Internet Dental Marketing Strategies – Part 1
Creating A Plan To Promote Your Practice Online
The key to a successful practice is a steady stream of new patients. In times past marketing for a dentist consisted of placing a listing in the yellow pages and taking out an ad in the local newspaper. But we live in the digital era now, and old school practice marketing techniques are no longer effective. When you consider that many young professionals and parents get their news online and most millennials have never even used a telephone book, it is obvious that relying on outdated forms of advertising is a losing proposition. This is why dental internet marketing is crucial for your practice.
But for many dentists – even those that regularly use the Internet – how to tap into that growing pool of potential new patients online remains a mystery. They spend a lot of thought and resources on building an exceptional dental office, and assume those efforts will carry over to the search engines but it doesn’t. There is nothing more frustrating for a dentist than seeing inferior practices showing up for a variety of dental searches, while their superior office languishes in search engine obscurity. The likely cause is a lack of internet marketing for your dental practice.
The solution to that problem starts with a practice marketing plan. The maxim “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” is definitely true when it comes to dental Internet marketing. In this series of posts we’ll give you an outline to follow in crafting a successful blueprint for attracting new patients online.
Step 1: Define Your Goals
The first step in your game plan should be to identify your goals for your internet marketing campaign. Clearly stating what you hope to achieve will give you a way to both evaluate tactics and measure success. Asking “Does taking this step help us meet our objectives?” is a great way to weed out extraneous approaches. And quantifying which metrics have improved will help you calculate the ROI of any tactics you implement online.
In most cases, a good online marketing plan will have the following goals:
- Increase Website Traffic
– Whether you are talking about dental SEO to improve your rankings, ads on Facebook to drive market awareness in your specific geographic location, Google AdWords campaigns to target specific search phrases, or email campaigns to existing clients, the goal remains the same – bring more visitors to your site so you can market your service to them. The primary goal of your practice website is to inform internet users of the service you provide and encourage visitors to schedule an appointment. The more qualified visitors you have the more new patients you will receive. So what makes a website visitor “more qualified”? A user is more qualified or of higher quality if your dental internet marketing strategy provides them with relevant information to meet their needs specific to what they are searching for. Sometimes your internet marketing is simply driving awareness of your brand or dental practice at the top of your funnel when people don’t know you exist.
- Increase Visitor Conversions
– Getting visitors to your site is only half the battle. Any money or effort spent on dental internet marketing to encourage potential patients to come to your website is wasted if they bounce from your website without scheduling an appointment or calling to find our more about your practice. This goes back to clearly defining your marketing goals. Successful online marketing for dentists will include conversion tuning to maximize the number of visitors that become patients.
User experience on your website effects your marketing efforts
– Growing your dental practice requires that you consider the user experience when the get to your website. Having a goal to get more traffic is a great goal. Don’t let your dental internet marketing strategy fall short with a horrible user experience once traffic gets there. You are a professional and your website should convey that. Having a professional looking site should be part of your marketing plan.
Have a Clear Call to Action
– Clearly defining what you want your users to do when they reach your website is critical to your dental internet marketing strategy. It would be a shame to spend all that time and effort to get someone to your site, whether it was through search engine optimization, search engine marketing (think Google AdWords or ppc), social media marketing, or an email marketing campaign and then not tell them the action you want them to take. As a dental practice your calls to action may be to fill out a form to schedule an appointment, to call the office, or to email your practice for more information. Your call to action may also be something as simple as clicking a button to learn more about a particular service or procedure your dental practice provides. That’s the thing about your internet marketing goals, they needs to cover both general information your users may be searching for and specific areas of interest they have.
- Sell Additional Services Through Your Marketing Strategy
– The easiest people to market to are your current patients. Their existing relationship with you makes them much more likely to take advantage of additional services you offer – if they know about them. Making sure they know about ALL the services you provide should be one of your goals to grow your practice. Using email and social media to promote other treatments and specials is a great way to increase dental practice revenue. Often times it is this incremental growth in your existing patients that can have the biggest impact on growing revenue (which I assume is one of your internet marketing goals). Make sure you are trying to maximize your existing patients.
Stick To The Target
Once you have identified your goals, all of your subsequent steps should align under one of them. Search Engine Optimization and AdWords advertising will help increase website traffic, a website redesign or using an online review service can help improve conversion rates, and promoting social media posts or building an email list can help sell additional services. Keeping your targets in mind will keep you from chasing ideas that sound good but ultimately will not help increase your bottom line.
