What To Do Now That Google No Longer Allows Stem Cell Advertising
If you work in stem cell marketing, then you likely heard the sonic boom go off in early September that Google will no longer allow ‘stem cell therapy’ advertising to appear on Google AdWords.
In Google’s own words:
“Today, we’re announcing a new Healthcare and medicines policy to prohibit advertising for unproven or experimental medical techniques such as most stem cell therapy, cellular (non-stem) therapy, and gene therapy.”
The purpose of this article isn’t to question Google’s decision or to debate what is or isn’t ‘unproven or experimental’ in regards to stem cell therapy. Rather, it’s to deal with the industry’s new normal and what you, as a stem cell therapy provider, can do about it from a digital marketing perspective.
Let’s start with what’s gone:
Google AdWords Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
If you had your marketing machine humming along, you were able to spend your ad budget, target specific keywords and demographics, and get your future clients to take action. That action may have been ‘Schedule a Consultation,’ ‘Attend a Free Seminar,’ or ‘Request More Information.’
In many instances, this was the number one source of stem cell leads for clinics around the country.
Now, let’s talk about what’s left. Despite Google’s ban on PPC ads for your stem cell therapy clinic, you can still rely on your existing marketing channels and offerings:
- Landing Pages: You still own these landing pages, assuming they were put together by a web design team, let’s call this a valuable asset.
- Seminars: You can still do your seminars, of course, what’s the point if you can’t get anyone to them, but for now, you’ve spent the time, honing your presentation and that’s still something that can be used for marketing purposes.
- Free Consultations: Your office is still there, your staff is trained and ready to go.
The New Marketing Channels You Need To Adopt
Before you dive into any of these new channels, the very first thing you need to get your arms around is who you are as a business, what you are best at, and what you want to do. Ask yourself these questions.
- Which Stem Cell conditions does your practice specialize in treating?
- Which Stem Cell conditions does your practice prefer treating?
- Who are your best Stem Cell customers?
Get very clear on ‘Who’ you are targeting. I’m not talking about running focus groups or taking weeks to drill down on the data. I’m simply talking about who you want as customers? Are they older, younger, male, female, sports professionals? There are no right or wrong answers, as long as you are honest.
If you find that your best clients are “Female Knee patients, between the ages of 50-65,” then your approach to marketing would be very different than if you’re trying to attract “Male Sports Injury patients between the ages of 25-40.” It doesn’t mean to say you can only choose one, but each group will need its own campaign.
Next, let’s talk about the channels:
Having done SEO for over a decade, and quite a lot of SEO for stem cell therapy over the last 12 months, I can tell you this: the local stem cell space is easier to top-rank for than most industries. Think about it, stem cell therapy only really took off a few years ago, unlike other “stubborn SEO industries” (such as legal, manufacturing, and pharma). Because of this, it represents an enormous opportunity for the first few practices in each city to dominate Google.
If you can get your clinic to top rank on Google Maps and in the Google organic results, then the centerpiece of your online marketing will begin to take shape.
What a real stem cell SEO campaign consists of is:
- Google Maps Set Up and Management (Google My Business)
- Keyword Research
- Website Technical Analysis + Clean Up
- Content Audit + Content Plan + Content Writing
- Link Audit + Link Building Plan
I will warn you, SEO is a mid to long term play, nothing happens fast here so allow for at least 6 months to start to see the ranking improvements. However, the sooner you start, with a qualified, experienced, SEO firm, the faster it will take shape. The trick to all of this is to find a good SEO partner.
If you’re like most stem cell clinics then you’re probably already running Facebook ads. However, like all marketing channels, the setup and the nuances make all the difference. For instance, are you running ads on the Carousel? Are the ads geo-targeted to get placed directly into the target audiences’ mobile feeds? What format are your ads in? You get the point–the return on investment you get is in direct relation to how well you build your campaigns.
The great news about Facebook Advertising, apart from having some of the best persona and geo-targeting available, is that it’s also much cheaper per click than traditional Google PPC.
