Know who you're looking for, and how to find them

March 21, 2012

Online marketing is becoming essential for many small businesses. Patients increasingly turn to the Internet to seek and connect with service providers. The dental market has gone digital, with leading practices developing a Web presence via websites and social media initiatives. This shift has made the Internet a more crowded and competitive space for practices. Increasingly dentists and specialists are implementing sophisticated online promotion advertising to fortify their search engine visibility.

Online marketing is becoming essential for many small businesses. Patients increasingly turn to the Internet to seek and connect with service providers. The dental market has gone digital, with leading practices developing a Web presence via websites and social media initiatives. This shift has made the Internet a more crowded and competitive space for practices. Increasingly dentists and specialists are implementing sophisticated online promotion advertising to fortify their search engine visibility. Specifically we are experiencing a tremendous growth in online Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising.

What is PPC advertising?

PPC Internet advertising uses keywords and phrases targeting the right practice patient demographic and promoting a specific service mix. The advertisement text appears above the search engine results and the practice pays the search engine (for instance, Google) only when a prospective patient clicks on the link. It is important that the agency developing and placing the advertisement be Google AdWords Certified  as effectiveness demands highly technical expertise.

Effective PPC advertisements go beyond good ad text and optimize results by managing the website landing pages to which prospective patients are directed to from an advertisement. It is important when clicking that patients do not land on your homepage, but rather on the specific page relevant to the advertised service.

Impact of PPC campaigns on new patients

The effectiveness of a paid search campaign is dependent on many factors: The process of optimizing a campaign is complex and multifaceted, and many traditional paid search management companies fail to address these aspects.

The traditional method prescribes a simplistic approach of grouping many keywords into a single campaign, directing all visitors to a site’s homepage and duplicating the same ad text across all search engines. Many traditional management companies follow a simple “set it and forget it” approach, therefore ignoring continual optimization altogether.

Online advertising and search engine marketing is constantly evolving, and so it is imperative your paid advertising service provider stay on top of trends and proactively monitor campaign results and make necessary edits. 

An effective PPC campaign includes the use of relevant ad copy and keyword groupings, multiple ad groups per campaign, customized geo-targeting specific to a practice’s office locations, conversion optimization of landing pages and a robust call tracking system to measure lead generation. Based on quantified results and new patient tracking the practice can assess the return on investment and make the appropriate adjustments to its advertisements and budget.

Analysis of leads generated by PPC Google campaigns

In November 2010, Sesame Communications conducted a 60-day review of 63 active Sesame Elite Search Premium accounts. This service develops, executes and tracks Google AdWords campaigns for dental and orthodontic practices. The study reviewed complete campaign data from August through September 2010. The study tracked call rates as well as cost per lead. In the study’s 60 day time span there were 6,134 clicks and 583 total leads generated. Advertising budgets ranged from $100 to $3,000 per month, with an average of $366.38. Categorization of new patients was based on caller self-identification (see Data from Sesame Elite Search Premium Analysis, below).

The Sesame Elite Search Premium study demonstrated that campaigns converted 9.5% of clicks into leads, based on 563 phone calls and 20 e-mails.1 Another 79% of callers self-identified as new patients. The average cost per lead was less than $50, compared with the national average of $275 for new patient acquisition.2

It is important to note that Sesame Communications tracked the call rate (leads ÷ total clicks) for PPC Google campaigns over the past two years and documented that the call rate has increased 71% from 2009. This is likely the result of prospective patients increased level of Web savvy and sophistication. Further it validates that patients clicking on advertising links are more advanced in their purchase process.

This breakthrough study of dental and orthodontic online campaigns confirms that PPC Google AdWords campaigns significantly increase phone calls and e-mails to the practices. Furthermore, the data was analyzed using Sesame First Call™ to track and record all calls and showed that a significant portion of the callers into the practices were self-identified as new patients.

Conclusion

In a crowded Internet world, PPC advertising is an effective way for a practice to appear at the top of the search engine placement. When managed effectively, PPC advertisements have the potential to grow your practice by customizing an advertising campaign based on your defined demographic, your goals and the main products or services that you provide.

Research shows that effectively executed campaigns   generate leads to the practice at a low cost. The quality of those incoming leads is solid with 79% of the calls identified as new patients. This suggests that paid search is a valuable tool for targeting new patients. This makes intuitive sense because according to Google, when users see highly relevant ads, and the ads are shown only in response to a user’s query, the user is likely to be further along in the buying cycle, and more likely to convert.3

As more dental and orthodontic practices move online, it becomes essential for doctors to incorporate an integrated online marketing strategy.