when it comes to healthcare PPC, read on.

Google only allows pharmaceutical manufacturers to advertise in select countries. (Image via Unsplash)

Google only allows pharmaceutical manufacturers to advertise in select countries. (Image via Unsplash)

Understand the healthcare PPC regulations

Because healthcare is such a highly regulated industry, it makes sense that paid search guidelines would be, too. Luckily, both Google and Microsoft Ads (formerly Bing) have published clear parameters when it comes to this kind of ad content.

For example, Google only allows pharmaceutical manufacturers to advertise in select countries. Pharmaceutical manufacturers can only promote prescription drugs in Canada, New Zealand, and the United States (over-the-counter meds have a much longer list). You can use the handy drop-down menu to see which country allows which types of PPC ads.

Google’s healthcare ad policies include regulations related to:

  • Restricted drug terms
  • Unapproved substances
  • Unauthorized pharmacies
  • Speculative and experimental medical treatments

Microsoft states that their policy on pharmaceutical products “varies by market.” For example, those advertising drug or alcohol addiction services (such as rehab facilities, group therapy, and halfway houses) must be certified by a company called LegitScript first.

A Microsoft Ads healthcare ad verbiage example

A Microsoft Ads healthcare ad verbiage example

Microsoft’s healthcare PPC ad policies include regulations related to:

  • Invasive treatments and cosmetic surgery
  • Weight loss
  • Pharmacy and prescription-only medicine

No matter which part of the healthcare umbrella your company falls under, it’s a good idea to read over these guidelines. This way, you can make sure you’re not spending time on a campaign that’ll end up getting rejected or pulled. 

Be easily reachable

This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised to see how many companies (across multiple industries) make it difficult to get in touch with them. What’s a lead to do? In this case, they’ll likely keep scrolling to find a brand with a phone number, live chat, or address more readily available.

Setting up a call extension and location extension on your ad is a great first step. It’s also wise to include your contact info on each website page as well as your landing pages and even your social media profiles. This way, people will be able to reach out to you quickly, no matter where they land. 

Pro tip: If one of your main goals is to drive people to your location, don’t forget about correctly setting up your Google My Business profile. This can help increase local customer engagement across Google Maps and searches. 

Focus on E-A-T

Yes, this is an SEO term. But the idea behind it can be quite beneficial when it comes to healthcare PPC as well. (If you’re not familiar, E-A-T stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.) 

E-A-T was first introduced in 2015 via a Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines document that explained how the search engine gauges website quality. It was brought up again in 2018 when these guidelines expanded to also include content authors. 

With the stiff competition — plus a focus on hard data and proven science — that comes with the healthcare industry, keeping E-A-T in mind when you’re creating ad copy and landing page content can be what sets your brand apart from the rest. 

When it comes to healthcare PPC messaging, keep it simple

Speaking of content, let’s talk about messaging. Think about when you’re searching for the meaning of certain symptoms or the nearest urgent care facility. You’re probably not in the mood for quirky headlines or sensationalist claims.

The most effective healthcare PPC messaging is clear and direct. Your ad will have the best shot at cutting through the clutter by speaking your audience’s language and being concise about what you’re offering. Sometimes a simple question, such as “Looking for a speedy urgent care center in Atlanta?” is all it takes. 

Straightforward ad copy from Mommy’s Bliss, a company that sells wellness products for moms and babies

Straightforward ad copy from Mommy’s Bliss, a company that sells wellness products for moms and babies

Pro tip: While ad copy should be simple, we suggest your landing pages be as thorough as possible. With landing pages, you’ve already cleared the hurdle of getting someone to click your ad. Now, you need to provide them with as much info as possible so they can feel confident and informed before moving forward and following your CTA.

Be thoughtful about keywords

Keywords are one of the most important aspects of paid search campaigns. Because of this, you want to build ads around the terms and phrases your prospects are using during their search. 

