How to make your dental advertising more effective

Posted on August 17, 2016 POSTED UNDER:


(This article is a 7.5 minute read)


1. What are the best options for dental advertising today

2. How to calculate how much to spend on your advertising

3. A simple guide to targeting digital ads more effectively


In comparison to doing actual dentistry, dental advertising is easy. All you have to do is send the right message to the right people at the right time. Getting your message to an audience has never been easier. Ironically, that makes dental advertising a little more complex.


I know that sounds confusing. Let me explain.


In the past you only had a few ways of getting to people, and those ways were vague and unreliable. Ads in the phone book or direct mail flyers may or may not hit their targets. You never knew if or when your patients were checking their mail box, or if they had a phone book handy.


So you blasted your ad message out as widely as you could afford—then crossed your fingers and hoped that the right people saw it. You also repeated the same message over and over again in case people missed it the first time.


And it worked back then. It will still work. But nowadays we have a lot more media—search engines, social media, digital radio and podcasts, as well as all the traditional means. Audiences are in more places. So to do advertising the same way you always have, your ad has to be in more places too.


More targeted advertising options

Now we have more targeted and cheaper means of getting to people. We can use the web and social media, and we don’t need an ad agency to help us create the ad or buy the space.


We also have the ability to capture contact information of people who are interested in what you’re selling, but aren’t ready to buy right now.


Once you have that contact information, communicating with those people becomes much easier. In the past, you would have to buy another ad, and keep buying them. Now you can just stay in contact through email.


Further down this article I’ll explain some easy ways of targeting your digital ads. But the first question you should be asking yourself is, ‘how much should I spend?’


How much should you spend on your dental advertising?

One thing that hasn’t changed; the more you spend, the more patients you get. In theory you can spend too much, which leads to more patients than you can service. In practice, we haven’t run into too many dentists with that problem.


But when you buy a digital ad, you have a lot of options for how much you should spend—from $5 to thousands of dollars. And it’s hard to know how much to spend until you’ve spent a little more than the right amount.


In her book Fully Booked, Carolyn Dean suggests calculating the Lifetime Value of a patient and using that as the basis for your advertising budget.


You calculate Lifetime Value based on the average number of years your patients spend with your practice, multiplied by the average amount they spend. You then also add the average value of referrals from that patient.


You can compare that number with the cost of your advertising over the same period to work out how much you’re spending to acquire new patients. As a rough guide, if you’re spending less than between 5 and ten per cent of your practice’s annual income, you’re getting a bargain.


Where should you spend it?

As I said before, you have more options than ever for where to spend your money. You will get lots of advice from many quarters on this. No matter where else you put your money, you should definitely use two options: Facebook and Google.


Not just because they’re massive operations. Not just because you can target ads more efficiently than with other media.


You want to use your advertising to build a relationship with patients and potential patients. So you need to do it in a place where you can drive traffic back to your website. Then you can capture the person’s details, and keep talking to them (but without spending so much money).


How to target your Facebook and Google ads

Your Facebook and Google ads don’t need to be fancy to be effective. And don't worry about competing with every other dentist who has bought digital ads for “dental implants”. Instead, stand out by either using a boosted post or ad words campaign built around a piece of content on your site.


It’s not that tricky. Let’s say you have a blog post on how parents can help kids brush their teeth. That’s something every parent wants to know. Often, it’s information that mothers are interested in because they often make the oral health decisions on behalf of the family.


Once you have the blog post up, you can write a Facebook post linking back to the article on your website, and boost it. Facebook will give you suggestions for what kind of reach you’ll get based on how much you spend and who you’re targeting.


When you’re boosting the post, you’ll be given options in a box like this:




You can target people by gender, age, postcode, or by many other ways. But as a good starting point, if you’re targeting mums near your practice, then gender, age and postcode should be enough to get you started.


Targeting by postcode can be efficient. For example, this is what you get when you target your ad around Pyrmont in Sydney (which is where our office is based):




Google is a different beast—but you can similarly target your ads within the radius of a particular point. In the example below, we selected a basic radius around Sydney, and the search engine will give you an idea of the number of people who will be reached. You can also add or exclude locations to target your message more effectively.




Google doesn’t offer much in the way of demographics, but does let you target by keywords, which can be just as handy. In our example above, the keywords may be “children’s dentist, dental health children”, or variations on that phrase.


Best advice on Facebook advertising

If you want to know more about how to use Facebook advertising, download the free eBook we have in the box at the end of this article. It’s full of hints and tips from people who have been doing this stuff for a long time.


If you’re curious to read more tips about dental marketing and dental advertising, why not subscribe to our blog? Just fill out the form that pops up in the bottom right hand corner of the site, and we’ll make sure you get the best advice there is to offer on this and much more!


100 keywords for dentists

Rob Johnson

Rob is the co-founder of Bite magazine and Vet Practice magazine. He writes and gives talks about content marketing, and leads a team of good-looking and stylish content folk from their Sydney HQ.

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