Digital marketing terms every healthcare marketer should know: CTR


If you ever want to start an uproar just ask if click-through rate is something you should care about in a room full of digital marketers. Some will immediately go “Why, of course you should”, while others will probably give you “Excuse me, 2001 called and it wants its metric back.” In this week’s edition of “digital marketing terms that get thrown around a lot but are rarely explained”, we’ll take a closer look at click-through rate, or CTR, one of the OG pay-per-click marketing metrics, including what it can tell you (and what it can’t) and why you should listen.

So what is CTR anyway? In the simplest of terms, it’s the percentage of impressions that result in a click on your ad. To calculate an ad’s CTR, divide the number of clicks it receives by the number of times it’s shown. For example, if your PPC ad had 100 impressions and 5 clicks, that’s a 5% CTR. While it’s primarily associated with PPC marketing, it’s also a clear and simple way to gauge the success of a variety of digital marketing activities, including email marketing and social media campaigns.

What CTR means – and what it doesn't

As a metric, CTR shows you how relevant searchers think your ad is. In a broader sense, it can help you assess which ads, listings and keywords perform well and which need to be improved. The more your keywords, ads and listings relate to each other and to your business, the more likely a user is to click after searching on your keyword phrase, Google advises. CTR also contributes to your keyword's expected CTR, a key component of ad rank, aka Google’s way of deciding where your ad will show up on search engine results pages.

What’s a good CTR then? “It depends,” goes the most accurate answer anyone will ever be able to give you. CTR is relative to your industry, the set of keywords you’re bidding on and the individual campaigns within a PPC account, explains PPC expert Melissa Mackey. To give you some pointers on the industry part, Hubspot has found that the healthcare and medical sector sits in the middle of the pack across all industries, with an average click-through rate of 1.79% for search and 0.31% for display.

While CTR certainly says tons, it doesn’t say nearly enough. It’s key to remember that click-through rates are far from being the only, or the best, way to measure a digital marketing campaign’s performance. Conversion rate and cost-per-conversion are also crucial parts of the puzzle, as is ROI. Plus, in some cases they can actively skew interpretation. “When marketers interact with physicians on Point of Care networks, for example, the CTR should be nonexistent since clicking on an ad disrupts the physician's experience with their patient,” warns Harshit Jain MD, founder and Global CEO of Doceree.


Why get – or stay – excited about CTR

The most important reason why you should keep an eye on CTR is because, as we’ve established earlier, Google cares about it. In fact, Google cares about it a lot. Click-through rates directly – and heavily – affect your quality scores, which in turn will affect your ad rank, meaning what position your ad is displayed in paid search results. Or whether they’re eligible to be displayed at all.

Google measures your actual CTR against an expected CTR. So if you’ve run a lot of low-CTR ads, it will assume that any new ads you add to your account are also going to have a low CTR and may rank them lower, points out Mackey. High click-through rates, however, drive higher quality scores, which will allow you to rank better in paid search results – or rank the same but for less money.

Each year, Google sees 28 billion health-related searches in the US alone, Wordstream reminds us. Eighty-nine percent of consumers turn to Dr Google with their medical queries, and nearly a quarter of these get resolved by medical ads. “Even though the space is saturated with all manner of health-related businesses, there’s a huge opportunity for those with a smarter healthcare advertising strategy to connect,” Wordstream’s Larry Kim concludes.


Quick tips to boost CTR

1. Make your CTA as clear as day

People search on Google for quick and straight answers. Your call-to-action should fall into this category, too. Tell your audience exactly what you want them to do but also highlight the benefits that await them, for example, “Get your free copy” or “Book online without calling”.

2. Do the same with your USP

As a rule of thumb, if your ad, without the brand name, could very well be that of your competitor’s, it’s not doing your CTR any good. Always write your ad copies in a way that unmistakably reflects why consumers should click your ad, not anyone else’s.

3. Don’t sell – solve a problem

As an extension of the previous point, be as specific as possible about the problem your product or service helps consumers overcome. Instead of listing features, functions and whatnot, focus on how they will improve consumers’ lives – and don’t spare any details.

4. Forget generic language

Your ad doesn’t have to appeal to everyone, only to the people you assume would make great customers. Think about how they would describe the solution they’re looking for. Do they use jargon, for example? If yes, make it a priority to sprinkle some in your ads.


There’s more where this came from – have a look around our blog. Need more than just inspiration to achieve your digital goals? Let’s see how we can help you get to where you want to be.

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