The Fundamental PPC Guide for Health and Wellness Marketers

By Stephanie White and Kelsey Hadaller

The global wellness economy is a lucrative industry, valued at over $4.2 trillion, and as a result it’s a highly competitive area of the Google Ad’s auction. 

In this guide, we will discuss how health and wellness marketers can win at PPC and achieve maximum return on their investment. Here are the topics we’ll cover:

  1. Account Structure
  2. Text Ad Customizers
  3. Geo-Targeting
  4. Negative Keywords
  5. Dynamic Search Ads (DSA)
  6. Smart Display
  7. Remarketing
  8. Ad Extensions
  9. Gmail Sponsored Promotions
  10. Competitor Campaigns

1. Account Structure

As health and fitness-related keywords are often expensive, it’s vital you have an efficient account structure to avoid wasted budget.

When setting up your account, you’ll first want to create different campaigns split by network (search, remarketing, display etc). Each campaign will perform differently with different goals; search campaigns primarily drive conversions like leads or transactions, remarketing serves to remind past visitors to return to your site and convert, and display activity is typically for driving brand awareness. 

You’ll also want to consider the structure of your website when setting up your campaigns. 

For example, when we look at Dick’s Sporting Goods’ website, it might make sense to separate our apparel campaign by demographics; men’s, women’s, boys’ and girls’ apparel.

When creating our ad groups we would want to formulate tightly themed groups with no more than ten to twenty keywords and focus on sub-categories. For example, our ad groups for men’s apparel may look like men’s shirts, men’s shorts, men’s hoodies, etc. With this type of setup, we can also ensure our ad copy is closely aligned to our keyword theme and lands on the most relevant page on the website.

Focusing on user experience and relevance can help improve your quality score, reduce your costs, and improve your return on investment.

2. Text Ad Customizers

Ad customizers can be used to dynamically update text ads with tailored messaging based on what the user is searching for, location, device, date, and time of day. Below are ideas for ad customizers.

  • Stock availability, for example, for example, the number of open spots left for a yoga retreat.
  • Event countdown, for example, the number of days, hours, and minutes left until users can sign up for a fitness conference.
  • Promotion countdown, for example, number of days, hours and minutes left until the end of a Black Friday sale for 25% off fitness trackers.
  • Price, for example, the starting price for certain competitively priced products

One of the most straight-forward ways to use ad customizers is the COUNTDOWN function. The text ad below uses this function to create a sense of urgency and encourage the user to convert.

To set up Countdown Ads, use the parameters as shown below to populate ads dynamically. Advertisers can specify a date and time for the event or promotion to end. In the example below, the Planet Fitness promotion ends at midnight on January 31, 2017, is set in English, and will begin showing ads 5 days before the end date.

Desktop Preview:

Mobile Preview:

3. Geo-Targeting

Geo-targeting allows you to implement efficiencies into your account by shifting budget from worst performing locations to the best performing locations. With the rise of mobile devices, marketers are even able to target users who are in or around their location at the moment they are searching.

Within the health and wellness vertical, there’s several factors that might influence our geo-targeting strategies. 

Let’s say you’re running PPC activity for a yoga retreat and want to reach potential attendees. With geo-targeting, you can target your advertising within the radius where most attendees will travel from. That way, you’re not investing marketing dollars on people who are not very likely to visit your retreat.

You may want to use the advanced location options and set your target to people located within your targeted location. This ensures that the searcher is physically within the geography or radius your campaign is targeting.

4. Negative Keywords

Most paid search marketers understand the importance of negative keywords, and there’s an abundance of opportunities for negatives in the health and wellness industry. With this comes the potential to save valuable marketing dollars which can be reinvested elsewhere.

For example, it’s worth recognizing that a lot of search queries related to health and wellness are a result of users investigating their own health issues. You might want to consider adding negatives including words and phrases as “definition”, “symptoms” or “what is”.

