6 Mistakes that Every Dentist Makes on AdWords

If you’re a dentist running AdWords campaigns, you’ve probably got a laundry list of frustrations. You’re spending a lot of money, but you’re not getting the results you want.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

I’ve worked with a lot of dental clients, and over time I’ve started to recognize some common mistakes made by dentists when it comes to their digital advertising campaigns. Here are six of the most common mistakes every dentist seems to make:

“Everything but the Kitchen Sink” Syndrome

It takes a lot of skill to be a dentist. You have to be familiar and competent with a myriad of various procedures and practices depending on the dental issue each individual patient is experiencing. But, that doesn’t mean you need to advertise every procedure you know how to do.

Nearly every dentist I’ve worked with has wanted to make sure they’re showing for terms like “Root Canals” and “Tooth Extraction” etc. However, this traffic is not ideal if your goal is to get new patients.

Potential new patients don’t often search for procedure-specific phrases. Instead, they use searches like “Dentist near me” or “Dentist in [city]”. The people searching “Root Canals” are either other dentists or price shoppers.

So, keep it simple. Don’t bid on everything but the kitchen sink—focus on intent based keywords that are most likely to result in scheduled appointments.

“I Can’t Give Them a Price Until After the Appointment”

Let’s face it, people have access to more information at their fingertips than ever before. Price shopping is going to happen. How you adapt to this behavior is what will determine whether your campaigns are a waste of money or a viable source of new patients.

Here are a few ways to deal with price shoppers:

1. Put the price on the page

What do you really have to lose? None of your competitors are going to put a price tag on a root canal or crown or dental implants or braces, so set yourself apart and put a price on it.

Remember, just because you list a price on a page, that doesn’t mean you are locked into that price—just list it with a qualifier like “usually” or “typically.” If a potential patient calls 10 dentists before you and none of them will give her an estimate without an appointment but you will, you just earned yourself a patient (even if it’s just a ballpark estimate).

2. Hire a great sales person to take your leads

If you’re not comfortable putting a price on your landing page, you will need to make sure your office team is prepared to make it happen. This is a make or break situation. If you have a great sales person on the phones you’ll get significantly more new patients than if you don’t.

3. Exclude price shoppers

If you’re not prepared to do option 1 or 2 listed above, just exclude every price-centric search with negative keywords: “price” “quote” “affordable” “cheap” “cost” etc. After all, if you’re not willing to compete for price shoppers, it’s not worth it to pay for their clicks.

Most online searchers are price shoppers, so if you want to run effective online campaigns for your office, you have to be prepared to work with those price shoppers in terms they understand.

Using Dynamic Headlines

Dynamic headlines are awesome. They’re an easy way to diversify your ads and increase your click-through-rates and quality scores.

That being said, dynamic headlines are rarely a good idea for dentists.

Why? Well, it’s fairly simple. Many dental offices feature dentistry-related keywords in their business names (go figure, right?). The problem is, if you’re bidding (as you should) on dentistry-related keywords and you’re using a dynamic headline, you often end up with a lot of misdirected clicks and phone calls coming from competitor’s patients.

For example, let’s say that you’re a dental office in Provo, Utah bidding on “family dental”. One of your competitors happens to run a practice called “Provo Family Dental.” Now, if someone searches for “provo family dental” and you’re running an ad with a dynamic headline, your ad might show up with a headline of “Provo Family Dental”.

Yes, your headline is a good match for your potential patient’s search, but it also looks like an ad for the competition. That’s not good.

Now you might be tempted to think, “this is a GREAT way to steal patients from my competitors!” But, before you get too excited, stay with me for a second. In my experience, this has never happened in the history of ever.

Sure, someone might see your “Provo Family Dental” ad and call your location thinking that you’re their dental office, but the second they find out that you’re not, they hang up.

Guess what? You just wasted money.

Most people who are looking online for a competitor’s practice are trying to reschedule appointments, ask questions about billing, or ask their dentist for his opinion. They’re not looking for a new dental office.

As a result, dynamic headlines are usually a big waste of money for dentists. So, even if you’re tempted to give them a try, leave them as a last resort. You don’t need the headache.

“I’ve got lots of leads but no new patients!”

Lead nurturing is the most overlooked aspect of dental digital marketing. I’ve spent hours and hours listening to recorded phone calls—calls that have been generated by our dental campaigns—and I’ve come up with a few questions that most dentists need to hear:

1. Does your staff know how to handle your leads?

I’m sure that your office assistants are capable, motivated, and organized individuals (most have to be in order to help you run a successful practice) but they probably need some pointers about how to handle inbound calls from AdWords or Facebook.

