Why “all in one” web design packages may not be your best bet
The current landscape in dental web design appears to be one of providing pre-configured packages for dentists who are time-poor and just need their designer to pull everything together for them.
On the face of it, this may sound great, but is it really your best route to an excellent website which not only functions well but offer great value too? Let’s take a closer look….
Dental website packages
The types of packages you may see range from an entry level where a basic website is built using a pre-made template, stock photographs and annual website hosting – so the minimum needed to establish a basic foothold on the web. At this level you are looking at something fairly generic which won’t really make you stand-out above lots of the other sites out there.
The next level up, the “middle” ground package, may also offer a photo shoot and some treatment animations to supplement the basic package, but again not too much to really “wow” your audience. Just on the photography, this service is often provided by a design company “staffer” who has photography as a “bolt-on” responsibility, rather than a bona fide professional who has industry knowledge. So something to check if you do go the package route.
Finally the high-end package may offer additional options, for example the services of the “head designer”, fully bespoke design and a video shoot. You may also be offered some generic treatment text so you don’t have to write your own. So at the higher end, you should be able to purchase a dental website design offering more than average – but at a handsome price, often £8k or more (yes £8k!)
So is it worth opting for a pre-configured dental web design package? Here are some things to consider:
- can be convenient if you don’t have much time to spare
- can look very generic and “templated” unless you take more expensive options
- you may be buying services you don’t actually need i.e. part of the package but adding limited value
- if you opt for photography or video, you may be stuck with a very basic service
- expensive – you will likely pay a lot more for a one-stop shop service
The alternative to pre-packaged design
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Is email ever 100% safe for transferring sensitive information?
There is a great deal of confusion regarding encrypted email and what this actually means, particularly if you are considering using email to contact dental patients or perhaps transferring information to other dentists.
There are different elements to consider before making a decision about this which we’ll explain below, but ultimately you will see that unless you have access to a specialist “end-to-end” system such as the NHS email services, or use encryption tools (sender and recipient) then no system is entirely safe.
That said, robust email may still be appropriate for transferring some types of information as long as your risk-assessments and due diligence are in place and suitable.
This is the key to understanding why email is generally not considered to be 100% secure for the most sensitive types of data transfer. But why is this? When email is sent across the Internet, it passes through multiple stations between sender and recipient. Even where the dental email system supports encryption from your PC to the email server, in many cases, the email is then decrypted when it reaches the email server. It could then be encrypted again before it is sent to the recipient’s system, but equally it may not if their email connection is not encrypted. Whilst many are, there is still no guarantee that your recipient is using an encrypted connection and ultimately it is unlikely that you will ever be able to control this fully.
So even if you are doing as much as you can to ensure security, you can’t control the last link in the chain where your messages may be transmitted in readable format. Whilst interception is highly unlikely, it is still possible.
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Using DIY landing pages builders for dental PPC campaigns
If you are reasonably experienced with running pay-per-click campaigns for your dental business, perhaps using Google AdWords and/or Facebook advertising, then you are likely aware of the importance of “landing pages”.
As we’ve discussed in more detail earlier in our blog, a landing page is a hyper-focused page where you direct traffic from your paid advertising campaigns.
They differ from normal website pages in that they are set up very specifically to encourage a swift user interaction. So very clear and concise information about the service you are selling, very prominent contact details, patient testimonials etc. You can also encourage sign-up to your email marketing list via your landing pages, in fact there are quite a few different permutations depending on what your are trying to achieve.
DIY landing page builders
Over the last couple of years, several services have been launched to facilitate the building of landing pages and one of these is Clickfunnels. They are all fairly similar in concept and basically allow a user with no experience to set up a landing page reasonably quickly and with lots of features. However, as with all systems of this nature, there are pros and cons. Let’s take a quick look:
Clickfunnels – the pros
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Understand the difference for your dental website project
In another of our “understanding the basics” blogs, today we take a quick look at website domains and hosting. For lots of people this is already clear, but for those relatively new to the web and just starting out on the road to get a dental practice website established, these basic building blocks are essential to understand. So let’s dive in.
You can think of your website domain name as a “sign-post” on the Internet for anyone searching for your website. This is linked to the IP address for the server where your website files live, 24/7/365. The IP address is another unique identifier which helps links everything together when someone searches for you on-line. You don’t have to worry too much about how all of these elements are linked together as your web designer will be able to do all of the “techy” stuff that is required. However, you do need to be involved in the selection of your domain name as this is the public-facing address which links to your overall business identity.
