Thomas Vecchio

Thomas is a PPC Specialist at Sagapixel, where he works with clients across industries to run Google Ads and paid social campaigns to drive growth.

The Playbook for Google Ads for Dermatologists

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By now, you’ve probably seen or heard that other dermatology practices are using PPC and other digital marketing strategies to bring in more patients. Chances are, most of your potential patients will look you up online before contacting you, so it’s vital that you put your best digital foot forward.

In 2022, the dermatology industry has surpassed its pre-covid high and is projected to continue to grow in the US. The search volume for non-surgical skin procedures like Morpheus8 is up nearly 50% from last year.

Want to learn more? For more information about PPC for dermatologists, or if you’d like to discuss PPC advertising for your dermatology practice, click here.

What is “Dermatology PPC?”

Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC) is a digital marketing channel that allows you to advertise your business or services in search engine results. The concept is simple; you only pay for advertisements people click on.

How PPC for Dermatology Works

PPC as a marketing tactic comes in many shapes and sizes, including Google Ads, Microsoft Ads, and Facebook Ads, to name a few. We recommend starting with Google Ads since that’s where a majority of your potential customers can be captured performing searches like “dermatologist near me” or “Morpheus8 +city.”

Getting started with a Google Ads account only requires a credit card for your payment profile, then all you’ll need to do is create your campaigns. After you get set up with your account in Google Ads, there are a few things you’ll want to know before running your first campaign.

Below, we’ll cover the key points you need to know before starting your dermatology PPC campaign.

The Google Ads Bidding Process

Contrary to what you may have heard, being willing to pay the most for a click will not get you to the top of the page. Google Ads operates in an auction, and in that auction, Google looks at three main factors, including:

  1. Your Bid – the maximum you’re willing to pay for a click on your ad.
  2. Quality Score – Google calculates a quality score for your ads, which has three components: Landing Page Experience, Expected Clickthrough Rate, and Ad Relevance. Ultimately, quality score boils down to how relevant and useful Google Ads thinks your ad will be to the person doing the search. We’ll cover this in more detail in a future section.
  3. The Expected Impact of Your Use of Ad Extensions – We’ll cover it more later, but ad extensions can go a long way in improving the performance of your ad. According to a support post from Google, if your ad extensions have a significant impact on your performance, there’s a chance you can beat out a competitor, even if they have a higher bid.

How Google Determines Ad Rank (And Why You Should Care About Quality Score)

As we just covered, there’s a lot that Google considers before showing your ad to the searcher. Your position, or Ad Rank, is reliant upon the following metrics:

  • Competitiveness of your keyword
  • Your bid
  • Context of the search
  • And Quality Score

What is quality score? Quality score is broken down into three main metrics:

  1. Landing Page Experience – How relevant your landing page is to the keyword that triggered your ad and how helpful Google thinks your content is for the searcher.
  2. Ad Relevance – measures how closely your keyword matches the message in your ads. (that’s why it’s important to shoot for excellent ad strength! Make sure your landing page content is relevant to the search term. Make sure your page is easy to navigate (and mobile-friendly!
  3. Expected Click-through Rate – measures how closely your keyword matches the message in your ads.

Ultimately, do what you can to increase your quality score to as high as possible. Google claims that higher quality scores can sometimes lead to a lower cost per click and better ad positioning.

How Much Does PPC for Dermatologists Cost?

From our experience, PPC for dermatology practices depends entirely on geographic location. For example, the cost per acquisition in New York City will likely be higher than that of Omaha or Spokane.

Common Issues Inherent to Dermatology PPC

Creating dermatology PPC ads is loaded with potential pitfalls and landmines. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Under Google Ads’ healthcare and medicines policies, sometimes you’ll find your ads have been disapproved for violating the “restricted drug term” policy. That said, it is still possible to run ads for Botox and other cosmetic fillers to a limited audience.  At the outset, your ads may be disapproved, so you’ll need to spend some time with Google Ad’s support to clear up that you aren’t an online pharmacy selling physical units of Botox online.
  2. If you’re not interested in running ads for Botox and other cosmetic fillers, it’s in your best interest to create landing pages. Even having Botox mentioned on your site can limit your other non-botox campaigns from performing at their highest level.

Landing pages can be easily made on a subdomain of your site, and the pages can be tailored toward the specific service and getting in touch with your practice. Later on in the article, we’ll cover specific ways to improve the conversion rate of your landing pages.

