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The State of Dental Marketing

A Study Conducted by Webfor

Why did we spend over 100 hours and thousands of dollars on conducting a study into how dentists market their practice?

We wanted to see if there was a common thread between dental practices that were successful as well as ones that were struggling.

  • Key Finding: Dental practices that had higher confidence in tracking the effectiveness of their marketing efforts correlated strongly with higher average revenue.
  • 55% of Dental Practices were unsure of the return on investment of their marketing spend with their 3rd party marketing agencies.

The fact that so many practices don’t understand how much ROI is associated to the marketing services they’re receiving means there’s a big gap in understanding the value, or lack thereof, delivered by their 3rd party dental marketing agencies.

We wanted to hear directly from you, the dentists and office managers on what your biggest challenges are in working with a dental marketing agency as well as effectively marketing your practice. We got the answer to these questions and many more and are excited to share them with you.

Findings like these allow us to better understand you, your needs, the dental community and ultimately how we can better serve our customers.

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How We Did It

Our first goal was to learn more about the dental industry and to do that we had to devise a plan. It started with developing the questions that would hopefully lead us to uncover key insights into what makes some dental practices successful while others are struggling. We wanted to hear directly from the dentists and office managers what their biggest challenges were in working with a dental marketing agency as well as marketing their practice.

We created a script and started calling hundreds of dental practices by picking up the phone and dialing. These initial calls led to survey interviews and various follow ups. In the end we’ve invested more than 100 hours and thousands of dollars into completing this study.

Download our materials here:

Presentation Deck Infographic
Raw Study Data (Filterable)

Get the Audio/Video Rundown

If this all still sounds interesting and you want to learn more, we suggest watching or listening to the webinar we conducted not long ago. Here, we give you the insight and information we gathered through this process.

Transcription Highlights from the Dental Study Webinar

First I want to thank everyone who participated in the dental marketing study. This took a lot of work on many people’s sides. I want to thank a lot of my team for all the work they did, reaching out, calling and e-mailing and working with a lot of the dental practices that participated in the study, and I really want to thank all of you for your time that you invested, I know your time is extremely valuable, and I appreciate you putting your time into helping.

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I am going to talk about some of the highlights from the dental marketing study, some of the interesting correlations I found between some of the practices that are a little more successful. We are going to dive into some of the top tactics that dental practices recognised as being more effective for them. Then I am going to give you a few things that are really simple that I am going to ask you to implement today, it’s that simple, get it set up, get it going, get you started off on the right process, so it will be a few things so you can start going right away. We are going to talk a little bit about the patient journey; how someone when they are considering working with a dental practice, what is the thought process that they go through. Then we are going to tie that all together with strategy and then we are going to have some time for Q&A at the end.
So, why did we start this study? We were looking to specialise in one specific industry, the dental area is one that just stood out to me as an area we really wanted to focus on. A couple of reasons why; one is it is a competitive industry and we like to work in competitive industries. We saw one of our clients from eight years ago, they sold their practice, we ended up working with a new dentist in the new practice, and still work with them today. Also my father, that is him in the top left hand corner; has been a dentist for the past 40 years. This was their kind of reunion for OHSU. It is something he used to tell me when he had his own practice, he used to tell me that he learned how to be a great dentist; they taught him everything they knew to be a great dentist. He was very proud of being a very good dentist and providing great care. But they never taught him how to run a dentist or market his practice.

It is something that really stuck with me and I wanted to share some of those same challenges, and try and provide some solutions to practices that are out there. Right now we have had about 46 practices that have participated in the survey. So I am going to dive into some of the information again, kind of go through some of this rapid fire. This is just a preliminary over view; then we are going to publish this information and share with everyone who participated in this study, then ultimately publish it online in multiple situations and formats.

So one that that is interesting we had about a little over half of the people who participated were over the million dollar mark, then the other half were under the million dollar mark. So you see 44.1% were in to that 1-2 million range, and then you roughly had 6% that were over 5 million. Of those practices a majority of them had 6-10 employees. So you will see how we laid it out. I am actually going to give everyone access to the raw data as well; where you can play and manipulate the data based on different factors where you will find some of the stronger correlations.

