Q&A: What health care marketers should know about retargeting

Figure out how to make this practice work for your hospital.

Over the years, Google’s algorithm has continued to improve, greatly reducing the need for patients to click through to additional pages. As patients continue to search online for health care solutions, hospitals are starting to learn the importance of first-page visibility.

Many organizations are already using paid search to grab traffic online, but not as many are incorporating retargeting into their strategy. Retargeting is a type of online advertising that allows an organization to connect with a past visitor who did not convert online. With 48 percent of patients devoting two weeks to research before making an appointment, retargeting is critical for a brand to stay in the forefront of a patient’s mind.

How does retargeting work?

A hospital can insert a snippet of code on a landing page to monitor whether a visitor completed a particular action, such as filling out a form. If someone leaves without doing the designated action, he or she will see ads that relate to the service on that page. Retargeting is a smart form of paid search because it targets a group of people that have already shown interest.

How can it benefit hospitals?

Health care organizations can use retargeting to pull potential patients back to the site. For example, someone researching about an elective surgery will probably take several weeks or months to learn about the procedure and available physicians.

A patient may land on your site, explore several pages, and leave without completing an action. Retargeting allows you to capture that person’s attention at a time when he or she may be more ready to contact your organization.

Retargeting restrictions

Is retargeting allowed for health care brands? Does it violate HIPAA regulations? Google’s AdWords Policy contains strict privacy rules to ensure the protection of searchers. By adhering to the guidelines, hospitals can legally and ethically retarget to potential patients online.

The restrictions are simple:

  1. An organization cannot run ad content that implies knowledge of sensitive health or medical information.
  2. An organization may not collect personally identifiable information, such as email addresses, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

How can hospitals retarget to patients?

Health care brands can spend their marketing dollars wisely by following these best practices:

  1. Target quality leads: Identify key pages on your site that will have the retargeting code. This will ensure only visitors to a priority service, like minimally invasive heart surgery, will receive an ad impression.
  2. Focus on conversion goals: Make sure ad messaging asks visitors to do something.
  3. Limit the number of times you retarget visitors: Your brand should stop retargeting to visitors after 30 days – at the most.

Retargeting allows an organization to earn a second chance at converting a visitor. In a world fueled by search, patients are given more choices than they can handle. Hospitals should leverage the power of search to align their marketing campaigns with visitor behavior.


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