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How to Craft a Successful Healthcare Advertising Strategy?

Did you know that 80% of internet users search for health-related subjects online? 

This means two things. One, the healthcare industry is never beyond the scope of online marketing. And two, digital healthcare advertising will have a much better return on investment (ROI) than traditional methods.

But, unlike other industries, advertising for healthcare-related brands demands you to be extra careful. It’s a highly regulated environment, but by following the rules, you can formulate a creative advertising strategy and entice and engage more customers in the process.

What is healthcare advertising and why is it different?

Simply put, healthcare advertising refers to creating and serving ads about a physician, medical practice, or specific medical procedure. 

If you have the impression that healthcare marketing and advertising are the same things, you’re mistaken.

In fact, advertising is a subset of marketing and is one of the many components that can make a marketing campaign successful. And just like any other business, hospitals and doctors need advertising to improve their brand awareness, attract new patients and ultimately, increase revenue generation.

In essence, the technicalities behind healthcare advertising are the same as in any other industry. But there are specific regulations to be followed due to the nature of the industry and the services provided. We’ll get to that part in a while.

What is the best form of advertising for the healthcare industry?

When talking about advertising, many might suggest trying out offline methods such as billboards, radio ads, newspaper ads, and so on. Although these methods may show some results, their ROI is nominal and tracking their results is nearly impossible.

But things are highly favourable with digital advertising. For instance, every US$1 spent on Google Ads can generate US$2 on average. Plus, the advantage of being able to monitor each ad campaign is phenomenal.

If you were to adopt traditional, offline advertising, you’d have zero means to quantify the impact of your ads on sales and revenue generation. Also, unlike online ads, offline advertising isn’t targeted and can lead to resource wastage by serving ads to prospects with the lowest customer lifetime value (CLV).

Also, in the case of traditional advertising, if you feel a particular ad campaign isn’t working, you’ll have to wait for ad resources to be exhausted. But in the case of digital advertising, you can analyse and tweak your campaign anytime you want to. Let’s look at some of the best forms of online healthcare advertising.

  1. Search Ads

Search advertising is a form of online paid advertising that displays ads in search engine results whenever an individual searches for a service or product offered by the advertiser. They are also known as sponsored ads and paid search advertising.

As Google is the most prevalent search engine, accounting for 80% of the market share, search ads are often synonymous with Google Ads. Since 81% of people search online for a product or service in order to solidify their purchase decision, search ads are statistically one of the most rewarding forms of advertising.

Here’s an example of search advertising in action.

search advertising

Advertisements on search results.

With search advertising, advertisers can bid on keywords for which they want to display their ads. For instance, if you are a paediatrician, you could bid on keywords such as “paediatrician near me”, or “best paediatrician in Chicago” and place ads in their search results.

This means, anytime a prospect searches for those keywords, your ad will show up, given the searcher is within the radius you specified to run the campaign. And, unlike traditional advertising, there are numerous pricing models for digital advertising – making it a cost-effective method. Here are the four most popular models.

1. Cost Per Mile (CPM)

In cost per mile (CPM) model, a flat rate is set for a thousand views on an advertisement. This means if 1000 individuals view your ad, you’ll have to pay the publisher a fixed amount. The downside to this pricing model is that you’ll be charged even if an individual doesn’t click on your ad.

2. Cost Per Click (CPC)

The cost per click (CPC) model rectifies the flaws of the CPM model and charges advertisers only when an individual clicks on their advert. 

3. Cost Per Lead (CPL)

The cost per lead (CPL) pricing model is the most advertiser-friendly model as you have to pay only when you obtain a qualified lead. This model eradicates the errors of unintended clicks or views and can guarantee better ROI on your advertising budget.

4. Cost Per Action (CPA)

The cost per action (CPA) model goes a step further and requires the customer to perform a particular action in order to charge the advertiser. The action can be anything definite such as purchasing a medical product, booking a doctor’s appointment, or even installing a medical app.

Of course, Google Ads isn’t the final word on search advertising. There are other alternatives like Bing Ads you can try out.

2. Paid Social Media Ads

Most of the age group you want to target will be active members of one or the other social media platforms. In fact, 90% of individuals in the US within the age group 18-29 use social media. Ad campaigns on social media platforms are relatively inexpensive and can be used to serve highly targeted ads.

Share of US adults using social media

Share of US adults using social media. Image Credit:

You can get started with just a couple of dollars and can even expect a quality lead with such nominal spendings. Apart from lead generation, you can also use social media ads to improve brand awareness.

Healthcare advertising on Facebook

Healthcare advertising on Facebook. Image Credit:

If you’re targeting teens, you can try Instagram Ads or TikTok Ads. If you’re targeting moms, Facebook is a great option. Even YouTube Ads are useful to serve social media ads to a broader audience. You can display different formats of ads such as pre-roll ads, skippable in-stream ads, non-skippable ads and more.

3. Display Ads

Display ads, also known as banner advertisements, are adverts often made up of texts, images, or videos. You would have probably come across a display ad while browsing the internet. Here’s an example.

Banner advertisement

Banner advertisement on a website. Image Credit:

Display advertising follows a similar pricing model like search ads with CPC being the most preferred model. Generally, display ads are of three formats, namely,

  • Banner ads
  • Interstitial ads
  • Rich media
  • Video ads

Display ads are also extensively used for retargeting campaigns. In such campaigns, targeted ads are served to users who already visited your website. Doing so may encourage users to return to your website and perform the desired action.

