Do dental practices really have to market themselves?

January 29, 2007

I’ve found great article in recent issue of Dental Economics. It’s called “Masterful Marketing” and it answers the question if dentists need to market their services. The article was written by Cathy and John Jameson from Jameson Management Inc. They put a lot of useful advices in one place, so it is definitely worth reading. If you want to read the whole article click here, if you don’t have time and want to get short summary, then you have it below:
1. Marketing is a necessity and something you already do, whether you know it or not.
2. You have to identify and create message. Determine what your practice represents, create a message and carry it throughout all of your marketing.
3. Be consistent. All your marketing materials should match each other. You cannot be the best Family Dental Practice one time and the greatest Cosmetic Dentists next time.
4. Get creative – think out a way of not only reaching new patients, but stay in touch with current ones. You can do it by collecting patients’ e-mail addresses and sending them newsletters and updates.
5. Don’t underestimate your website power.
6. SHARE YOUR MESSAGE WITH PATIENTS.


Find New Patients at No Risk

January 29, 2007

We’ve just heard about this new service, which seems to work similar to 1800Dentist, but… it seems like they do not demand any upfront payments and there is no commitment required. Their pricing terms might be compared to PPClick advertisement, where you pay for results. And results in this case might be even better, as they pre-qualify patients, which means it should be more effective than your ads on Google or Yahoo. This is how it works (info from press release):

BRINGOdentist.com
has no upfront costs, membership fees, or risks. Dentists who join now will receive five free patient phone calls. Here’s how it works, and what it costs:

* Dentists sign-up at BRINGOdentist.com, and are reviewed through the site’s strict credentialing process.

* Patients seeking care log in to BRINGOdentist.com and enter when they want an appointment, how far they are willing to travel, their payment method, zip code, and telephone number.

* Within seconds, the patient receives a phone call from BRINGOdentist.com confirming their request and availability.

* Upon confirmation, BRINGOdentist.com’s proprietary matching technology starts contacting dentists that match the patient’s requests, and relays the pre-qualifying information to the office receptionist.

* The receptionist can then accept or deny the appointment request by pressing a number on their telephone keypad. If they accept the patient, BRINGOdentist.com immediately calls the patient, and instantly connects them with the office receptionist. Then the practice is charged approximately $30 for the service. Dentists who sign up now will receive five free patient calls.

“There’s never been an easier, faster, less costly way for dentists to fill their waiting rooms,” said Mark Grazman, principal and co-founder of BRINGO.

“Every day, 220,000 people go online to find a new dentist. BRINGOdentist.com quickly connects dentists with these potential new patients, using nothing more than the phone they already have. And since dentists can track how many calls and new patients come from BRINGOdentist.com, they’ll have a clear picture of their return on investment. Direct mail and ads are costly, and there’s no guarantee they’ll reach the intended audience. BRINGOdentist.com is the answer.”

Sounds interesting, huh?
I will try to get more information about this service and post it here.


Pioneer of Cosmetic Dentistry dies

January 29, 2007

Robert L. Nixon, recognized pioneer in the practice of cosmetic dentistry and the development of ceramic laminate veneers, devoted more than 24 of his 41 years of private practice to refining and expanding the art and science of these remarkable restorations. Dr. Nixon died from a stroke on January 23rd in Los Angeles, California. He was 67 years old. Full article


Creating a good website

January 2, 2007

I’ve been noticing for some time that more and more dentists invest in building good websites for their practice. This is very good news, as Internet have already become a great place to present your service for patients and encourage them to cooperate with you.

Saying that, I have prepared short guide on how the good website should look:
1. Make sure that your website is simple, so every users could access it. Do not invest in creating fancy flash graphic and music. Users are looking for information about your practice; they do not want to wait until their browser downloads additional files.
2. Focus on presenting your practice – write about yourself as well as your staff, list the name of specialty services that you offer, publish guides on how to get in touch with you as well as how to get to your office.
3. Think about additional content – write short articles/guides about the most common tooth diseases. You may also want to publish a guide how to act when dental emergency happens. Your users will appreciate it.
4. Make sure that your website is visible in search engines. That is where most of your potential patients look for a dental service in their area. You may want to hire Search Engine Optimization company to take care of that for you.

It is good to look for more information on how a good website should look on the Internet. There is a lot of useful guides. You may want to learn on your own or hire online dental marketing company, which will take care of it for you.

