We asked Marc Fowler, CEO of Bullseye Media, a digital marketing agency based in McKinney that works exclusively with dental practices, about the trends in online marketing:
What is the biggest challenge for dentists in online marketing today?
Digital marketing continues to change and grow rapidly. As people spend more time online, and specifically on mobile phones, there is a big opportunity for dentists to target exactly the patients they want and reach more of them for less money. We have seen the ROI for our clients continue to grow. But the rules in digital and the strategies that work can be complex and change quickly. One update by Google or Facebook can significantly alter the platform. It can be a real challenge for dentists to keep up. What is working today may be totally ineffective by the end of the year. We are continually monitoring and adjusting our clients’ marketing campaigns to ensure they continue to perform well.
What is working right now to reach new patients?
Three years ago, less than 30% of internet traffic was from mobile devices. Now that number is over 60% with some projections suggesting it will exceed 75% in 2017. And with 77% of new patients reporting that they check out a doctor’s website as part of their decision making process, a professional, easy to use mobile website is now a must. If your website is not mobile-ready, you are losing potential patients. To best position our clients, we develop “responsive” websites that automatically adapt to any Internet-connected device including smartphones, tablets, laptops or even televisions.
A responsive, professional looking website and a solid online reputation with enough positive patient reviews are the foundation of a successful marketing campaign. With these in place, you’re ready to start putting your message in front of prospective patients. There are a number of ways to do this, but the difference-maker for our clients right
now is online display advertising. Through digital display and social media advertising platforms we are able to generate more calls at a much lower cost per call than traditional approaches. And, we’ve developed a strategy that not only generates new patient appointments, but also effectively builds the practice’s brand awareness at the same time.
What does the future look like for digital marketing and patient acquisition?
In digital, the only constant is change. Predicting the future is not easy. Here are two significant trends to watch.
1. Social media advertising. When used properly, social media can be very effective at building your practice and reaching potential patients. But the rules for business on Facebook have definitely changed. Today Facebook is the largest display advertising platform in the world. The advanced audience targeting in Facebook is extremely powerful, Facebook collects something like 10,000 data points on every user.
We’re using new strategies on Facebook to attract very profitable patients and we’re seeing cost per new patient numbers that are significantly less than traditional online advertising. Facebook can also help us “re-market” by showing ads to visitors who have already been to our client’s websites but did not follow through and call for an appointment.
2. Increasing competition. With more practices realizing the benefits of advertising online, dentists have to work harder (and smarter) to get more bang for their buck in building patient awareness. The key to success is having a more sophisticated advertising strategy than other practices in your area. Proper targeting, testing, data analysis, messaging and active management of your campaigns will ensure you attract more of your ideal patients at a lower acquisition cost than other competing practices are paying.
What should a dentist look for in a marketing agency?
With the complicated and changing nature of digital marketing, most dentists need an expert in their corner so their staff can focus more on production and serving patients. Unfortunately, there are a number of marketing “platforms” and offshore groups posing as agencies who advertise heavily to dentists.
My advice would be to do your research and select a quality dental marketing agency who will create a plan customized for your needs. Here are some key questions you should ask:
Is this a marketing “platform” or an agency of real people? Unfortunately, some companies pose as agencies but have more salespeople than marketers. They sell a mass market “marketing platform” for a low monthly cost which promises to do everything, but isn’t effective.
Does the agency know dentistry? Creating an effective dental website and marketing program requires knowledge of dentistry and what works for dentists (not plumbers, attorneys, and roofers).
Do I own my website? Some marketing companies build websites on proprietary systems so clients get locked into staying with them. The low price sounds good until you want to leave. Avoid these “rental” websites at all costs.
Will you create a customized plan for my practice? Every practice is different. A small town general dentist’s needs are different than an oral surgeon in a big metro, or a periodontist in a suburban area. Don’t be fooled by the “one size fits all” companies.
Bullseye Media has been helping dental practices leverage the internet to attract more of their ideal patients since 2007. They have a local team of experts in digital strategy, web development, search engine optimization, content development, and digital advertising. Having worked with over 300 dental practices across the U.S. and Canada has provided them with data and experience that enables them to consistently deliver superior results and above average return on investment for their clients.
You may learn more about Bullseye Media at: OnlineDentalMarketing.com