It’s all about Return On Investment (ROI). It’s always about ROI.
Here’s how you can estimate approximately what your dental practice can expect in return for your investment in your online marketing efforts.
Note that I said, “online marketing” and not simply “website”. Let’s start here. A website by itself may get you part way to where you want to be, but if your prospective web developer hasn’t mentioned the importance of social media and Local Search SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to you, then they probably don’t know how to put a website together with proper on page SEO either – in which case, you’re wasting your money.
Not only are the various aspects of SEO necessary in getting clients in the door, but, your brand is as well – this is how you appear to your prospects and its very important to medical clinics to have a clean and trustworthy look.
Being easily found on the internet is as important to dentists, and periodontists as it is to auto mechanics
All of these professions have four things in common:
- Rely on prospects within a 20 mile radius or less
- Low online competition
- A lifetime client worth over $500/year
- Online reviews play a heavy role in their SEO and conversion process
Your clients are primarily from within a 20 mile radius
This requires a strong Local Search presence and this means that you must have appropriate social media channels set up and consistent with your website – this is a major way that search engines verify your authenticity and credibility. It also means that you need to be registered with a minimum amount of online directories that the internet depends on to share your information with smaller directories. Do this, and you’ll likely be among the top 3 in search results in your area simply because most of your competition doesn’t do it. I took my dental implant client from (literally) worst to first in Google search results overnight by straightening out his Local Search NAP (Name, Address, Phone) info.
Low online competition
Dentists, periodontists and auto mechanics also all benefit from having traditionally sparse online competition. Why is this? The VooDoo Effect – these practices work very hard in important fields that require little to no online involvement, so the owners are typically under-informed about the runaway train known as internet marketing. And what we don’t understand, we don’t necessarily trust.
But, you’ve seen that one competitor at the top of all your searches for several years, right? You’d really like to emulate that online presence, but you figure they MUST be dumping all their time and money into this internet marketing. No. It’s about ROI, remember? Maybe you had your little brother build you a website when he was on spring break and you haven’t seen any results from it. It’s because that’s a penny-wise dollar-foolish approach.
Getting ROI from your online marketing when your lifetime clients are worth approximately $500/year or more
You may argue that most of your clients are truly spending about $300/year with you. Yes, but if you keep their trust, they’ll be back when the crowns are needed, cavities filled or transmission in the truck needs replaced. So, let’s move on.
If you’re close to capacity consistently over the year via word of mouth and freebie online reviews than you don’t need to continue reading as it would be difficult getting ROI if you have to turn away new clients. This would be a very rare case. Nonetheless, you should do a conservative estimate of how many new clients you’d likely increase, and be able to handle, per month. Let’s say 1 per week, or 4 per month.
That would be an increase in revenue of $2000/month ($500 x 4). If you’re current online presence consists of a bad website, or no website and weak or no social media; this is a very realistic expectation if you utilize a knowledgeable marketing company. You should be comfortable with an approximate budget of $2500 for the website and $1500 for the Local Search and social media build out. The big variable here is your content – Do you have good, existing copy of your history, mission/vision statement, services and so on? A few quick videos are extremely helpful in jump starting your SEO. So these things need considered and you’re website can be turning a very good profit within six months of the launch (it takes a little while to build up the engagement).
That’s for starters. There’s also the ongoing maintenance of your site to consider. This doesn’t have to be overly elaborate, but it has to be something. I prefer to train appropriate member(s) of the company in maintaining your blog/social media with occasional, quality posts, so the SEO doesn’t drop due to inactivity (Google ranks this). It also allows you to organically expand on your SEO and engage with prospects. I off-boarded my plastic surgeon’s online presence in February (2017). Leads have reduced slightly (you get out of it what you put into it), but the return on the investment has still been astounding.
The importance of online reviews for medical practitioners and auto repair shops
It still sounds funny that I’m lumping certain medical practitioners together with auto repair shops, right? But, both industries fix things, and how well they fix things is extremely important. To the consumer, that $500 purchase is a lot of money and we care about our cars as much as our smiles. There’s aesthetic importance, meaning that we want to know that you’re amongst the best at what you do.
And then there’s the TRUST factor, and this is the deal breaker. Do the vast majority of your clients or patients trust you? Do they trust you enough to take the time to go online and share a review? They do if they’re unhappy!
This is also known as reputation management. Establish a system to ask your happy clients to leave a review for you on your preferred review sites. Not only will this increase your online visibility, but it will drown out the occasional disgruntled client that had a bad day and wants to take it out on your online reputation. You can give people a business card upon completion of their visit with your review sites listed, or send a thoughtful follow up email checking on them and ending with links to the review sites (by far, the most effective).
I hope that you found this helpful in understanding what is truly needed to rise to the top in your local listings and getting more clients through the doors. Your marketing budget will be dictated by your profit margin and how progressive your community is (meaning, how much your competitors are spending on theirs). Subscribe to my free Over 50 Starting Over course and I’ll send you my online marketing tips right to your email box.
Barry Edwards | principal/creative director