ROI and your dental practice website

How do you calculate the financial return on your web investment?

value indicated by a pound signIt is generally recognised that a high performance, professional website is essential for any business and dentistry is no exception. However, like any purchase, it is important to understand the likely return from your investment and also how to measure it.

You may have seen some website companies making a big play of “ROI” in their own marketing materials with comments such as “we target 5 to 7 fold return” – however, they don’t actually say how they intend to achieve this or how it’s measured.

What ratios are they actually talking about and over what period is it measured? Increased revenue figures are often quoted but top-line numbers are way too superficial when it comes to evaluating an investment.

Considering that some of these providers want you to spend over £8k on a website, another £300 -> £500 per month to promote it in Google and a monthly maintenance fee on top, then it’s sensible to do some sums. As a minimum you need to be comparing the total cost of ownership of the assets with the clear profit they are generating – “wooly” marketing speak about revenue generation is just one small part of the equation.

Of course you don’t need to spend anything like those sums on your dental practice website but I’m using those numbers as an example of how you can be caught out if you don’t look deeply into the figures.

So how do you measure the financial return from your new website?

Firstly it is important to understand when a website will really start to generate new patient enquiries – this is typically when it starts to rank reasonably well in Google, at least on page one for some key terms. Building the site is step 1; the next, more difficult task is establishing a decent Google ranking. Depending on your local competition, the ongoing promotion (or SEO) can cost more per year than the initial website investment. You need to understand this and factor it into the financial equation.

Once you have the set-up and ongoing costs established, then you can start to measure the return.

To do this, you need to ensure that you have a couple of key measurement systems in place; a tool called Google Analytics will show you the number of “conversions” your website delivered via completed contact forms, complemented by a manual system in the practice for recording where enquiries originated. You can also implement telephone call-tracking systems depending on how sophisticated you wish to get.

Armed with this data and also knowing the how much revenue/profit each enquiry ultimately generated, you can then really start to understand the real return on investment from your website.

You will need a disciplined approach to manage this and some robust systems too; however, without it you’ll be flying blind and never really knowing whether the spend on your web marketing is delivering.

ROI figures based on real measurement

Dental Media help many dentists not only to set up their websites and marketing campaigns, but also the tools to help them measure the returns. A typical target for us would be based on the following for a client in a reasonably competitive environment e.g. a city such as Nottingham or Leicester:

  • initial website investment – £2.5k
  • monthly marketing (SEO) – £200 -> £350 (variable depending on location)
  • yearly maintenance spend (updates etc) – £350

Typically after 6 months, the website should be delivering a minimum of 15 -> 20 new patients per month, rising considerably as Google ranking improves over time.

If the website (conservatively) delivers 200 new patients in year 1 (remember that there is the initial period needed to gain search rankings), the cost per acquisition is less than £40. Now if the average spend per patient is around £200 per year, at a profit margin of 20%, then we can see that the website is paid back easily in year one – including the initial establishment cost. Thereafter, the numbers get better and better as search positions continue to improve and the yearly spend decreases (no new website re-build cost every year). Hopefully you will also retain the new patients so the ongoing returns are also significant.

Whilst this is a simple assessment for illustration purposes, it’s actually very close to what we see achieved in practice. For practices promoting more complex, lucrative treatments such as implants and short-term ortho in the mix, then the returns can be *markedly* higher, even in year one.

It is also worth noting that we have many clients with top ranking positions who gain hundreds of enquiries per month from their websites. However, momentum like this takes time to establish. For these guys, the returns are not just very good, they are huge.

Of course, if you pay lots more for your website and marketing , then your returns will fall away quite significantly. Remember that a website has to be in a prominent position in Google to make a difference. Spending over the odds on the site and then feeling frustrated as it sits on page three would be a mistake. It’s much better to balance the spend and leave some in hand to actually promote the site once you’ve had it built. Remember that there is no need to spend huge sums of money to get a high performing dental website, you just need to select your supplier carefully.


The key learning points from this article are:

  • a professional website, ranking well in Google will generate excellent return-on-investment.
  • you may need to budget for ongoing search engine optimisation to make your website work. This is particularly so where competition is high. A great site on page three will deliver very little, so ranking on page one and then upward must be your goal.
  • don’t be duped into spending over the odds for a website just because someone told you that an expensive site will work better in Google. That’s nonsense. Excellent, high performance websites are available for a few thousand pounds which leaves some budget for ongoing promotion in Google.

If you would like some more free advice and wish to know more about how a website can delivers excellent returns for your dental practice, please call us on 01332 672548 for a no-obligation chat. We’ll also be happy to provide verified examples and references.