Now, two important things to keep in mind as you read this post:
- This is not an overly “technical” article. If you’re currently doing (or looking at doing) any advertising with Google, you should read this. Even if you hire someone to do it – there are some things you absolutely have to know to ensure you don’t waste valuable marketing dollars and to ensure your marketing dollars produce results (i.e. new patients) and
- Terminology-wise, to be clear, “Google Adwords,” also known as “Google Pay-per-Click,” is Google’s advertising platform where you can pay to appear at the top of the page when someone searches something like “Dentist Near Me” or some similar phrase, as shown in this photo.
Alright, so back to the question. Like I said, I get it a lot – especially at the MGE New Patient Workshop. Many dentists feel that Google Adwords is too expensive compared to results. And to be honest, I’ve spoken with a lot of dentists who are spending WAY too much compared to what they see in return.
My answer to the question I started this article with would be: yes, I do think Google Adwords can be a good marketing tool and provide great return-on-investment with a qualifier: if it’s done right.
The majority of dentists I know that get a high number of new patients online are using Google Adwords as a part of their strategy. It’s the most direct way to reach potential new patients online, because people who are searching for a dentist on Google are, well, searching for a dentist!
However, as I touched on above, it can definitely be overly expensive if it’s not done right. To explain why, let me give a very brief summary of how it works, and then I’ll get into 9 tips for doing it right.
(As an aside, I cover this in depth at both the MGE New Patient Workshop and the MGE Internet Marketing Seminar. I highly recommend registering for those if you’d like to increase your new patient numbers. Call (800) 640-1140 to register or click here for the New Patient Workshop and here for the MGE Internet Marketing Seminar).
How Google Adwords works
Google will give you some information about what people in your area are searching for, such as “Dentist near me,” “Best dentist in Tampa,” “Pediatric dentist,” “Emergency dentist,” “United Healthcare dentist,” etc. These search phrases are called “keywords.” Then you can pay Google to put your website at the top of the listings for those selected keywords. Typically, the top 4 listings on Google are advertisers (like you).
How high up you appear on these and how often your ad appears depends on a few factors
How much you’re willing to spend.
You can set whatever budget you’d like with Google, but obviously the more money you’re willing to spend, the more often and the higher up your ad will appear. And the amount you should spend depends on the competition in your area. If 50 dental offices are all competing for the same keywords, then they will start spending more and more to beat out the other offices. This is what drives the price up and can make Google Adwords very expensive.
The quality of your ad and website.
Despite getting paid by advertisers, Google still cares about the experience of the person searching in Google. If your ad is written poorly and nobody clicks it, Google won’t want to show it anymore. If your website stinks (it loads slowly, or people quickly close it because it’s bad or not relevant to what they’re looking for) then Google won’t want to display your ad.So if your ad and website stink, you’ll have to spend more money to get your ad to appear. But conversely if your ad and website are really good, you can actually beat your competition without spending more!
To give you an example of this in practice – I’ll use one of our clients, a dentist in New York City. New York, especially Manhattan, is from a Google perspective one of the most competitive markets in the country. So, you would think this doctor would be spending boatloads on Google Adwords, right? Nope! By setting things up efficiently, he spends about $94 per new patient via Google Adwords. Compared to the national industry average which is $250+ (and some sources say over $400 each), that’s fantastic! And if this doctor can do it in New York City, there’s a good chance you can do it wherever you’re located.
Doing it Right
There are a lot of technical details that can go into a Google Adwords campaign. There are a lot of settings available in Google and a lot of small things you can do that add up. This is why I generally recommend hiring an expert to do it for you.
You can do it yourself, if you’d like. In fact, Google launched a secondary service called “Adwords Express” that simplifies everything so that any business owner can start a campaign no matter how technologically unsavvy they are. This is fine if you just want to play around with it and see if you can get some people to click your ad for a month or two, but ultimately it’s not as cost-effective because you can run your campaign a lot more efficiently by using settings and tips that an expert would have.
