Use Acuity Scheduling To Significantly Improve Paid Ad Conversions

The quest for new dental patients is not an easy one and typically takes time, effort and investment to do successfully. One of the main tools for gaining new patients and keeping treatment books full, is the use of social media advertising; but is has to be done well to ensure it pays back sustainably.

Whilst still an excellent way to promote a dental practice, it should be noted that social media advertising for dentists is becoming increasingly competitive, with agencies trying various new techniques to make sure their clients stay ahead of the pack.

Today we’ll take a closer look at one of the ways you can make a difference with your own social media advertising and how to make it as easy as possible for potential new patients to book consultations with you directly on-line. This could be in the form or registering for an open day or simply booking into pre-defined slots in a clinician’s schedule.

The tool we’ll discuss is ‘Acuity Scheduling’ but before we get into the details, let’s quickly recap on the basics of the social media ads process.

Social media ads and landing pages

This is actually quite an involved process and takes a long time to learn all of the facets and to gain the experience needed to be successful. It’s not really something to be tried ‘DIY’ and will usually involve employing an expert freelancer or agency to take on the task on your behalf.

In a nutshell, you pay Facebook to allow you to deploy a suite of ads across the Facebook and Instagram platforms. These ads are built to be as engaging as possible and are typically configured to advertise different types of treatments e.g. Invisalign, dental implants and so forth.

Unlike advertising in Google, social media ads can incorporate images as well as text and there is a whole science behind the best ways to do this. When a user clicks on the ad in their news feed, they are typically directed to a landing page – this provides more details about the treatment, its benefits and also any offer to encourage uptake. The landing page must be optimised to ensure the best chance of the user contacting you; a process generically known as engagement.

The key objective for a dentist is to secure new patient registrations or booking of a treatment and so the landing page(s) will be tuned to achieve just that. We need to remember that users are, on the whole, quite fickle and unless you grab their attention very quickly and also provide an easy way for them to interact with you, they will very quickly look elsewhere.

How Acuity Scheduling helps secure bookings

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SEO for dentists – basic errors to avoid

I am regularly contacted by dentists whose websites are failing in Google and where they need to do something about it. This is understandable as the importance of a great website and prominent ranking positions is well-understood.

Normally where a website fails in Google it comes down to one (or both) of these reasons:

  • The site is poorly optimised giving little chance for ranking success
  • The site has been optimised over-zealously and Google has penalised it in the ranking hierarchy

Today we’ll take a look at the first element, poor optimisation, and in particular something where an inexperienced SEO provider or DIY’er has failed to understand one of the key fundamentals of website optimisation.

Very often we see cases where a dentist’s website is optimised for “dentist location X” when their practice is physically based in location Y. This isn’t going to work, particularly for the more generic search queries. So why is this?

This is all about search “localisation” and understanding how Google will always give preference to local businesses when it comes to what searchers actually enter as search queries. So for someone searching for “dentist in Preston” as an example, the search engine will always present them with results for dentists based in Preston or the immediate outskirts. It won’t present them with Google results for dentists in nearby towns such as Blackburn or Bolton or indeed some of the smaller towns in between.

What tends to happen is that dentists who have practices in a smaller village or town 3 or 4 miles outside of a major urban area will want to try to attract patients from that larger area – of course there are more people and correspondingly more potential patients. What the dentist then tries to do is optimise their website for the adjacent location without realising that it will most likely be unsuccessful – this is all down to the Google localisation issue discussed above.

What also happens is where unscrupulous SEO agencies (sadly there are lots) don’t tell their client that their wishes are unrealistic, but they take their money anyway and try to blame poor ranking results on other factors – this is all too prevalent unfortunately.

How should you optimise a website for location?

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Which is more effective, SEO or paid advertising?

Earlier this week I saw a social media post from a guy who noted that he is always surprised when dental clients are prepared to pay thousands per month on paid ads but won’t invest in search engine optimisation. I have some sympathy with this sentiment as, over the years, I’ve met quite a few dentists who understand the benefits of SEO, but still shun it in favour of paid advertising.

So what causes this reluctance, why is it somewhat misguided, and what data can we share to show the relative worth of dental SEO versus paid ads?

