Dental Ads:

The Ultimate Guide (Updated for 2020)

You know you need more patients to fight off attrition and grow your practice.

But you hear so much conflicting advice on where you should spend your ad dollars.

The simple truth is that most of the advice you've been getting is wrong.

And in this guide I'm going to show you what works - and what doesn't work - when it comes to advertising your dental practice online.

Let's get started.

Contents

CHAPTER 1:
DENTAL ADS OVERVIEW

An In-Depth Look at Dental Advertising Options

What Works and What Doesn't to get more patients.

The purpose of this guide is to show you what platforms work great for advertising your dental practice online - as well as which advertising strategies and techniques you should avoid.

There are two key principles you must accept when reading this guide - and to have success marketing your practice online.

Principle 1: You Have to Pay to Play

With social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, there is no free lunch. When you tweet or post to your Facebook page - hardly anyone is seeing your message. These companies exist to make money, not to promote your dental practice.

In fact, it is estimated that only 2% - 6% of all those who like or follow your Facebook page will ever see your posts.

And your Twitter posts are buried deep in news feeds before most users get a chance to see them.

The social media providers know they have a platform that can reach users and they're going to charge you to use it to reach your ideal patients.

Principle 2: Measurement

Don't advertise unless you can successfully measure your return on investment. You need to be certain that you're getting a good return on your ad spend with an advertising platform - or else you shouldn't be advertising on that ad platform at all.

Google Search, Microsoft Ads, Facebook and Twitter all have advertising metrics that allow you to quantify the impact of your advertising. It gets a bit murky with Yelp and Google Display Ads.

Facebook, Twitter, Google and Yelp all exist to make money. They're not going to promote your practice for free.

Just posting to your dental office's Facebook page won't do any good. Only 2% - 6% of Facebook posts are seen by those who like or follow your business.

Now that we've covered those two key principles, let's take a look at the different ways that you can advertise your practice online - starting with Google Search Ads.

CHAPTER 2:
GOOGLE SEARCH ADS

Google Search Ads for Dentists

Your Best Bet for New Patients

Google’s total revenue in 2018 was $136 Billion – mostly from online advertising.

Note: Google AdWords was recently rebranded as "Google Ads". It is the same advertsing platform.

Google search ads are the most powerful Internet Marketing tool you can use to bring new patients into your practice.

But no one clicks on ads. I know I don't.

Actually, we all click on Google Ads - many times without realizing that we're doing it! It is nearly impossible not to.

The ads Google shows for searches are extremely relevant. Additionally, Google has blurred the line between ads and regular search results so it is extremely difficult to tell the difference between them.

You (and most everyone else) click on Google ads because the ads provide the answer for your search.

Google made $136 Billion in 2018 because their ads are profitable for their advertisers.

Google’s 2018 revenue of $136 Billion was mostly from online advertising.

Google makes hundreds of billions of dollars each year because their online advertising delivers results for their customers

How You Get Dental Patients with Google Ads

An example of how a search leads to a dental appointment is shown below:

Google search for "dental crowns near me" screenshot

Step 1: Search

A patient that you can help goes to Google and searches for a solution to their dental problem.

Step 2: Your Ad Shows

At that exact moment that they complete their search, a text ad for your practice appears in the search results.​

Google search for "dental crowns near me" screenshot

Step 3: Phone Call

The patient reads then clicks your ad and realizes you can solve their dental problem.  They call for an appointment.

People Actually Want to See Ads in Google

Get People What They Want – Without Interrupting Them.

Google search ads are far superior to traditional forms of advertising – like radio and tv – because you’re getting your message in front of your future patient at the exact moment they’re searching for services that you offer.

It is RUDE to Interrupt. Imagine this...

Picture yourself at the movies getting ready to enjoy yet another superhero action movie set in the Marvel Universe (because Hollywood can’t seem to come up with anything original).

I’m not judging – you like what you like.

Back to the movies... you have your popcorn ready, the previews have ended, and the movie starts.

Then some loudmouth bozo starts talking on his phone right as the movie starts!

This “loudmouth bozo” is traditional advertising – like radio and tv ads.

Traditional advertising interrupts you from what you’re trying to do. Maybe you're watching cheese-rolling or mountain unicycling on tv (both are real - Google them). Or maybe you're listening to curling on the radio (again no judgment) when sudenly someone pipes in, interrupts your program and tries to sell you something you're not interested in.

Don’t Interrupt – Give Your Future Patients What They Want Right When They Search for It

With Google search ads, you’re providing the solution right when your prospective patient needs it.

They search for services your dental office provides – your ad shows, and they contact you to set up an appointment.

They are searching for a solution to their problem – and you provide it to them.

Person interrupting others with a phone in a movie theater
Google Search Advertising Doesn't Interrupt
Like Radio, TV and Even Facebook Ads

Google search ads allow you to get your advertising message in front of prospective patients at the exact moment they're searching for your services.

You're not interrupting.... You're giving them exactly what they want.

Anatomy of a Google Dental Ad

When you advertise on Google, you will create dental advertisements that have a structure like what is shown below:

A C B D Aurora Colorado Dentist Ad
A

Headline

Your headline should closely match the user's search and let them know that you can solve their dental problem.

B

Display URL

When someone clicks on your ad you will send them to the page on your site that matches the services they're looking for

C

Description

You get up to two 90-character lines for your description. Appeal to the user by letting them know you're an expert and can solve their problem.

D

Ad Extensions

Google Ads has many extensions you can use including location extensions, call extensions and sitelink extensions.

Google Dental Ads Examples

If a prospect is searching for dental implants in Cleveland - your ad can talk about your Cleveland office’s dental implant services.

