Is a confusing website costing you new patients?

Try the 5 second engagement test

confused website userHave you ever wondered just how well your website works when a new visitor lands on your home page? You may be confident all is well, but do you really know?

For example, you may have data from Google Analytics which shows general overall performance, but chances are it doesn’t drill into specific performance at page level?

So is your home page working well, about average or perhaps really quite badly? Frankly, most dental website owners don’t really have much insight at all, so if you don’t really know the answer, you’re not alone. But that’s not good, particularly given how important a high-functioning website is for new patient acquisition.

Perhaps it might surprise you to suggest that for most websites, well over half of the visitors never make it past the first page and simply leave the site immediately, whether through confusion, disinterest or both. What’s more, this figure can be even higher depending on the source of the traffic; for example, web visitors from social media are generally much less interested in your website than those who have searched with specific intent in Google.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The configuration of your home page, or indeed any landing page to which you are directing traffic, can make a massive difference to how users react when they reach there. Will they be immediately engaged and compelled to look further into your services, or will they be confused and look elsewhere, possibly at your direct competitor’s website?

Let’s get some deeper insights and see how you can make a positive difference, starting out with the ‘5 second test’.

So what is the 5 second test for dental websites? Read more ›

Posted in Website

How To Encourage Positive Patient Reviews

Don’t disregard the review process – it’s a business priority!

Google 5 star reviewYou’ll probably know from your own experience just how powerful reviews are when it comes to selecting new products or services. We all do it – whether it’s a product from Amazon, your local restaurant, car repair or holiday destination, most of us will scour the web to check out what other people have to say before we make a commitment to purchase.

There is plenty of research covering the subject of reviews with the vast majority of people suggesting that they are influenced pretty much in equal part by positive as well as negative feedback. Bad reviews can really have a negative effect on your business and it doesn’t take long for a solid reputation to become trashed. Good reviews act as a “third party”, independent validation of your services and are much more powerful than saying it yourself!

But it’s not just about demonstrating your worth to potential new patients, it’s also about convincing Google to rank you higher in search results. Google also recognises the critical importance of reviews as an overall “quality indicator” and there is a high correlation between the number of good reviews a business has and its positions in the search engines; particularly the local/map results on page one. So it’s a virtuous circle – the more reviews you have, the better your chances of ranking well and the more traffic you can expect to your website. More traffic equals more patient enquiries and more opportunity for reviews!

So with all the evidence abundantly clear, you might imagine that all dentists would be fully bought-in to the process and busy installing procedures and motivating their teams to seek out reviews proactively and consistently? However, you’d be wrong. Unfortunately there are still lots of dental businesses out there that shun the review process, missing the benefits that positive reviews bring whilst being compromised by the poor reviews which appear about them. It’s a conversation I’ve had numerous times and it can be quite frustrating to have the evidence dismissed.

Of course there are also lots of dentists who completely understand the review process and how important it is for their business. This blog will take a quick look at some of the techniques they use to build a steady stream of reviews across the platforms which count.

Ask for a review

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Posted in Advice

Telephone Call Analytics For Dental Marketing

Plugging the data ‘black-hole’ when assessing marketing ROI

telephone call analyticsWe all know how useful tools like Google Analytics are when it comes to assessing the performance of your website and evaluating the quality of traffic from various sources, whether organic (free), paid or from social media.

However, whilst we can set up these data collection tools very carefully and diligently analyse the data they report, there is still a large black-hole in our insights and knowledge.

This is because the free analytics tools do not allow us to measure the number of telephone enquiry calls that result from search related activity i.e. when the potential new patient searches on Google, or finds you on social media and calls in, rather than completing the contact form on your website.

This is particularly important because we know that typically around 3 times as many new enquiries to dental practices are made via the ‘phone rather than via website contact forms.

However, there is an option to plug this black-hole in our data and which allows us to provide 360 degree reporting on all new leads generated from websites and other channels. This is the use of telephone analytics to complement the regular systems.

What is “telephone analytics” and how does it work?

Telephone or call analytics is a very clever system which integrates seamlessly with your website and existing ‘phone system to provide comprehensive data on enquires which come in via telephone. The system will also integrate with Google Analytics and tell you what search term patients used to find your business and which page of your website they were on when they made the call. It’s extremely powerful!

The system works by presenting a unique telephone number to each user so you can effectively “tag and trace” their journey through your website. You do not need to change your existing business ‘phone number as the call analytics system simply interfaces with this is the background. Also, you do not have to worry about users being put off by the format of the new number they are presented with on your website – the area code can be made to match the one they would normally expect. Should they call you on your standard number, this will continue to work. The technical jargon for all of this is “dynamic number replacement” and here at Dental Media we can get you set up in no time at all.

What does it cost?

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Posted in Telephone

Paying too much for your website maintenance?

Why dentists are switching to Dental Media

budget for marketingWith the ever increasing cost of doing business in the dental sector, dentists are examining their budgets more closely than ever before. Whether this is the proportion paid to associates, or the fee for maintaining the air compressors, everything is justifiably coming under scrutiny.

