February 12, 2020
by JJ Workman, PatientPop
Though there are some dentists who believe positive word-of-mouth is all they need to attract new patients, savvy dentists know referrals alone won’t allow them to steadily grow their practices. A robust dental marketing strategy includes building an online presence that’s helpful for search engines and patients alike; it also includes using paid dental ads to complement an organic web presence.
Paid dental advertising allows dentists to specifically target their ideal patients, correlating ad spend with traffic in a more defined manner than other marketing efforts. Using Google Ads, dentists can access their target demographics across the most used search engine, ensuring that the patients they want can easily find them.
Google advertising is one of the more intuitive paid advertising programs, but it’s not uncommon for those new to dental advertising to make a few mistakes when setting up their campaigns. The search engine marketing team at PatientPop has helped hundreds of healthcare and dental practices succeed with Google Ads. Here, I discuss a few dentist ads dos and don’ts that we commonly share with our practices to empower them to build effective Google ad campaigns.
High-funnel keywords are introductory words or phrases that patients use early in their purchase cycle. Often, these patients have not yet narrowed down exactly what they’re looking for. For example, a person who searches dentist knows they are looking for a dentist, but they haven’t narrowed down specifics such as geographical location or services offered.
Mid-funnel and low-funnel keywords are closer to commercial intent and are almost always directly related to a person following through with a sale. Mid- and low-funnel keywords like emergency dental work near me specifically attract patients who are looking to visit a dentist in the near term and nearby.
It’s common for dentists to focus their dental ads only on highly competitive high-level keywords like Invisalign. Although high-funnel keywords can be the first step to getting patients into your sales funnel, pouring all your ad spend into high-funnel keywords is not the best dental advertising strategy. This is because bidding on high-funnel keywords will quickly eat away your budget, and they don’t always reach the most valuable segment of your target audience.
The better strategy is to use a mix of keywords to help build brand recognition but also attract patients who are further down the sales funnel.
According to a 2016 PatientPop survey, more than one-third of appointments booked online were scheduled after hours. When you think about it, this makes sense. Most dental practices have standard business hours, so even an appointment booked at 7 p.m. is scheduled “after hours.”
Dentists who want to capitalize on patients searching for providers after hours might consider running their dental ads 24/7, but this only works for dental practices that offer online appointment booking or an answering service. This is because patients often don’t want to wait to take action; if they aren’t able to do so, they may take their business elsewhere.
Don’t let your Google advertising money go to waste by running ads when you are not available. Instead, take advantage of dayparting — scheduling your Google ads for certain times of the day or week — to save on ad spend by only showing ads when you’re there to receive appointment requests
*Bonus tip: If you offer online appointment booking, “dental emergency” campaigns are generally a great way to fill available appointments when your practice is closed. This holds true for cancellations, too: If you have a few last-minute cancellations, going a little heavier on emergency campaigns is often a good way to refill your calendar.
As with any other form of marketing, it’s imperative that you research your competitors’ dentist ads to see what copy is being used in your geographical area. You want to stay competitive without mimicking.
One way to differentiate your dental ad copy is to use verbiage that alleviates fear. Many people are nervous about going to the dentist, and those fears affect how patients will interact with your dental practice online.
In order to write ad copy that alleviates fear, try using open, inviting language when referring to your office. For example, an adjective like warm — as in warm staff or warm office atmosphere — will elicit feelings of welcome. Also considering using positive language usually seen in specials such as satisfaction guaranteed or satisfied patient to paint a pleasant picture of your practice.
Another way to differentiate your copy is to search the way a patient would search. Include a strong call to action, using action words like register or call, and keep keyword content top of mind in your copy. Those who use paid search are trying to find something specific fast, so repeating their keyword in the ad copy will catch their eye and increase your chances of getting that click. Copy that is too abstract will likely be overlooked.
A good organic keyword strategy focuses on keywords as well as related terms. This is no different for a Google ad. Similar to an organic strategy, you should not focus on one keyword to the detriment of others. Instead, you should focus on the data to build a holistic campaign.
Many marketers fall into the trap of committing in advance to what they believe should happen in a paid ads campaign. You might get the idea that a keyword is very important, but the most important thing is to remain objective and respond to the data as it arises. Your target audience is voting with their clicks and engagement, so let that be the marker from which you build a campaign. Be sure to respond to that even if it’s in a direction that you did not expect.
Versatility is key to staying on top of a successful Google ads campaign. Track the data and make sure you’re responding to what your audience is telling you.
Google has an abundance of tools available to help your paid dental advertising campaign, including the search terms report. Use this tool specifically to add negative keywords for services you don’t provide or insurances you don’t take. These will tell Google which keywords to avoid during your ad’s bidding.
Keywords such as training, hiring, and dogs (or other veterinary keywords) are negative keywords you should add to the search terms report to ensure you get the most from your dental advertising efforts. It is relatively simple to add negatives for searches that are not contextually relevant.
The best way to stay on top of your search terms report is to come up with a regular schedule for monitoring it. There should be a dedicated team member who will pull relevant data weekly, monthly, or on whatever schedule best suits your campaign. It is imperative to recognize the context of searches that pertain to patient acquisition and those that don’t.
It may be tempting to start tweaking your dentist ads right after launch, but you should always give them a chance to run before making any adjustments. Ensure you’re using a large enough sample size that is indicative of the population you’re trying to serve before you make any changes. Similar to strategies involving dental SEO, it’s important to give time for your efforts to pay off. When you immediately adjust copy, geography, or some other element of your dental ads, you rob yourself of valuable data that you can use to improve your campaigns down the line.
The beauty of online advertising is that you have access to so much user behavior data. The way your audience interacts with your ads provides actionable insights. It is important to be prudent in the way you assess that data. Your sample may not always be large enough to make decisions with statistical significance, so you may need to develop a threshold for minimum samples for impressions, clicks, and conversions that you feel comfortable with when promoting one variant as a champion over another. For larger sample tests, the Google Ads Experiment feature can help you identify a statistically significant outcome in a user-friendly way.
Paid dental advertising doesn’t have to be a time-consuming or confusing project. With our tried-and-true dos and don’ts, dentists can get more from their Google Ads campaigns and positively impact their patient acquisition.
Take some time to do research, but don’t forget that getting in front of patients is the main objective. Use solid targeting and inviting language to create traffic and take advantage of the data you acquire to increase efficiency and optimize your performance. A well-planned dental advertising campaign could be just what the dentist ordered.
About the Author
JJ Workman is the Senior Manager of Search Engine Marketing for PatientPop, the leader in practice growth with the only all-in-one solution that empowers healthcare providers to improve every digital touchpoint of the patient journey. JJ leads the strategy for PatientPop digital advertising campaigns, including search ads and social media ads. He also helped build the search engine marketing service PatientPop offers to healthcare and dental practices.
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