Depending on which part of the industry your company falls under, this could include things like:

  • The specific product or service you offer
  • The issue or condition your product or service addresses
  • Major symptoms that your product or service deals with
  • Your target audience
  • Company information (i.e. name, location, contact information)

If you go too generic with your keywords, you risk getting lost in the shuffle. Take things a step further by keeping in mind what questions prospects might be typing into search boxes, and what their concerns might be (such as cost or location). 

The more specific and targeted you can be within your budget, the better. You can even leverage negative keywords to keep unqualified clicks at bay. 

Know how to speak to your audience effectively

“A successful ad will speak to the user, but not in a ‘buy now’ sense,” explains Dylan Jones, an SEM manager here at HawkSEM. He explains that a common misstep many brands are having to walk back now is talking in a “marketing voice.” 

“Google is knocking down sites that are saying users need to buy the next great thing or that you need to call now if you are showing these signs,” he adds. “They are forcing us to think more as a user and less as a marketer.” Because of this, the brands with copy that gives actual facts — with the authority to back them up — are more likely to be the ones that see the most success.

Pro tip: Healthcare searches can potentially be a matter of life and death, but that doesn’t mean you should adopt a fear-based approach. Instead, consider things like question-based ad copy and even multimedia. For example, a Google survey found that 60% of hospital administrator respondents watch online procedures and product comparisons.

There’s a huge opportunity for those in the healthcare industry when it comes to paid search. (Image via Rawpixel)

There’s a huge opportunity for those in the healthcare industry when it comes to paid search. (Image via Rawpixel)

Don’t forget about mobile

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: not being mobile friendly can have serious adverse effects on your digital marketing program. Small Biz Trends reports that 60% of consumers interested in healthcare ads are going to visit the company’s website, and 53% of searches are coming from smartphones (with another 7% from tablets).

You can check to see that all of your landing pages are rendering properly on mobile using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool. You can even take things a step further by testing out mobile-specific ads and making mobile bid adjustments as needed. 

The takeaway

There’s a huge opportunity for those in the healthcare industry when it comes to paid search. While it’s one of the first places users go, there’s also a ton of information to be found online — with varying degrees of accuracy.

At its root, healthcare searches are about people and their families wanting to get well and stay well. It’s a topic that’s personal and important, no matter the demographic.

Being concise and direct with your ad copy will do wonders to help you cut through the clutter — and competition. As long as you’re thorough, honest, and keep those E-A-T principles in mind, you can be sure your healthcare PPC is slated to succeed.

Looking for more insight on creating strong healthcare paid search campaigns? Let us know!

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Caroline Cox on Nov 22 , 2019

Pay-per-click (PPC) ads are a highly effective tool for getting your business in front of the right people, at the right time.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What PPC marketing is
  • How to properly manage a PPC campaign
  • What makes PPC ads successful
  • The latest PPC stats

Ah, the ever-changing algorithm. Many a marketer wishes they knew the magic words to instantly land them at the top of search engine results, but we all know it’s not nearly that simple.

And that’s too bad, because we also know that approximately three-fourths of users don’t read past the first page of search results. That’s where pay-per-click (PPC) ads come in.

Also referred to as paid search marketing, PPC marketing falls under the category of search engine marketing. PPC ads are the hyperlinked results at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) above the organic, search engine optimized (SEO) results. They look similar to the organic results, except with a little green box denoting “ad” next to it.

The good news: According to a survey by Clutch, 75% of people say paid search ads make it easier to find the info they’re searching for online.

PPC can be a highly effective tool in your digital marketing arsenal, whether your industry is SaaS, financial services, higher education, insurance, or anything in between. It can help connect you with potential clients through eye-catching copy that provides context and a hyperlink taking them straight to a targeted landing page on your site.

HawkSEM - PPC marketing

PPC ads look similar to organic search results, except with a little box denoting “ad” next to it.

What is PPC marketing?

