Why are DTC marketers wasting money on paid search?

KEY TAKEAWAY:  If your agency is suggesting that you invest a lot of your digital budget on search you’re being given bad advice.  Consumers, especially online health seekers, look to organic search for health information not paid search.

Forrester discovered that 54% of respondents found websites through natural search results.. Social networks were the second-most preferred discovery resource so the question becomes why are pharma marketers spending so much on paid search?

Let’s take a step back for a minute.  First, are you doing an analysis of your paid search results?  I’m not talking about CTR, I’m talking about cost per targeted action, cost per page views and cost versus bounce rates.  In all likelihood you’re going to find the metrics pretty poor, yet pharma continues to spend millions of dollars on search.

So should we just abandon paid search?  No, not necessarily.  Paid search should be part of your digital strategy when you launch a new product and you’re trying to raise awareness of your brand.  However, once that awareness reaches a certain level you should be scaling back your search marketing budget unless you still believe that overall traffic is an important metric vs traffic vs bounce rate and pages viewed.

Agencies should be giving you advice on a paid search budget, but they also should be analyzing your search budget in regards to metrics that matter.  Overall traffic, if you have a high bounce rate, is a poor metric yet even today I continually see DTC marketers talk about the traffic to their sites without regards to time on site and average page views.

With budgets being cut DTC marketers need to ask for better online metrics from their analytics department and agencies.  If you’re not doing this, you’re wasting money.