This question was interesting; we basically asked do you own or rent your website? You can see that majority; about 78% own their own website. 16% rent and 4.8 are not sure. I am going to pick on that 4.8%, this is kind of like… not knowing if you own your house or not. So your website should actually be producing income for you, it should be more valuable than your home, right? Because your home is a liability, it is an asset too, but you have to make monthly payments on it. Here this should be producing a significant amount of money for you, so you should definitely understand… whether you own your website; and really if you rent your website currently, you need to change that as well. Just like if you are renting a facility there are benefits to that, but eventually you will want to own as you are paying that regardless.

We asked; how would you rate the effectiveness of the different tactics you’ve utilized? What’s interesting is all of the digital tactics based on what they rated were in the top part of the quadrant, and the traditional advertising like billboards and direct mail and things are in the bottom part of the quadrant. And so you will see here, this was not a surprise to me, but it might be a surprise to some of you that SEO, organic SEO in search engines, not in the paid section was the number one area. After that, you had paid search, content marketing, social, email marketing and social organic; social organic being lower. You will see the rating over here is about five; below that… this is kind of the rating of everything together. Al of the tactics channels as rated by you at dental practices, office managers, dentists, practice administrators and things like that. So down at the bottom, television… yellow pages, newspaper, radio, billboard.

We are going to dive into this a lot more in the future, but I want to show you a couple more things. One of the questions we asked was; do you work with an outside agency that handles aspects of your marketing? An interesting correlation is that… of the practices that we asked; generally speaking the larger practices tend to work with agencies. Now that could be because they are larger and they need that. But, they also had an average… we asked the question that we don’t have in here, but we asked the question about how many people do you have dedicated to marketing your practice? They were actually lower. So the larger practices had few people internally on marketing. They actually were putting that out to experts who handled that for them.

I will show you some of the data, it is kind of interesting. So, do you working with a marketing agency… I think it as 57% said yes overall. Now these were the actual services these agencies were . So number one is search engine optimisation (SEO) so they are looking to have an agency handle that for them.

Now this was one that blew me away. We asked what the average return on investment they were getting on their spend with the agency. This is valuable not only for dental practices but for agencies that work with dental practices as well. This is one of the key components we look with our clients is… because you should be getting a minimum of three on any marketing dollars you spend. If you are not getting at least that; I don’t feel we can ethically recommend you continue spending money in that area. At least in the digital realm, in the print realm there are places you might break even, if you are doing more of a branding campaign.

When you are doing more of this targeted digital strategy you should be looking to get three ((X’s??)). But 55% of people who were surveyed were not sure if the return investment they were getting from the agency they were working with. That is to me just astounding. Now a couple of people… they are getting better than a six times return on investment, now that’s great. Definitely keep working with the agency that you are working with there, but… the majority of people were not sure or getting less than a 3 X return on investment. So it is really important… one of the correlations I kind of saw between the people that were very satisfied with their agencies were higher revenue. So it is really important that you find good partners in this area.

We asked on a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your satisfaction with your contracted agency(ies)? You will see here on a scale of 1-10 it is 5.92. I definitely know I would be happy with that, but when you are looking at those ratings… most people getting less than three X that definitely correlates here. One of the challenges you will see is finding a good partner to work with and that really pulls that out.

One of the areas that really stood out to me was… we asked… this was for us but also for other agencies as well. We asked… a piece of advice you would give to agencies you are working with that they could serve you better? It really stood down to both understanding them, their goals, the market place. Providing more information and really understand what was working and what wasn’t working overall. So we kind of disseminated that data and you will see that they really wanted to improve communication, responsiveness was important and then overall tracking was a big part of it and kind of communicating that.

Some of the feedback… there was people that… it was clear they shouldn’t be working at that agency if they are not responding to you in a timely manner, or if it’s… you haven’t met with them in three months. Those are a things… you should be looking for another agency to work with.

Now with SEO being one of the top tactics, I wanted to a do a little further dive in there to give you guys some education on that area so you can make sure you are making the right decisions. We also have some resources you can… if you want to, dive in and learn more. One of the key components to understand is when someone is looking for a new dental practice, they are not just… it’s not like they already have someone there, if they are unhappy with their current dentist, if they are looking to move, if they are new to the area, if they have… whatever it may be; they start their journey in search. 77% of patients were using search prior to booking the appointment. So… I do want to highlight this because not everyone understands the difference between paid search and kind of the organic search area. So I highlighted this section. You generally see this little ad text highlighting what are paid ads, then the rest is generally local and organic. See here there is another ad in the local section.