In one of our next posts we will make short review of companies, which sell website templates for dentists.


Try 1800Dentist… if you look for dentist in Moscow

December 21, 2006

Recently I typed “dentist moscow” into Google and I was quite surprised to see 1800Dentists’ ad.

First I though that they maybe have a service in Russia, but soon when I clicked on the link I have figure out that I am on the US website. So why is 1800Dentist.com ad appears on the “dentist moscow” phrase?

It seems like 1800Dentist.com goes into volume and buy all keywords/phrases which includes “dentist” keyword in it. That is what happening when you move your marketing budget from expensive TV to relatively cheap PPClick advertisement. You can go crazy then.

I am curious to hear what the dentists who cooperate with 1800Dentists think about such a strategy? I guess that they will not be very happy to sponsor 1800Dentists’ campaigns for such a bizarre locations as Szczecin, which is small city in Poland ;)


Pay-Per-Click Advertisement – Lesson 5: Other Alternatives

December 21, 2006

In our last lesson we are going to take a closer look on other marketing products for dentists.

Pay Per Call

Definition:
Pay Per Call is very similar to Pay Per Click advertisement, but in this case you have client waiting on the phone instead of user on a website. You pay for every client, who gets connected with you (except of 1800 Dentist, as their model is slightly different) and you have ability to interact with potential customer since the beginning.

PPCall vs PPClick

Search engine marketing firm Did-it.com conducted a three month PPCall test in early 2005 with a brand-name national hotel client. Here are the top level findings:

Clicks Calls
Average cost per click/call $4.5 $10
Average number of room nights per conversion 2 3.5
Average revenue per conversion $233 $344
Average conversion rate 3.7% 8.6%
Net revenue $2.7 million $3.1 million
Source: Did-it.com (2005)

Local/small businesses will value calls more than clicks, as calls will deliver better-qualified leads and that is why advertisers are willing to pay more for calls.

Who offers PPCall advertisement?

Bringo.com 1800 Dentist Ingenio MIVA
Price per lead $40 $180 Bidding model Bidding model
Number of leads per month TBD with dentist 10 No limits No limits
Distribution network Cooperation with search engines Advertisement in every media Partnerships with Yahoo, AOL, Local.com Network of websites
Specialization Dental market Dental market General General

1800Dentist is the biggest company, as they operate on the market since 1986. Every new client who signs up with them is obliged to pay monthly fee at $1,800. In exchange 1800Dentist promises to deliver 10 new leads each month. That is why I am writing that one lead costs $180.

Their position is strong enough to buy advertisements all over the country in every media (TV, radio, press, Internet).

Bringo.com has similar approach, but it is an Internet company, who has been created recently and introduces better and simpler offer.

If you cooperate with Bringo.com you have to pay $40 per lead only, there are no start-up costs and no ongoing commitment, which means that you can resign any time. Every time, where Bringo has a client for you they ask first if you want to accept the patient. If not, then you do not have to pay.

One of the biggest advantages of Bringo is that they pre-screen patients. So when they call you to inform that they have patient on the line, you are able to hear more information about the patient (type of insurance, if it is emergency, age, sex, etc.) and then decide if you want to setup an appointment.

Bringo has signed partnership deals with search engines throughout the United States and its marketing department puts efforts to present Bringo to every person who looks for a dentist on the Internet.

Price is much lower than on 1800Dentist and you do not have to pay upfront, which makes Bringo’s offer very innovative and worth trying.

Bringo provides also patients, who live in your area, which means that there is bigger chance that they will become your permanent patients. Every time when someone searches for dentist on Bringo website, he has to write his zip code and he will be contacted with dentists in his area only.

Ingenio and MIVA works on bidding model, which is very similar to Pay Per Click campaigns. It means that you have to setup account and manage it. You bid for top positions with competition and your ads are displayed on websites, which signed agreement with Ingenio or Miva.

Both companies do not charge start-up costs and they also do not require ongoing commitment. In line with Bringo it also makes them worth trying. My recommendation is to try everything which does not require start up costs and ongoing commitment. You can compare offer from Bringo, MIVA and Ingenio to decide which solution is the best for you. If you are open to spend more money you may also try with 1800Dentist.

