Top 5 Dental Marketing Mistakes From 2020

Top 5 Dental Marketing Mistakes From 2020

A recap on recurring dentist marketing pitfalls

2020 has certainly been an unusual year and not really in a good way! With the advent of Covid-19 and what looks like turmoil and uncertainty associated with Brexit and other world events, many businesses have been destabilised, dentists included.

That said, life goes on and whilst dentists have paused some of their marketing activities, particularly during the worst months of lock-down, the basics have, in main part, continued. So we’ve seen search engine optimisation initiatives and PPC campaigns continuing in spite of the current difficulties. Indeed we’ve seen a lot of interesting marketing developments as we’ve helped clients adapt to the “new normal” and implement novel ways of reaching and serving their patients.

Despite some good news amongst the more general global grief, unfortunately we are still seeing many of the same marketing mistakes dentists regularly make with their marketing initiatives, many of them costing substantial amounts of money. So we thought we’d recap on the main errors we’ve seen recently with the intention of helping you avoid similar! Let’s dive in….

Onerous contractual tie-ins

This is still a huge issue in the dental marketing arena with most agencies still pushing dentists to sign-up for long term contracts of at least a year or more. We’ve had several new clients contact us to ask if we can help them escape from these types of arrangements where they couldn’t quit, even where the supplier had demonstrably failed. Typical examples were Invisalign marketing campaigns which were hugely over-priced versus what was being delivered, bad PPC contracts where the dentist realised that the supplier was skimming the click budget, and of course the perennial issue of the monthly website maintenance and SEO contract which was being paid for but no work was being done on the site.

These types of very dodgy contracts are absolutely rife in the digital marketing sector and way too many dentists still fall for them. So as an absolute minimum, if you are tempted to sign up to something like this, please ensure that the contract has some form of performance element which allows you to quit if agreed standards are not met.

Please also remember that there is a much better alternative that all clients here at Dental Media enjoy i.e. absolutely zero contractual tie-ins for our marketing services.

SEO campaigns that don’t work

This is another regular “fail” where dentists fall foul of promises which don’t get fulfilled. This tends to come in two forms as follows:

  • SEO which is outsourced to off-shore third-parties who break Google’s web publishing guidelines and ultimately get their client’s websites banned from or demoted in Google
  • SEO which is sold as part of a monthly website maintenance contract but is so minimal that it doesn’t achieve any success. This year we had a couple of former employees of two well-known dental marketing companies approach us for work. They were most forthcoming in explaining these types of tactics and indeed how little work was actually being done on client’s websites, despite the client paying large monthly fees as part of yearly contracts. Please don’t get suckered into arrangements like this.

It is important to recognise that good quality SEO is extremely time-consuming and hence not cheap. However the potential rewards of great Google positions are huge, so you need to be prepared to pay a trusted supplier to achieve the results you need. For certain, don’t throw good money after bad.

DIY pay-per-click campaigns

This is still way too common; indeed it seems that the number of dentists dabbling with a bit of DIY Google and Facebook ads is increasing. Invariably when we are called in to help, we find accounts set up in a very primitive way and leaking budget profusely. This simply serves to line Google’s bulging pockets rather than those of the dentist. Pay-per-click is frankly too complex and time-consuming to be a DIY activity and so it still pays to call in experienced assistance.

Excessive fees for Invisalign marketing

This is quite a new area but one which is attracting huge interest from dentists and marketing agencies. There are several ways that Invisalign sales are being promoted on-line but typically it involves paid advertising (Google/Facebook/Instagram) and directing web traffic to landing pages with offers, open days and other incentives. On-line booking is also a key feature along with virtual consultation tools and imaging using SmileMate, video and more. When done well, the process can be quite compelling for a potential new patient and it’s relatively straightforward to get success if you know what you’re doing.

However, it seems that the marketing companies have worked backwards from the profit available from these types of treatments rather than charging realistically for the time they actually need to configure and manage the campaigns – fees in excess of £2k per month are common, and this excludes the click costs paid to the likes of Facebook and Google. The dentists put up with this because they can cover the costs from the new treatments gained, however what they often don’t appreciate is that they are paying way over the odds for the privilege!

If you would like to see how good results can be attained at sensible costs without having to pay an excessive “dental tax” to your marketing company, please call the team here at Dental Media.

Crappy WordPress websites and other dodgy website platforms

Whilst it’s only fair to say that WordPress can be used to produce good websites, it’s also fair to point out that the platform is being used to produce a lot of “samey” generic ones too. WordPress allows designers to use cheap and cheerful, pre-designed templates to knock out websites very quickly – however they all tend to look quite similar and certainly not to the standard you need these days to elevate you above the competition.

Worse is when a WordPress site is left un-maintained and gets hacked – unfortunately this is also rife but the site owner is blissfully unaware until it happens. So if you are going to use WordPress for your practice website, be sure that it is a high-quality bespoke design, won’t become obsolete and can be maintained. You will likely need to pay your designer for assistance with this and if they’re not particularly trustworthy, there is further risk of falling into the type of onerous contract mentioned above.

Another increasing trend we are seeing is dentists who aren’t “web aware” and get sucked into having their sites designed on captive tools such as Squarespace and Wix. These are primarily web builders aimed at the DIY market and typically don’t produce great results. You also get tied into the Wix or Squarespace platforms and so your website wouldn’t be portable if you decide you need to move on. In other words, you’re well and truly stuck as most professional designers wouldn’t go near those types of DIY website building tools.


2020 has seen challenges and opportunities but common dental marketing mistakes still endure. Above we’ve covered five of the most common errors dentists made in 2020 and tried to explain what those were so you can avoid them when planning your own promotional activities.

If you need help with a new project or perhaps now realise that you’ve also fallen into a few traps historically, please call Dental Media on 01332 672548 for a quick assessment. Our team has over 20 years of experience and we’re on hand with ethical guidance to help you get back on track.