I thought the best way to show how effective these channels can be is to look at specific data and drill down to the actual cost-per-lead generated respectively. I selected five mature paid ad accounts and pitched them against five mature SEO accounts to get some meaningful data to share. Here are the headline details:

Cost per lead – SEO

Across five SEO accounts measured in the last quarter of 2021 we saw an average cost per lead of £27. So in broad terms, a client paying £450 per month (av) for SEO was receiving an average of 17 qualified leads.

With SEO, the average cost per lead ranged from £21 to £32 in the accounts studied.

Cost per lead – paid ads

This was a little harder to calculate as quite a lot of the campaigns we run are targeted towards specific treatments e.g. Invisalign and dental implants. However, we also have sufficient data on more generalised campaigns to make the comparison meaningful.

For paid ads, the average cost per lead was £36, in the range of £29 to £41.

SEO versus paid ads – which one to use? Or both?

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Measuring the effectiveness of campaigns and the return on investment

In the first blog of the new year I thought it would be useful to take a look at the type of report we issue to dentists where we are undertaking social media marketing on their behalf. This is the “numbers” report where we illustrate how the campaign(s) is performing and the overall cost per new enquiry. Together with the numbers, we also issue a commentary on what was completed in the previous month and the strategy for the month ahead – the overall objective is to ensure that the dentist can see what is being paid and exactly what the returns on that investment is in terms of getting new patient enquiries.

Let’s jump in….

Overall statistics

Social Media Ad Impressions

The first section of the report shows the name of the campaign (in this case two campaigns) and information regarding impressions and reach. In this example it’s quite self-explanatory in that we are showing the number of times a landing page was viewed by people clicking on dental ads on Facebook and Instagram. We also show how many people those ads reached and also the number of times the ads were shown (impressions).

As background, these were two campaigns with broad reach advertising certain types of dentistry for clients in the north of England – for obvious reasons we have obscured specific names and locations. The reporting period is one month, but noting that ads were paused over the Christmas period.

Costs and clicks

Landing Page Clicks

The second part of the report shows information about the cost of the campaigns, broken down into the number of actual clicks that were generated and number and cost of each landing page view. There is also another metric, ‘frequency’, which shows the average number of times each person in the target audience saw the ads. This is an important indicator of when dental Facebook ads go stale and when they need to be re-configured.

New patient enquiries

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Why your reception team is critical to the success of digital marketing campaigns

I thought I’d sign off our blogs for 2021 with a couple of salutary tales and a reminder of just how critical the dental admin and reception team is in the success of digital marketing campaigns.

This was brought home to me quite dramatically in a couple of similar cases over the last couple of weeks where a lack of communication and insufficient systems at the practice threatened to lose lots of new patient enquiries.

Scenario 1

In the first example, we launched a new website for a long-standing, ‘traditional’ practice, introducing ways for patients to get in touch using mechanisms that the practice clearly were not used to. These were essentially enquiries coming from contact forms on the new website, both general enquiries and also treatment specific ones from different pages on the website.

We had discussed the benefits of a new website with the dentist, including ease of enquiry using the usual website contact forms. The email address for submitted enquiries was agreed and quite soon after the website launch we saw plenty of enquiries coming in via this channel. We could also see the “conversions” being registered in Google Analytics – so all good; at least so we thought!

A few days later, the practice manager called to ask us to remove the contact forms because the front-desk team was apparently being overwhelmed and had no clue what to do with them. We were somewhat taken aback by this as normally we use the number of contact form enquiries as a key indicator of a successful dentist website.

Clearly we did not go-ahead with removing the contact forms, instead we notified the principal and advised what had happened so that the appropriate measures could be taken at the practice to bring the admin team up-to-speed with what was required.

Scenario 2

In the second example, we launched a wide-reaching Facebook and Instagram advertising campaign for a dentist seeking new private dentistry patients. Exactly the same thing happened as in the earlier example with the front-desk team complaining that they didn’t have time to deal with the influx of new enquiries. Again we addressed this to the principal so that the necessary training and resources could be made available at the practice.

What went wrong?