If they’re looking for teeth straightening in Schenectady, you can talk about your Invisalign or ClearCorrect services and the great results your patients have had.

After your ad is clicked, you'll send them to the most relevant page. If your ad is about implants it will send them to your implants page. If your ad is about clear aligners, they'll arrive at the clear aligners page on your website.

Advertisement for dental implants in Cleveland, OH (screenshot)
Advertisement for clear aligners in Schenectady, NY

Getting Profitable Patients with Dental Ads

Let’s look at a typical search engine results page.

Here you can see that someone has searched for dental crowns in Colorado Springs, CO

A C B dental crowns Colorado Springs search results page

And you can see the results that Google provides on the search engine results page (SERP).

The user enters their search term  A . Google shows multiple ads  B  at the top of the search engine results - in fact, ads DOMINATE the search results for most dental related searches. You have to scroll way down on the page to see results that aren’t ads  C .

Each of the dental practices that are running ads are trying to encourage the user to click on their specific ad. You’ll notice that many of the advertisers focus on these key ingredients in their ad copy:

Google makes most of its money through advertising - and as you can see, ads DOMINATE the search engine results page for dental searches

Alright, great - so then what.... What happens when my ad gets clicked?

Good Question

Two things happen:

  1. Google gets paid (more on this in a minute)
  2. The visitor is taken to your landing page

A landing page is a page on your website that specifically talks about the services that you offer that they were searching for. You can have different landing pages for each service that you offer.

We do a deep dive on landing pages in a later chapter.

Every time a searcher clicks on your ad, Google charges your practice.  The goal is to make sure that the revenue that you receive from your ad campaign outweighs the cost of your ad clicks.

Makes sense, right?  Pay X dollars on ads, and receive 2X, 3X, 4X (or more) over the lifetime value of the patients that you’re bringing into your practice.

Ok… so just how much are these click costs?

It depends.

It can range from around $1 per click up to $50 or more for higher end dental services in competitive urban markets.

Of course click cost is important, but you absolutely can’t look at click cost in isolation.  Your return on your ad investment is the key factor - as shown below.

When your ad is clicked, the prospect is taken to your website, and Google charges you for the click

Don't get caught up in individual statistics like cost per click.

Getting a positive return on investment (ROI) is the key to a successful ad campaign.

Focus on Return on Investment

Ad Campaign A Ad Campaign B
Clicks
100
100
$ / Click
$50
$6
Conversion %
(% of Clicks who Become Patients)
15%
5%
Total Dollar Revenue / Patient (After Overhead)
$1,000
$100

With Ad Campaign A:

Total Revenue = $15,000
 ($1,000 * 100 clicks * .15 Conversion Rate)

Total Ad Costs = $5,000
(100 * $50 = $5,000)


Ad Campaign Net = $10,000
($15,000 – $5,000)

With Ad Campaign B:

Total Revenue = $500
 ($100 * 100 clicks * .05 Conversion Rate)

Total Ad Costs = $600
(100 * $6 = $600)


Ad Campaign Net = -$100
($500 – $600)

Important Takeaways

Bidding in Google Ads

Google Ads is kind of like an auction. You end up bidding on “keywords” that are similar to what the user is searching for.

According to Google, Keywords are:

“Words or phrases describing your product or service that you choose to help determine when and where your ad can appear.”

Each of the dental practices that are running ads are trying to encourage the user to click on their specific ad.  You'll notice that many of the advertisers focus on these key ingredients in their ad copy:

While your bid amount matters, it isn’t the only factor in determining where your ad appears in the search results.  The highest bidder may appear towards the bottom of the ads - or not even appear at all.

For more information about Google keywords, see Google's official documentation

So, My Ad Should Be at the Top of the Page for Best Results, Right?

Maybe.

But again, it is about getting the best return on your marketing dollars.

If you’re only focused on your ad being in the top spot all the time – you’re focused on the wrong thing.

Having your ad on top of the search results can sometimes be beneficial. It will obviously get noticed more. But there’s also a chance that you’ll get a lot of clicks that you don’t want when your ad is at the top of the results. You’re prominently featured and can get a lot of impulsive people who click on your ad without even reading it – just because you’re on top.

Sometimes you can get a lower price per click (and a better return on your ad budget) by being a bit further down in the ads. You don’t always have to be in the top spot to have success.

The goal isn't necessarily to be at the top of the search results - your goal is to maximize your return on investment.

Google Ads Targeting

You get an incredible amount of control with Google Ads in determining who will see your ad and who won’t be able to see your ad.  A brief primer is provided in this chapter. 

The power of targeting is amazing. You can:

You can even exclude members of your community who wouldn’t be a good fit for your dental practice – and they’ll never even see your ad.

Targeting options allow your budget to go much further by showing your ads to only those patients who are a good fit – and greatly reducing the chances that a person who isn’t a good fit will ever see it.

For more information about Google targeting options, see Google's official documentation

Geographical Targeting in Google Ads (Geo Targeting)

You can even exclude locations near your office.  As an example, if you’re running a dental implant campaign, you can target a radius around your office and then exclude zip codes that are predominantly young families and college students.

Google Ads radius and location geographic targeting for sample dental clinic (screenshot)
Geographical Targeting
Here we have targeted a city (Charlotte, NC), and a radius around a location (20 miles around Concord, NC). We have also excluded the cities of Kannapolis and China Grove.

Ad Scheduling

This is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.

With Google Ads you can schedule when you want to run your advertising.

As a dentist, you only want to run ads when someone in your office is available to properly handle incoming phone calls.

Most dental clicks are of an urgent nature, and if your office is closed, the person will just keep searching and calling dental offices until someone properly picks up the phone and helps meet their needs.

