Paying money for search marketing may be unnecessary

UnknownKEY TAKEAWAY: Pharma marketers continue to allocate a lot of money to search marketing, but it may be a waste of precious budget dollars as users prefer organic search.

Forrester, in its annual report on how consumers found websites discovered that 54% of respondents found websites through natural search results.  In what’s likely a surprise to many search marketers,[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””] just 18% of those surveyed said that they used paid search ads for website discovery[/inlinetweet]. This despite the fact that paid search spending is still increasing, according to other studies that track marketing budgets.  In my research the number of people who rely on paid search for health information is even lower.  So the question then is “why are you spending so much on search?”.

I was shocked, recently, to learn that a client is spending more than $50K per month on search for a drug that has been on the market more than 4 years.  While they had top line numbers for their search they didn’t know, for example, the cost per targeted action, or cost per targeted page. They were, are, throwing money away.


Consumers prefer organic search, when it comes to health information, because they are becoming aware of the problems with paid search (top of the line) results.  In a usability study last year we followed over 500 users as they searched for specific health topics and although they started at a search engine the vast majority, 86%, used organic search to reach critical health information.  Paid search should only be used when a new drug is introduced and it should be scaled back once awareness reaches a certain level.

DTC managers should be analyzing their search budgets and looking at the dollars spent against bounce rates, page views and cost per targeted actions.  To just spend randomly has been a huge waste of money.