Digital marketer Bradley Hall explains how aesthetic businesses can use pay-per-click marketing to secure new patient bookings
There are various methods you can use to market your aesthetic business for free online, such as through social media or e-newsletters. However, to help reach new potential customers, paid-for digital advertising can be an option to consider. Earlier this year, 68% of 3,400 global marketers surveyed said that paid advertising is ‘very important’ or ‘extremely important’ to their overall marketing strategy.1
Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing is a form of online advertising in which the advertiser pays the chosen platform every time a user clicks on their advert. This article will explore how you can best utilise PPC marketing to connect your business to new customers, and drive those currently interested in choosing your clinic.
Compared to other types of digital adverts which may charge you a flat fee, or based on the number of people it reaches, with PPC you only pay for the number of qualified leads generated – clicks to your desired URL. You can put caps on your ad spend to ensure the number of clicks do not exceed your advertising budget. Plus, it is possible to track which clicks turn into bookings or sales, so you can accurately measure return on investment. The cost-per-click associated with an ad is largely determined by the level of competition. When an ad space matching your specification becomes available, the platform will run an automated auction to determine which advertiser gets to secure the space and the associated cost-per-click. The spot does not necessarily go to the advertiser with the highest bid because it also considers factors like ad relevancy and landing page quality.
PPC platforms typically give you a great level of control over what your ads look like and where and when they appear, and there are a variety of ad types available. This means that you can create highly targeted advertisements that engage different kinds of prospective patients, increasing your conversion rate and therefore maximising return on investment.
Creatives, audience targeting, and bidding strategies can be easily tweaked, allowing you to hone campaigns as they progress. This also means that you can quickly react to any changes in your business or market.
There are several ways you can utilise PPC, including paid search, display advertising, and social media advertising, which we will discuss below. For more advice on the fundamentals, I recommend reading HubSpot's Ultimate Guide to PPC.2
Paid search or search advertising allows you to get your business in front of the highest-quality prospects on a search engine when people are actively searching for your specific products and services. Your 'sponsored' search result will generally have a more prominent position than, yet look near identical to, unpaid 'organic' results, increasing the chances of engagement.
One of the best ways to run a paid search campaign is through the Google Search Network.3 Using the Google Ads platform,4 previously known as Google AdWords, you can secure prominent positions on Google search engine results pages when people enter relevant queries. You can perform keyword research to see what types of queries you would like your website to rank for.
As well as text ads, it is possible to appear in Google Play, Images, Shopping, and Maps. You can also try platforms like Microsoft Advertising5 and Amazon Advertising.6
Display advertising is a more traditional form of advertising in which image banners, videos, or similar are used to grab potential customers' attention. Once you have defined your target audience, ads will be served in relevant locations on the platform's network. For an aesthetics business, this could be the likes of beauty and lifestyle publications.
Among the biggest display networks are Google Display Network, which reaches 90% of internet users worldwide7 and Microsoft Advertising,5 which allows you to advertise on Outlook, MSN, Xbox, and more.
Social media advertising
Social media advertising allows you to connect with potential customers through platforms like Facebook8 and Instagram.9 Sponsored posts typically appear on relevant users' feeds alongside organic content they have actively subscribed to.
There are 3.8 billion users10 spending an average of two hours and 24 minutes per day on social media11 so there is a huge opportunity for aesthetics businesses to increase brand visibility and engage relevant audiences.
PPC for aesthetic businesses
Whether you are new to PPC marketing or you are looking to ramp up your campaigns, these tips will help you to minimise costs while maximising conversions.
Know the guidelines
There are a number of regulations that advertisers must follow on platforms like Google Ads, especially when it comes to industries like aesthetic medicine. Familiarising yourself with them, or seeking the help of a professional, is crucial to avoid wasting time on campaigns that go on to be rejected. Violating ad policies could even lead to account suspension.
For example, it is prohibited to use personalised advertising for invasive medical procedures, including cosmetic surgery, on Google Ads.12 It is important to read all policies and terms and conditions on whatever platform you use. Of course, as with any advertisement, ensure to abide by ASA and CAP rules.13,14
Understand your audience
One of the biggest benefits of PPC marketing is that you can clearly define your target audience, taking advantage of platforms' data on user demographics such as age, gender, location, and interests. For aesthetic businesses offering in-person services, I believe location is one of the most important factors.
Harnessing your own customer data as well as doing your research will allow you to build a more accurate picture of the people interested in your products or services. For example, the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery 2020 Practice Census shows that the majority of surgical hair restoration patients are males aged 30 to 39, so you may want to target ads for this service accordingly.15
Another valuable technique to try is retargeting; serving ads to people who have already visited your website. The strategy could be even more successful in the medical aesthetics field, where patients are likely to conduct a lot of research before making a decision. However, you have to be careful when targeting users based on potentially sensitive online behaviour. As mentioned above, Google prohibits personalised ads for cosmetic surgery for this reason. So, always read the policies and carefully consider how users will feel about your ads.
Once your campaigns have been running for around 30 days – the time I believe you need to really determine your success – delve into the metrics to see what is working and what is not. Look out for results that stray from the average, good or bad. For example, you might see that a particular demographic is responding best to a specific ad and so decide to focus your budget on targeting those kinds of users only. Trial and error is a huge part of any successful PPC campaign.
Use Google Shopping for e-commerce
If you sell any products online, such as skincare and cosmeceuticals, Google Shopping is a great way to generate sales. This paid search channel generates highly-qualified leads because customers are already in the purchase phase of their buying journey and can learn a lot about the product before clicking through.
The key thing is keeping your product feed optimised and up to date, ensuring that product information is accurate and out-of-stock items are not advertised. This will attract the highest quality leads and significantly increase the chance of conversion, maximising return on investment.
Take advantage of ad credits
Many online advertising platforms offer introductory ad credits so that you can effectively take a free trial. After you have tested the waters, you can build your budget gradually to reduce risk and ensure that the campaign grows successfully. For example, Google Ads is currently offering new users £120 in credit.16 Platforms may present you with an offer when you go to sign up. You might also be able to find coupons by searching for the name of the platform plus ‘credit’ or similar.
Work on ad quality
The quality of your PPC adverts not only determines how likely users are to click through and convert but also plays a role in ad visibility and costs. Google Ads, for example, rewards better quality scores with higher rankings and lower costs per click.
To get a high quality score, you will need to make sure that your ad delivers a good user experience from start to finish. That means only targeting audiences who are likely to be interested in your products or services, creating an attractive and representative advert, and delivering a useful page after click-through.
For example, if you are a clinic offering lip fillers, you will likely want to target younger women located nearby who are actively searching for this type of procedure. The ad should set realistic expectations using error-free text and high-quality imagery, where applicable, and the linked landing page should provide detailed information about your dermal filler services and credentials.
The flexibility and ability to quickly amend your advert is one of the many strengths of PPC advertising, so make sure to take advantage of this. For example, you can quickly amend your PPC adverts according to the current coronavirus restrictions as they are constantly changing. By adding clear information about opening times, social distancing guidelines, and hygiene measures to your ads or sponsored listings, you can divert clicks from competitors who are not offering this level of reassurance to would-be patients.
You can also amend your PPC to make the most of changing market trends. For example, if a celebrity is in the news for discussing a cosmetic procedure, you could take advantage of increased search interest by promoting related services, products, or resources.
Pay-per-click marketing offers an effective way for aesthetics businesses to connect with high-quality prospects and turn them into patients or customers. With many businesses scaling back their marketing efforts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and consumers spending more time than ever online, there has never been a better time to start or ramp up your campaign.
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