Running ads outside of your normal business hours is almost always a big mistake and a waste of your budget.

Ad scheduling screenshot from Google Ads Interface
Ad Scheduling
You'll only want to run dental advertisements when you can answer the phone. Here, we're running ads 8-5 Monday through Friday - except ads are off 12-1 for lunch.
We're also running ads on Saturdays from 8-1.

Device Bidding Adjustments

You can also bid differently on your keywords depending on what device the user is conducting their search from.

You’ll want to experiment with bidding a bit more on smartphones than you do on desktops. In my experience, tablets are the least effective device at generating new patients, so you’ll want to bid even less on tablet devices.

The obvious benefit of getting smart phone clicks is that they can easily call you immediately as they conduct the search.

Screenshot of bid adjustment options for devices in Google Ads
Device Bidding Adjustments
Typically, we get the best return on investment from mobile phones, and the worst from tablets. Here, we're increasing our maximum bid on phones by up to 30% and reducing our bid on tablets by up to 50%.

Budget Controls

Google Ads has budgetary controls which will help you to ensure that you stay within your budget.

You set a daily budget – while on any given day that budget can be exceeded – your daily budget on average for the month won’t be exceeded.

For example, in a 30 day month, if you have a $10 daily budget, your total monthly ad spend won’t exceed $300 – but on any given day you could be spending as much as $20 on ads.

While this sounds a little quirky – and it is – the point is that with Google Ads budgeting there won’t be any runaway spending. You won’t exceed the budget that you’ve established for the month.

Google Ads budgeting options for a dental advertising campaign (screenshot)
Budget Controls
You can prevent runaway spending by establishing a daily budget.
You can also group multiple dental campaigns under a single shared budget.

Demographics

You can target on age, gender and household income.

Seemingly, women seem to make most of the dental appointments for the family. Cosmetic dentistry would also do best in areas where household income is high.

Monitor your demographic data and you can adjust your bids accordingly to target your best patients.

Google Ads Age, Gender, and Household Income Targeting Options (screenshot)
Demographic Targeting Options
Age, Gender and Household Income are demographic targeting options you may wish to consider to bring in your ideal dental patients

Negative Keywords

Be sure to take advantage of Negative keywords.

Negative keywords help to prevent your ads from ever showing to bad prospects.

For example, if someone searches for “free dental services in Phoenix” you don’t want your ad to appear. You would be paying money for someone to click on your ad who isn’t willing to pay you for your services.

In this case “free” would be a negative keyword.

You also don’t want your ad to show for other dentists in your area.

You’re not going to convert their patients into your patients.

When someone searches for “Dr Smith Salt Lake City” – they probably already have a relationship with Dr Smith’s dental office and are looking for their phone number to figure out an insurance issue or set up an appointment. They’re not actively looking to change dentists.

So, it is a smart idea to make the last names and practice names of dentists in your area negative keywords.

Screenshot of a negative keyword list for dentists in Google Ads
Negative Keyword Lists for Google Ads
This is a screenshot of a negative keyword list that has nearly 2,000 negative keywords.
Negative keywords prevent your ad from showing for undesirable searches.

CHAPTER 3:
MICROSOFT ADS

Microsoft Search Ads

Want Affluent Patients Looking for Implants or Cosmetic Procedures?

Take Advantage of Microsoft Ads....

Microsoft Ads (formerly called Bing Ads) is very similar to Google Ads. Microsoft Ads appear on Microsoft's Bing search engine.

When you run ads using Microsoft, your ads appear on their Bing search engine, Yahoo and AOL.

The users of these search engines tend to be a bit more affluent, well-educated and older than the average user conducting a search on Google.  They also may be a bit less tech-savvy and a bit more accepting of advertising.

So Microsoft Ads users are on average a bit older and wealthier.

The ads can therefore be very effective at bringing in dental implant cases or people in need of dentures.

Microsoft Ads are great at reaching a more affluent, educated and slightly older demographic than Google. This offers opportunities for services like dentures and dental implants.

My Microsoft Ads Experience for Dentists

If you’re already advertising on Google and you start a Microsoft Ads campaign, you’re probably going to witness only around 10%-20% of the click activity that you’re seeing in Google.

You’ll probably also experience a slightly lower cost per click.  You can in general bid less on keywords and still appear near the top of the page because there are less competing dental advertisers using Microsoft Ads versus Google Ads.

The result usually is that it costs less to get a patient through the door using Bing than Google.

That said, you probably can’t rely on Bing advertising alone as the volume is too low to generate enough new patients.

Recommendation - use both Google Search Ads and Microsoft Ads to get the best results.

In general it will cost less to get a dental patient using Microsoft Ads.

With Microsoft Ads you'll only get a small fraction of the traffic (<20%) that you'll receive from Google Ads.

Microsoft Ads Search Results

As you can see in the below search for “Arvada Dentist Near Me” - the search results page looks very similar to what you see in Google Ads.

The ads in Bing appear at the very top - and at the very bottom of the search engine results page.  There are also maps with locations of offices on the page (not pictured).

Whenever Google Ads introduces a new feature to its advertising platform, Bing Ads generally adds the exact same functionality within a few months.

Bing Search Engine results for
Bing Search Results
Microsoft Ads dominate the Bing search results for dental related searches

Microsoft Ads appear at the top and at the bottom of the Bing search results pages - just like they do in Google.

Moving Your Dental Campaigns from Google into Microsoft

A common workflow issue when working with search engine advertising for dental offices is to create a well optimized ad account in Google Ads - then port that ad campaign into Microsoft Ads.

You obviously don't want to have to take the time to recreate all the campaigns individually in Microsoft.

Fortunately, Microsoft Advertising editor is a tool provided by Microsoft that allows you to import your Google ad campaigns into the Microsoft Ads platform.