So let’s talk… I am going to give you some highlights on what is important from an unpaid SEO component. There are generally two factors when it comes to SEO’s. You have onsite factors and you have offsite factors. That is kind of the easiest way to break that down. Now on page factors are things like your title tag. I am going to give you a visual of it so you can really understand that this is a little bit more. Meta description, having quality and engaging content on your website. Make sure you are optimising your images and alt text. You have a good internal linking structure, site architecture, user experience, you are utilizing schema… to market up who is the dentist on the site so Google specifically knows and they can assign information which adds value to that dentist as well.

Now here is kind of more of a visual, when you look at a page and you see that… language at the top here, that is your title tag. It is important that be descriptive of what the page is about. Again, not going to spend too much time on this today, but your URL structure should also be similar, it should use the same if someone is looking at the URL they should be able to understand what that page is about in general. A lot of times URL’s will have numbers and codes in them and things like that and it is not a good factor.

When they get to the page it is important they have a descriptive page title on that page. Again it should have some relevance to both the title tag and the URL structure. The image itself having an alt tag which is descriptive of the image, and the file name right here should be descriptive as well.

Then of course the body text should be compelling, have enough depth of topic and content there to really provide value to the user.

So that is just a really general overview of on page SEO factors. Now external SEO factors we often call endorsements; are things like people linking to your website, situations of your website or even mentions of your brand name. Now just to give you a high level overview of links… I am guessing a lot of people know what a link is to their website; their website links to you, they can click on that link and visit your website. In the beginning of Google’s algorithm that was a majority of the algorithm. They basically looked at it if someone is linking to you or your content they are endorsing that content. It used to be the more links the better, but now it is more a quality over quantity type factor. There are literally hundreds of different elements that go into the value of links, the quantity, the relevance and all those factors.

Citations are basically your name, your address and phone number, how those show up across literally hundreds of thousands of different websites. Now you want to make sure that some of the websites like and things like that are updated as well and accurate. But in the dental world, especially if you have more than one dentist working in your practice, complexities as far as listing the practice name and the dentist underneath that. There are specific guidelines that Google has around listing practices, so it is important that you know that. But making sure your name, address and phone number (NAP for short) is accurate across literally hundreds of sites is a critical component; not only for the user experience but from appearing in the local section for SEO, that is a huge component of that.

Now this just gives you an idea of how your website is the center of all the links pointing to your website. Your Google listing is the center of all your citations. There is major data providers like… InfoUSA, . Now those data aggregators take all that content and disseminate to thousands of sites. So it is important to make sure it is updated and it is accurate with those sites first, or you will continue to get bad data into other areas. Then you are looking at the authority, quality and consistency of the citations to your site. Again, kind of covering a high level overview, I just want to cover a little bit of depth into it and there you can get some more.

Reputation specifically for dentists is critical. You will see here a study done by Bright Local looking at how much does reputation matter when choosing a business. You are right behind restaurant and cafe, along with doctors and dentists. That specific category is one of the highest things people are looking at. They are reading your reviews, it is critical that you have a strategy in place to make sure you are driving a good reputation. Not only does it help from people converting and taking action; but it can also benefit from an SEO perspective, people are actually putting keywords and user generated reviews; that content can help you rank as well.

Now another part of the study done by Bright Local looked at what percentage of consumers would look at a business if it had X number of reviews. 4 out of 5 stars, 94% of people would still do business with you. So that is not bad but what you have to be careful of is when you drop down to 3 out of 5 stars; 57% people reported they would still do business with you. That is a loss of 43%, so if you have potential revenue of say $1,000,000 flowing through that channel; that is a loss of $430,000 of opportunity lost. It is just critical that you take a proactive approach.

So we asked everybody, what’s your biggest challenge when it comes to marketing your practice? There was… a lot of great answers, but it really came down to knowing what works. You can see right here, knowing, tracking, patients, marketing, time cost. The top area was really knowing what was working and what wasn’t working. That was a big component also with… the feedback on the agency side, it was really understanding what are you doing and how is it working for us? So for agencies it is really important that you are communicating the value to your clients, telling them this is what we have done, and this is what it’s doing, and here is what the return on investment you are getting from us; that is a critical component.