Knowing the targets you are trying hit through your internet marketing initiatives and having measurable goals gives you a measuring stick to evaluate your actions against. If a marketing effort on your part will not bring your closer to your targeted goals then you are heading in the wrong direction. Know where you are going and stick to your targets.
Step 2: Set Your Marketing Budget
The budget you allocate to your dental internet marketing plan will often times be a moving target. For example you may be a brand new practice or your practice may have never invested in search engine optimization. As a result you are no where near the top of the google search results for the service you provide. You may need to spend more on Google AdWords campaigns to get some new patients in the door as soon as possible. The revenue provided by these new patients can help in multiple ways. You may want to invest in a long term search engine optimization strategy to land you at the top of the search engine results page which will drive the greatest number of new patients for you. Or you may want to drive awareness for people who live in your community that you exists through a facebook ad. They may not be “actively engaged in searching” for a dentist while checking their facebook page, but seeing your ad may remind them they need their teeth cleaned.
Dental Internet Marketing: Budgeting AdWords
There are many factors that go into determining your budget for AdWords. The competitiveness of advertisers varies greatly from city to city. We have seen keywords such as “dentist in your city” go for as little as $3 – $4 per click to drive traffic to your website and we also seen those same keywords cost more than $20 per click. The total cost per click will be be a factor in setting your budget.
How wide you cast your net for various keywords will determine how much you spend also. If you marketing strategy is to just target higher commercial intent keywords such as “dentist city” or “dentist in city” then your budget will be less. If you want to spread the net to include more generic terms such as “invisalign” or “dental implants” that don’t include geo-graphic indicators in the search phrases then you will need a bigger budget. All this goes back to clearly defining your internet marketing goals.
Dental Internet Marketing: Budgeting Search Engine Optimization
When it comes to your long term internet marketing strategy, seo should be a major component. This like many other areas of life is a you get what you pay for experience. At DDSRank we have a building phase in the initial stages of your seo campaign where the cost is higher as more work is required in the beginning. While seo can seem expensive when you look at your return on investment for your dental internet marketing strategies you can see it quickly pays for it self. Consider the customer lifetime value of a dental patient. If seo brings you several new patients a month that represents tens of thousands of dollars in life time value. Having a marketing goal of being on page one for relevant search terms will pay dividends for your dental practice.
Dental Internet Marketing: Budgeting Facebook Ads
As of this writing, facebook is one of the most cost effective means of using the internet to market your dental practice. As we talked about earlier you cannot drive ads based on specific search phrases with ad words. When looking at a sales and marketing funnel, search phrases would fall more into the awareness and interest section of the sales funnel. You know people are interested in the types of services you provide because they are already searching online for them. Facebook is good for the top of the funnel to drive aware of your practice. Often times clicks for facebook ads are well under a dollar. The commercial intent is not nearly as high as it is with adwords PPC but allocating even a couple hundred dollars a month for facebook sponsored ads can round out your digital marketing strategy for your practice.
Step 3: Implement Your Plan
Okay so there is no secret here. You can’t just plan an internet marketing strategy, you have to execute it. I know it sounds simple and obvious, but if you want to see results and new patients to your dental practice, you have to take action. Don’t just talk about it and push it off until later. Take action today. You may want to just focus on one area of your marketing plan, or you may want to jump in feet first and attack all of them at one. I suggest the latter strategy. It tends to fall under the ‘harder you work the luckier you get’ mantra of being successful with your internet marketing. Get moving and take action.
Step4: Monitor Your Performance
Once you have take action to get your internet marketing plan in place, you need to monitor the performance. With search engine optimization monitor how your organic and local rankings are for your targeted keywords. When it comes to your Google AdWords, monitor to quality score, your click through rate, the total impressions you are getting, and the impression share you ad is showing up for. Monitoring these things will help you make smart decisions for adjusting your internet marketing plan to grow your dentist office. Are you getting the exposure you want on facebook? Maybe you need to increase you radius targeting, or your total spend. Do some split testing on your ads, commonly referred to as split testing. You should think of this as being a feed back loop where you take an action, measure the effect, analyze to see if it was a positive or negative effect, correct your course of action and then repeat the process.
In our next articles we’ll look at how to build a budget for your marketing plan, including valuing new patients and also identifying which procedures to promote. We’ll also look at short, mid, and long-term goals in your campaign, and how to construct a timeline and set reasonable expectations. And we’ll touch on things like taking inventory of your website and social media pages, understanding how online reviews play into your marketing efforts, and ways to measure success.