Screenshot of Google Import using Microsoft Advertising Editor
Microsoft Advertising Editor
Screenshot shows the import of multiple Google Ads campaigns into Microsoft Ads using Microsoft's Advertising Editor.

Warning: while the editor is usually pretty accurate when importing campaigns, you'll want to check the import results carefully. You'll also want to check your imported ad campaign in Microsoft Ads for the next few days to make sure everything looks right.

It does occasionally happen that incompatibilities between Google and Microsoft ad campaigns can result in costly errors that are charged to your account.

Microsoft Advertising Editor (Click Here for Documentation) is reasonably effective at moving your campaign from Google into Bing.

While you must use the Microsoft Advertising editor to make work go more quickly import Google campaigns, don't blindly trust it.

Incompatibilities between Google and Microsoft can result in expensive charges in your account.

CHAPTER 4:
GOOGLE DISPLAY ADS

Google Display Ads

Most Dentists Should Not Do Display Advertising

The Google Display Network contains over 2 Million sites that display Google Display Ads.

Below is a screenshot taken on WebMD.com. You can see three Google display ads at the top of the page. If you continued to scroll down on this page, you would see other Google Ads, including a video.

WebMD.com screenshot showing multiple Google Display Ads on a Gingivitis page
Google Display Ads
On this webmd.com page about Gingivitis, there are multiple Google Display Ads, including three at the very top of the page.

Warning: while the editor is usually pretty accurate when importing campaigns, you'll want to check the import results carefully. You'll also want to check your imported ad campaign in Microsoft Ads for the next few days to make sure everything looks right.

It does occasionally happen that incompatibilities between Google and Microsoft ad campaigns can result in costly errors that are charged to your account.

Google Display Ads come in multiple formats - including image, text and video. The ads can appear on multiple locations on a website.

Display Ad Formats

There are 8 total ad formats available to choose from. Some of the more common formats that you might use are shown below.

There are 8 total ad formats available to choose from. Some of the more common formats that you might use are shown below.

When you create an ad on the display network, you choose what happens when someone clicks on the ad.  For most dentists, it would be to send that person who clicked to a page on your website that is related to the ad.

Unlike Google Search Ads where someone is actively searching for your services, display ads can appear on just about any website.  

Display ads don’t get clicked on all that often because the website visitor is looking to enjoy the website content and isn’t usually interested in clicking on an ad.

According to HubSpot, the click through rate for search ads is almost 2%, while display ads hover around .3%.  So search ads are 6x more likely to be clicked than display ads.

Mind if I Interrupt?

The ads are another form of interruption marketing.  You’re on another website to catch up on the latest entertainment or sports news - when you see big flashing display ad banners.  They distract - and interrupt - what you’re trying to accomplish - which is to enjoy website content.

Display ads are rarely clicked - around 6x less than search ads.

Search ads get clicked around 2% of the time, display ads just .3%.

When Display Ads Might Make Sense

BRANDING

In some cases, the display network can be used for branding purposes.  So, if you have multiple offices across a city (say 3 or more offices) - it may be worth it to experiment with display advertising in your area on relevant websites.

You can potentially get the same name recognition with Google Display Advertising that you may also receive from radio or tv ads.

While your potential pool of patients don't need your services when they hear your ad, you'll be in the front of their mind when some time in the future they need a dentist.

REMARKETING

Display advertising may also make sense if people visit your website and then don’t end up calling you.  You can run display ads specifically targeted to those users if you have enough visitors coming into your website.

Remarketing can be a highly effective tactic to get your ad in front of potential patients that have already been to your website.

Are My Ads Running on the Display Network?

Unfortunately, it is possible that if you're advertising online right now, your ads could be appearing on the Google Display Network. As I've alluded to, this is almost always a bad idea.

Here’s how you can check to see if ads from your Google Ads campaigns are being shown on the display network:

Under the settings tab for your campaign, for “Networks”, make sure that the only network mentioned is the Search Network.  There should be no mention of the Display Network.

In the screenshot below, you can see that the ads are running on both the Display Network and the Search Network.

Screenshot of the Google Ads Network Settings
Display Network Active
For your Google Ad Campaign, look under "Settings" to see if your ads are running on the Display Network.

Clicking on the down arrow on the right side of the Networks line in the screenshot above, will allow you to deactivate the Display Network. Go ahead and uncheck the "Include Google Display Network" option.

Unchecking the Google Display Network in the Google Interface (Screenshot)
Turn off the Google Display Network
Uncheck the Display Network option

If ads for your dental office are running on the Display Network, you'll want to turn them off.

Display Network Summary - and a WARNING

Most dentists - especially those with just one location want NO PART of paying to show ads on the display network.  

Some marketing agencies charge dentists as a percentage of total ad spend.

This is common practice, and there is nothing wrong with this fee arrangement if your budget is being wisely spent.

That said, spending ad budget on the Display Network could be used to increase their fees while providing no benefit to you.

If your ad agency is running ads for your practice on the Display Network, you need to ask them why - and see data on the effectiveness of the ad campaign.

If you're working with a marketing agency that is running ads for your practice on the Display Network (almost always a bad idea), you need to investigate. Ask them what their strategy is and how it is directly benefiting you.

CHAPTER 5:
FACEBOOK ADS

Facebook Ads

One of the Better Ways to get Dental Patients Online

If you want to get seen on Facebook, you must advertise.

Mark Zuckerberg has a very valuable platform, and he’s not going to let you promote your practice for free on his site.

You can post updates all you want.  It won’t do any good. It is estimated that only 2% - 6% of all people that like or follow your practice’s page will ever see your updates…. Unless you pay Facebook.