Yellow Pages

Couple of years ago Yellow Pages, had been the first destination for every local business to place a listing and buy an ad. All the time its biggest advantage is huge reach, as many American households use Yellow Pages, when they look for local businesses.

In recent years Yellow Pages popularity has been falling, because of fast growth of the Internet. With every month more and more people looks for local businesses in search engines. Currently almost every major search engine has its local version, targeted to local audience.

Let’s look into some statistics.

Comparing the Reach of Local Media
February 2005 October 2003 Direction Statistically Significant
All Internet 70% 60% Up Yes
Newspapers 70% 73% Down No
Print Yellow Pages 62% 75% Down Yes
Search Engines 55% 47% Up Yes
IYP 27% 24% Up No
Source: The Kelsey Group and ConStat, Inc. (2005)

Print Yellow Pages are losing the market and Internet Yellow Pages does not develop as fast the rest part of the Internet industry. Why it happens?

YP business model was good couple of years ago. Since that time it has not been much modified, which means that their advertisement products are not as innovative, as products offered by search engines or PPCall companies.

Every year you have to buy a listing, but no one guarantees you any results. They also do not change the prices. This is strange, as now you know that every year more people is looking for local businesses on the Internet, instead of searching it on Yellow Pages.

The conclusion is simple. If Yellow Pages will not be able to revitalize its model to get more attention from customers and if they do not change the way they cooperate with advertisers they will be still losing market.

Of course it is still worth to buy listings on Yellow Pages, as for now they still attract a lot of users. But every month statistics change and its competitors gain more market.

Summary

This is a short, summarized description of products, which I introduced you in this lesson:
BRINGO – is about simplicity, low price and highly targeted leads,
1800Dentist – is well positioned on the market and can provide with 10 leads each month, however the price is high and you have to pay upfront,
Ingenio and MIVA works on bidding. Setup and management of your campaign is more complicated.
Yellow Pages – loses market now, but still attract a lot of customers and definitely is worth placing a listing. However situation might change in future, if they do not revitalize its product.

That is how we come to an end of our seminar. During last five days we have introduced you the basics of Online Marketing. We know that this subject is much broader and that you might have a lot of questions. Do not hesitate to contact us:
Phone: 1 877 274 6461
E-Mail: help@bringo.com


Pay-Per-Click Advertisement – Lesson 4: Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization

December 21, 2006

In our previous lessons I wrote a lot about great advantages of PPClick advertisement in search engines. Now that you know what the benefits are, we should talk more about the details.

The Best Search Engines

Just to confirm what I wrote in Lesson 1. The biggest search engines are: Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask.com. Each of them presents sponsored links (advertisement section) next to traditional (organic) search results.

How Search Engines work?

Search engines use automated software programs known as spiders, crawlers or bots to survey the Internet and build its database. Web documents are retrieved by these programs and analyzed. Data collected from each page are then added to the search engine index. When you enter a query at a search engine site, your input is checked against the search engine’s index of all the web pages it has analyzed. The best websites are then returned to you as hits, ranked in order with the best results at the top.

Search Engine Marketing vs Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Marketing is a set of marketing methods to increase visibility of a website in search engine search results. By some marketers Search Engine Optimization is a part of SEM, but we will treat as a different activity. By SEM we understand advertising in search engines. Your ads appear next to organic search results and in most cases they are called Sponsored Links.

Search Engine Optimization aims to index and improve rankings for the webpages which are most relevant to the keywords searched for according to the algorithm of each search engine.

SEM provides immediate effects. Soon after campaign is configured, your ads start to display and you pay for each user who clicks on it and goes to your website. This type of advertisement is called Pay Per Click.

Successful SEO strategy requires more time, because reaching top positions in organic search results isn’t simple. Search Engines look into many factors to evaluate the website and you will have to improve all of them if you want to get results.

Search Engine Marketing

These are steps needed to launch your Pay Per Click campaign:

1. Decide on keywords

Before you start configuring your campaign you have to decide on which keywords you want your ad to be displayed. Probably you will use the same keywords, which you have chosen for your website, before you started building it (Lesson 3).