If you want to become an expert yourself, I’d recommend starting with the Adwords Fundamentals Course, which is a free online course Google offers to learn how to run Adwords Campaigns. It’s very thorough. You can find the course here.
And with that, here are the 9 tips to maximize your return with Google Advertising.
9 Tips to Make the Most of Your Google Ad Campaign!
Make sure the majority of the money you spend goes toward the ads themselves, not just the people you hire to run them.
I’ve seen dentists spend a total of $1000/month, but they pay the company they hired $800 to run the ads and only spend $200 on the ads themselves. That is backwards and you’re not going to get much action on just $200.
Ideally, you’d pay the company about 20% of the total cost, so you would pay the company $200 and then $800 on the ads. That’s a better ratio.
Limit the geographical area you’re targeting.
I know it’s tempting to market to the next town over or some other neighborhood 10 miles away because you like the area, but statistically small businesses get the majority of their customers from the 2-mile radius surrounding their office.
This may vary depending on the population density (rural areas are more spread out), but the point is: try to focus on the area directly surrounding your office first, because expanding too far can cost you double or triple the money for less return on investment.
Keep an eye on the Google Ad account yourself.
Sometimes an external company you hire can be a little cavalier with spending, because it’s not their money. I was speaking to a dentist recently who was getting good results with Google ads. However, she noticed the cost kept going up and up every month for the same results. When she actually looked into the account herself, she saw several “keywords” were on there that she shouldn’t be targeting and that certain campaigns were allowed to increase too much. She told the company to fix those specific things and then the cost came back down.
Only run the ads during business hours when you have a receptionist answering the phone.
Again, Google ads can be expensive. You might be spending anywhere from $50-100 per phone call, so you don’t want people to call, not get an answer, and then hang up and call another office that’s open. Google allows you to set the ads to only run at certain times of the day. (As a side note, you want to make sure that your front desk is really good at converting these phone calls into appointments.)
Have an effective website.
The success of the campaign will also depend largely on the website. Again, you have to spend money to get people to click the ad, and if they end up on a website that doesn’t get them to pick up the phone and call…that’s wasted money.
So make sure your website is good at capturing this visitor and motivating them to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment. I discuss the key factors of a good website in my blog post: Why Most Dentists Have Horrible Websites (& What To Do About It).
Also, if your ad is targeted to a specific service like implants, Invisalign, dentures, etc., then the ad should take the person to a “landing page” about that particular service.
Use “Ad Extensions” which allow you to put some extra features on the ad itself.
This includes options like a phone call button, extra links to certain interesting pages, a star rating, etc.
Write several different ads (different headlines and descriptions) and then track the results of each.
This allows you to find out what works best. Then you can keep running the ads that are working (and stop the ones that aren’t).
If you do ads for specific services, such as Invisalign, Implants, Dentures, etc., I would suggest offering a free consultation for that service on the landing page.
If someone is looking for a dentist to do an implant, for example, they probably already know they need one and the approximate price range, so it’s worth doing a free “implant consultation” to get them into the practice.
Track everything very closely!
Track the metrics Google provides, like the number of clicks and cost-per-click, but also track the number of phone calls, the number of new patients who actually show up, and the return-on-investment.
I believe the industry averages nowadays are roughly $7 per click, and over $100 per lead (phone call or form submission). I would ideally like to see a range around $5 per click and $50-75 per lead.
Also use Google Analytics to track what people are doing on your website after they click the ad. If you’re getting a lot of clicks but nobody is calling, the problem is probably your website. Google Analytics can give you some info about what to fix on your site.
And if people are calling, but nobody is showing up, then the problem might be the way the front desk is answering the phone and scheduling patients.
I hope that helps! Once again, I recommend attending the MGE New Patient Workshop (we’re running a special for just $499 if you register now) or the MGE Internet Marketing Seminar to really improve your online marketing.