How often do patients actually find your practice through their vision plans? If you really think about it, chances are they're doing their research on Google. They can always find out whether you take their insurance later when they call you.

No, they don't use their plans. Instead they type in a search and look among the pay-per-click ads and organic listings for the best option.

The best way for practices to acquire new patients is to show up in their searches. A strong eye care marketing plan uses a combination of local SEO, traditional SEO and pay-per-click ads can to do it. Here we're taking a look at how optometrists and opticians can build PPC marketing campaigns that help them acquire new patients and increase optical sales.

What are pay-per-click ads and campaigns?

Let’s start by answering a basic question: What is PPC? 

PPC is an internet-based marketing model in which advertisers pay a fee each time their ads are clicked. This way, you can pay for visits to your website or landing page rather than organically “earning” those visits. The best marketing makes effective use of both paid and organic campaigns. 

Various internet platforms offer PPC advertising. Generally they fall into two groups:

  • Search engines such as Google or Bing.
  • Social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest.

Some of these search and social platforms are places that your prospective patients frequently use. By running campaigns on Google or social, you’re making sure that your ads are showing up where they spend most of their time on the internet. And because you pay for them, PPC ads get prime real estate in search results and news feeds:

The components of a search engine results page.

In the picture above you can see that Warby Parker has purchased an ad atop the search listings for the keyword (or keyphrase) “optician near me.” 

The ad is above both the local listings and the organic listings way below. That can make a significant difference. The top spot in Google’s search engine results page snares a substantially higher click through rate than rankings just a few spots below. For non-branded queries, the average CTR for Position 1 is 43.32%, according to a study from Ignite Visibility called “SEO & Intent 2020: New Study Reveals True State of Search.”

PPC terms and definitions

There are various terms and definitions unique to PPC campaigns. Before we explore how to build one for your optometry practice or retail optical, let's take a look at some of these:

Keyword

The query entered into the search engine. For example: “optician near me” or “local optometrist.” 

CPC

Cost-per-click is the amount you can expect to pay per click on your ad. The cost may vary depending on the keyword you’re targeting and how much you’re willing to bid for higher placement in the SERP. 

When you’re bidding for keywords you set the highest price you’re willing to pay for a click. Ultimately, what you'll pay is determined by a formula that factors in competitor ad rank and quality score.

Maximum bid

The maximum bid is the most you’re willing to pay for a single click. What your maximum bid should be depends on the keyword you’re targeting and the value of a new patient. You can set your maximum bid manually or allow the search engine to automatically determine the amount based on your campaign goals. 

Quality score

Search engines assign a quality score to your ad based on its CTR, your landing page quality, keyword relevance and past performance on the SERP. 

Ad rank

Your maximum bid multiplied by your quality score. This determines the position of your ad on the SERP. 

Campaign

The key message or theme for your ad or ad group. Choosing a campaign is the first step in building your PPC ad.

Ad group

Campaigns often require multiple ads. These various ads are contained within your ad group. You can set a unique CPC for each ad group.

Cost Per Mille

CPM is similar to CPC, but usually used in social campaigns rather than search. It is the cost per thousand impressions. If your CPM is $1, you will pay $1 for every thousand times your ad is viewed, regardless of whether it’s clicked or not.

Planning your PPC campaign

Is PPC right for your eye care marketing plan? Then keep reading because it’s time to review how to build your own campaign for acquiring more patients and/or increasing optical sales!

What are your campaign goals?

What are your business goals and how will this campaign help you achieve them? Before you build a successful campaign, you need to determine what defines success. Start by identifying your campaign audience. Who are you targeting and why: Are you looking for new, private pay patients? Do you need to boost frame sales? 

From there you should identify the campaign message that will resonate with that audience. For example, in late summer you can run a back-to-school ad campaign featuring promotions for youth frames. 

Finally, what key performance metrics will you use to measure success for this campaign? New patients? Gross Merchandise value? Click here to learn more about the optical metrics you should be tracking.

Finding your campaign goals will help you prioritize what’s most important for a successful PPC ad campaign. From there you can decide which sort of campaign will help you meet those objectives.

Which type of PPC campaign are you running?

There are a number of different PPC campaigns that you can run. Which one is the best fit doe your goals?

Social

All of the ads that you see on social media are run through PPC campaigns. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and more all offer paid advertising platforms. These ads will show up in prospects' news feeds or profiles depending on the social platform. 

Search ads

This is the most common PPC ad. It is the text-based listing you see on top of the SERP. 

Display ads

These are typically image-based ads that are placed on external websites. There are a number of ways to buy display ads, including the Google Display Network.

Remarketing

You can also advertise to individuals who have already expressed interest in the services or materials you offer by using cookies or an existing list of contacts.

What is your PPC campaign budget?

