As the owner of a marketing company that does PPC (pay-per-click) marketing on behalf of treatment centers, I’m always having conversations with center owners about whether or not PPC makes sense for them as part of a diversified marketing strategy.
And I hear two very different stories…
One group tells me: “PPC hasn’t worked for us,” and recount horror stories of dumping five figures of ad budget into Google’s coffers with either no results or ambiguous results.
The other group is receiving treatment clients consistently, profitably, and ethically via PPC.
So what’s the difference? We’ve done audits of many-a-PPC-campaign, and found something surprising: both the successful and unsuccessful centers are decent at getting clicks to their websites (though the successful group generally get them at a higher rate).
The biggest difference? The successful centers were far better at converting those clicks into calls.
If you’ve run a call center, you probably know there is opportunity for unqualified callers to contact your facility. These are people who may be:
When unqualified people call, it can be discouraging for the caller who is reaching a dead end. It’s also disheartening for your call handlers who want to connect individuals with life-saving services. It’s a lose-lose situation.
It’s no different when people arrive on your website: if your ads are attracting clicks from people who aren’t a good fit for your services, a great many aren’t going to pick up the phone.
But here’s the rub: you still have to pay for those clicks.
And paying for unqualified clicks is one of the easiest ways to waste money and ensure that your PPC campaigns are unsuccessful. So, what are the treatment centers running successful PPC campaigns doing differently? They’re starting with a deep understanding of whom they’re trying to reach, and continually testing and refining to reach a greater percentage of qualified people.
More details on exactly how later, but first, the questions we ask all our new clients to determine what defines a qualified caller with true admission potential:
The second crucial difference between successful and unsuccessful web campaigns? The successful centers know where their callers are coming from through the use of call tracking software.
When we run PPC campaigns for treatment centers who have never utilized call tracking, we start with a “best educated guess” campaign using a mix of targeting based on what’s worked in the past.
What we often find is that a small number of our campaigns — 20% or fewer — are responsible for the majority of the best calls — 80% or more.
At the beginning of a campaign, call tracking helps to confirm what’s generating calls and what’s not. Then later on, what’s generating good calls and what’s not. Then, finally, what’s generating calls that convert into admits and what’s not.
To see how that might play out in terms of budget effectiveness, imagine two treatment centers, both of whom are spending $10,000 per month on Adwords:
Treatment center one is using the “spray and pray” approach; meaning that they are not using call tracking at all and they are not properly accounting for which campaigns produced the best calls. They will continue to spend $10,000 per-month, but the majority of their budget will be wasted without any notion of which dollars are going to waste.
Treatment center two is using call tracking and knows exactly which 20% of their campaigns are generating the bulk of their best, qualified calls. They are able to shift their $10,000 toward “winners” and maximize their ad spend.
This “re-optimization” is one big reason the successful centers often see their conversions rise, and their cost-per-admit continue to drop, even after six months or more of running campaigns.
The centers enjoying success with their PPC campaigns are employing a key strategy the unsuccessful ones generally aren’t. It’s called “full-stack relevance”, and a big component is SKAGS (Single Keyword Ad Groups). SKAGs ensure the keyword you pay for directs to a specific, relevant ad versus paying for a bulk of keywords to all direct to one generic ad.
To understand the difference between a browser’s experience with a SKAGs and without, imagine you enter a Google search query: “Best medical detox in Orange County.”
You see two results at the top of the results page:
All things being equal, you’re probably more likely to click the first ad because it contains “detox” in the headline. Without even clicking, you know that center offers exactly what you need.
A study of the top 1% of Adwords campaigns found that the vast majority of top-performers used SKAGs, and were earning 6 times the average click through rate of their competitors.
Clearly SKAGs are worth the investment. So how can treatment centers employ them? Let’s explore how to put them to use. In the example below, the advertiser is using SKAGs so that each keyword has its own ad group.
By contrast in the example below, an advertiser not using SKAGs will run many different keywords to the same generic ad.
You might be thinking: “Won’t Single Keywords Ad Groups require tons of different ads?”
Not necessarily. Remember the exercise from items 1 and 2? By being extremely specific about who your client is, and knowing exactly whom your ads are reaching, you can focus exclusively on the 20% of the ad groups driving 80% of the results.
So, the most successful campaigns use SKAGs… but they’re also doing something else. Once you’ve clicked on that highly relevant ad for “best medical detox Orange county,” which web page is more likely to convince you to pick up the phone?
You likely answered option A. To accomplish the first option, the most successful web campaigns use either:
A) Dynamic number insertion — essentially “smart” headlines that know where you just came from and change up the text accordingly.
B) Dedicated landing pages which can be specific to the search term and have the potential to convert clicks into calls at up to 3 times the rate of general homepages.
I caution every treatment center we speak to: PPC isn’t for everybody. Addiction treatment is a competitive industry. Be prepared to pay up to $250 or $300 for a call, especially when you’re first starting out.
It also takes time to “dial in” a campaign. We tell our clients not to expect to be profitable for up to three months. The worst time to quit PPC campaign is after you’ve invested time and money, but before you’ve seen results.
But here’s the flip side: centers who can afford to play in the space, and who have the patience and discipline to follow the guidelines above, can achieve a stable cost-per-admit for a positive return on investment.