The best way for you to find out which negative keywords will make a difference for your business is to delve into your search query report. Sort your search queries by spend to see where most of your investment is going and work your way down from there. Once you negative the irrelevant searches that you’re spending the most money on, you’ll start to see improvements within your campaign. Revisit the report regularly to make sure you keep on top of any new search queries as they occur.

5. Dynamic Search Ads (DSA)

When it comes to healthcare, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact language that people use to describe their ailments. Dynamic Search Ads help you fill in the gaps in your keyword coverage and learn more about the language used by your customers. 

A DSA has a dynamically generated headline and landing page URL, created from the user’s search query, and uses Google’s organic web crawling technology to target relevant search queries based on the content on your website. If you have a content-heavy website, you will likely see better results as you’ll cast a wider net. 

It will probably come as no surprise that there are Google Ads restrictions for healthcare advertisers – so watch out!

The main benefits of using DSA ads:

  • You save a ton of time building the initial keyword list and the headline ad copy, which is pulled from your website. Additionally, if you are in a healthcare vertical that is constantly changing regulations or research, your site’s new content will automatically be indexed and applied to these campaigns..
  • Your headlines will be highly relevant to the user as it includes their exact query. 
  • The headline is given more character space to accommodate longer search queries, giving the ad even higher visibility and relevancy for users. This should translate to higher CTR and conversion rates.

Components of a successful DSA campaign:

  • Content-rich websites and pages that are easy for Google to crawl and index. If you want to target a segment of your services, try to include as many pages as possible to broaden your parameters.
  • Use bid adjustments to control when and where your ads are shown.

Apply account level negatives to your DSA campaign and invest the time in constant Search Query reviews to mine for new negatives.

6. Smart Display

Investment into upper-funnel activities like Display advertising, drives brand awareness and fills your conversion pipeline. Using the power of Google’s machine learning capabilities, Smart Display is an efficient and cost-effective way to reach new potential customers.

A Smart Display campaign is a series of responsive ads, generated from a list of headlines, images, and descriptions. These resultant ads are automatically optimized in the three following ways:

  • The ads are configured to the size needed for the placement and are served via the Google Display network, roughly 3 million apps and websites. The ad content is also considered for the components, like headline, image, and description, that will most likely convert.
  • Bidding is determined by Target CPA and Google places a bid instantly that is weighted based on the likelihood of conversion in each auction.
  • Placements are based on historical performance, content of the landing page or app, and the probability of conversion.

With so many targeting and ad formatting options on the Google Display Network, it’s crucial to develop a display strategy tailored to your business’s goals. Below are the recommended strategies for traditional display campaigns.

7. Remarketing

Remarketing activity is a highly effective way to capitalize on users that have previously engaged with your brand.

Keep in mind that Google Ads restricts which industries are eligible to use Remarketing. Rehabilitation centers, for example, can use regular Display campaign targeting, but are not permitted to target Remarketing Audiences in any way.

In the health and wellness industry, many products and services require subscriptions and can use remarketing to ensure members remain subscribed. 

For example, we’ll walk you through how a gym could create an Audience Lists to target expiring subscribers:

  1. Use a customer email list to retarget people who have signed up for a 7-day free trial membership. You also have the ability to exclude paid membership users from this list. This list can be used for Gmail Sponsored Promotions campaigns and Remarketing Lists for Search Ads campaigns to generate paid membership subscriptions.
  1. Show Display ads to users who have an upcoming membership renewal date. Google Ads allows audiences to be created based on the date they visited a sign-up page. For example, the below audience will include any converters from before November 1st. 
  1. The most simple way to use remarketing is to target all website visitors who have not completed any conversion actions. The below audience can be used for both Display and Search campaigns. By promoting a limited-time deal, the gym could convey a sense of urgency and drive more conversions.

