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Digital Marketing in Dentistry: Using Digital Advertising to Get More Patients

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Are you ready to learn more about ClearDent Practice Management solutions?

Are you ready to learn more about ClearDent Practice Management solutions?

Authored by marketing strategist, Robin Jones, this is the fifth in a seven-part digital marketing for dentistry series. 

In today’s shifting digital landscape, dentists are quickly realizing that digital advertising can lead to practice growth. The transformation from traditional advertising methods to digital platforms has reshaped how practices connect with their patients, market their services, and establish their brand presence in a competitive market. This blog post is a little longer than our other marketing topics so sit back and relax. You’ll be glad you took the time to learn more. 


What is Digital Advertising Anyway? 

Digital advertising is a form of marketing and advertising which uses the internet to deliver promotional marketing messages to consumers, and it encompasses a broader set of activities than you may think. Unlike traditional advertising mediums like print, radio, and television, digital advertising has the advantage of tracking the performance and engagement of ads in real-time. The key components and strategies of digital advertising include: 

Search Engine Marketing (SEM): SEM is a digital marketing strategy used to increase a website’s visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) primarily through paid advertising. Businesses bid on keywords that users might enter when looking for specific products or services (like “best dentist in Calgary”), allowing their ads to appear alongside organic search results. This process involves selecting relevant keywords, setting a budget for bids, and creating compelling ad copy to entice users to click. Advertisers are charged based on clicks (pay-per-click, or PPC) or impressions, depending on the campaign’s setup. SEM campaigns offer the advantage of being highly targeted, as ads are displayed to users who are already searching for related information or products. The effectiveness of SEM can be measured and optimized in real-time through analytics, enabling advertisers to refine their strategies and improve return on investment (ROI) by focusing on high-performing keywords and ad variations. 

Social Media Advertising: Social media advertising empowers businesses to reach targeted audiences through various platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, leveraging sophisticated demographic, interest, and behavior targeting. Advertisers choose from multiple ad formats and utilize a bidding system to manage budgets and ad placements. The process involves creating compelling content, launching campaigns, and continuously monitoring and optimizing based on real-time performance metrics such as engagement rates and conversion rates. Analytics play a crucial role in refining advertising strategies, enabling businesses to achieve specific marketing objectives effectively. Additionally, retargeting features allow for the re-engagement of users who have shown interest in a product or service, enhancing conversion opportunities. Through a combination of targeted advertising, strategic content creation, and data-driven optimization, social media advertising offers a highly personalized and efficient way for brands to connect with their audience. 

Display Advertising: Display advertising is a form of online advertising that conveys a commercial message visually using text, logos, animations, videos, photographs, or other graphics. These ads appear on websites, social media platforms, and other digital environments that are not owned by the advertiser but are part of a network that agrees to show ads in exchange for revenue. Advertisers use display ads to promote their products or services, increase brand awareness, and drive traffic to their websites. Targeting options for display advertising are sophisticated, allowing advertisers to reach specific audiences based on demographics, interests, behaviors, and even retargeting users who have previously interacted with their brand. The effectiveness of display advertising campaigns is measured through metrics such as click-through rates (CTR), impressions, and conversion rates. This form of advertising leverages the visual appeal of ads to capture the attention of potential customers, making it an integral part of many digital marketing strategies. 

Mobile Advertising: Mobile advertising is a form of digital advertising specifically tailored for mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, leveraging features unique to these devices to engage users in a more personal and interactive manner. It encompasses a variety of formats, including text messages (SMS), banner ads, video ads, and in-app advertisements, capitalizing on the ubiquity and personal nature of mobile devices. Advertisers can target audiences based on detailed criteria, including location (using GPS technology), browsing habits, app usage, and demographic information, making it possible to deliver highly personalized and contextually relevant ads. Mobile advertising enables marketers to reach their audience at almost any time and place, offering opportunities for real-time engagement and immediate action, such as calling a business directly from an ad. The effectiveness of mobile ads is measurable through metrics like click-through rates, engagement rates, and conversion rates, allowing for the optimization of campaigns in real-time to improve ROI. This form of advertising is particularly powerful due to the widespread use of mobile devices and the increasing amount of time people spend using them. 

Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate marketing is a performance-based advertising model where businesses reward external partners (affiliates) for directing traffic or sales to their products or services through the affiliate’s own marketing efforts. Affiliates use unique tracking links or codes to promote products or services to their audience, typically on their websites, social media platforms, or blogs. When a consumer clicks on these links and makes a purchase or completes a desired action (like booking an appointment), the affiliate earns a commission from the action. This model allows companies to expand their marketing reach with minimal upfront cost, paying only for measurable results, while affiliates can earn income by leveraging their content and audience reach. Affiliate marketing fosters mutually beneficial partnerships between advertisers and affiliates, relying heavily on trust, transparency, and shared goals to drive success. 