The other big part of course is cost, budget; overall that was kind of the second factor… and time, cost, you see cost, money, all those other factors in there. Then time was another big factor, cost money budget, time… time was a big factor and that is something for everyone. One of the things we noticed was practices, the office manager was also handling the marketing in some cases, or certain elements of the marketing and that is where… it just became difficult and time was a greater factor there.

Now I wanted to give you guys something you could do today and you could just get some action, get some positive momentum going forward. So I am giving you a few tips; these are things literally you can do and it will take you… depending how you do it, it might take you less than 15 minutes… that you are going to get started right away. My bet is that… almost none of you have this app installed, all of you should. It’s the Google my business app. It is your listing on Google and anytime someone reviews you, you get a notification. So it will actually prompt you and say, hey you got a five star review from so-and-so. Then you can go in there and thank that person and it also shows when other people are coming to your listing, it shows them that you are active.

Google wants to reward people who are interacting with the platform, because they have a higher level of confidence that the customer is going to have a good experience with you. It is their customer so they want to make sure they have a good experience. So download the Google my business app… completely fill out your GMB profile. So that is your categories, your description, you want to add images of the interior, the exterior, maybe some of your team, your dentist. You can do all that with your phone right inside app, you can take pictures then upload that. It makes it extremely simple. Again, it might take your 10-15 minutes max to do all of that. Then Google recently launched the ability to post. So you can post right into the search results; you can say a little information, whether it’s like a special offer, or just some information. This is again; it is that inner activity that people want to see. Reviews recently you can see right here… we have an event coming up, it’s October 24th, we are actually having a speaker come down from Seattle talking about Facebook ads, tips and tricks, things like that. What we notice is when we post this on here; our listing overall gets a lot more views online. It actually shows up quite a bit more. There is a lot of inner activity with this. It also makes your listing stand out more. You have more real estate when people are looking there. So it is really important that you do that, you utilize that feature. Most posts do expire after about seven days, but events will stay up until the event. Utilize that.

Now I know some of you are going to want more information. I know some of the dentists I work with like to… really dive in and get to understand this. We do appreciate that; the more educated you are, the more you appreciate the work we do or your agency does for you. So we actually put together a fair amount resources at this URL Webfor.com/resources. You can download the SEO 101 white paper; that is where I would tell you to start. SEO is clearly one of the top channels for dentists. So download that, it will give you some insights into really understanding SEO and what’s important about SEO and just kind of… the basics. There is also a few other resources there which we will talk about in a second.

So another question we asked in the study is do you have to find personas to help target your ideal clients? 64% said no. This wasn’t actually… what was a surprise to me was that 35% said yes. As I define this clearly, more clearly; I think maybe even less would say less because… I think what they are thinking is oh, this is our overall demographic target market, which is not necessarily a persona. So… let me explain a little but why having a defined person and understanding the patient’s journey is critical to having a targeted campaign and really take care of that throughout this process.

So a persona is a detailed… kind of outline of your ideal patient. Should have demographic information, psychographic information and kind of overall story. I provided this example here of Julia. She is getting out of college, she is planning on marrying, she has been with her partner for six years, she is going to get married in the summer of 2018. She has been putting off some cosmetic dental work but she wants to get that done prior to her wedding. Now it goes a bit more into explaining who this person is, and you can understand… with the wedding coming up cost could be a concern, she is also a very private person, she doesn’t like that people are putting their hands in her mouth, so we want to be sensitive about that. So it is really important to understand when we are creating a persona to think about what we call FUD. FUD stands for fears, in that case Julia had fears of going to the dentist, she doesn’t feel comfortable with people invasively putting their hands in her mouth things like that. So it is really important to understand what are their fears, what are their uncertainties, what fears do they have? If they haven’t been to the dentist in a long time they may be embarrassed, there is always different factors you want to think about. What are their desires? What are they ultimately looking to do and how can you ensure that you are communicating that you are going to fulfil those desires when they come. It is going to be a smooth experience, it is not going to be painful, you are going to address some of those fears throughout the process as well.