The good news is that Facebook has very effective advertising options that you can use to get your practice noticed.

Just posting to your dental office's Facebook page won't do any good. Only 2% - 6% of Facebook posts are seen by those who like or follow your business.

You must pay Facebook for your message to be seen

What Facebook Ads for Dentists Look Like

Facebook ads consist of both an image and associated text.  Your ad will appear in a Facebook user’s news feed as “sponsored” as you can see below.  

Aspen Dental Facebook Video Ad (screenshot)
A Facebook Video Ad
This ad is for mega-DSO Aspen Dental.
You can do better.

Your Dental ad on Facebook can be in a variety of formats, including images or videos

Facebook ads appear in user feeds and look very similar to regular user posts.

BONUS: Want to See Your Competitor's Ads on Facebook?

Good news - now you can!  

Probably due to the alleged Russian meddling in the US election, confusing / misleading ads, and Mark Zuckerberg’s shaky senate hearing performance, Facebook decided to be more transparent about its advertisers.

This can help you come up with ideas for your own ad campaign and just to get a general feel for what the competition is doing.

Go to a competing Dentist’s Facebook Page Along the right-hand side, you’ll see a block that says “Page Transparency” as you can see below. I'm using mega-DSO Aspen Dental for this exercise. You can find their Facebook page and do the exact same thing.  Go ahead and click on “See More” You’re now taken to a page which provides more information about that dental practice’s Facebook page - including information about their advertising.  

Facebook Page transparency on the Aspen Dental Facebook page
Turn off the Google Display Network
Uncheck the Display Network option

If it says, “this page is currently running ads”, you can click “Go to Ad Library” to see your competitor’s current and past Facebook ads - as shown below.

How to access the ad library in Facebook (screenshot)
Facebook's Page Transparency
From this screen, you can access your competitor's Facebook ads

While you don't want to copy your competitor's ads, seeing those ads can serve as inspiration for your own Facebook Dental Ad Campaign.

You're then taken to a page that shows all the ads running on Facebook for your competitor as shown below. Here, you can see that Aspen Dental currently has 49 ads running in different markets throughout the United States.

Page showing all of aspen dental's Facebook ads
The Facebook Ads of Competing Dental Offices
Review all 49 ads to come up with ideas for your own ad campaign.

With Facebook's new page transparency, you can see the dental ads of your competitors.

How to Get New Patients to See Your Ads

Facebook provides a lot of different targeting options for you to explore.  The most relevant targeting options for dental offices are shown below:

Radius Targeting
With Facebook you can target people within a certain radius of your office address (anywhere from 1 - 50 miles).  You’ll obviously choose a radius that includes the people that are close enough to be patients.

Age Targeting
You can target by age in Facebook as well (anyone from ages 13-65).  Obviously this can come in extremely handy when you’re trying to target specific services like:

Facebook ads radius and age targeting options
Ad Targeting in Facebook
Radius Targeting and Age Targeting are just two Facebook targeting tools that can help you zero in ideal patients.

Of all the advertising platforms, Facebook has the most in-depth targeting options to make sure that your desired audience ends up seeing your ads.

Remarketing with Facebook Pixels

As part of establishing your Facebook ad account, you’ll want to create a Facebook pixel.

A Facebook pixel is a small piece of code that you install on your main dental website.

When someone visits your website, the pixel fires, and you’re now able to advertise to that website visitor when they go into their Facebook account.

So How is This Helpful?  (An Example)

This is extremely powerful.  A prospective patient comes to your website is impressed and is about to make an appointment, but they get distracted and leave.  

It happens to all of us. 

Think about it - you’re on a mission to get something done on your computer, you get distracted by hilarious cat videos and the next thing you know 30 minutes have passed and you can’t remember what you were originally trying to do.

Remarketing on Facebook allows you to get your ad in front of these people who visited your website and were interested in your offer but were distracted.  It keeps you at the top of their mind and can help turn these website visitors who left into patients.

Learn more about Facebook Pixels in Facebook's documentation.

Facebook Summary

It may not be the *best* way to get new patients.  It does however have very sophisticated targeting and remarketing options.  This makes Facebook an essential tool in your dental advertising arsenal.

CHAPTER 6:
YELP ADS

Yelp Ads

Not a Good Advertising Option

Fun Fact: Elon Musk and Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppleman worked together at PayPal.  Elon Musk is trying to save the world with electric cars (Tesla), Space X (reusable rockets & space exploration) and The Boring Company (to eliminate traffic woes).

Jeremy Stoppleman …. is... well, he's the CEO of Yelp.

You’re probably aware that Yelp has a less than stellar reputation among small businesses.  They even made a movie “Billion Dollar Bully” about Yelp’s allegedly sketchy business practices.

Despite all of that, I have to believe that there are at least some dental practices that are having success advertising on Yelp. While I'm unaware of any on a personal basis, there are enough dentists advertising on Yelp that at least some of them must be having at least a little bit of success.

Do Your Due Diligence Before Running Dental Ads on Yelp

Before I take a deep dive into Yelp ads, let me provide some friendly advice.  If you’re thinking about advertising your dental practice on Yelp, want to provide you with these recommendations first:

When you're talking to them, be sure to try to get real numbers. If when asked about results they say, "I think it's working" or "I guess so", that doesn't mean anything.

Be aware that Yelp's internal reporting metrics count a lot of things as "leads" that don't turn into real-life patients. For example, "map views" shouldn't count as a patient. Even what Yelp counts as calls won't directly translate into actual visits to your dental office. There are a lot of robocalls and repeat callers that you'll need to account for.

Don't sign up for Yelp without doing your research first. Call dentists from other markets outside your area who are currently advertising on Yelp and ask them to share their experiences.

