How Healthcare Companies Can Leverage Digital Ad Spend


By Brenna Lofquist, Senior Marketing Consultant / Client Services Operations at Heinz Marketing

The healthcare industry is evolving at a rapid pace, and healthcare marketers are constantly on the lookout for new and innovative ways to reach their target audience. One of the trends from Invoca’s post “9 Healthcare Marketing Trends for 2023 – And How to Capitalize on Them with Call Tracking” says Healthcare digital ad spending will continue to increase in 2023. So how can the Healthcare industry leverage digital ad spend? Let me tell you!

One caveat, this post has nothing to do with call tracking.

And lastly before we dive in, here’s a little more context regarding the trend from Invoca’s post:

“The healthcare industry makes up a significant portion of total US digital ad spend, and it has been steadily climbing over the past three years. In 2022, healthcare digital ad spending increased by 14.3%, reaching $15.84 billion. That figure is projected to increase by12.3% in 2023 to reach $17.79 billion.

In addition, healthcare providers are allocating 57.5% of their total ad spend to mobile devices. This move comes in response to more patients engaging with healthcare providers on mobile devices (more on this later).

As the digital advertising landscape continues to become more competitive — and cost per lead continues to rise — healthcare marketers will face increasing pressure to prove their digital marketing ROI and optimize their spend to acquire more patients at a lower cost.”

In this post, we’ll explore how healthcare marketers can best leverage the increase in ad spend to maximize their ROI and achieve their marketing goals.

Identify your target audience

Before you start spending money on digital ads, it’s essential to identify your target audience. Who are you trying to reach? What are their pain points, interests, and preferences? What channels do they frequent? Understanding your target audience is crucial because it allows you to create tailored messaging and target your ads effectively. If you’re targeting the wrong audience, you’re losing money.

One way to identify your target audience is by creating personas. A persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. It includes demographic information, such as age, gender, and location, as well as psychographic data, such as values, motivations, and pain points. Once you have a clear picture of your target audience, you can develop messaging and choose ad placements that resonate with them.

Use data-driven targeting

Digital advertising offers a wealth of data that can be used to target your audience effectively. For example, you can use data to target people based on their behavior, interests, and intent. Here are some data-driven targeting options to consider:

  • Behavioral targeting: This involves targeting people based on their previous online behavior, such as the websites they’ve visited, the pages they’ve viewed, and the actions they’ve taken.
  • Interest targeting: This involves targeting people based on their interests, such as topics they’ve shown an interest in, pages they’ve liked, or content they’ve engaged with.
  • Intent targeting: This involves targeting people who are actively searching for products or services like yours. For example, you can target people who have searched for specific keywords or visited your website but didn’t convert.

By utilizing data-driven targeting, you can ensure your ads are shown to the right people at the right time, which can increase your conversion rates and ROI.

Leverage personalization

Personalization is another trend that’s gaining traction in digital advertising. Personalized ads are tailored to the individual viewer based on their behavior, interests, and other data points. By creating personalized ads, you can increase engagement and conversions. Here are some ways to create personalized ads:

  • Use the viewer’s name or location
  • Show products or services they’ve shown an interest in
  • Use dynamic ad creative that changes based on the viewer’s behavior (might be limited based on the tools/tech available)
  • Create a sense of urgency or exclusivity, such as promoting a discount or special offer

Choose the right ad formats

There are many ad formats to choose from, including display ads, search ads, social media ads, and video ads. The key is to choose the ad formats that align with your marketing goals and audience preferences. Here are some considerations for choosing the right ad format:

  • If you’re looking to build brand awareness, display ads or social media might be a good choice
  • If you’re looking to drive conversions, search ads might be more effective
  • Video ads can be a powerful story telling tool to showcase a product or service

Healthcare marketers should also consider the preferences of their target audience when choosing ad formats. For example, if their audience is active on social media, social media ads should be the obvious choice.

Measure and optimize your campaigns

Measuring and optimizing your campaigns is crucial to ensure you are getting the most out of your ad spend. The key is to track key performance indicators (KPIs) and make data-driven decisions to optimize your campaigns.

Here are some steps healthcare marketers can take to measure and optimize their campaigns:

  • Define your KPIs
    • This should be done before launching the campaign and be based on your marketing goals
  • Set up tracking
    • There are multiple ways to track whether it’s Google Analytics or another tool. Either way, ensure it’s setup properly and tracking code is applied (when applicable)
  • Monitor your campaigns
    • Keep a close eye on your campaigns to track performance and identify opportunities for improvement
  • Optimize your campaigns
    • Use the insights from the data to improve your campaigns. This is especially important if something is performing poorly
  • Test and experiment
    • This is key to improving performance and let’s be real, you aren’t going to get it right on the first try

To sum it all up

Healthcare marketers can best leverage the increase in ad spend by defining their target audience, using data-driven targeting, leveraging personalization, choosing the right ad formats, and measuring and optimizing their campaigns. By following these best practices, healthcare marketers can maximize their ROI and achieve their marketing goals. Remember that optimization is an ongoing process, so regularly reviewing and refining your campaigns is crucial to continued success.