Then ultimately how do they make decisions when they are looking at selecting dentist? So that is a critical component as well, as you are looking at the patient’s journey; you tend to uncover that a little bit more. A patient journey is basically… you can have the general idea of the channels and how they interact through different channels as they go through the process. But… if you want to get really detailed it is more of understanding what they are feeling, thinking, doing… as they interact throughout multiple channels and move through different stages of the process; from the initial kind of research awareness phase to… consideration, to conversion where they are actually taking an action to… scheduling an appointment… then comes loyalty after that which… I am not going to spend a lot of time on this, but you can kind of take a look at that, what are they thinking in that moment, what are they feeling, what are they doing? So what specific actions? So you are thinking part of that is understanding… well if I am on a mobile device, this is one thing we have seen from clients over the last few years is… their mobile traffic has increase immensely, but they haven’t necessarily… they may have gone mobile, and so we look at that. But it is still about creating a great user experience on mobile. So if they are on there, and we have a video session and we see they are having problems trying… they are clicking text because they think it’s linked, whatever it is, right? You really want to understand all of those different stages of that process and make it as smooth as possible for them.

Just a general digital marketing funnel, just to give you a general idea when you think there is the exposure phase, branding, that discovery and awareness phase, a going through consideration where they are actually looking at your business, they are looking at reviews, they are looking competitor’s reviews. They are going through that whole process, they are looking at procedures… with today’s age we have access to so much information. They are going to know much more when they come in now than when they did ten years ago. Ultimately if you can be that resource, if you can provide that education, provide that information and be a thought leader in your industry; you are going to have a much better chance to going to the next stage which is conversion. Taking action, they are calling, e-mailing then ultimately you give them the appointment.

One part a lot of people kind of miss out on is… which a lot of dentists do this pretty well because they know their business is so… much… counting on their current customers, retaining customers, having a great customer relationship. But that is a critical component of the funnel is the current customers. If you take care of them and they do great; then they can be your brand champions and go out and actually generate more customers for you from that standpoint.

Alright it looks like we are doing good on time. I will try to go really fast, I want to make sure I go through everything; I want to have time for questions. So search paths, this is really at that discovery phase of the process. When you think about in the medical arena as a whole; we have seen from a data standpoint, search metrics show that people tend to look at initially in the top of the funnel; they tend to look at symptoms. So they start searching out really quickly a sore tooth or… they might be looking at bloody gums. They might be looking at specific symptoms. They also might be looking at conditions or diseases as they are going through that. They are saying… I took out one of my sons teeth the other day with dental floss… luckily with my dad being a dentist. He used to call me the pliers man but I learned the dental floss trick is much better. But you can specifically look at conditions or diseases; and as you go further throughout that process, you will see at the beginning of the path you have much less branded terms.

At the very beginning of the state there is not a lot of people who are looking for your specific practice. So there is over 90% opportunity out there really if you look at it that way. They may have already made a decision, but as you go further through the practice, further through the journey you see that roughly about 48%, nearly half the people at that point are now looking for branded terms whether they are looking for your specific practise name or a practise name at that point. So it is really important that you can target your strategy to… take care of those clients.

Speaking of tracking we asked this question; how are you tracking your results? In some ways this turned out a little bit better than I thought. I know a lot of the people we initially did consultations for… they don’t tend to know. When you thought paperwork was kind of standard; I was surprised not everyone answered that. Really that should be something everyone does, right? When you are asking them to file the paperwork they should have a general idea. That’s part of the stage where they have scheduled an appointment and I should know. It is also critical how you ask that question. If you ask how did you hear about is response. It is better to ask how did you come to find us or something like that. They will give you a little bit more of a description and… given them the option of selecting multiple channels because almost is no cases is it… one instance where someone… maybe told them about you or they also did research; they looked at you online, they visited your website or… whatever it is. So it is important to understand all the different channels that were involved throughout that process.

Asking over the phone is definitely a great practice as well. How they recommend . This was a little surprising; a lot of people not really tracking at all. That is like not even asking when they filled out the paperwork. So I did like this though; there are quite a lot of people using dynamic phone call tracking which is something we highly recommend. It allows you to understand where your calls are coming from, and if they are coming from your organic SEO, if they are coming from your social media strategies; whatever they are you can actually generate and track those calls from different sources.