In addition to goals, it’s important to set a campaign budget to make sure you keep campaign costs under control. Set a budget that ensures you’re not likely to spend more than what you expect to earn back from your campaign. 

For example, let's say you're converting one out of every 20 clicks into a patient. You want to make sure whatever you spend on 20 clicks does not exceed the estimated value of a new patient.

Which keywords are you going to bid for? 

Finally, before you get started building your campaign you should list out the keywords you want to bid for (this will not apply to some campaign types). The best keywords offer a balance between relevance and affordability. 

There may be much more competition for “optometrist near me” than for “glaucoma specialist new me.” By bidding for more niche keywords you improve your chances of attaining a higher ranking with a lower bid. Better still, the individual who sees your ad is more likely to convert because they're searching for your specialty.

Look for the keywords that are the most relevant to your campaign goals. For example, if your objective is to sell more of your De Rigo REM frames, a bid for “lucky brand frames near me” may be better than a bid for “optician near me.”  

Building a PPC campaign for your eye care marketing plan

We know: that was a lot to get out of the way. But finally, we’re ready to start building a PPC campaign. Here we’ll go over best practices for running a search ad campaign through Google Adwords since it is the most commonly used platform. Most of your prospects are doing research online before choosing an optician or optometrist. And more often than not they’re using Google to conduct their searches. When it comes to PPC campaigns, Google is a great place to start.

Choose the keywords you want to target in your campaign

You’ve done the keyword research, but have you decided which ones you’ll target? Find keywords with a good mix of relevancy and competition. A keyword may seem perfect, but if there’s too much competition for it then it will be too expensive to be worth bidding for in your campaign.

You can also use negative keywords. For example, if you don’t sell sunglasses at your optical, you can use sunglasses as a negative keyword. This way you don’t have to pay for clicks from people who are shopping for something you’re not selling. 

Select a geographic location for your PPC campaign

If you’re based in California you’re probably not expecting foot traffic from Illinois. So why advertise to people who live there?

Luckily, Google includes a solution for this problem: Location-based search ads. You can narrow your ads down to a single region to ensure the people who are seeing the listings live nearby enough to be realistic prospects.

Writing your PPC ad copy

Your keyword and top spot in the rankings are important. But they’re only as effective as your ad copy. How will you convince prospective patients to click your ad?

To start, let’s break down the different pieces of a Google ad:

Your URL and location will likely be set already. However, it’s up to you to write your headline, description and, if you want, ad extension copy. 

Use your headline to employ a powerful call to action. Warby Parker’s “Book an eye exam” speaks directly to the intent behind the search query. Use the description to include additional value propositions. For example, if you’re an open access provider who sees patients on all vision plans add that information so prospects are confident you’ll work with their insurance. 

Finally, you can use your ad extensions to direct prospects to other popular, relevant pages. For example, if you have pages that feature the frame lines you offer or describe your insurance policy to patients this would be the place to feature them. 

Build a landing page or your PPC campaign

An okay PPC campaign will take prospective patients to your homepage. A great PPC campaign will direct them to a dedicated landing page. This is especially true if you’re conducting a PPC campaign for a specific promotion, service or product. For example, if you're running a sale on Hoya frame lines you can build a dedicated Hoya landing page.

Dedicated landing pages will let prospective patients know they're in the right place. This will assure them they're providing their information to the right business for the right purpose. That improved experience can help you acquire more patients from your PPC campaign.

Perfecting PPC: Run, test, analyze, run again

When it comes to PPC, practice makes perfect. The more you run campaigns, review the results and optimize for the next go around, the better your PPC ads will perform over time as you learn what works and what doesn’t. 

Use your success indicators and KPIs to gauge for success when reviewing campaign results. Every little tweak to your ad can make a difference. 

Why PPC works for eye care providers

So what does all of this mean for opticians and optometrists? It’s an effective way to acquire new patients. And done right, PPC campaigns will pay for themselves over time. 

This can be especially helpful for ECPs who are becoming out-of-network providers. Without vision plans you’ll have to find a new way to acquire patients. And a well run PPC campaign can help you begin capturing new patients right away. This can help you mitigate the risk that patients may leave if you drop their plan (although we find that usually patients who leave come back, and that those that don’t are “insurance chasers” who prioritize the cheapest care available).

What about the extra cost? We get it. You may already be spending hard-earned dollars to bring in more patients. Why should you pay even more? Consider this: How much potential revenue are you handing over to vision plans to be in network with them anyway? 

You’re giving up a chunk of your usual and customary fee to receive patients from your plan. If you reapply that money to Google Ads campaign, you can start attracting private pay patients who will earn more for your practice per exam and who will value your care over your insurance policy. Ultimately, it's a better deal than what the vision plans are offering you when they ask you to sacrifice a portion of your revenue in exchange for patients.