Paid search and PPC are defined as a type of online advertising that allows marketers to have their brand’s display ads show up on in the sponsored results section of a SERP. And because of the pay-per-click nature of these ads, you only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad.

Getting the clicks — that’s the tricky part. To create the most effective PPC campaigns, you want your ads to appear in front of the right audience searching for the right keywords that makes sense for your product or service.

From there, you place your bid to say how much you think a click is worth. When your ad shows up and gets clicked on, you’re charged a fee (that can vary greatly depending on industry, competition, keywords, quality score, and more).

PPC vs. paid social ads

Social media advertising is a great way to meet your target audience where they are while also subverting pesky platform algorithms that can keep your content from showing up in feeds.

But unlike PPC ads, you pay a flat rate for the ad space — rates don’t change depending on impressions or engagement. This often translates into social ads being more expensive than PPC.

PPC vs. display ads

Display ads are ads that show up on almost every revenue-generating site across the web. These are the ads you see on the top, side, or bottom of website you visit, a mobile app you use, or a video you watch.

Display ads are known for their high visibility rates. Ads created via the Google Display Network reportedly reach more than 90% of people on the Internet. Because of their prevalence, display ads often don’t have as high of a click-through rate (CTR) as PPC ads.

Most often, these ad types are used for branding, so you stay top of mind after someone visits your site, in conjunction with your PPC efforts.

What are the components of a PPC ad?

Let’s start with Google PPC ads. These can contain:

  • 1-3 headlines
  • A display URL
  • A description up to 90 characters long
  • Ad extensions
HawkSEM - PPC marketing

Google allows up to three headlines in a PPC ad.

Headlines

Recently, Google upped the ante by allowing up to three headlines in a PPC ad, separated by a “|” or pipe symbol. Your headlines are where you have the opportunity to catch someone’s attention and highlight a product or service while being direct about what you offer.

When brainstorming PPC ad headlines, consider elements like:

  • Including keywords
  • Highlighting a common problem and/or solution
  • Getting as close to character limits as possible
  • Asking questions
  • Using concise, to-the-point language

Display URL

Your display URL can be your site’s homepage or a simple, clean URL that relates to the keywords and ad copy (such as hawksem.com/ppc). This clean display URL is simply what appears to users within your ad.

Ideally, though, the URL links to a targeted landing page on your site. The landing page should closely match with the look, feel, and verbiage of the ad, with a clearly defined CTA so the person knows what action to take next.

For example, if HawkSEM was creating a PPC ad that offered a free PPC audit, the display URL could be something like hawksem.com/free-ppc-audit. This way the offer is clearly matched with the ad itself. The link might then route to a more complex URL like hawksem.com/ppc-audit/?utm_source=ppc&utm_medium=google-ads&utm_campaign=ppc-audit for tracking purposes.

Descriptions

You’ve got a limited number of characters to work with for your PPC ad’s description — make them count! Your description should speak specifically to your target audience, highlight benefits for them (vs. just talking about how great your offering is), and have a strong call to action (CTA).

Descriptions are most effective when they’re tangible, i.e. offering “25% off” instead of simply saying “we’re the best!” Plus, Google now allows for 2 descriptions, doubling your character count to 180.

Ad extensions

Ad extensions are no-cost additional lines of text that can help improve your CTR by adding more info and context to your ad (as well as more real estate on the SERP). As Google explains, ad extensions can include:

  • More text
  • Call buttons
  • Location info
  • Additional links to your website
  • Star ratings

Your extensions aren’t guaranteed to show up with your ad, but if your ranking is high enough and the extension is likely to improve performance, it will.

Suspect your PPC program might be broken? We’ve got a guide for that.

What are Microsoft Advertising PPC ads?

HawkSEM - PPC marketing

Microsoft Advertising PPC ads (formerly known as Bing ads) function and look similar to Google Ads.

Microsoft Advertising PPC ads (formerly known as Bing ads) function and look similar to Google Ads. They feature the “ad” box next to the result, and include a headline, URL, and description. As you can see above, some ads include additional links and descriptions as well.

