If you don’t have an online advertising strategy, you’re absolutely missing out on opportunities to attract new patients and grow your practice. But with all the lingo, options, and platforms to navigate, it’s easy to understand why many dentists feel unsure of where to start.
Start here by learning a bit more about modern online advertising and the most effective online advertising channels for dentists today.
What is online advertising?
Online advertising, which is also sometimes referred to as internet advertising or digital advertising, delivers marketing messages to a targeted group of people.
Successful dentists take advantage of online advertising to raise brand awareness, drive new patient appointments, and/or drive appointments for specific services. Don’t get left behind.
3 categories of online advertising: search, social, and native
Paid search advertising
Also known as pay-per-click advertising (PPC), paid search ads are one of the best ways to get new patients for your practice. Google reports that 77% of prospective dental patients use online search prior to booking an appointment. This is a huge opportunity for your practice.
This method involves paying a search engine (like Google or Bing) to show your ad on a certain search results page whenever someone searches for a certain keyword or phrase.
For example, if you search “dental filling”, the result will likely include a collection of paid content at the top of the page. You’ll notice the “ad” symbol or the word “sponsored” next to each of these listings. If you click on one of these results, the company is charged.
A well-designed search campaign is highly effective. Why? Potential patients will only see your ads when they’re searching for the exact service you offer. This makes them much more likely than a casual browser to be ready to book an appointment.
Search engine advertising requires a very strategic approach. It requires consistent monitoring, evaluation, and fine-tuning. You need to know exactly what you’re doing to be successful (or partner with someone who can help you!).
Paid social advertising
Over 80% of people in the US use social media, but ever-changing algorithms and monetization efforts by the networks put organic reach capabilities at an all-time low. However, paid social media advertising allows you to put your posts, images, videos, and content in front of your desired audience.
Reaching potential patients through social media helps build awareness of your practice, reinforces your brand and messaging, can be used to promote special offers, helps build stronger relationships with existing patients, and more.
Paid advertising features on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter provide some of the best optimization and targeting options you can find. Depending on the platform, you can target your ads to potential patients based on:
- Life events
You can target your ads to the exact audience that’s best for your practice. For example, we’re seeing more and more practices that are interested in attracting young adults who are fresh out of school with a new job and disposable income.
By targeting patients who are a good fit for your practice, your advertising investment will be better spent. You’ll see more new patients and improve patient retention.
A dentist we work with at Delmain has used paid social media advertising to promote a Free Smile Giveaway contest to people in his area with great success. In just a few months, he’s already received HUNDREDS of entries!
Like search advertising, success with social advertising is based on a highly strategic approach, but one well worth the effort.
This relatively new online advertising phenomenon is often viewed as the evolution of a banner display ad.
Like a display ad, native advertising is meant to appear on a website other than your own. But where display ads are clearly separate from the website, native ads attempt to mimic the look and feel of the website they’re on.
You’ve probably seen these types of ads in the form of suggested, recommended, or promoted content. Rather than popping out at you as an obvious advertisement, a native ad has a softer sell approach.
Native advertising relies on presenting relevant content that your audience is actually interested in (and not a blatant advertisement), and has a much better reputation. In fact, native ads are reportedly viewed 52% more than display ads.
Display ads can be avoided by using ad blockers and many people just develop a “blindness” to all the ads they see online. By integrating advertisements into the content people want to see, it makes a stronger impression — one that’s more likely to lead to new patients.
To get started with this type of online advertising, identify some of the common online publications, platforms, or influencers your patient base follows. Each will have a different cost and pricing structure, so make sure you’re taking a results-focused approach that provides a strong return on investment.
Online advertising terms to know
- PPC – Pay per click ads, like Google Ads, are ads where you’re only charged when a potential patient interacts with your ad by clicking on it.
- CPM – Cost per mille refers to ads where you pay for impressions rather than interactions. When buying a CPM ad (like a banner ad on a local news website, for example) you’ll pay for a certain number of impressions. CPM refers to the cost for every 1,000 impressions.
- Algorithms – All modern online advertising is built around algorithms, basically a fancy term for a formula calculated by a computer. The thing with algorithms is that nobody (except the company who created them) knows exactly how they work. Only by trial and error and experience can you begin to understand it.
- Influencers – Social media influencers have huge followings on platforms like Instagram. Influencers promote products and services on their feeds/channels/etc. in exchange for money or free products/services.
- Organic – Easiest to understand as the opposite of paid advertising. Organic content, like your Instagram posts, reach their audience without any additional monetary investment.
What’s best for your practice?
Now that you’ve learned about the 3 types of online advertising for your practice, where do you go from here? Finding the right partner for your practice can make managing online advertising more profitable than putting it on the plate of your already overworked office staff.
Here at Delmain, we’ve helped dentists around the country get measurable results out of the online advertising campaigns. Read this case study to learn more.