One such area of cost control is website maintenance and the many hundreds if not thousands of pounds that some dentists spend on this every year. The realisation is dawning that, for many dental practices, lots of money is spent every month on website maintenance services even when there is little or no work to show for it. Dentists are lured into these “mandatory” fees by what appears to be a useful range of services on offer, including SEO, security updates and more. However, closer inspection shows that the SEO component of the fee is often negligible or non-existent and that the security updates can be done 3 or 4 times a year very cheaply indeed.

So what the dental web design company is actually doing, is charging you a huge monthly premium for not much at all; a bit like a dental plan where the patient rarely attends. They can get away with this because, understandably, a dentist or practice manager might have heard that SEO is sensible and that website security updates are essential, but beyond that they really don’t know the scope of the activities being offered.

However, what we are seeing now is that web savvy clients with an eye on budget are realising that there is a better alternative for dentists which not only saves hundreds of pounds per year, but also delivers excellent service too.

What your monthly ‘SEO’ maintenance package doesn’t deliver

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Posted in Website

Facebook Advertising For Dentists

Avoid shouting into the wind!

Facebook logoHere at Dental Media we look after hundreds of dental websites and also the web analytics which accompanies them. This gives us an excellent overview of the data generated when users visit websites and in particular, the route they take to reach you. So for example whether they came via a Google search, clicking on a link on a third-party website, a paid advert or perhaps from social media.

It’s actually quite fascinating to see what works and what doesn’t when it comes to attracting the right sort of traffic to a website. Where we undertake digital marketing for the dentists concerned, this data is essential as it allows us to adjust our approach to make the best use of the marketing budgets available.

Sorting the wheat from the chaff

Whilst for most of our clients we manage all of their digital channels, we do have a few where the social media channels are self-managed, i.e. locally by the dental team, or by another party. Where this happens, it has become quite clear that much of it is not being managed to best effect and that considerable money is being wasted on clicks where the user has minimal interest in using the service on offer. What is happening in most of these cases, is that basic adverts are being pushed out on to Facebook without any real targeting at all. Consequently the traffic that results from them is very poor and leads to minimal “conversions” i.e. very limited new patient enquiries.

The rush to Facebook – why is this happening?

Whilst Facebook clearly has a lot of potential for helping attract new business when used correctly , the “quality” of the traffic coming from the platform can be quite poor when compared to that coming from people specifically searching for services in Google for example. Despite this, there are a few dental business evangelists who continue to push Facebook as the universal panacea for new patient enquiries, and there is clear momentum in the dental community to “get on there”. In this rush, there appear to be quite a few practices who are getting caught up in the fervour but failing to set up correctly – and hence wasting valuable marketing budget.

This is not suggesting that Facebook isn’t useful – it certainly can be as part of a balanced digital strategy with the appropriate support and experience behind it.

The critical role of targeting

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Posted in Advice

Digital marketing, SEO, SEM, PPC – what does it all mean?

Navigating the dental marketing minefield.

A number of UK design companies, including those providing specific services to dentists, are re-branding themselves and moving away from just providing web design services. You will see them starting to use over-arching descriptions such as “digital solutions provider, “digital marketer” etc, alongside all of the channel specialisms such as SEO, SEM and PPC.

But what does all of this mean and how does a dentist or practice manager navigate the minefield to determine just what’s right for them?

As a start, today’s blog will try to provide a basic, layperson’s explanation of each of the main marketing terms and acronyms you will stumble across, to give a decent working knowledge of what it’s all about.

explaining digital marketing terminology
Digital Marketing – this is an overall descriptive term which covers all of the activities and techniques which can be used to market a business in the digital sense, so typically involving the web or apps. So for example, your practice website is a main foundation for digital marketing and then search engine optimisation would a technique to help get it found on Google. Many techniques fall into the overall “digital marketing” bucket.

Digital Solutions Provider – this is an even broader term which pretty much encompasses everything digital! So for example a true digital solutions provider would encompass most or all of the digital marketing techniques and also offer design services such as apps and websites, apps, video, photography, SEO and more.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – this is a key activity which uses numerous techniques to move a website forward in the search engines. In the UK this would primarily be Google which accounts for 90% of all search queries. You can read more about the specifics of SEO for dentists elsewhere in this blog and why it’s so important for dentists websites.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Pay-Per-Click – the lines are a little blurred here and these terms tend to refer to very similar things. Essentially these activities relate to how you can use paid advertising to gain traffic from the search engines, typically by launching adverts for which you pay every time they are clicked. A very popular technique for dentists is the use of Google AdWords.

Social Media Marketing (SMM) and Social Media Optimisation (SMO) – these are techniques which use social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to advertise products and services. By gaining “fans”, “followers”, “likes” etc, you can use social media to broadcast the word about your business and encourage people to engage and hopefully buy from you. You can also advertise in various ways on the different social channels to broaden your “reach” and increase the chances of engagement.

