August 8th, 2018

A Beginner’s Guide to PPC for Clinical Trials

Beginner PPC Guide

Ready to boost clinical trial enrollment through paid search advertising? Follow these six simple steps to implement an effective pay-per-click campaign.

Paid search marketing is an opportunity for clinical trials to connect with an active and engaged audience. Using tools like Google Ads, CROs and sponsors can drive traffic and conversions by creating ads that show up on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). These ads target potential patients who are already looking for treatment, and are therefore more likely to enroll in a relevant trial.

Paid search operates on a pay-per-click (PPC) model, meaning that you don’t pay anything until someone clicks on your ad. When used correctly, paid search can be an efficient way to boost trial recruitment.

Whether your trial is just beginning to use digital marketing or simply looking to revamp your methods, here are six simple steps to help you build ads and optimize your PPC strategy.

1. Choose location settings

When setting up your ads, you can choose specific cities and zip codes to target. CROs and sponsors should consider building regional ad campaigns to recruit patients who live near an investigator site or cluster of sites. This helps trials save money by focusing only on users who can actually enroll, as opposed to those who are interested but unable to participate due to their location.

2. Select keywords

It’s important to make sure that the keywords you choose apply to each step of a patient’s journey toward enrollment. Google’s free Keyword Planner allows you to view which terms people are using to search for relevant information. It shows you a range of potential keywords, how much competition exists for each, and an estimated cost-per-click. By examining these options, you can choose the keywords that best relate to your trial and are most likely to boost your ROI.

3. Choose the Right Match Types

Keyword match types help determine which searches will actually trigger your ads. There are several different match types to choose from, including:

  • Exact match: This ensures that your ads are only shown to someone searching for an exact term, such as “Alzheimer’s treatment.” Exact match does account for plurals and spelling mistakes, however, so your ads would show for the query “Alzheimers treatments” as well.
  • Phrase match: With a phrase match, your ad is triggered if a user searches for a particular phrase, including words that appear before or after. For example, your ad would appear for both “Alzheimer’s treatment drug therapy” and “free Alzheimer’s treatment.”
  • Broad match: A broad match shows your ads when users search for a phrase in any order, such as “New York Alzheimer’s treatment” or “New York treatment for Alzheimer’s.” A broad match includes synonyms, while a modified broad match does not.
  • Negative keywords: These keywords can be added to your campaigns to prevent your ads from appearing in searches that are not relevant to your trial. For example, a trial for Alzheimer’s medication might exclude searches including names of other countries, or words like “movies” that don’t indicate an interest in treatment.

Many marketers choose broad match keywords because they are the default, but you can often reduce expenses by focusing on a more targeted approach. Negative keywords in particular can help you avoid spending money on ads that don’t lead to conversions.

4. Create ads

Text ads generally include three key components: headline 1 (30 characters), headline 2 (30 characters), and description (80 characters). In these limited characters, you’ll want to include copy that’s relevant to your keywords as well as clear calls to action (CTAs).

It’s important to create separate ads for each set of keywords to appeal to the user’s intent. Customized content helps keep potential patients engaged and moving forward in the funnel by addressing their specific needs.

5. Set bids

When developing your ads, you can set a “bid” for how much you want to pay per click. Keep in mind that each of your keywords can have a different bid. Google Ads provides a guide for how much you should pay, but ultimately you set the price yourself. However, a lower bid may mean that your ads are shown less frequently or toward the bottom of the search results page.

Each time someone searches for one of your keywords, your ads are entered into an auction with competitors. The two factors that make up your “ad rank” are your quality score – based on click through rates (CTRs), ad relevance, and user experience – and bid. The ad with the highest ranking will appear as the first search result.

As you review your campaigns, you can increase your bids for keywords that are performing well and lower your bids on less effective keywords. You can also pause keyword campaigns that are not generating results.

6. Include Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are a way for you to feature helpful information like links and contact details alongside your ads. They include callouts, location information, phone numbers, and seller ratings (reviews). Ad extensions make it easier for potential patients to find the specific details they’re looking for, and can even help improve your Google quality score.

7. Launch Your Ads

Once you’ve outlined the marketing goals of your trial and built out your ads, it’s time to go live. Your ads should start showing within a few hours, and the insights will then become available to you. If your ads are not delivering conversions or you’re looking to pivot your current strategy, you can pause a campaign at any time.

Paid search can help clinical trials reach new audiences as they search for relevant treatment options. When well-executed, PPC can greatly increase web traffic and boost study enrollment. If your trial is new to paid search marketing or looking for ways to increase your ROI, you may want to consult a digital marketing vendor to maximize results.