Case Study from Joy Hawkins at Search Engine Land discussing whether Yelp Ads are worth paying for.

Yelp Pricing - Hard to Figure Out

Yelp used to lock its advertisers into long term contracts - which is always a warning sign when it comes to advertising. Paid search advertising should always yield quick results (especially compared SEO services which takes months to see results).

Fortunately for advertisers, in late 2018 Yelp changed its model to no term contracts.

Yelp doesn’t really publish their pricing, so you’ll have to contact a Yelp sales rep to figure out how much Yelp ads would cost.

Note: Yelp’s advertising team is rumored to be highly aggressive. My personal (although limited) interaction with their sales team confirms this.  If you contact with Yelp, there’s a good chance you’re going to receive a lot of sales calls.  You'll find many places on the Internet where people complain about interaction with Yelp sales staff. Here's one example.  

Fair or not, Yelp's sales team as earned a reputation as being highly aggressive.

Yelp Ad Types: Targeted Ads

Yelp Ads consists of two major components: Targeted Ads and Upgraded Profile. We’re going to start off by Looking at Targeted Ads.

Targeted ads for your dental practice can appear in a couple of places on the Yelp.

1) Your Ads on Search Results Pages

The first place targeted ads can appear is in the Yelp search results. Here, we have conducted a search on Yelp for Lone Tree Dentists.

As you can see, results at the top of the page are ads.   You can see it says “sponsored” next to these results.  

yelp-dental-advertisers
Yelp Search Ads
Yelp search ads appear when using the Yelp search function. Ads appear above the regular listings.

Yelp's search function works like Bing or Google search - albeit with a lot less searches, and it only searches through pages on Yelp.

Ads appear on top and free listings appear below the ads.

If a Searcher Clicks on your Yelp Ad....

When a Yelp user clicks on your ad, they are taken to your Yelp page - not your main website.  This is not good. You can better craft your message and try to convert a prospect to a patient on your main website (versus your Yelp page).

The results below the advertisements are like the organic results in Google and Bing. These aren’t paid search results. You need to have a Yelp page established, but you don’t need to advertise for your dental office to be listed in these results.

Both ads and the regular search results are very similar. They contain your listing photo, review summary, services provided, address, phone number, and a sample review.

So, that’s the first place an ad for your dental practice can appear – is within the Yelp search results.

2) Your Ads on Competing Dental Office Pages

The other location your ad can appear is on the Yelp page of competing dentists.

One of the first pieces of information that visitors to your Yelp page will see is advertising for dentists that are competing with you in your town.

While it is Yelp's platform and they can do what they want, the fact that Yelp features ads for your competitors right on your page just seems wrong.

Yelp dentist page with ads for competing dentists near the top of the page
Competitors Advertising on Your Yelp Page
If you've claimed your dental office page on Yelp, you'll likely notice that there are ads for your competitors near the top of your page

Competing ads on your dental office page is bound to annoy you. Which is why Yelp offers to remove them for you if you pay extra for an "Enhanced" profile.

Yelp Ad Types: Upgraded Profiles

Besides targeted ads, the other big feature of Yelp Ads is an upgraded profile. There are two types of upgraded profiles.

A Branded Profile allows you to show a photo slideshow and a video as part of your listing. You can even have buttons on your listing that allow visitors to set up appointments or learn more about your special promotions.

An Enhanced Profile contains everything that is in your branded profile plus it removes all competitor ads from your dental office listing.

Let’s now look at branded and enhanced profiles.

Branded Profile

Yelp branded profile for a dentist showing a call to action button and slideshow
Ad Targeting in Facebook
Radius Targeting and Age Targeting are just two Facebook targeting tools that can help you zero in ideal patients.

A Branded Profile allows use of a few bells and whistles including slideshows, photos and a Call to Action button.

Enhanced Profile

You'll notice I'm using the same exact photo as I did for the branded profile. This Miami dentist’s profile is also Enhanced.  We can tell because there are no competing dental ads on their Yelp page.

Yelp enhanced profile screenshot showing no competing dental ads on dental office yelp page
Enhanced Profile
Exact same as a branded profile - except you pay Yelp to remove competitor ads.

An Enhanced profile gets rid of the competition on your Yelp page.

So, the only real difference between a Branded Profile and an enhanced profile is that you pay Yelp extra to remove competing dental office ads from your page.

It is almost like the property owner for your dental office posted billboard ads for competing dental practices on the walkway to your front door - and would only remove those billboard ads if you paid him to remove them.

An Even Bigger Issue I Have with Yelp Ads

As you can tell, I'm very skeptical about the potential for success when using Yelp Ads to get more dental patients. But perhaps the biggest issue I have with Yelp Ads traffic is that Yelp sends your ad traffic to your Yelp page.  

It is better to have this ad traffic go to a page on your website and NOT your Yelp page - for two main reasons:

In most cases, I would highly advise against sending paid traffic to pages you don't fully control. You don't control your Yelp page.

Paying money to send prospects to a page that you have little control over is risky. Your page could contain links and ads for your competitors, poor reviews, and basically anything else Yelp wants to show, because it is their website.

Yelp for Dentists Summary

I'm not a big fan of how Yelp puts ads and listings for the competition on your Yelp page. I also don't like the relative lack of control that you have over your own Yelp page.

I also don't think that Yelp would be very effective for most dentists - but your mileage may vary. Ask other dentists about their experience with Yelp before getting in touch with their sales team.

Only after your dental practice has mastered Google, Bing and Facebook Ads would I consider trying Yelp ads.

CHAPTER 7:
TWITTER ADS

Twitter Ads

Probably Not a Good Fit for Your Dental Office

Twitter is a social media platform where people tweet what is on their mind with 280 character “tweets” available for their followers to see.