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What to expect – from quotation through to design, publishing and aftercare

It can be quite a concerning time when a dentist decides to build a new website for their practice. Whether this is an upgrade to an existing site or starting from scratch, it’s useful to know the process and what to expect in reasonable detail.

Good dental web design companies will do a lot of the heavy lifting for you, but it would be wrong to assume that the dentist themselves and possibly their team, won’t have to have any input. Indeed, the websites which work best tend to be those where the dentist is keen to be involved to ensure that his/her ideas are incorporated and to make sure that the ethos of the business is properly represented online.

So what’s involved in the website design process at Dental Media? Let’s take a look at the key steps, from the initial enquiry and quotation, through to the design, publishing and maintenance.

The enquiry

We try to make enquiring about a new website as easy as possible by providing clear contact details on our website. You can complete our online enquiry form or call our team directly – we’ll be pleased to assist whichever method you prefer.

Our aim is to reply to all new enquiries within two days albeit we will send an acknowledgment immediately. We need a short period of time to analyse you request and also check factors such as the competitive situation in your location. We will also ask you any questions to ensure that we have all of the information we need to provide a quotation for a high-quality website solution.

The quotation

Following on from your enquiry, we will assess the information you provided to create a bespoke quotation for you. This could be for a stand-alone website or a package of tools to assist with your practice marketing.

Here at Dental Media, websites for dentists are just one of our core competencies, but we’re also adept with a wide range of promotional disciplines, from SEO to pay-per-click and more. However, we won’t foist unnecessary services on you – we are here to help your practice flourish with the most suitable tools and techniques available. We will provide fully transparent pricing and also illustrations on return-on-investment.

Acceptance and next steps

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What’s on the horizon to help boost new patient enquiries?

It’s that time of year when we predict the new marketing trends we expect to feature in 2022 and how dentists can leverage on them to help grow patient enquiries. To be clear, these aren’t techniques which will replace the core ‘essentials’ such as SEO and paid ads, but techniques which can be useful to complement or extend them.

We’ve identified five areas where we are seeing good potential and where we’ll be working with our clients next year to generate even more patient interest.

Short-form video

It’s been accepted for some time that video is an exceptional tool to help engagement and boost dental patient enquiries. The old adage “a picture paints a thousand words” is well-known and this extends much further when video is introduced into the mix.

Those practices which go the extra mile to differentiate themselves have been leveraging the power of video for some time now, but where we see “short-form” video introduced, that power can be extended into other niches, not just the practice website.

For example short video clips used on social media are extremely powerful, as are clips introduced into your ad campaigns on Facebook and Instagram. The returns we see from this type of format typically exceed static images by some way.

So if you can see an opportunity to introduce short-form video into your marketing campaigns, we think you’ll be pleased with the results. Please get in touch with use to see how our video editing team can build a great set of videos for you to achieve just this.

Personalisation

The move away from generic to personalised content will continue apace as business strive to make themselves more relevant than their local competitors. We’ll see even more patient “stories” on websites which will cascade out to social media. Much of this will be supported by the short clips of video we’ve discussed above.

Data will be a key part of this as ads particularly, are tailored to the most appropriate demographic. So expect to see even greater attempts to gather and use user’s data, despite the initiatives by the likes of Apple to curtail some of this on their devices.

Authentic, inclusive advertising

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What’s happening and what can you do about it?

Last week I had a couple of conversations with Invisalign dentists who were looking to switch their marketing partner due to treatment bookings falling away quite considerably. Following detailed discussions and analysis of data from their failing campaigns, it was clear that several factors were in play.

In today’s blog we’ll take a look at why orthodontics campaigns of this type can often succeed but then progressively begin to fail – and what you can do about it.

Competition

This is perhaps the biggest factor and one that will dilute the efforts of even the best social media marketing agency. Quite simply, more and more practices are jumping on the Invisalign bandwagon as the promise of lucrative treatment revenues prove difficult to resist.

To put this into context, we are aware of one dentist in the NW who is training all eleven of his team to deliver “Invisalign Go” across two practices. We believe that the initiative is questionable as even with a high-profile marketing campaign, delivering sufficient new Invisalign patients to keep eleven dentists happy is quite some challenge! Perhaps a couple of trained dentists at each location and then ramp up may have been more realistic and sustainable.

