(This article is a 4 minute read)
THREE THINGS YOU’LL LEARN FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1. What marketing automation can and can’t do
2. Whether this software can work for your practice
3. Where the traps lie for smaller practices
After many years of not really thinking about marketing, some dentists are starting to realise that it's hard work. It doesn't always seem to get results. And it's a pain. You will be thrilled to learn, however, that it's hard work and a pain for everyone else too. And in casting around to find a way to make it more effective and less annoying, you may have run across marketing automation software. But what is it? And can it work for your dental practice?
It can, in some circumstances. But as someone who actually uses marketing automation software, I can tell you it's sometimes hard to figure out exactly what it does and why it works. The companies that sell it are all a bit vague on what their product is.
What exactly is marketing automation?
In short, this software lets you pre-program a whole pile of mundane marketing jobs, then automatically launches a sequence of emails or newsletters or social messages based on a reader’s actions on your website.
At the same time, the software gathers and categorizes information on visitors to your site, and lets you work out how close they are to doing business with you.
So you can start a conversation with a visitor to your site, and keep that contact going until they are ready to buy something from you. You don't need to put any effort into this process yourself until the end, when the customer is ready to book or ready to buy.
All the different types of software is web-based, and they all present you with a dashboard that shows you detailed analytics information, such as how many visitors you are getting, and how many of them are converting to leads or customers. It also shows you the open and click-through rates of your emails and newsletters, which blog posts are working best for you and so on.
What cool stuff can it do?
While this sounds pretty impressive, and it is kinda cool, all of the data and analytics you get from marketing automation software can also be found for free on Google Analytics and Google Search Console. The unique thing the marketing software can do is link that big picture Google data to individual visitors, and group those individual visitors into markets you can communicate with.
All the individual data you get on visitors is dependent on them giving it to you in return for e-books or videos or some kind of content that will help them. So you can do that and gather that data without ever using the marketing software.
And the software also automates lead scoring, where you give individual leads a certain score based on their actions to work out how likely they are to become customers. That's something you can do manually, but it takes a lot of time.
Who would it work for?
If you're running a single-chair surgery with minimal staff, this software probably isn't for you. The main reason being, it takes a long time to set up all the content and assets you need to be the fuel for all the automation. There is no software that can write interesting content for you. But without content, the software is useless.
To give you an idea, it took me at least four months to set up all the content, lead flows, work flows and emails I need for this website you're currently reading. And that was just doing the basics.
Where it may work for you is if you have a number of practices, and you want to centralise all your administrative work. If that's your situation, you are targeting a greater number of patients in a wider demographic area. You're probably looking at some quite complex and expensive marketing. This software would help simplify that process for you.