Of course conversions and analytics should have those set up real easy. Someone fills in a form… so. It is good to see some people are tracking results but it is a long ways as you can see some of the challenges we talked about… as far as what practices are facing, understanding how to track the results was a critical component.

So I am just going to give you a couple of suggestions; as far as things you should be trying to work towards as far as getting a grasp on all these things, and understanding what metrics you should be tracking. Ultimately there are different levels of metrics you should be tracking. Obviously you are looking at traffic overall to your website is important. Understanding time on site, there are all those type of factors that are… kind of the symptoms so to speak, right? But ultimately we want to look at… what are the conversions overall? And what are they by channel? A channel could be search, social, right? Channel could… you could segment your analytics and see… how many from your paid campaign, how many conversions have you got and what is your actual cost per acquisition in that paid channel. You have got to do some different kind of math to make sure you are getting that from your organic channels and things like that. But that is really what you should be looking to understand is… what channels are driving conversions. So that is where we see some results as far as what channels are working for people is because they are tracking that. Now they may be looking at it and guessing from some standpoint… it is more important to really understand.

Now you also want to look at your calls by channel. You are not going to be able to do that unless you have some sort of call tracking type service. We recommend Call Rail, it is something we use internally for our clients… but it is something you can set up and show different phone numbers based on where they are from. I can get into more and explain some of the differences. There used to be SEO concerns around call tracking numbers.

So I talked about cost per acquisition by channel. It is a little more difficult to come up with, but you should be working towards trying to get that metric. What that will do is say our cost per acquisition by channel; when we are doing this it costs us $200 to get a new patient. This channel costs us $500 to get a new patient. This one is costing us $100. If you take that into account with the volume. While… I won’t get into all the details now; but if you take that into account you can understand where you should be investing your money. Ultimately what is your and segmenting that by channel. So as you understand in search we are getting a 5-1 return investment, definitely we need to continue that channel. Our campaign over here we have been doing, on social, organic hasn’t produced much ROI, it is supporting some of our other channels so we want to do it but not putting so much of a focus on there. That is kind of how you should be looking at it. That is what we will see with some of the larger practices.

One of the questions we ask is do you have a documented digital marketing strategy? Again, I was a little surprised that 33% said they did have a documented digital strategy. That is probably… I still think that is a little higher, some people might be thinking they have a strategy when they have some general ideas of what they want to do written down. It is really important and I am going to outline… a little but more about strategy so… I really want you to tie everything together. It is really critical that… the old saying is most people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. So it is important you tie it all together with a comprehensive strategy, and understand how to use a multi-channel approach to target effectively your potential patients, your ideal patients.

So I do want to throw this out there as well; I wanted to thank everyone who participated in the study and give this as a thank you to you. Here offering three free hours of digital strategy consulting work. Now I am limiting that, I am… we scheduled four openings per month we can do that on. So it is limited but if we have excess we can schedule it out in November etc. We will just make that happen but… it is something we want to do, we want to help you. What we generally do with that is we will go through and understand… we will do an audit of your current site, we will look at your local listings, your citations, your link profile. We will maybe do a bit more of a competitive analysis if you us to. We sit down with you and show you where some things you can do to improve your online presence as a whole. Generally in this we just want to provide a ton of value so… if you go to webfor.com/3hours, fill out that form; I will get back to you right away and see what we can schedule. Thank you again for participating in the study and helping us.

Alright so let’s talk about strategy. When I think about strategy I… have written a lot about what we call customer center strategy. I personally believe that if your strategy is not customer centric, your strategy is ineffective. What I mean by that is; it is like saying I have a strategy but I don’t have a target. I want to shoot this arrow at something and hit it… okay well you need to have a target. Everything you do should really understand your customer. Your patient is at the centre of your entire marketing strategy.

Now for a digital strategy and offline strategy, additional . You also want to look at endorsers. So in addition to a patient persona that you might create; you might look at creating an endorser persona depending on the side of your practise. Endorsers are people like media, influencers in your specific industry. Even your customers are endorsers. Peers, other peers, vendors, things like that. People who might link to you, might mention to you, might give you a testimonial, all those kinds of things. The media who might content. We can dive into that a little more at another point. Definitely a key component of the strategy. Then you really want to understand your community. For dental practices especially community is critical. That is why it is good to have the social on it. It might not produce as high ROI, but it can really explain how involved you are in the community. Most dental practices have that… kind of five to ten mile radius that is the critical area as far as where their patients are coming from. So you definitely want to understand your community.