The majority of our clients are now offering Invisalign or an alternative clear aligner, but there are only so many patients within a given area who are looking for treatment at any given time. Competition has increased significantly and it looks like this will continue.

Agency saturation

As the number of dentists offering Invisalign has increased significantly, so have the number of marketing agencies offering ‘magical’ solutions to deliver patients. We are seeing more extreme methods being employed by some agencies to try to keep their ads most prominent. For example using multiple ads and switching ad copy twice a week to keep the content fresh. Regular ad maintenance has always been important but “blanket bombing” of this nature has only started to appear more recently as agencies struggle to remain relevant.

Of course this additional intervention has resulted in increased costs to the dentist with some agencies now charging in excess of £2.5k + vat per month to manage campaigns – this is without the click costs! Increased maintenance costs coupled with reduced number of cases means significant margin erosion.

Agency mismanagement

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SEO working knowledge for dentists

It is widely acknowledged that the ‘holy grail’ of dental marketing is to gain and then maintain very prominent website search results in Google. After word-of-mouth, this is the most sustainable and lowest cost method for gaining new patient enquiries and is a top priority for any dentist who is “web savvy” and aware of the business benefits available from online website prominence.

However, Google is a volatile place and it needs a carefully managed SEO campaign to achieve and then maintain good search results. There are a number of factors which contribute to this, the majority within the website owner’s control but a few extremely important ones which aren’t. One of those uncontrollable elements is Google itself and comes in the form of the regular updates they roll out to the ranking algorithms which dictate where websites sit within the search results.

There are two main categories of Google search engine updates – the first is when ad-hoc changes are made to tackle specific issues they feel need to be addressed to improve the quality of search results. Previous examples included the “Penguin” and “Panda” updates which were introduced to tackle particular types of web spam e.g. bad links and keyword stuffing etc. These were significant updates which have subsequently been refined and re-used by Google.

The other main category of update is the ‘core’ update and if anything these are even more mysterious in that Google says very little about them other than when we should expect to see the effects.

Core updates occur several times a year and typically only a couple of them get formally announced. This tends to be when Google expects the updates to cause significant changes within the search index i.e. some websites gaining ground whilst others are demoted. Those of us in the SEO community tend to sit nervously whilst these updates roll out as they can be quite unpredictable and sometimes yield questionable results. For example, you can see an excellent website fall several places in the search results where only ethical SEO methodologies have been applied. Whilst this is rare, it can happen and it’s often very difficult to understand why – and of course Google won’t tell you!

Conversely you can also see old websites with no SEO and questionable content rise to unexpected heights in the ranking results and this is equally difficult to explain. It’s just these types of anomalies which often cause frustration amongst website owners and their digital marketing partners, but fortunately the occurrences are reasonably rare.

As I mentioned earlier, Google is understandably highly secretive about their methodologies and so there is no simple way of contacting them to find out what went wrong if you feel that a website has been unfairly disadvantaged by a core update or otherwise.

What can a website owner do to minimise any adverse impact from a Google update?

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Your Dental Google Business Page will become “Business Profile” – What Dentists Need To Know

When we start new marketing projects for dentists, one of the key things we advise the business owner or manager to prioritise, is setting up and optimising the Google Business page for the practice. This has had a few different names over the years but seemed to have stabilised as “Google My Business” and it is this name that most people are now familiar with.

But as ever, Google is re-jigging some of their web tools and moving forwards, Google “My Business” will be known as Google Business Profile. They are doing this to help streamline their various app interfaces and will bring management of the “business” page into the overall structure of Google Maps, Search and their respective apps.

When will this happen?

We expect to see this roll out progressively during 2022 and Google has advised that larger business will likely see the changes first. Initially you will see changes to the branding within the existing My Business management console but further changes are expected as the integration and rationalisation continues. So at this stage it’s a “heads up” to make dental businesses aware that changes to this essential Google tool are in progress and to expect them relatively soon.

If I’m about to set up a new Google My Business page, should I wait?

Definitely not! This is an essential tool and will start to work for your practice as soon as it’s up and running, so please don’t delay. You can be pretty certain that Google won’t lose what you’ve done as the changes take place.

New features also announced….

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