8. Ad Extensions

Call Extensions

Call extensions encourage searchers to convert before they leave the search engine results page. Yes, you’ll still need to pay for the click on the call extension, but if calls are considered a type of high-quality conversion, this could be the easiest way to increase conversion volume at a low cost. This is especially true for mobile. In the below example, the user searched “chiropractors near me”. The first result, Rock Creek Spine, is using a call extension so users can directly call the facility without navigating the website.

To gain as much insight as possible on calls and their quality, advertisers should use call tracking software. Google also provides the below metrics for call extension calls using call forwarding numbers.

Location extensions

If you are advertising for a brick and mortar location, use location extensions to inform potential customers. In the below example, the user is searching for urgent care. Once a user clicks on the displayed address, they’ll be redirected to Google Maps.

Sitelink Extensions

Sitelinks give advertisers a one up on their competitors by improving CTR and Quality Score and appealing directly to different user’s journeys. Consider using the below types of sitelinks:

  • Find a Location
  • Contact Us
  • Accepted Insurance
  • Schedule An Appointment
  • Find A Plan
  • Financing Options

Callout Extensions

While the change to Expanded Text Ads has increased the character limits for headlines and description lines, not all benefits can fit into one text ad. Use callout extensions to point out unique value propositions. Try the following to lift CTR and boost Quality Score:

  • Business hours
  • Free trials
  • Amenities
  • Special offers

Structured Snippet Extensions

Snippets are used to showcase specific features of a product or service. In the below image the snippet category is “types” and it lists the different types of services available. There are thirteen categories to choose from and the policy specifications for each can be found on Google’s help site. While they may seem the same as callout extensions, callouts are used for value propositions such as free shipping or extended hours and snippets are used to provide additional information about core business services.

9. Gmail Sponsored Promotions

There’s different ways advertisers can use Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSP).

When using display keyword or topic targeting for GSP campaigns, the objective is to build brand awareness. advertisers can target Gmail users based on terms in their inbox. For example, HelloFresh is a meal delivery service and their competitors include brands like Blue Apron, Sun Basket, and Plated. To target relevant users likely to convert, HelloFresh could use competitor keywords.

If the goal is to generate leads or purchases from GSP campaigns, use Customer Match. Another option for GSP targeting is remarketing through audience lists or Customer Match. To use Customer Match, advertisers upload a list of emails from customer leads to Google Ads.

An example of a GSP collapsed ad:

After clicking on the collapsed ad, the expanded ad is then shown. Users have the option to click the CTA button and go to the landing page, save the email for later, or delete it.

10. Competitor Campaigns

The below table shows conversion data by campaign category for one of a healthcare account. Conversions from competitor campaigns make up nearly 33% of the account’s overall conversion volume. Take the following steps to develop a strong competitor targeting strategy for your own healthcare account.

Step 1: Know Your Competitors

As advertisers, it’s important to not only have a list of top competitors but to also understand your brand’s unique strengths. We recommend creating a list of all direct competitors with notes on similarities, differences, and what makes your brand stand out.

Use some or all of the below tools to expand your competitor list.

Step 2: Structure Your Campaigns

Depending on the number of competitors you are targeting, create a series of campaigns using variations of competitor brand terms. If you have a top priority competitor, break this competitor into its own campaign to better control spend.

Step 3: Write Unique Ad Copy

When deciding on the ad copy your competitor campaigns, avoid using the same ads as your branded campaign. Using your list from earlier, see what sets your brand apart from each competitor and call out the benefits in your ads. Use the Google Ads Preview Tool to see how your ads compare to your competitors.

Step 4: Optimize

Consider the search intent behind competitor queries when setting bids, budgets, and KPIs for competitor campaigns. Conversions on competitor keywords are often big wins since these users are often close to purchase.

To conclude…

The above tips can each be tailored to lift performance for paid search accounts in the health and wellness industry. The importance of properly segmenting campaigns, ad groups, and audience lists should not be overlooked since the tailored targeting and ad formats mentioned work best when advertisers have increased control. Implement some (if not all) of these techniques in your paid search accounts and surpass the competition!