The 6 Types of PPC Ads

Traditional Paid Search

Search ads, also known as responsive search ads, offer the most control and customization.

Smart Campaigns

Smart campaigns are one of Google Ads’ AI-run campaign types. In some instances, we’ve seen a dramatic decrease in our dermatology clients’ cost per lead using these, but it isn’t guaranteed. That said, this is reliant upon where the ad shows. In our experience, we’ve found the best results when the ad primarily shows on Google search; these ads can show on Search, YouTube, Maps, Gmail, and the display Network.

In the image below, you can see where your spend is distributed amongst the available options. We typically see a 70/30 or 50/50 split between Google search and Google display. In this case, one of our Morpheus8/Microneedling ads also shows on YouTube.

microneedling Smart Campaign

We’ve seen mixed results with these campaigns, so we recommend split testing this campaign type against a responsive search ad.

Performance Max

In November 2021, the Performance Max campaign was rolled out to advertisers and offered the ability to run one campaign across all of Google’s advertising networks. After you set up your campaign, it has the ability to run on Google Search, Display, Maps, Discovery, Gmail, and YouTube.

Since these campaigns forfeit a lot of control over to Google’s AI, we’ve seen mixed results from these campaigns in regards to the cost per lead. That said, it is still worth testing it to see if it can work for you.

YouTube Ads

YouTube Ads are usually a great way to retarget people that have visited your site, but it’s important to know that retargeting for healthcare-related services is prohibited.

It isn’t possible for a dermatologist to retarget visitors on YouTube.

Nevertheless, it can still work for targeting YouTube visitors that Google had identified as being interested in beauty, etc., or that have been visiting websites belonging to dermatologists.

Display Ads and the Google Display Network

Display ads can be another great way to boost brand awareness and capture cold traffic. The Google Display Network can sometimes drive up your cost since the leads are few and far between.

Paid Social

While you may already have a social media presence for your dermatology practice, few practices actually use those same social media sites for advertising. Using sites like Instagram, Facebook, and even TikTok can lead to finding new audiences and potential customers. The same rules apply (for the most part) when it comes to targeting a specific age range or geographic area, allowing you to reach new people near you and maybe in the market for your services.

Which PPC Campaign Types Should You Use for Your Dermatology Practice?

With Google Ads, the only way to know which PPC campaign type to use would be to test them. When we first start with an account, we’ll usually run a split test between a standard search campaign and a smart campaign to see which delivers the best cost per lead consistently. Depending on where you are in the country is also a big factor in performance & how much you’ll spend; results in New York will almost certainly be different than results from Boston.

How You Should Optimize Your PPC Campaigns for Dermatology Practice.

Ready to optimize your dermatology PPC campaigns for success? The hardest part is knowing where to start, so below are our recommendations on simple optimizations that go the extra mile in boosting your performance.

If you’d like to sit down with our PPC team to discuss what PPC advertising for your dermatology practice could entail, click here. 

Structure Your Campaigns and Ad Groups Around Keywords

When creating your campaigns, be sure to create separate ad groups based on one of the services you offer.

For example, one ad group could be for Morpheus8, and another could be microneedling.

Create An Ad Schedule To Keep Tabs On Your Ads

Setting an ad schedule is the easiest way to save money and optimize your ads. If you don’t set an ad schedule, by default, your ads will run 24/7. People are likely not searching for your practice at 3 am, so why run ads then?

We also recommend setting your ad schedule into 3-hour blocks; that way, you’ll be able to glean where your leads convert the most. It’ll also allow you to increase your bid during those times, giving you potentially a greater chance to reach more leads during that time.

Below is how we recommend setting your ad schedule.

Google Ads schedule

After you’ve gotten conversions, you can filter your ad schedule by conversions. In one of our accounts, we can clearly see that Mondays from 12 pm to 3 pm convert well, so we now have the data and option to increase our bid during that time.

bid adjustments per ad schedule

Use Negative Keywords to Minimize Irrelevant Clicks

If you’re not doing it already, check your search terms reports at least twice a month. Recently, if you’re using phrase match keywords, you’ll find that your ads are showing for more searches than they would’ve in the past. Due to this, we’ve seen an increasing amount of irrelevant searches and clicks to our ads, and the only way to curb this is by adding negative keywords.

Dermatology PPC campaigns will experience a large number of informational searches, especially those related to downtime, before and afters, pictures, and general questions about the procedures themselves. We’ve also found many people will do searches around celebrities and the various procedures they undergo.