When it comes to AdWords or Facebook leads, ask yourself the following:

  • How will they answer the phone?
  • What questions will they ask?
  • What concerns will they have to overcome?
  • How will they commit these individuals to make an appointment?
  • How will they follow up?

If your office assistants aren’t trained to deal with these potential sticking points, you’ll be stuck with a lot of leads that never turn into paying patients.

2. What’s your response time like?

The first few seconds after a new lead form is received are the most vital—that’s when a new lead is most likely to respond to your office and make a solid appointment.

Again, ask yourself: How quickly does my office staff respond to an email lead? Do they drop everything and call that individual? Or do they wait until a designated hour?

In my experience, if your staff isn’t reaching out immediately…you’ve lost that lead. They will move on to the next ad and keep submitting forms until they get someone to contact them.

3. Are you running ads outside of operating hours?

Along the same lines as our previous point, your ad schedule is only as effective as your hours of operation. If you’re thinking about getting a leg up on your competitors by running ads all night long, good for you. The 24/7 emergency dental searches can generate a great deal of revenue, but only if you’re able to field those leads or phone calls as they happen.

If you’re not able to get back to after hours leads until your business hours, running ads 24/7 is a straight up waste of money. Run your ads when you have people ready and able to turn leads into patients.

4. Do you have an automatic email response?

If someone searches “dental implants” and they submit a form confirming their interest in learning more about “dental implants”, you should have an email drip campaign that immediately sends them content daily for the next 7 days about dental implants and gives them continual, specific invitations to schedule a time at your office.

Note, in these email campaigns, it’s best to avoid saying “Call us to Schedule a Time”. Instead, say something more like “For your dental implant consultation, will Friday at 1pm work? or Monday at 9:30am?”

“Just target the whole city”

If you’re new to AdWords, paid search advertising seems fairly straightforward. You’re a dentist in a specific city, just target that city with your ads.

Wrong. So, so, so wrong.

Why do people pick a dental office? Location. Your potential patients are NOT going to drive further than about 10 miles, so targeting searches that fall outside of that range is another good way to waste a ton of money.

99% of my Dental campaigns target an 8 mile radius around my client’s offices. Any further than this becomes terribly ineffective.

“Just tell them what we do”

There is a huge difference between these two headlines on a Dental Implants landing page:

  1. “Dental Implant Experts in [City Name]”
  2. “A Better Smile Means a Better Life with Dental Implants!”

The first headline is lame, bland and makes your potential patients think, “If their office is as boring as their page, there’s no way I want to be their patient.” Okay, so they probably don’t actually think that, but it’s essentially the message you send.

On the other hand, the second headline evokes much stronger emotions that are tied to what your patients really care about. The headline is exciting and compelling and tells your potential patients, “We understand what you need and we’ll help you get the smile you want.”

When it comes to creating ads and landing pages, it’s worth your while to spend some time thinking about the motivations for the search that was just performed.

Here are a few common motivators in the Dental industry and some of the keywords associated with those motivators:

  • Anxiety about appearance of teeth (“dental implants”, “Invisalign”, “braces”, “whitening”, “veneers”, “cosmetic dentistry”, etc)
  • Pain (“toothache”, “dental emergency”, “24 hour dentist”, “all night dentist”, etc)
  • Price (“affordable dentistry”, “cost of dental implants”, etc)
  • Fear (“gentle dentistry”, “sedation dentistry”, “pediatric dentistry”, etc)
  • Trust (“local dentist”, “dentist near me”, “dentist reviews”, “family dentistry”, etc.)

Each of these motivators should spark vastly different headlines, ad copy, and content. Test the messaging that you come up with against each other!

Conclusion

Setting up an AdWords account is deceptively simple. However, actually getting meaningful value out of your AdWords spend can be much more difficult than most dentists realize.

At this point, I’ve worked with a lot of dentists and it’s become clear that most of them are making the same 6 basic mistakes that we’ve covered in this article. My question for you is, will you avoid these mistakes and beat the competition?

By the way, if you’d like me to take a look at your AdWords campaigns and give you some specific suggestions you can use to get better results, let me know here or in the comments! I’d love to help.

What are some of the gotchas you’ve discovered while marketing your dental office on AdWords?

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Chad de Lisle

Marketing Consultant Director
Chad is a Small Business Guru 8 years in the making. When he isn't checking his coworker's email threads for grammar, he's planning his weekly Dungeons & Dragons game or shredding on guitar.

One Comment

  • This is great content. I don’t know many dentists doing decent PPC out there. It’s often passable but certainly not optimised. Also it’s great that you include how the offline activities matter. They really do. Keep doing what you’re doing!

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