Video Advertising: Video advertising is the use of video content to promote products, services, or brands within various digital platforms, including social media, video sharing sites like YouTube, and websites. This advertising format leverages the dynamic and engaging nature of video to capture viewers’ attention, convey messages more effectively, and foster emotional connections with the audience. Advertisers can target specific demographics, interests, and behaviors, ensuring their content reaches the intended viewers. Formats range from short, snappy clips suitable for social media feeds to longer, more detailed explainer videos or interactive ads that encourage viewer participation. Video ads are valued for their ability to increase brand awareness, engagement, and conversion rates, with performance metrics like view count, engagement rate, and click-through rate providing insights into their effectiveness. The growing consumption of video content across devices makes video advertising an increasingly vital component of digital marketing strategies. 

Influencer Marketing: Influencer marketing is a strategy where brands collaborate with individuals who have a significant, engaged following on social media or other online platforms to promote products, services, or campaigns. These influencers leverage their credibility and relationship with their audience to endorse brands in a more authentic and organic way than traditional advertising. By partnering with influencers whose followers match the brand’s target demographic, companies can effectively reach and influence potential customers in niche markets. Campaigns can vary in form, including sponsored content, product reviews, and endorsements, which appear on the influencer’s platforms. The effectiveness of influencer marketing is often measured through engagement rates, reach, and ultimately, the conversion rates or ROI these campaigns generate. This approach capitalizes on the trust influencers have built with their audience, translating that trust into a powerful tool for brands looking to expand their visibility and credibility among prospective consumers. 

Digital advertising allows for more precise targeting and segmentation of audiences, as well as the ability to measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns in real-time through analytics and other metrics. This immediacy and data-driven approach can lead to more efficient and effective marketing strategies compared to traditional methods. 


Examples of Digital Advertising in Dentistry 

Social Media Campaign 

A dental practice launched a Facebook and Instagram campaign featuring before-and-after photos of cosmetic dentistry. They utilized targeted ads to reach individuals interested in cosmetic dental services within a specific geographic area. By showcasing their work’s quality and patient satisfaction stories, they not only increased their social media following but also saw a significant uptick in consultations for cosmetic dental procedures. 

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising 

To attract new patients, a dental practice utilized Google Ads to create PPC campaigns targeting high-intent keywords related to emergency dental services within a specific region. By bidding on keywords like “emergency dentist” and “24-hour dental care,” they were able to appear at the top of search results when potential patients were in urgent need of dental services. This strategy resulted in a high conversion rate of clicks to appointments. 

Video Marketing 

Understanding the impact of video content, a dental clinic created a series of educational videos addressing common dental concerns and the services they offer. These videos were shared on their website, YouTube, and social media platforms. By demystifying dental procedures and showcasing their team’s expertise and bedside manner, the clinic was able to reduce patients’ anxiety about dental visits and attract a broader audience. 


Creating a Strategy and Measuring ROI 

To create an effective digital advertising strategy, dental practices should first define their goals, target audience, and budget. It’s important to choose the right mix of digital advertising types to reach your audience effectively. Once the campaign is underway, measuring ROI becomes crucial. This involves tracking metrics such as website traffic, click-through rates, conversion rates, and ultimately, the increase in appointments or revenue attributed to digital advertising efforts. Having online booking capabilities and tools like Google Analytics and CRM software can provide insights into these metrics. 


Words of Wisdom from a 30-Year Marketing Veteran 

OK, that’s a lot to take in. I get it. Digital advertising can be daunting, especially when you are just getting started. So, my advice? Start small. I’ve seen companies waste a lot of money on digital advertising, only to scrap it and conclude that “it doesn’t work for us”. But I can tell you this, when done right, it almost always has a positive ROI. Here’s my advice: 

Work with someone who knows what they’re doing and ideally, has done it within dentistry. There is a lot of value in “been there, done that” when it comes to digital advertising. 

Make sure you have a strong foundation in place BEFORE you spend a nickel on advertising. And what I mean by foundation are things like a good website, tools like online booking and Google Analytics so that you can measure the success of your programs, and good communication with your front-line staff who know to ask questions like “how did you hear about us”? 

Start small. If I had a dollar for every organization I know who went “all-in” on advertising, only to get marginal or worse returns, I’d have a beautiful beach house somewhere sunny and warm. Advertising is an iterative process. Test, tweak, test, tweak, test, tweak is the name of the game. Only when you’ve got good results should you increase spend. 

Be patient. Advertising generally isn’t a “quick win”. Perfection comes with time, learning, experimenting, and refining. Oh, and the rules, tools, and algorithms are always changing so what works today may not work as well tomorrow. 


In Closing 

The shift towards digital advertising in dentistry is not just a trend; it reflects where audiences spend their time and how they prefer information. By effectively leveraging digital advertising, dental practices can improve their visibility, engage more meaningfully with patients, and drive growth. The key to success lies in understanding the digital landscape, crafting strategic campaigns, and continually measuring and adjusting to ensure the best possible outcomes. Digital advertising has indeed become an indispensable tool in the modern dentist’s marketing toolkit. 

At ClearDent, we partner with Social Ordeals, experts in digital marketing for dentistry, to offer a comprehensive online marketing solution. Social Ordeals has developed a platform and services that help dental practices monitor, manage, and build their online reputations and brands. From building or refreshing your website, to search engine optimization, to digital advertising and more, Social Ordeals coupled with ClearDent’s patient engagement solutions is a win-win for today’s modern dental practice. 

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