2. Choosing PPClick program

The biggest and the best PPClick programs available on the Internet are:
- Google Ad Words (ads are displayed on Google.com, AOL.com, Netscape.com, Earthlink.com, Ask.com, Lycos.com, Infospace.com, nyt.com and many other websites, which are part of Google network) – http://adwords.google.com
- Yahoo Search Marketing (Yahoo.com, Altavista.com, CitySearch.com and many other websites in Yahoo network) – http://www.overture.com
- MSN Ad Center (MSN.com) – http://adcenter.msn.com
- MIVA (network of websites) – http://www.miva.com

The most popular are Google Ad Words and Yahoo Search Marketing. MSN.com should be growing faster in next coming months as development of this part of business is crucial for Microsoft now.

All programs, except Google Ad Words, work the same way and the only factor which decides on your ad position is price. So if you pay more than your competition your ad is placed higher. So it is traditional bidding model.

On Google there is additional factor, which decides on your position. This is relevancy, which is evaluated by Clickthrough Rate (CTR). CTR says how large percentage of users click on your ad from total number of users who search for selected keywords. So if there are 100 searches for “dentist Chicago” but you received 3 clicks only, it means that your CTR is at 3%.

3. Campaign configuration

Setting up your own campaign is pretty easy. You have to create advertiser login and then program will help you to create campaign step by step.

What is important, when you create your campaign?
- Text: it should describe your service and invite users to visit your website. It can’t be too long as most search engines allow having only 160 signs in ad text. You have also to experiment with few different ads to see which one works the best. Never rely on one ad text only,
- Keyword selection is crucial,
- Do not be afraid to use additional features, such as Geo-Targeting or selection of exact hours during the day, when your ads should be displayed.

After completing my previous lesson you know what the biggest advantages of Search Engine Marketing are. There are bad sides also and you have to be aware of it. You have to remember that not every user who goes to your website through the ad is interested in using your service. Sometimes user might look for other information and he might not be interested in setting up an appointment. From the other side, some users, who are looking for dentist in Chicago, might not be interested in using your services because your office is located in different part of the city. Tracking the visits and analyzing what each user did when he was on the website is very time-taking task.

Setting up and maintaining your campaign take a lot of time. You have to monitor it very carefully and work on constant improvements. There are always better results to get, so you have to experiment to find the best solution for you.

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization is a very broad subject. In general, SEO helps your website to appear on higher positions for specific keywords in organic search results. Top positions guarantee huge traffic, which can be easily monetized. Unfortunately SEO is a very complicated task, which requires a lot of technical skills. Also you have to be very patient, as usually it takes a lot of time before you can notice any improvements in search results.

This is a list of factors, which are important for search engines, when they decide on which position your website should appear:

1. Content on the website.

Search engines love content. It means that they prefer to show websites, which have a lot of content relevant to the search query. You can be very creative on that front and try to figure out what content will work the best. Definitely one-stop resource guides about dentistry (i.e. most common diseases), Frequent Asked Questions (where you answer most common questions about your practice) or news from day-to-day life of your practice will be a good idea. Good solution is having a blog, which can be updated couple of times during the month

2. Link building.

The most common factor of your website’s popularity is number of links which are published on other websites and redirects to you. For Google this is one of the most important factors to evaluate page. How can you improve it? You might start exchanging links with other dentists throughout the country and submit your website to the Internet directories (www.dmoz.org, directory.yahoo.com). You may also want to publish some of your articles on other websites and ask owners to publish your link.

If your website will have content and it will be interesting for users, sooner or later they will start linking to your website on their own.

3. Community building.

You may publish additional features on the website, which will make your users to visit the website more often. What can it be? There is no guarantee for any action you take, but maybe you can start at the beginning with message board about dentistry in which patients will be able to talk about general issues, but also they will have opportunity to exchange views about your service?

Search Engine Optimization is a very good way to gain customers, but if your profession is very competitive it will be difficult to appear on top positions. To get help on that front you may hire SEO consultant, who will take care of your optimization, but it always take a lot of time, before you can see any results.

If you would like to take care of SEO on your own, you would have to improve your knowledge about the Internet and also learn HTML basics.

Summary

I know that this lesson does not answer to a lot of questions, but I hope it is a good introduction to possibilities offered by search engines. If you have any questions or if you need assistance with setting up your advertiser account, do not hesitate to reach our consultants:
Phone: 1 877 Bringo 1
E-Mail: help@bringo.com

In next lesson I am going to introduce you alternative methods of advertising, such as Pay Per Call or Yellow Pages advertisement.


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