When you sign up for Twitter, you can choose to follow other twitter users.  While a lot of the more popular Twitter users are from the entertainment industry, you can also follow friends - or news sites to keep up to date on what matters to you.

Twitter is like Facebook in that you’ll see tweets from the users that you follow in your timeline.  Usually these tweets are in chronological order - with the most recent tweets being on top of the feed.

The Twitter Timeline

Here is an illustration of a Twitter feed.  The most recent tweet is on top of the feed - and older tweets appear further down.

Twitter news feed showing old tweets on the bottom and new tweets on top
A Typical Twitter Feed
New tweets up top, oldest tweets at the bottom. Ads are sprinkled in.

It is hard to get the attention of your followers on Twitter, because your "tweets" are quickly buried by newer tweets from others.

Should Your Dental Office Tweet Updates?

There’s no harm in tweeting updates (other than the time spent tweeting) - but there’s minimal benefit.

The problem is that due to the chronological nature of Twitter, newer posts will push your office’s tweets far down the page - in many (if not most) cases - your followers will never even see your tweet.

Also - your tweets must be interesting and relevant which is challenging for a dental office to pull off to engage followers.

Most people on Twitter are concerned about their specific sports, celebrity, or news interests.  The fact that you’re offering a whitening special is highly unlikely to appeal to them, and there’s a good chance they’ll unfollow your practice.

Getting new patients by merely tweeting on Twitter  isn’t going to work for you.

Tweeting out updates for your office is free - but it isn't going to help you get more patients walking through the front door.

Advertising on Twitter

Your best chance to get patients on Twitter is by advertising. One big advantage of promoted tweets (ads) is that your ad stays near the top of the user feed - it doesn't get buried like your normal tweet would.

You can sign up for an account at ads.twitter.com.

Below is what a promoted Tweet (an ad) looks like.

Twitter promoted tweet for a car company
A Twitter Ad (Promoted Tweet)
Typically, you'll create either an image or a video ad

Ads on Twitter look like other updates - except there is a very subtle "Promoted" tag in the lower left part of the ad.

Setting up a Twitter Ad Campaign for a Dental Office

Here, I’m setting up a new ad campaign in Twitter.  We’re looking for direct response from people who see our ad.  The choice that we’re looking for is “Website Clicks or Conversions” - as this meets the goal of getting people to call your office to set up an appointment.

Select Website clicks or conversions in Twitter to set up an ad campaign
Creating a new Campaign
The goal for a dentist would be "Website Clicks or Conversions"

After establishing this goal, we’re taken to the next page where we’ll set up our campaign - including a name, budget and schedule.

Screenshot showing dental ad campaign setup in Twitter
Campaign Setup
Here, you'll name your campaign, provide a budget and dates

Next, you'll set up your ad groups (subgroups of your campaign). From here, you'll name your ad groups, enter an ad group budget and a bidding strategy.

Screenshot showing how to set up a dental ad group in Twitter
Ad Group Setup
Set up the Ad Group name, budget and bidding strategy

Setting up your Twitter audience - who you want to see your dental ads - is next.

As an example, we’ve selected both male and female twitter users (any gender) as well as 5 zip codes around Colorado Springs.  This location targeting is obviously one of the most important targeting options for dentists - as you only want to target users that are near your office.

Screenshot showing how to Create an audience in Twitter
Audience Targeting
Enter key information about who you want to see your ad

Once you’re done targeting your audience, you’ll need to find a tweet to promote.  You can either use an existing tweet from your account - or better yet, create a custom tweet to promote your dental office by clicking the “Create Tweet” button.

To get attention, you’ll want to have a relevant, eye-catching image that links to a page on your website - because when the user clicks on the link in your promoted tweet, they’re taken to the page on your website that is based on the Tweet.  Here, they can call your office and set up an appointment.

Screenshot showing how to create a promoted tweet on Twitter
Creating a Promoted Tweet
Click the "Create a Tweet" button in the upper right and compose your tweet

How Much Does It Cost?

You set the budget for Twitter ads - and with promoted tweets, you only incur a charge when someone clicks on your tweet and is taken to your website.

Should I Promote My Dental Office on Twitter?

Unless you’re creating incredible engaging ads, the Twitter users that see your promoted tweets are unlikely to be looking for a dentist.  Twitter ads are another form of interruption marketing.  

Twitter users are interested in catching up on their favorite celebrity personalities and aren’t going to be interested that you offer IV Sedation.

Twitter for Dentists Summary

Twitter is one of the last advertising channels you should consider for your practice. Consider paid search on Google, Bing, and Facebook before considering using Twitter.

Here are the basic reasons why I wouldn't recommend using Twitter at all for your practice.

For a single location dental office, it would be extremely difficult to get new patients from Twitter.

CHAPTER 8:
LANDING PAGES

Landing Pages

Your Ad Campaign Needs an Awesome Landing Page to Succeed

To have a truly remarkable dental advertising campaign, you need to have a landing page that you send people to after clicking on your ad.

A landing page is web page on your practice's site that is closely related to the ad that they clicked on. You'll want to have multiple different landing pages on your site - one for each type of dental service that you offer.

For example, if someone clicks on your Invisalign services ad, you'll want to take them to the Invisalign page on your site. If they click on your dental implant ad, send them to the dental implant page on your website.

A Landing Page Has 1 Purpose: Call Your Office to Set up an Appointment

Here are my 5 Keys for Landing Pages:

Now let's look at each of these in depth....

The landing page is the final step in your dental ad campaign.

After a prospective patient clicks on your ad, the landing page must convince them to call your office and set up an appointment.

