Dental Marketing Pitfalls

Marketing “gotchas” to look out for

All is not as transparent as it may seem when you are dealing with some dental design and marketing companies. Unfortunately we see too many case where a little knowledge is sufficient to mesmerise the layman (in this case unsuspecting dentists) and convince them to purchase services that are simple to implement but carry a disproportionate price tag! Here are some of the major “gotchas” to look out for:

Up-sold design packages

Here the client is encouraged to purchase expensive packages to allow access to the “latest” web features. In fact these “high end” features are relatively simple and should not be subject to significant price hikes. Examples of features used as part of the up-sell are:

  • “clever” drop-down menu systems
  • animated logos
  • use of “Flash” – as you will see below this is not a good option!
  • “multiple locations” – a large premium for adding keywords for locations adjacent to your home base
  • adding a Google Places listing
  • “premium” photographs – these are available at low cost from stock image websites
  • Google page one listings (this is relatively straightforward to achieve for most locations)
  • Google map
  • Social media links (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
  • Email services – this is free with all hosting packages so why pay more for it?
  • Visitor “hit” statistics from your website – again this is free with all hosting packages so why pay more for it?
  • the list goes on……..

We believe that all websites should come fully featured as standard irrespective of the website size. The Dental Media standard feature set includes all of the above items – find more detail by clicking here.

The monthly support package

In some cases a client may need a monthly support package – but it is often “hard” sold. The alternative is a cost effective pay-as-you-go service which may be way more cost effective than a large monthly outlay. If you do elect to take a support package, check very carefully what you are getting for it and ensure you see evidence that the quoted work (e.g. search optimisation) has actually been done and yielded results.

Dental treatment animations

Some dental design companies offer treatment animations as part of their high end packages but unless you read the contractual small print very carefully, you don’t realise that they don’t belong to you. The animations are only yours to use if you remain a client of the supplier –  quite an insidious tie-in for the unsuspecting. There are now similar treatments animations available for a one-off purchase and they belong to you – clearly a better option.

“One size fits all” SEO packages

If done correctly, SEO is a time consuming and precise activity. Each website is unique and for SEO to be successful needs careful assessment both in terms of its on-site and off-site ranking factors. A thorough competitor analysis is also required. Only when all of this has been done can a strategy and cost be calculated. Consequently we strongly recommend shying away from SEO services that come at a fixed price as they simply won’t be professional and thorough.

“Unlimited” website pages

Beware the offer of “unlimited” anything. In reality the provider knows that you won’t need and hence won’t use this. Much better to agree a navigation structure and content model at the start of the website design and a corresponding price for the job. If you do have a lot of pages, then under the “unlimited” model don’t expect the content to be high quality – the provider’s model doesn’t allow for this and they simply won’t provide it.

Free treatment text

To avoid Google duplicate content penalties, it is critical that all website text is unique. It is also critical that the text is well written, informative for users and correctly structured for SEO puposes. “Free” text writing does not allow for any of this and you should expect poor quality if you follow this route. More detail on the pitfalls of duplicate text on dental websites here.

Flash animation

Flash is a dying technology due primarily to Apple refusing to integrate it with their IPhone and IPad platforms – Flash animation simply does not display. Yet we still see some dental design companies differentiating their services with the offer of Flash animation! If your chosen designer is trying to sell you Flash animation or suggesting that you need a mobile website version to get around it, then you should really be asking them why.

Content management systems sold as part of support contracts

Content management systems are useful for some people who have the time and skill to use them. These days they are relatively easy to implement on a website and are more powerful and easier to use than ever before. Typically a CMS should cost you in the region of £250 to implement. The idea of a CMS is that you can make website changes independent of the original supplier i.e. no ongoing monthly support fees – quite logical. However, some dental design companies will only provide a CMS for your website if you purchase a monthly support package – go figure!

A mobile website is essential! It isn’t (yet)

Please do not misunderstand me when I de-emphasise the importance of a mobile website – mobile web usage is increasing and you should certainly consider a mobile site within your overall web marketing portfolio. However, when we hear companies saying that 15% of all web traffic is from mobile devices, what they are not doing is drilling into those statistics. The vast majority of mobile use is still from the younger demographic who mainly access social media sites like Facebook. There are still relatively few who use mobile to transact on-line or use it to search for services. However, mobile is here to stay and its use will continue to grow – so whilst a mobile site is a decent strategy, you won’t be significantly disadvantaged without one just yet.

Summary

To summarise, please be careful to ask the right questions when purchasing marketing services from any supplier and make sure their offer is completely transparent.  If you are unsure, please contact us directly on 01332 672548 and we will be pleased to offer free advice.

Dental Media