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Posted in Advice

Writing content for your dental practice blog

Where to start? What subjects to cover?

content for dental blogsIt is widely accepted that blogging for dentists is well worthwhile and it’s easy to demonstrate a number of benefits as we’ve discussed in detail elsewhere in our marketing blog. I won’t cover the same ground here but suffice to say that blogging has big benefits for Google ranking (SEO) as well as providing useful information for patients to help engagement and encourage connection.

But what about the content needed to make blogging work? Who should generate it and what form should it take?

Sharing the responsibility

We can discuss sharing in two senses here; how the responsibility should be shared across the dental team and also the role of the external marketing agency. Let’s start with the local team.

Blogging and the role of the dental team – generating high-quality content for a blog is not trivial but neither should it be too onerous. Ideally, writing dental blogs should be shared across the team, obviously recognising who has the aptitude to do it and making time accordingly. However, there should be some management impetus behind the initiative and where responsibility has been allocated, results should be monitored. This doesn’t mean simply lumping it all on the practice manager or the nurse who has an English ‘A’ level. It is sensible to include the clinicians too, particularly when generating content regarding different types of treatment and the benefits they can bring.

Blogging and the role of the external marketer – I mentioned earlier how blogging can be an excellent tool to assist with SEO, and this is where your marketing guy comes into play. The blogs which tend to work best of all have a good balance of technical SEO content, typically completed by a marketer; working in conjunction with practice-focused content generated by the local team. Your marketing guy can concentrate on the SEO aspects whilst the more “empathetic” content will be contributed locally.

What type of content should be used for a dental blog?

Read more ›

Posted in blogging

Why your website matters more than ever

Don’t rely on Facebook as your main public landing-page

optimising website designDuring a recent conversation with a group of dentists, it came to light that they had been advised that a Facebook business page would work better than a website for attracting new patients. They were told to dispense with a website and put their budgets fully behind Facebook marketing.

Based on this incorrect information, they were considering setting up a free Facebook business page and trying to use this as their main public-facing landing page. Whilst a well-managed Facebook page is important for a business, it certainly can’t take the place of a professionally developed website as I’ll illustrate below.

There is no doubt that social media marketing is becoming more established and indeed should be part of the online marketing strategy for dentists looking to harness the power of the web to attract new customers. However, it is still just one component within the overall strategy and certainly cannot stand-alone.

Here are the main reasons why your dental website is still the main hub for acquiring new patients online.

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Posted in Website

Measuring website performance

Key measurements for dental business owners.

Many of us will have heard the phrase “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” and perhaps unsurprisingly, this also holds true for website performance. You might think that dentists would be right on the ball when it comes to this, particularly considering how important a website is for gaining new patient business. However, it still surprises me to find that the majority aren’t and that lots of improvement opportunities are going to waste.

Where dentists are trying to assess the performance of their websites, we also see a huge variance in quality, ranging from those who have Google Analytics installed but don’t really use it or know how to use it, through to auto-generated reports delivered by marketing companies which fail to measure the factors which really make the difference. Of course, periodically we do see website reporting and management done correctly, but unfortunately this is a small minority of cases.

Website performance – what should you measure?

My advice here is that you only really need to see a report which shows the headline data – sufficient for you to know that the website is performing well and that your digital marketing spend is returning appropriately on the investment. For sure you can drill right down to the “nitty-gritty” data if you wish, but typically dentists are too busy with their business to find time for that. So like any business performance metrics, a concise “headline” report should be sufficient. However, you do need to be sure that your marketing company is presenting the right data and that you can trust them. Unfortunately I’ve seen way too many examples where this wasn’t the case.

As a minimum you need to know the following:

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Posted in seo

Getting the most out of your dental photography shoot

Invest a little time and money for the best results

Dental Media photography for dentistsWhen it comes to making a real difference with your dental website, one of the key recommendations is to invest in bespoke photography rather than use stock images.

Whilst there are some great stock images out there and undoubtedly you can build a decent website using them, it’s well-understood that they don’t work nearly as well as personalised imagery. Simply put, users prefer to see who and what they are dealing with, rather than a set of generic stock photographs which may look “nice” but are not very engaging.

To help dentists accomplish this, here at Dental Media we offer an integrated photography service for dentists whereby our photographer visits the practice to capture a suite of excellent images of the facilities and team. We can also arrange for images to accompany patient testimonials and shots of the surrounding area where applicable.

This is a professional service undertaken by a photographer who has worked in the business for many years, including the dental press. It is not to be confused with the budget services some web designers offer whereby a junior staff member turns up simply to take a few basic head-shots for use on the website as part of the website design fee. Whilst that is better than nothing, it isn’t really going to give you the result you need to make your website really stand out. So it really is worth paying a sensible fee to invest in a professional shoot which will provide excellent images which can be used in a variety of media – i.e. web and print.

Preparation makes a difference….

Once you’ve made the decision to invest in professional photography, you want to do it justice by making a few simple preparations for the day of the shoot as follows:

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Posted in Photography