So now that you have that, now you want to start looking at other channels, right? So we identified that… there is three major channels that we tend to look at on the digital side; there is search, social, and there is direct. Direct is basically when someone reaches out directly to you. It could be e-mail, text messages, things like that. But a true integrated strategy is going to look at least these kinds of three large channels as part of it, there might be other factors that are involved as well.

Now search… is generally when there is a demand for what you are offering. In your industry you don’t have to worry about that. But in other cases we had a client come in recently that… said he needed SEO, he had invented a brand new product, but there was no one looking for that product or the problem that it solved, right? There was no demand so search was not the right channel for them. Social, right? Social media… there is a few components that we talk about social being a benefit for your business. One is that the more or a defined persona you have; the more targeted… because of the social targeting features that you can do; targeting by title, targeting by psychographic and demographic details, social can sometimes be a good channel there. Generally the more… social your business is as a whole; the more social media will be effective for you. Basically if people don’t want to talk about your product or service… with friends or other people out loud, not something you are going to go onto social media and show saying hey I really like this. It is just not something… but restaurants, dentists do very well on the social side as far as the content they can share. But again it is still one of those areas that is not necessarily on the high end of the social side like a restaurant or a spa or something like that.

Then you have direct. Now direct is… great for dentists. When somebody reaches out to you through creating e-mails reminding patients, or text messages reminding patients about their appointments, reminding them they haven’t had a check up in a while. All of those things will help with the repeat side of the business. Depending how you structure it, it can help with driving them further down the conversion funnel as well.

None of this strategy would come together without some of these other things. Your website, your content, user experience, brand, reputation, management, analytics. Those things should be throughout all these other channels, right? So from that standpoint you really want to understand how is my website being utilised in search? On the social side you should be setting up Facebook opengraph, different social type… code that allows your website to be displaced better on social media. Your content strategy… are you creating content that is useful, education? That is maybe entertaining for your target audience, right? So the better you know your target audience the better you can do that. When you create great content and it is showing up in search engines, right? It is getting shared on social media, you are sending out inter e-mail campaign. All these channels are working together and ultimately the more touches you have in these different channels… it is like gravity pulling them closer to the center to be part of your community, part of your brand, ultimately become a customer. If they have a great experience then that is when they become a brand champion.

That is kind of the overall visual of what a good strategy should look like, and thinking about the customer/patient through the whole journey as a whole. Now most people’s strategies are more like this. Well I am doing a little bit of social, I am doing some search and direct; but they don’t really work together, I am not… really creating content, but when i do create content it is haphazardly. It doesn’t get re-purposed for search engines, it doesn’t get sent out in our e-mail campaigns. The user experiences on these devices again… these are all things that… this is more often what you see in the strategy as a whole.

Now here is what a strategy should look like based on the information we got back from some of the dentists in the study. Overall this has generally been more of something we recommended based on the research we have done as well… again we use the size of the circle to show more of a focus in that area. So for dentists search should be one of their primary focuses. Social should also be a big component. You can use the paid social strategy as well as paid search to target people locally in the very close vicinity of your practice, high probability people to come to your practise, right? So you can improve your reach out investment there. You can use direct email type strategies, text strategies to stay in contact with them. All these things should work together. That is what a good cohesive strategy should look like. You should be thinking about what questions our patients/customers have throughout the different stages of the process. Does our content… address those questions in a manner that is engaging for them? So if you have it set up that way and you are creating a great experience, you have great content; you are going to have better results.

Again analytics, this is one of the key components, all those things come through this way. Your analytics should be tracking how effective of those channels for us. Is search driving more visitors? Is social media really helping us drive engagement? You want to make sure you have analytics across these sources that are coming together so you really understand.

With that I want to just say thank you so much for your time. This has been a lot of work and a lot of great learning experiences for us and we are looking forward to publishing this study online.

We Aren’t Done Yet

This is only the beginning for us at Webfor and we look forward to working with members of our community now and in the future. You can read more about our dental practice website design and marketing services and hear from past or current clients.

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