4. Email Advertising

email advertising

Email ad sent by a dental clinic. Image Credit:

Email advertising refers to sending promotional messages to prospective customers. But there’s a catch. In order to send such messages, you need the consent of the recipient. Of course, there are many services that let you send bulk emails, but that may tempt the receiver to hit the block button.

If a customer decides to opt-in to receive promotional emails from your brand, then it means they are least likely to block them and are interested in your services or products. It is an ideal digital advertising network for healthcare due to the formal nature of the services. In short, email ads are cost-effective, easy to track and have a higher ROI. 

These techniques represent just the tip of what’s possible while advertising for healthcare. There are numerous advanced methods you can leverage to exponentially increase your brand’s visibility and desirability. Here are some more to blow your mind.

5. In-App Advertising

Experts estimate that soon, 67% of all digital advertising spending will be aimed at mobile devices. Doing so makes more sense as an average adult spends nearly 3 hours and 35 minutes per day on their mobile device.

In-app ads are the ads you see inside an app. They come in different sizes and formats and have better click-through rates than web ads. Since these advertisements blend so well with the app’s UI, users are more likely to interact with them.

Although the majority of in-app ads are app install ads, you can promote your services and products as well. If you have a doctor’s app and want to increase its user base, you can opt for advanced techniques like programmatic app install campaigns.

6. Location-Based Advertising

Since the majority of practitioners and healthcare professionals will have a physical location, location-based advertising (LBA) is a highly lucrative form of healthcare advertising. As the name suggests, LBA refers to serving ads based on the location of the user.

This means if a prospective client is near your clinic, you can serve highly targeted ads and encourage them to make a visit. The ads can be served via search engines, social media, or third-party applications.

Since the majority of your prospects will be carrying around a smartphone, it makes more sense to serve ads directly to their devices, with respect to their location. There are numerous methods by which you can serve location-based ads such as,

  • Geo-targeting
  • Geo-fencing
  • Geo-conquesting
  • Weather targeting
  • Location-based behavioural targeting

While running ads for your healthcare clinic or services, you can combine multiple methods discussed for better results. And of course, while choosing a method of advertising, you need to keep in mind your target audience. 

For example, if you’re a doctor who treats the neck injuries of teenagers, leveraging social media advertising will be more fruitful as 90% of the teens between the ages 13 and 17 use social media networks.

If you’re new to running healthcare advertising campaigns, ensure you keep eyes on the cost of acquisition and lifetime value of customers. The cost of acquiring a customer must always be lower than their lifetime value. 

This means if you spend US$20 on acquiring a patient, the revenue you generate from the same patient must be higher than US$20. If not, your resources are being wasted and would also mean that the particular patient isn’t worth acquiring.

Things to keep in mind while serving healthcare advertisements in 2020

As previously mentioned, healthcare adverts are of highly sensitive nature and misleading the audience can cause unintended consequences as well as legal issues. Here is a list of some of the critical things you need to consider while serving advertisements for the healthcare industry.

  • Be truthful and non-misleading with the ad content.
  • Refrain from revealing previous patients’ details.
  • Set clear expectations about your services.
  • To be labelled a specialist in the ad, the individual must have a recognised certification.
  • Don’t offer a permanent cure for an incurable disease.
  • Without supportive evidence, don’t use words like “best” or “superior” in the ad copy.
  • Don’t use hyperbole to describe results.
  • Refrain from making scientific claims without evidence backed by a peer-reviewed study.

However, such restrictions don’t stop you from being creative with healthcare advertising campaigns. You can be as creative as you wish and deliver impactful and meaningful messages in the process.

Healthcare advertising examples

Here are some of the finest and creative healthcare advertising examples to get inspired.

1. National Jewish Health

How to Craft a Successful Healthcare Advertising Strategy? 1

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This ad is part of the “Never Say Never” campaign of the National Jewish Health. The advert is a testimonial ad and shows how the lung disease of a patient was cured.

2. Dana-Farber Brigham & Women’s Cancer Center

How to Craft a Successful Healthcare Advertising Strategy? 2

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The content of this ad is empowering to those dealing with cancer. Along with promoting its service, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute acts as a support system to the ones suffering.

3. Patil Hospital

How to Craft a Successful Healthcare Advertising Strategy? 3

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Healthcare advertising doesn’t always have to be promotional. Instead, you can combine it with educational content and spread awareness. The above creative is an excellent example that addresses a common issue such as self-medication.

4. Mount Sinai

How to Craft a Successful Healthcare Advertising Strategy? 4

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This creative is an excellent example of how ads can convey a message with just a few words. The graphics clearly depicts the less-invasive nature of the surgery and directly targets injured athletes.

5. Panadol

How to Craft a Successful Healthcare Advertising Strategy? 5

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The proper use of contrasts and text can make more impact than any image. The above ad creative is an excellent example of that. With just a word, Panadol is able to convey its message.

In Conclusion

Creative healthcare advertising campaigns can significantly enhance your healthcare brand’s online visibility and desirability. Of course, healthcare advertising can be tricky as patients are notably different from other forms of consumers.

With rising incomes and standards of living, the demand for healthcare products and services is increasing and so, investing more in advertising can help with improved brand awareness. If your healthcare brand is yet to explore the possibilities of advertising, you’re missing out an incredible opportunity to grow your business.