Domain names are made available through “registrars” i.e. companies who sell them. More accurately domains are actually rented, as you never really own then outright; more that you lease them for defined periods of time. This is why you have to be careful to ensure that you renew your domain(s) in good time to prevent them expiring and being picked up by someone else. There are numerous domain extensions, .com, .co.uk, .net etc but in the UK, the recognised variant is .co.uk. This is the type we recommend using unless you have aspirations to grow your business outside of the UK. There are some specific variants for various types of institutions, so please research those which are available. However, for a standard UK dental business, .co.uk should suffice.
You can register and look after a domain yourself but it may be simpler to let your designer do this on your behalf – but please ensure that they register it in your name and not theirs! With the latter, they are the formal “owner” and not you and this is not good practice. It is likely that you designer may charge a little more to cover the admin and renewals etc but this is usually worth it and then you don’t have the worry about the domain expiring. They will also look after the technical aspects of linking the domain to your website.
So when you’ve registered a suitable domain name for your business, you then need to consider the website hosting.
Website hosting – the basics
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A simple scheme to build new patient sign-ups for dentists
There are numerous techniques dentists can use to encourage new patients sign-ups by harnessing the power of the Internet. There is the “long game” whereby you build a great website and then invest in SEO to gain prominent ranking positions; along with faster methods, for example advertising via Google AdWords or on Facebook.
All of these methods have pros and cons as we’ve discussed earlier in our blog. For example, you tend to get higher quality traffic, i.e. patients ready to “convert” (sign up) when they find you in Google, when compared to the less-engaged traffic you might expect from a Facebook ad. However, Facebook can get your name out there much faster than the time it takes to build dominant Google results.
The best campaigns will use a combination of techniques, so typically a very solid foundation using SEO to build a steady and sustainable flow of enquiries, coupled with advertising via Facebook and AdWords to “top off” as required. Many are also still using the more traditional leaflet drops and even radio ads to supplement their online initiatives.
In today’s blog we will look at a technique dentists can use to gain new enquiries quickly, namely Facebook advertising with the use of e-newsletter follow-ups.
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Audit your dental marketing campaign to eliminate these common errors.
So you have a digital marketing campaign up-and-running for your dental practice? Perhaps most of it is ‘DIY’ on the back of advice you may have gleaned from the Internet, or perhaps picked up at a dental seminar or similar. Sometimes those types of overviews make it seem simple to do, so it can’t be too tricky can it?
Maybe you’ve seen good results in a couple of areas but not in others – and can’t really work out why some of your initiatives just don’t seem to get off the ground?
This is all too common and will invariably result in you losing time and money. Without experience of what works and what doesn’t and how to adjust and adapt when things go wrong, it’s easy to get bogged down and simply keep throwing good money after bad. In circumstances like this it’s worth biting the bullet and seeking guidance from an experienced dental marketing professional as what they will save you will easily outweigh their fees – their knowledge and experience should get you back on track quickly. With this in mind, here are six of the most common mistakes we see in home-spun digital dental marketing campaigns.
Failing to embrace “mobile-friendly”
It’s hard to understand why, but we still see dentists persevering with outdated websites which are not mobile friendly. Even with Google publicly announcing that you *need* a mobile optimised site for better search ranking as well as better user experience, some practices still persist with old technology. With over 50% of all web traffic coming from mobiles devices and users insisting on a seamless experience across all platforms, a mobile-friendly site is an absolute must. If you haven’t switched yet, then really you must.
Shouting into the wind with social media
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Top mistakes we’ve encountered during the dental GDPR update frenzy
This blog will be published on or around deadline day for GDPR – 25th May, and so you could say it’s a little late with its advice. However, given that the data police are unlikely to be storming the doors of small businesses immediately, there’s still time to give the new legislation the attention it deserves and get your business fully compliant.
Over the last three months we’ve updated hundreds of websites for dental clients, plus some where our competitors refused to update their own client’s websites unless they paid large fees over-and-above the huge monthly maintenance fees they were already paying! But that’s another story….
So what have we encountered in our many discussions with dentists over the last few months and what can you learn? This will not be specific advice about policies and procedures, more about observations and attitudes regarding the new (and important!) legislation.
Some practices are still not aware!
This might be hard to believe but even in the last few days, we’ve encountered quite a few instances where dentists are simply not aware of the pending legislation and consequently haven’t done anything. This suggests that they’ve ignored our advisory emails and probably countless others, over the last year or so. This is hard to fathom but it is happening. If this is you, the good news is that there is still time. It is unlikely that the data police will come calling immediately, so there is still chance to research and get the necessary systems, training and procedures in place. But don’t delay!