We recently spoke to a stem cell clinic in Seattle who spends a fraction of what other clinics spend, most of his budget goes toward Facebook advertising, and his four seminars per month get booked out. The trick to Facebook is to find the formula. Your agency can help you with developing this strategy, interpreting the data and fine-tuning it so that you too, can get a large portion of your new clients from this platform.
Companies often ignore this platform in favor of the mighty Google. In the case of stem cell therapy marketing, consider this one giant Bing factor.
Bing comes preloaded as the preferred search engine with Microsoft Windows. The younger generation knows that they have options and can change what Search Engine they use. Often, the older generation either doesn’t know or doesn’t care. As a result, Bing searchers are, for the most part, 35+ in age. Is the target market for Stem Cell Therapy on average, older than 35? You bet they are.
Another advantage of using Bing over Google ads is that the cost per click tends to be considerably lower. Statistics from ReportGarden show that Bing Ads have a CPC average of $7.99, while Google AdWords has an average of more than double that, at $20.08
If you get 100 people to attend your seminars or to fill in a contact form on your website over a three month period and only 10 of them become clients, what happened to the other 90? Most clinics just accept this and say that they have a 10% conversion rate and explain that the procedure was too expensive and/or they thought it was covered by insurance. Both of those are legitimate reasons for why a Stem Cell prospect might not want to proceed.
However, what’s the next option for these patients? Surgery. Don’t you think the reason they sought you out in the first place is that they wanted to avoid painful surgery? This motivation is the key to successful Email marketing to stem cell patients.
Instead of letting those 90, hard to get leads just vanish into the night, all of them should be getting regular follow up emails from you. If you know that one of their main motivations for originally contacting you was to avoid surgery, then you need to remember this golden rule of marketing:
“People will do more to avoid pain than to gain pleasure.”
Here’s some food for thought on how you might want to go about an email drip campaign to your stem cell prospects list.
- Email 1. Thank you for visiting – Top 10 reasons Why Stem Cell Therapy is a Better Alternative than Surgery.
- Email 2. Amazing Stem Cell results – How Stem Cell Therapy Helped These Patients Finally Get the Relief They Deserve.
- Email 3. After 3 Botched Surgeries – Mike Finally Turned to Stem Cell Therapy, Here’s His Story.
- Email 4. Stem Cell Therapy – What Is and Isn’t Covered by Insurance in [Your State]
You get the picture. If your prospects want to avoid going under the knife, your job as a marketer is to make the case that stem cell is the way to go – then turn the attention to their final objection, which is insurance.
Please keep in mind that if you really want to get into email marketing, then you’d segment your list into patient types such as ‘knee,’ ‘shoulder,’ and ‘back’–but the logic would remain the same.
Those marketing channels are the Big 4.
The last step in the process–and we can’t emphasize this enough–don’t just jump into these channels and spend a lot of money. Three of them (Facebook, Bing, and Email Marketing) can be tested with small test budgets and expanded based on results.
Out of The Box Marketing Ideas
Not all channels produce a strong result, but we wanted to list them just in case you want to test them out for yourself.
Youtube is the second biggest search engine in the world. The main reasons we’ve left this off of our main list is that:
- The barrier to entry tends to be a substantial investment in quality video.
- People use YouTube to watch videos. I think finding the formula for getting conversions for stem cell patients exists, but so far we haven’t found it.
- The demographic for Youtube skews younger.
This is a great platform for marketing. Over 92,000,000 people listen to music via Pandora–close to 28% of the US population. Our concern here is the intent. We’ve not tested Pandora nearly as much as other platforms, but if you’d like to–by all means–test some advertising out on the platform.
That’s about it. Yes, Google AdWords was a fantastic marketing channel for targeting stem cell patients, but now, you have to make moves to replace that traffic and if you just take the time to break each of these other channels down, you might just find that success in stem cell marketing goes far beyond running Google PPC ads.
EverSpark Interactive is a digital marketing agency with considerable experience with stem cell marketing. If you’re looking for a partner to give you a hand with all of this, then please let us know.