Following with that theme, in this week’s post, we’re looking at paid online new patient advertising. Specifically:
1) Is it worthwhile? And,
2) How you can go about doing it.
1) Is Paid Online New Patient Advertising Worthwhile?
In most cases, YES.
Online new patient advertising can be more efficient and targeted than traditional advertising. You can target specific demographics (age, location, income, etc.) and pick people out who are actively searching for a new dentist online.
At the MGE New Patient Workshop we cover the importance (and outline the process) of isolating specific target audiences to market to. This information applies to all marketing avenues – print and online. For that matter a study last year by Cisco revealed that close to 80% of people use the internet to research prior to purchasing a product or service. You can take advantage of this by effectively promoting your office to people actively searching for it. You can even display your Google Ads at certain times to Internet users in specific locations across a multitude of mobile devices.
Search engines (e.g. Google, Yahoo, Bing) track Internet user trails and activity, i.e. web searches, visits to websites, shopping cart checkouts, etc. All of this raw data is readily available and incredibly useful in terms of targeting your public and measuring the performance of your online marketing efforts.
2) How You can Go About Online Advertising
While the benefits of online advertising can be tremendous, it may not be something you would take on yourself as the owner/doctor in your practice. Instead, your OM, PR Director, or a marketing professional can take the time to research, plan, and run it.
However, that doesn’t mean you should be clueless about it. Lack of knowledge is a quick way to get yourself in trouble! You’ll have no idea whether it’s being done right or wrong! With that in mind, here are some of the basics so you can get your toes wet and gain a general understanding of the subject:
The Google Adwords advertising platform has the largest online potential marketing reach. Google Adword’s algorithms (a sequential set or rules to solving a problem or figuring something out) are designed to target the individual user with the most relevant Google ads. This is based on past searches, their location, language, and any interests that may have been revealed through past searches, along with any other available information about that person.
To start, you would need to set up a Google Adwords account and get familiarized with how it works. Your Google Adwords account allows you to test keywords relevant to your practice, measure your ads’ response rates, and research a wealth of information on the demographics of your prospective new patients. It also includes all financial information, including your prices, budget and return on investment. This allows you to explore how your Google Adwords account works before diving into the actual marketing campaign.
With Google Adwords, there are four different types of ads: text, image, video, and interactive. The most common form of ads found on Google and other Google partner sites that serve up search results (i.e. Google Maps, AOL, etc.) is text ads. These are disguised as search results when you search something on Google. These are the “sponsored search results” you see on the highlighted top and side bars of your Google results page, and they are triggered by “keywords” (the exact words someone types into Google to search).
Here’s an example of a text ad when searching for an auto mechanic in St. Petersburg, FL:
For example, if users type in “teeth whitening” or “Invisalign” for a Google search in your area, then your Google ad would most likely appear in the ad search results (if it contains those exact keywords).
A bit of research on your Google Adwords account will reveal the most trending and popular keywords for all industries, including dentistry. But make sure these key words are fully relevant to the kind of dentistry you provide.
Beating the Competition
Different keywords have different levels of competition. Popular keywords may be expensive to “bid” on for a top spot. Longer and more specific keywords generally have lower competition. Targeting only a local area helps with this, too. Be sure to limit your ads to local searches within your neighborhood or city, because you don’t want to compete on a national level.
One word of caution: if you do decide to target more obscure, cheaper keywords, keep a tight watch on the results of those ads. Keywords can be deceptive. Some words may seem like a good idea and even get a lot of clicks, but don’t actually turn into new patients. For instance, a student may search something dental-related for research for a school paper. Highly competitive keywords are usually so competitive because they are valuable keywords, which result in new customers/sales. Either way, keep an eye on your budget and your results.
Here are a few things to keep in mind about the structure and content of your text ad:
- Be concise in your phrasing, because you have a limited number of characters for the headline and description.
- Include a limited-time special offer, a guarantee, distinctive feature, or a new promotion that will give you an edge over your competition, like “Click here to receive 10% off your new patient exam!” Or you could promote your specialty services, such as implants, whitening and so on. Something that will pique your prospective new patients’ interest and entice them to click on your Google ad.
Once you have the basic wording in place, you should incorporate at least one or two keywords into your ad.
Keep Marketing to your “Best” Public
Google allows you to track your most active, interested users or subscribers and put them on list they call a “remarketing” list. You can then “re-market” to them, meaning that you keep marketing specifically to them.
You can create an online advertising campaign for your remarketing list. These ads can take the form of text, image, video, media interactive, or a combination thereof. The sky’s the limit. When you finally launch your remarketing ad campaign, your list of remarketing users will see your ads on various websites they browse, regardless of whether those sites have anything to do with dentistry or not.
Adwords Remarketing allows you to specifically advertise to internet users who have shown interest in your dental practice and services no matter where they are online.
Don’t forget to look at Part II, where we’ll discuss Facebook advertising (the hottest advertising platform nowadays) and how to budget out online ads.