HawkSEM - PPC marketing

Shopping ads are more visual, often leading to a higher CTR than plain-text ads.

What are shopping PPC ads?

For e-commerce brands and those who sell products online, shopping ads can be a great way to get someone to “add to cart.” Shopping ads are more visual, often leading to a higher CTR than plain-text ads.

Shopping ads are automated based on data you send to the search engines. That’s why it’s crucial to fully optimize the product pages on your website. To set up your product to be included in the results feed, you’ve got to format your product information to be compatible with the Shopping feed’s ad platform.

Once you submit your product data to the search engine in the proper format, you’ll be primed to show up on the SERP’s ad section. The approval process can take 24-72 hours. Merchant centers for Google and Bing have their own breakdowns to ensure you’re following the proper steps.

What are some stats on PPC marketing?

  • One-third (33%) of respondents in a Clutch survey said they click on a paid search ad because it directly answers their search query.
  • The first PPC ad spaces were reportedly created in 1996 by Planet Oasis and Google as a research project at Stanford University.
  • Microsoft’s search network Bing attracts 116 million unique desktop searchers a year.
  • Between 40 and 60 billion Google searches take place each month in the U.S.
  • In 2018, Google ad spending grew by 23%.
  • Bing users spend 35% more online when shopping from their desktop computers than average internet searchers.
  • People are most likely to click on text paid search ads (49%) vs. shopping or product listing ads (31%) and video ads (16%).
  • Sponsored ads account for 2 out of 3 clicks on the first page of Google results.

What are the benefits of creating PPC marketing ads?

With PPC marketing ads, you don’t have to fight against the algorithm to show up at the top of a SERP listing. These ads put your business in front of the right people at the right time — when they’re searching for something similar to have you have to offer.

Gone are the days of buying ads and crossing your fingers that they’re seen by enough interested people to be worth their price. By using keyword planner tools to target your audience by preference, region, and more — only paying for the clicks you actually get — you have much greater chances of turning that click into a successful conversion.

HawkSEM - PPC marketing

It’s up to you to determine the amount you’re willing to pay when someone clicks your ad. Essentially, you’re deciding how much each click is worth.

How does bidding work?

You likely know how auctions work — there’s an item (or, in this case, a rank placement), and different people try to outbid each other to be the one who scores.

That’s how PPC bidding works, more or less. When someone enters a query into their chosen search engine, there’s an auction. The built-in algorithm picks what they determine as the most relevant paid and organic search results, and that’s what the user sees.

It’s up to you to determine the amount you’re willing to pay when someone clicks your ad. Essentially, you’re deciding how much each click is worth. What makes this tricky is that, unlike in a public auction, you don’t know how much your competitors are bidding on each keyword compared to yours.

If another advertiser outbids you, their ad is the one that’ll get shown. If you bid too high, you may get more clicks, but you can also go through your budget in a snap. To find the happy medium, it takes time and attention, whether that means you, a team member, or a digital marketing agency.

Keep an eye on your click volume and the types of clicks you’re getting — are they qualified leads or are they junk? These insights will help you modify both your bidding and your ad content accordingly.

What is a quality score?

Along with your bid, your quality score also factors into your ad ranking. Google decides on your overall quality score (on a scale from 1, which is not great, to 10, which is excellent).

This can be viewed in the keywords section of your Google Ads account. The better your quality score, the more you’ll rise through the ranks of results and the better cost-per-click (CPC) rate you’re likely to get.

HawkSEM - PPC marketing

Your PPC ad’s ranking at the top of a SERP depends on factors like the keywords you’re bidding on, the competition for those keywords, your bid amount, and your quality score.

What affects an ad’s ranking?

Your PPC marketing ad’s ranking at the top of a SERP depends on a few factors. These include which keywords you’re bidding on, the amount of competition for those keywords, the amount of your bid, and your quality score.

