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Filling Short-Term Availability

AVAILABILITYDoubtless your practice is always very busy, but even the most successful business has occasional dips in forward bookings. This article discusses an approach that you can take to fill these sporadic gaps in availability to keep your utilisation high, which as we discussed in a previous article has a direct impact on your income.

Let’s Be Clear on the Objective

The bottom line here is that you need a mechanism that you can:

  • Use to rapidly gain visibility with prospective clients that need treatment

  • Turn on and turn off quickly in line with gaps in your availability

This requirement lends itself very nicely to a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) style campaign. In essence, all this means is that you pay the platform provider (Google, Facebook, Twitter and others) when there is interaction with your ad, but more on that later.

In this article we are going to focus on AdWords, which is Google’s PPC platform. In subsequent articles we’ll look at similar approaches for Facebook and Twitter as each have their nuances.

AdWords – Ideal for On/Off Demand Generation

Many practice owners and managers I talk to have an aversion to PPC (not just AdWords) and I’m not entirely sure why. For short-term demand generation or start-ups wanting to generate initial “noise” its a great way to get instant visibility with your prospective clients.

If you’re not sure how or where AdWords ads appear take a look at the search results below. This is a recent Google search for “Sports Massage Leeds”

serps_annotate.png

The areas shaded in blue are all AdWords ads on Page 1 of the search results. Of course this costs money but this is the place to be. Google estimates that 90% of buying decisions for local services like yours occur online. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they happen via Search but a significant proportion do.

Building an AdWords Campaign for Short-Term Availability

For the purposes of brevity I won’t go through every step of creating an AdWords campaign. If you need help getting started you might want to take a look at this playlist by Google:

Five Steps to AdWords Success

Alternatively, here’s my quick synopsis:

  • Choose a daily budget – so you’re in control of what you’re going to spend

  • Choose keywords/search phrases that will trigger your ad

  • Create an ad which appears when the keywords (that you specified) are entered into Google Search

  • If your ad gets clicked on you pay Google a small sum based on your bid for the keyword

  • The higher your bid the higher you appear on the page, so in the example above www.physiotherapyinleeds.co.uk/sports have bid higher than www.wahanda.com/LeedsSportsMassage

Ok, so if you’re comfortable with the principles we’ll now work through the key tips and tricks that will

help you fill your short-term availability.

  1. Create a new campaign and call it something like “Short-Term Availability” to distinguish it from other campaigns that you might be running (or might run in the future). All Campaigns/Ad Groups/Keywords can be disabled instantly so if you decide its not for you or your campaign has achieved its objectives you can stop it immediately by “pausing” it.

    6310599344521216.png

  2. When you create your ads you need to bear in mind the following constraints:

    5697366531244032.png

    For more information on the structure of ads go to: Google AdWords Policy

    Your ads should attempt to relate to the prospective client’s need for immediate availability. Obviously, this needs to be handled sensitively and you should avoid being overly pushy. Here’s a couple of examples:

    Headline: Example Website
    Description line 1: Painful Sports Injury? – 22 characters
    Description line 2: Emergency Appointments Available – 32 characters

    Headline: Example Website
    Description line 1: Anger Management Issues? – 24 characters
    Description line 2: Decided you need to get help? – 28 characters

    Note: Don’t include contact details in your ad. These are dealt with next!

  3. Ad Extensions give you an extra “bang for your buck” when creating an ad campaign and they make a big difference to click-through rates. (i.e. the number of times your ad gets clicked versus the number of times it is displayed in search results)

    In essence, extensions enable you to specify additional information, such as links and phone details. But for some reason they are not widely used (possibly because people don’t know about them) so here’s an example of one of our ads – where we do use them!

    adwords_anatomy_annotated.png
    The green shaded areas are the Extensions. In this case we’ve used two extension types: Call Extensions where we have specified our phone number and SiteLinks Extensions where we have specified four links to guide people to relevant information.

    If you have trouble finding the Ad Extensions the screenshot below should help.

    ad_extensions.png

    For your ad I would start off by adding a Call Extension with your phone number in case the prospective client just wants to call you and I would create two Sitelink Extensions. One should point to your homepage or perhaps your “credentials/about you” page and the other should point to a “Call to Action” page (more on this later). When you’re done your ad should look something like this:

Sports Massage – your_practice.com
www.your_practice.com

Painful Sports Injury?
Emergency Appointments Available

01234 567890

Client Testimonials
Read what other clients say about us

Book Appointment Now

Short-term appointments available

If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous you could also add Review Extensions and Location Extensions although both of these require you to have a presence on Google My Business.

  1. Once you’ve got your ads sorted you need to choose which keywords (or phrases) are going to trigger your ad (or ads). There is no absolute science to this but you need to put yourself in the position of your prospective client – what would they enter into Google if they were looking for a service like yours. Here are a just few examples:

Physiotherapy

Dietetics

Psychotherapy

Back Pain Halifax

Sports Injury Leeds

Frozen Shoulder Treatment

Tennis Elbow Specialist

Eating Disorders

Dietary Advice

Weight Loss Treatment

Depression Treatment Halifax

Anger Management Calderdale

Couples Counselling

I’ve included examples here with and without locations because some of your prospective clients will undoubtedly include a geographical element in their search phrase.

Note: It doesn’t matter how many keywords you specify. Ideally, I would suggest having 10-20 keywords/phrases, however bear in mind that more keywords is likely to mean that your ad will be triggered more often (up to your daily budget).

  1. If you have followed these tips along with the guidance provided by Google (referred to earlier) you should be ready to “turn on” your campaign.

Call to Action

This is an oft-used phrase by marketing types! In essence, all we’re talking about here is making it easy for the prospective client to take the next step i.e. make a booking!

By adding your phone number to your ad (via the Call Extension) you’ve already added one possible “Call to Action”. This is particularly impactful when the user performs the search on a phone as the phone number becomes an instantly clickable link – see below (highlighted in blue)

Calltoclick.png

You could also add a Sitelink that point towards the contact page of your homepage as long as your contact page has all the appropriate information (phone, email address etc.) that the client might need to take an action.

The optimal solution would be a link to your online booking system. This provides a perfect mechanism for the prospective client to get exactly what they want (i.e. a near term appointment) with just a few mouse clicks.

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