Winning SEM strategies for Healthcare and Insurance Industries

Winning SEM in today’s health care and insurance marketplace

The health care and health insurance industries in the U.S. continue to grow faster than the overall economy. This growth has led many health care and health insurance marketing executives to wonder, “How can we possibly cut through all this competition?” 

Health care expenditures increased by 93% between 2004 to 2018, which far outpaced the 41% rise in overall spending for the same time period, according to a November 2020 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Additionally, the number of health care jobs in the country is expected to rise 16% this decade – a larger projected increase than any other occupation with an estimated 2.6 million new jobs on the horizon. That adds a daunting amount of competitor voices to the mix.  

Health insurance companies are in a similar position. Globally, the health insurance market is projected to grow from a valuation of $1.98 trillion in 2020 to $4.15 trillion in 2028 – a growth rate of 9.7% annually – according to a 2021 report by Allied Market Research. 

While there are a number of strategic marketing tactics that are key to success in bringing your business front and center, among the most important is search engine marketing (SEM). SEM, also called paid advertising by platforms like Google Ads, allows you to ensure your company appears on search engine results pages (SERPs) using search ads based on highly targeted keywords.

SEM helps you reach the right people based on: 

  • Location 
  • Demographics, like age and gender 
  • The days and times during which they’re most active online 
  • Household income 
  • Interests 
  • User behavior (for example, if they’ve visited a competitor’s site) 
  • The type of device they’re using 

When done right, SEM can lead to immediate results, whether that means an increase in subscribers or more patients through your doors. However, the factors that should be targeted are highly dependent on your industry and company.  

Here, we’ll look at a few SEM strategies that can help your health care or insurance company boost its digital marketing efforts. 

How to win SEM: consumer health care 

For B2C, or direct to patient, health care companies, the goal of SEM is to convert Google searches into appointments. Considering nearly 90% of patients Google their health symptoms before going to a doctor, consumer companies are inherently poised to reap the benefits of SEM.  

Keyword strategy: target a patient’s intent 

When piecing together a keyword strategy for consumer health care, it’s not enough to simply focus on one- to two-word keywords like “joint pain” or “maternity care.” Instead, focus on long-tail keywords that capture both your service offering and the patient’s intent.  

For example, instead of using “concussion” as a keyword, you could opt for something like “concussion management for athletes.” Long-tail keywords can also be used to capitalize on your location, such as “doulas in Nashville” or “couples’ therapists near me” when targeting by location. 

If you have a provider directory on your website, using doctors’ names as keywords is also an important way to stand out from competitors. Other companies may use your doctors’ names as keywords in an attempt to reroute traffic to their own providers for the same service line. By using names as keywords, you can help ensure your company shows up when someone searches for one of your providers. 

Audience targeting: create patient personas 

SEM makes it easy for health care companies to target the right types of patients. For example, to effectively market cochlear implants for hearing loss, you’ll likely want to target people between the ages of 60 and 69, where hearing loss is most prevalent. You may also want to emphasize by gender since males are twice as likely to develop hearing problems. 

The factors used to target should largely be based on in-depth consumer research. Map out patient personas for each of the services you plan to market to narrow down who typically needs the service and why. 

Ad extensions: increase click-through rates (CTRs) 

Ad extensions allow you to add additional information (and visibility) to your search ads. Sitelink ads are especially popular for health care systems, as they allow you to add multiple sub-links under your ad that may be useful to patients.  

For example, if you are advertising a cancer center, you might add sitelink extensions like: 

  • Cancer treatment 
  • Clinical trials 
  • Our staff 
  • Locations & parking 
  • Cancer resources 

Google call and location extensions allow you to add features like a clickable “call” button for mobile users and hours of operation with your listing. These extensions may be a particularly good investment for facilities that offer walk-in services, such as urgent care, where people often have questions or want to make sure you’re open before coming in. 

How to win SEM: insurance 

SEM is a valuable tool for insurance companies of all kinds, including dental, health, automotive, vision, AD&D and more. Whether you’re a new company trying to build your online presence or a seasoned insurance provider expanding your offerings, you need SEM in your toolbox. 

Keyword strategy: get specific 

Similar to health care keyword strategies, insurance SEM keywords should be specific and capture the searchers who are most likely to drive conversions. When you search “home insurance,” for example, Google spits out nearly 4 trillion results. Unless you’re one of the country’s biggest and most well-known providers, you’re likely not going to snag the top slot. 

Instead, understand not only what your searchers are looking for but why. Long-tail keyword examples that focus on intent include:  

  • “Health insurance cost for self-employed”  
  • “Life insurance policies for people over 80” 
  • “Best auto insurance for classic cars” 

Audience targeting: consider generational differences 

Digital marketing tactics that were used for aging populations, such as the baby boomers, are much different from what will work for Generation X and millennials, who are actively buying homes and coming off their parents’ health insurance plans. 

Younger generations value quickly finding the information they need. It’s likely in your favor to market easy online quote services and to use words like “cheap” or “affordable,” since cost is a large driver for this age group when choosing insurance. You may also want to target mobile devices. 

Qualitative research: understand user behavior and desires 

An important piece of reaching the right people through insurance SEM is understanding your customers and what they’re doing online. For example, what are customers searching for when they decide to change insurance companies?  

Rising premiums is one of the biggest reasons people decide it’s time to shop around. This may be especially true in our country’s current inflated economy. If your members or subscribers are spending $4+ on a gallon of gas, they may look to make up for some of that lost money with cheaper car insurance.  

Tracking user behavior is also key. You should be watching how your members and subscribers interact with competitors’ websites and adapt your SEM strategy accordingly. If someone has filled out online quote forms through multiple insurance providers, they’re likely looking to buy. This strategy allows you to reach the people who are more likely to convert. 

Winning SEM: get started 

SEM is complex and needs a lot of attention to be done correctly. It requires an understanding of your market, keyword best practices, high-opportunity keywords, conversion analytics, user personas, SERPs, sales funnels and much more. That’s why it’s best to enlist the help of a digital marketing company with decades of experience in the health care and insurance industries. 

Isn’t it time to get measurably more from your search engine marketing? Contact us today for an informal introductory phone call, or call us for answers to your digital marketing questions at 615-371-6112 and ask for Paula Milam.