Embrace the Chase


Online advertising: early considerations.

By Subha Nagasubramanian, PT

Online marketing and use of social media are quickly becoming the mainstay of health care advertising, especially if your clinic is located in an urban area.

It is clear from my experience that the amount of time and money you spend to acquire one customer through traditional marketing channels is much higher than the cost of acquisition through online advertising. And most likely, the trend toward online marketing will only continue to accelerate.

Using online marketing and social media well requires learning to recognize the right keywords to use, how to use them wisely (keywords cost money and you need to know which keywords you want to spend money on), tracking keyword performance, and calculating the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing spend.

From what I have seen, the most commonly used channels for social media advertising are Yelp, Google Ads, and Facebook ads. We advertise on Google and Facebook only. Yelp was not that effective for us, and we didn’t find it worth our money since it did not yield many patients. That said, success can vary based on your market and your target population. Consider a short trial and see if it works for you.

Google Adwords Express offers a low cost and easy-to-integrate option for dabbling in social media advertising. We initially began with an Adwords Express campaign, then migrated over to Adwords. Adwords Express is designed for people who either are not familiar with or don’t have the time to manage advertising. Once you implement Adwords Express for a few months, you can review the data to see which keywords are performing and which aren’t. Following analysis of the successful words, you can then transition to Adwords, a more robust platform. A marketing firm may be beneficial to manage your Adwords platform since it requires continual monitoring of data and a knowledgeable administrator to implement changes quickly.

Once you have established your Adwords account, you will need to monitor the performance of your keywords using a dashboard similar to the samples shown below. You can use that data to weed out nonperforming keywords and add new ones.

Something else to monitor is your ad spend ROI, meaning how many people look at the ad and then go to the website and call your clinic and book an appointment. To perform this monitoring, complete the following:

  • Link Google Analytics to your ad.
  • Set up verified calling.

There are plenty of tutorials online to assist with setting up these processes. If you elect to use verified calling, Google will display a different phone number on your ad. Your Adword dashboard will look like the following. The first image shows how many people went to your website and eventually clicked on the Contact us page. The second shows how many called your clinic. Facebook is a different ball game. Unlike Adwords, Facebook allows you to specify a precise target demographic. For example, you can target people within a radius of 20 miles from your office who are between the ages of 20 and 45 who like running. As a result, Facebook can yield more quality leads than Google since you can specify the target demographic and the ad can be more descriptive, containing images or videos. This allows you to convey your message more clearly. The goal is that you are narrowing down your target reach to those who are looking for services you provide. Facebook’s Ad dashboard looks very similar to Google Adwords’ and will give you the same metrics about your ad performance.

Given that the health care industry is moving toward mostly online marketing, advertising via Google, Facebook, or Yelp will assist in attracting new patients. Online marketing can be the perfect medium to generate discussion as we can reach and educate large groups of people, ensuring a long-term, sustainable progression of our profession.

Subha Nagasubramanian

Subha Nagasubramanian, PT, is a PPS member and owner of Capitol Physical Therapy LLC based in Washington, DC. She can be reached at subha@capitol.pt.

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