As I discussed in my last post, online marketing can be a powerful tool to help increase awareness. And once you’ve educated people about a topic, you can also turn to online marketing to help them when they are ready to take a specific course of action. One form of online marketing that helps you do this is search engine marketing (SEM).

Johns Hopkins SEM AdWhat is SEM?

  • SEM is purchasing ads on search engines, like Google, Yahoo, etc.
  • These ads can be targeted through multiple ways:
    • You can target information-seekers through the keywords they use in a search engine like Google. You’ve probably seen them — they show up on the top right of “organic” search results. The ads are in a prominent place above the ranked results so that searchers have the opportunity to see the information you are sharing.

Breast Cancer Landing PageTo ensure that a SEM campaign is effective, the content on the landing page must provide the information the visitor is seeking. We work to develop landing pages that present concise information supporting an information-seeker’s most likely intention and a clear call to action — usually to fill out a form or make a call.

Why Should You Use SEM?

SEM is a way to directly connect with people who are searching with an intentional mindset:

  • Someone looking for more information on research and biomedical discovery
  • A potential student looking to apply to the School of Medicine
  • A patient or caregiver who is ready to make an appointment

Pew Research Center tells us that 77 percent of people who are seeking health information start at a search engine. That’s why SEM can be so effective — we are there as a credible source of information that guides people through their online journey based on their current needs.

"One of the advantages of SEM is the ability to geo-target and hone in on specific areas. For example, you can target areas you know patients are willing to travel from to be seen at a medical destination like Hopkins for complex medical conditions — or, if you are having a local event, you can target in on just the immediate area," says Sharon Applestein, Director of Service Line Marketing at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

What Should You Consider When Planning an SEM Campaign?

The key to a successful SEM campaign is understanding your goals. Things to consider:

  • What does success look like for you? Is it a 10 percent increase in Web traffic? An increase in patient volume?
  • How will you track success? For example, if you want to bring in more patients, ideally we’ll have a way to find out how many patients came in as a result of the efforts.
  • Who do you want to reach, and where are they?
  • What need(s) are we trying to meet?
  • Do you have budget allocated for at least six months? Once you get started, you don’t want to go dark and lose momentum.
  • What does your full marketing plan look like, and what are the synergies between the SEM campaign and other efforts?

Once we understand your goals and what your current marketing landscape looks like, we can also make a recommendation about whether you should look at other online marketing options like Facebook chats or Twitter campaigns. You want to have an even media mix across multiple touchpoints.

When you’re ready to connect with your audience, we’re here to help. To start, fill out a Web service request form and ask for an SEM campaign. We’ll be in touch to begin the process — from scheduling a discovery call to talking through how we will track success.

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