Consistent Messaging

You must have a consistent message from the user's search phrase to the ad to the Landing Page.

Let's take an AdWords campaign as an example. If a user searches for dental crowns, your AdWords campaign should be set up to show them an ad for Dental crowns, and then take them to the dental crowns page on your website.

Too many dental offices make the mistake of sending the searcher to the dental office's home page.

You never want to do this. Why? Well, your dental office's home page serves many purposes. The home page exists to help both current and existing patients. It is likely the busiest page on your website and is probably the hardest page on your website for a new patient to navigate.

Instead, send the searcher to the page that is most closely related to their search.

If you run an AdWords campaign, you'll find that a lot of the searches are generic. People don't always know what procedure they need, and they may just type in a generic search like "Springfield Dentists". In that case, you still don't want to send them to your home page. Instead, send them to a page on your website that is dedicated to new patients in Springfield.

The more your landing page matches the ad and the search, the more people will pick up the phone to set up an appointment with your office.

Don't send someone who clicks on an ad to your home page.

Send them to the page that most closely matches the ad they clicked on.

Focus on Your Patient and How You Can Help Them

On your landing page, you must specifically mention why the searcher should call your office instead of a competing dentist.  You'll do this by highlighting some of the characteristics of your practice that make you uniquely qualified to solve their problem and exceed their expectations.

When you explain the traits that make your dental office so special, you need to explain them in terms of how they benefit your patients.

As an example - instead of just mentioning that you have CBCT technology for dental implants - mention that CBCT gives a comprehensive picture of what is going on inside your patient's mouth allowing for highly accurate implant placement. The people arrive on your landing page only care about your practice in terms of how it affects them.

Other benefits you may wish to mention on your landing page are current specials related to the services that the visitor searched for. People like to take advantage of good deals, and you'll want to highlight any relevant specials on your landing page.

If you want your landing page to get someone to call you - remember that your website isn't about you.

Your website is about your patient and how you can solve their health problem.

Testimonials

When people arrive on your landing page, they need to know that this isn't your first rodeo. They'll feel more comfortable knowing that you have a lot of experience, a lot of satisfied patients and that they're not going to be your very first patient. In order to build trust with the searcher who arrives at the landing page, you must have some patient testimonials.

Written testimonials from actual patients along with a photo is great. Video testimonials are even better.  Testimonials that are just text quotes are the least effective - as they seem to be the easiest to fake.

Another option is to embed review widgets on your landing page from review sites. Some review services offer you the ability to stream reviews from sites across the web (like Google and Facebook). This screenshot here is a sample of the types of reviews that the service Grade.us can embed in your website.

No matter how you do it, on your landing page you must demonstrate that you have many happy patients singing your praises. It makes the searcher feel more comfortable about your dental practice and more likely to pick up the phone.

Before getting testimonials and reviews, you must make it clear to reviewers how their reviews will be used and that the use of reviews in your marketing materials will be HIPAA compliant.

Patient Testimonials as well as reviews on Google and Facebook help to build confidence that your dental office can meet the needs of your prospects.

Have a Single, Clear Call to Action

A call to action is what you want the visitor to do when they arrive on your landing page. There should be one very clear call to action on the page - and that is to call your office. To make your call to action effective, minimize the number of links on the page and make sure that your phone number is prominently displayed in the upper right corner of your web page.

On this landing page that you can see here, you'll see that the phone number is "sticky" - which means that it always stays at the top of the page, no matter how much the user scrolls down. This ensures that once the user has seen enough information, they can easily pick up the phone and call your office.

So, let's talk Social Media Buttons

I'm not a big fan of social media buttons anywhere on dental websites - and they don't belong on your landing pages.

If someone has arrived on one of your landing pages, they've clicked on an ad, meaning that you've paid for them to be there. Keep them there on that landing page and make the strong case why you can meet their dental needs and they should call you.

Don't distract them with big social media buttons. The last thing you want at this point is to send the visitor to get lost on your Facebook page or your Twitter feed. And if you're like most dentists, you don't keep either of those social media sites updated anyway.

Your goal is to get them to pick up the phone - too much distraction on the landing page will get in the way of them taking that desired action.

lings
Don't Distract the Visitors to Your Landing Page
Minimize the number of buttons and clutter. Make it easy for someone to call you. LingsCars.com is an extreme example of what not to do.

Don't distract the visitors to your website with too many pointless links like social media buttons.

The only action they should be taking is contacting your office - not getting lost on Twitter or Facebook.

Make Your Landing Page Personal

I strongly advise photos of the dentists and the staff. Everyone should be smiling. A bio of the doctor is a good idea. The goal is to present the members of your staff as the happy, highly competent team that they are.

To me, this may seem somewhat subjective, but I really like the idea of seeing who my caregivers are going to be. It gives a sense of permanence to the office - an idea that each time I go to the dentist, these are the people that will be there. In my mind this offers a point of differentiation from some dental practices - especially DSOs - where there appears to be more of a revolving door when it comes to dentists and staff members.

Include photos of staff, office and mention that you're local.

CHAPTER 9:
SUMMARY & DISCUSSION

RECAP

Thanks for Reading! I'd Love to Hear from You.

So that sums it up.

You've now taken a tour of the major advertising platforms that you can use to promote your dental practice.

Remember that you need to pay to get your message out there. You'll also need to measure your results to make sure that your ads are working.

Now it is your turn

Are you going to start advertising for your dental office on a search engine or social media platform?

What online strategies have you used to get new patients?

Let me know by leaving a comment below right now - and thanks!

Let me know what you think by leaving me a comment below. I'll respond to your questions / comments.

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Get in Touch – Contact me here – or leave a comment below and I’ll be be sure to reply

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