The formula looks something like this:

The ad ranked below you
———————————- + $0.01 = actual CPC
Your quality score

The higher your ranking, the greater your chances are of getting a click — pretty simple. If you want to up your ranking without increasing your spending, make sure your ads are compelling, accurate, and in line with the hyper-focused landing pages connected to them.

You also want to be mindful of who you’re targeting, when you’re targeting them, and where you’re targeting (from region to the search engine itself).

What is PPC lead scoring?

Generating leads is one thing — but knowing the value of the leads being generated is another altogether. When you know the true value of the leads coming in through lead scoring, you can better prioritize and iterate your PPC marketing strategies. This helps you drive more of the kind of leads you want in the future.

You can determine your lead value by setting up a lead-scoring system that connects your quality leads to the amount spent on each lead.

ValueTrack parameters can be added to landing page URLs that gather info about who is clicking your ads. From there, you can pull this PPC marketing campaign data into your CRM to connect with lifetime value and lead score. This helps determine which campaigns are driving the best leads and value (and it’s part of ConversionIQ, our smart approach to marketing).

Armed with this info, you can better analyze your PPC campaigns and keywords to maximize your ROI.

How do you calculate PPC marketing ROI?

Put simply, you can calculate revenue per lead using the following formula:

Total Revenue Generated / Total Number of Leads = Average Revenue Per Lead

However, this doesn’t paint the whole picture. There are other factors at play as well, including your average sales cycle length, site traffic, customer relationship management (CRM) data, and lead scoring to determine your high-quality leads.

Ensure you’re properly measuring your PPC ROI by:

  • Setting up lead scoring
  • Tracking your leads and conversions properly
  • Adding in subjective data regarding experiences with the lead
  • Calculating anticipated ROI before anticipated site traffic

How can you optimize your search engine marketing (SEM) plan for PPC success?

You can have the best PPC ads around — but if the rest of your online presence is lackluster, you still risk those clicks turning into dead ends instead of closed deals.

Take another look at your SEM program. Are you leveraging the right keywords? Have you planned out your ROI goals? Is your site fully optimized? Being able to answer “yes” to all of these questions will give you and your team the peace of mind that you’re doing all you can when it comes to search engine marketing.

Plenty of companies make the mistake of letting conversion tracking fall by the wayside. Some set it up improperly, and some aren’t tracking this at all. Conversion tracking is crucial for giving you insight into performance while providing you with insightful data about customer actions.

A step-by-step plan for an ROI-driven PPC campaign

Think you’ve got the ROI-driven PPC thing down? Make sure you’re taking all of these steps when crafting your campaign:

  • Determine your campaign’s goals
  • Identify, prioritize, and categorize the right keywords for your campaign
  • Write out your ad copy
  • Set up your ads within your chosen ad platform
  • Determine the desired CTA
  • Make sure your landing pages are targeted, consistent, and optimized
  • Have tracking set up (properly! More than 70% of our PPC audits turn up incorrect or with improper tracking.)

How to find the right PPC agency for you

Whether you’re not seeing the PPC results you want or just don’t have the time and resources to manage it all, partnering with an agency can be hugely beneficial. (OK, so maybe we’re a little biased.)

When you’re vetting out the agencies you potentially want to work with, it’s a good idea to prepare by:

  • Having a list of goals and objectives
  • Deciding which services you need
  • Having a budget in mind
  • Determine your key performance indicators (KPIs)

Once you decide which agencies you want to actually connect with in-person or via phone, make sure you get an understanding of their fee structure, company culture, and communication style. You also want to make sure the team you’re working with is knowledgeable and experienced. (Think all PPC agencies are the same? Think again.)

The takeaway

PPC ads have proven to be a way to reach your targeted audience and turn search engine users into customers. Not only can paid search ads boost awareness of your brand by 80%, but they can expand your reach, bring you more traffic, and, ultimately, make you more money.

Ready to take your PPC game to the next level? Let’s chat.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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