A number of principal dentists have delegated the responsibility
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Four steps to local ranking dominance
The number of patients who find dentists via their Google “maps” and local results presence is significant – however this is only true for those practices whose website feature prominently in the local/map results for searches like “dentist near me”, “dentist Trumpton” or simply “dentist” with no location suffix. This goes for all of the various treatment searches too.
So prominence in the local search pack and on Google Maps is incredibly important and success there will lead lots of new patients to your door. In the case of Google Maps, quite literally with directions!
But how do you go about making sure your website features in those precious local results positions on page one of Google searches and in the map results? Unfortunately it’s a lot more than simply claiming your Google “My Business” page but here are 5 steps to guide you on your way.
1. Claim your local business listing and verify it
Many dentist have done this already but stop there. So if you haven’t done this already, claim and verify your profile, then optimise it. Google will help by providing instructions, but if you’re stuck, please call the team here at Dental Media for help.
2. Ensure NAP consistency – Name, Address, Phone Number
Google uses your business name, address and ‘phone number to identify you across the web. So you need to make absolutely sure that these are consistent and match across all of your web properties and any submissions you make to business directories etc – in fact anywhere you publish your business details online. Get this wrong and you can confuse Google and compromise your chances for top local SEO results.
3. Encourage patients reviews!
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Establish an authoritative website for top Google positions
It is Google’s publicly stated aim to deliver the best answers for questions posed by users in their search engine. To achieve this Google tries to identify those websites which are popular and authoritative on a particular subject and then promotes these to the top of the search rankings. Of course it’s not quite as straightforward as that and Google uses lots of different signals to work out website search positions; however it is still very clear that authoritative websites tend to appear very prominently in the ranking results.
To illustrate, consider a website which is all about different dog breeds and has an internal section about Labradors. Now consider a website which is all about Labradors and where the internal pages are all about specific aspects of that breed. All other things being equal, the website which is all about Labradors and full of high-quality, authoritative information, will very likely appear higher in the search results than the more general site for a search related to “Labradors”.
Using the concept of “authority” to assist SEO
Knowing the above, we can use “topic authority” to help search engine results for dental searches in a couple of different ways.
- Build out the areas of your website which you wish to become more prominent in Google. For example, if you are keen to push dental implant treatments, don’t rely on a single website page to achieve this. Add additional pages in and around the topic, for example using implants to stabilise dentures, all-on-4 treatments, bone grafting etc. By doing this you will build a more authoritative resource which Google should recognise and reward.
- Build a dedicated website covering a specific type of treatment e.g. all about orthodontics and the various types of appliances, all about implants or perhaps about sedation.
Particularly for number 2 above, developing topic authority for a defined treatment technique is perhaps the best way to form a solid foundation for gaining great search engine results. However, as we’ll see below, that alone doesn’t guarantee you will be top of the search results, so please read on.
You built a high-quality, topic focused website – what’s next?
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Preparation at the practice before starting out with SEO, pay-per-click or social media marketing.
Dentists often ask us to undertake “fully outsourced” marketing for them because they have “no resources” at the practice to participate. Whilst we can cover most of the bases for this, it’s actually impossible to carry out fully outsourced marketing for several reasons, and where companies claim to do this, you need to be a little bit wary as follows.
Even where most of the activities are outsourced, there will always be some input from the local team as I’ll illustrate. In fact the most effective campaigns are typically those where activities are shared between the external dental marketer and nominated and trained members of the practice team. This balance of marketing “done for you” alongside marketing “done by you” always tends to work best.
Whilst a good dental marketer will be able to generate numerous high-quality leads for your business, if your business is not set up correctly to receive and process them, then the overall initiative has failed before it starts. Indeed we’ve recently paused two pay-per-click campaigns which were yielding good returns in terms of enquiries but the dentist’s reception team were not handling them professionally; so collectively we agreed to pause whilst the appropriate, proactive staffing was put in place.
So as a minimum, the front-desk team needs to be trained in and receptive to dealing with an influx of new enquiries. This does not simply mean booking new appointments but also being able to use recording systems to try to identify how the enquiries originated. This is essential to help determine how well the various aspects of the marketing campaigns are working, alongside the reporting from the external marketing team.
Additionally, if you’ve embarked on social media marketing, for example Facebook advertising, there must be proactive monitoring to ensure that new enquiries or questions are responded to promptly. Don’t leave it to your marketing team to do this for obvious reasons.
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