By working with various dermatology practices, we’ve compiled a list of negative keywords we apply to all new accounts to ensure we can mitigate as many of the informational searches as possible.

Use Audiences to See Who is Most Likely to Convert

Audiences are often overlooked when creating campaigns but can offer valuable insights into what kind of person is converting. There are two options when adding audiences to your account: targeting and observation; we recommend using the latter.

Google Ads’ audiences are broken down into three sections:

  1. Detailed Demographics – This is who they are, their education status, employment status, and more.
  2. In-Market Segments – Those “in the market” to make a purchase.
  3. Affinity Segments – Affinity segments are based on people’s interests, like health, beauty, media, etc.

Which audiences should you target? Here are the audiences we add to all of our dermatology PPC campaigns:

  1. Luxury Shoppers – Affinity Segment
  2. Beauty Mavens – Affinity Segment
  3. Beauty & Wellness – Affinity Segment
  4. Beauty & Personal Care – In-Market Segment

A Well-Designed Landing Page Is Essential.

As we’ll cover later in this section, you’ll find that most of the traffic your dermatology PPC ad receives will come from mobile. That said, you must prioritize your landing page’s mobile experience. Make sure it’s easy for people to get in touch with you; use a call button that follows them on the page and a contact form that’s toward the top of the page. Giving people easier access to contact you is one of the easiest ways to improve your conversion rate.

Use as Many Extensions as Possible

Ad extensions are a great way to show additional information on your ad. We recommend using as many as possible; they only take a few minutes to set up.

  1. Call Extensions – This puts an easy-to-click phone number on your ad on mobile.
  2. Sitelink Extensions – Sitelinks are designed to offer quick links to other parts of your website a potential lead may want to access, like your testimonials, contact page, services, or about page.
  3. Callout Extensions – These allow you to highlight additional features of your practice, like “100+ Reviews” or “free consultations.”
  4. Location Extensions – This allows you to display your address in your ad.
  5. Image Extensions -This type of extension is currently being rolled out to accounts, so if you have access to it, use it. Image extensions are built into smart campaigns, so be sure to add images there too!

Maximize All Aspects of Your Responsive Search Ads

We mentioned earlier that ad strength is a key factor in getting your ad to show. You’ll want to shoot for an excellent ad score when creating your ads. It may take some trial and error, but writing good ad copy takes time. We recommend filling out every field to give Google Ads as much to work with when it comes time to deliver an ad to the right person at the right time.

To achieve an excellent ad score, your ad will need to satisfy three important criteria:

  1. Your ad copy (and descriptions) need to satisfy the keywords you’ve selected.
  2. Ad copy needs to be unique and tailored to the end user. Ultimately, think about what would get you to click on your ad. Highlight your reviews, or show what makes you different from the competition.
  3. You may not get it on the first try. In some cases, even if you satisfy all of Google’s criteria, there’s a chance the ad may only be “good” and not “excellent.” Keep trying, and eventually, you’ll find out what works and what doesn’t.

ad strength

Don’t Target Every Device

In our experience, most people that will interact with your dermatology PPC campaign will be on mobile devices. In most cases, mobile traffic will make up anywhere from 80%-90% of all your ad’s traffic, so having a mobile-friendly user experience and landing page is a must.

Set Your Geo-Targeting

Generally, people will only drive so far for your services, so it makes the most sense to be as precise with your targeting as possible. While this is an important step for any campaign, dermatology PPC campaigns can benefit from the insights targeting like this can offer.

When setting your geotargeting, these are our top two recommendations:

  1. Break up your targeting by zip code, county, town, or by city to gather as much information on where your campaign produces and where it does not. The insights you’ll gather from your targeting will only be as good as the targeting inputs you give your campaign.
  2. If you only want potential clients from the area, you’re targeting, set your targeting option to “presence.” This is a commonly overlooked option, which can be found under the campaign settings tab, under location. This will ensure that your ad will only be shown to users within your geotargeting.

At Sagapixel, We Specialize in PPC For Dermatology

Our PPC team at Sagapixel specializes in PPC for Dermatology. We take the time to learn about your practice and develop a strategy that’s tailored to you. We’ve worked with practices of various sizes over the years, so our goal is to take our industry experience and drive quality leads for our clients.

If you’d like to sit down with our PPC team to discuss what PPC advertising for your dermatology practice could entail, click here.