Advertisers must adjust as search engines like Google continue to refine their targeting and ad structures. The latest: a change to Google Ads that requires us to evaluate two popular bid strategies: maximizing clicks vs maximizing conversions.
Optimizing your bidding strategy for conversions is especially tempting, thanks to the platform’s new ability to set an average target Cost per Acquisition (tCPA). Medical advertisers can now set up their automated bidding so that it dynamically optimizes for a specific number that ultimately leads to a new patient.
However, maximizing your bid strategy for conversions is not always appropriate for all medical practices. Depending on how your analytics are set up and the number of conversions your website brings in every week, the best approach may still be automated bids that optimize for clicks.
Let’s explore those nuances, and what they mean for your medical paid advertising strategy.
What’s the Difference between maximizing clicks and maximizing conversions?
As outlined by Google, optimizing your PPC ads for clicks is a smart bidding strategy that maximizes the number of clicks your website gets. The advertiser sets a daily budget, and the system automatically sets the maximum CPC bids that get the most clicks possible.
That’s a different approach than “maximizing conversions” bidding strategies, which automatically set bids to get the most conversions possible. Rather than optimizing for clicks, Google uses machine learning to optimize the bidding for the cheapest conversion possible. Clicks may be more expensive, but the clicks received lead to higher chances of actually getting leads and patients.
Problems with “Maximize Clicks”
There is no single best option between optimizing your bidding strategy for clicks or conversions. Instead, there are some benefits and drawbacks to both options. For clicks, problems can arise because clicks aren’t clients, and volume is almost necessarily limited.
Clicks Aren’t Clients
Optimize your ads for clicks if you want to gain awareness for your medical practice. However, optimizing ads for clicks means little to no quality control over the result of those clicks.
Your ads will be shown to users most likely to click on them, but those users aren’t necessarily your ideal or preferred audience. When the goal of an ad is the click, it’s impossible to infer whether that click will lead to a conversion.
Limitations in Volume
Optimizing clicks means setting a max Cost per Click (CPC) to ensure that you don’t blow through your budget. But that max CPC also means you get limited access to high-competition keywords, which are more expensive but could be much more relevant for conversions.
As a result, maximizing clicks may lead to an artificial volume limit on the highly targeted traffic you need to bring in new patients.
Problems With “Maximize Conversions”
CPC advertising can go a long way towards increasing patient leads. However, that doesn’t mean optimizing your Google ads for conversions is always the right choice. Depending on your campaigns, potential issues can range from a minimum conversion requirement to lower initial Return-on-Ad-Spend (ROAS) and significant budget consumption.
Minimum Conversion Requirements
The more daily conversions your campaigns generate, the better maximizing conversions will work as your bid strategy. In fact, Google recommends that you should only try to maximize conversions if you generate at least 15 conversions per week.
In other words, sites that are newer to Google ads or don’t generate this level of conversions might not be a good fit for this strategy. They simply don’t offer enough data for Google’s machine learning algorithm to optimize the bidding around generating leads.
Initial Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) will be Lower
Just as Google ads needs a minimum amount of data to optimize, it also needs time for its algorithm to understand how the conversions on your website take place. That can become an issue when your ad campaign has a specific target ROAS that it needs to achieve from the moment your campaign begins to run.
In those initial weeks, while Google adapts, the ROAS tends to drop. Once the learning period has finished, ROAS will increase again.
Maximizing Conversions Uses Your Entire Daily Budget
Finally, don’t expect for a strategy that optimizes bidding around conversions just to take up a small part of your campaign. This bidding method requires your entire daily budget, which can be jarring if you’re not used to seeing that budget get exhausted daily.
Of course, there are limits to that as well. Chances are you cannot go above a certain cost per acquisition (CPA) and still expect a positive return. Google allows for target CPA bidding, which sets the upper limit for each individual bid.
When Should You Maximize Clicks?
Opting for the more traditional “maximize clicks” strategy can be beneficial in a few different situations for your medical advertising:
- It’s the only choice when you don’t have enough regular conversions to use “maximize conversions,” defined by Google as 15 or more weekly conversions through your website.
- It can help you establish your target cost per acquisition, setting the stage for target CPA bidding in a more conversion-focused effort.
In other words, it’s a more introductory strategy for your PPC campaign. Once you have enough conversion information filtering through Google’s machine learning algorithm, the switch to optimizing for conversions becomes more natural.
Should You Set a Target CPA When Maximizing Conversions?
Target CPA bidding makes sense in some situations. Ultimately, it comes down to choosing between whether you want to prioritize conversion volume or conversion costs.
If you don’t set a target CPA in Google Ads, you’ll be able to bid on more competitive keywords and get more targeted traffic that’s more likely to convert. That’s especially significant, considering non-specific keywords are among the most common PPC mistakes healthcare advertisers can make.
On the other hand, setting a target CPA will lower the number of conversions you get per day. Google simply stops bidding for your ads at a certain level, which means it doesn’t truly optimize for conversions at all costs. However, the cost per conversion will naturally be lower as well.
The key to whether you need to set a target CPA when maximizing conversions is the volume of leads you need. If your central goal is getting contact information for new patients, avoid setting this benchmark, allowing Google to optimize the conversion campaign on your behalf.
How Much Should You Spend on Google Ads?
All of the above, of course, still requires an answer to a question central in medical advertising: how to set your budget to optimize your campaign for results. However, there is no simple answer to how much you should spend on your Google Ads campaign, regardless of whether you look to maximize clicks or conversions.
Instead, the answer depends entirely on your local market demand. If demand for a procedure is low in your zip code and surrounding zip codes, restrict your spending on ads to avoid overspending on useless traffic. If demand is high, increase your spending to maximize the number of new patients you receive.
You can calculate your local target demand yourself by retrieving demographic information for your target zip codes from Census.gov. Then, you can extrapolate demand specifically for potential patients through Google search volumes for keywords that point to a need for the procedures and treatments you offer.