10.1.10 Issue #447 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Make the Most of the 21st Century “Yellow-Page Ad”
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Consider it the “Yellow Page Ad” for the 21st Century - Internet advertising. The good news: it’s far more effective in driving traffic to your practice than that tired and worn blurb in the old phone book. The bad news: between “SEO,” “bidding algorithms,” and “pay for clicks,” it can quickly become a lot more complicated than just throwing a few hundred bucks at another tired print ad. But the return on investment, say those in the know, is well worth a little extra effort.

Regardless of whether individual dentists understand the ins-and-outs of online advertising or not, in today’s market, virtually all of them are looking for an effective and powerful tool that makes the phones ring and brings desirable patients into the practice. Moreover, that tool better not be a drain on the dentist’s time or the practice’s resources. A tall order indeed.

According to the book “Local Online Advertising for Dummies” (Cunningham & Brown, 2010), the top 10 considerations when choosing a local online advertising partner are:

  1. How will your Website’s performance be tracked? This includes areas such as keywords, ads and click-throughs.
  2. How will those metrics convert to getting patients in the door and retaining them?
  3. How long of a contract or time commitment are you signing up for? The Dummies book recommends 6-9 months for search engine optimization results and 3-6 months on pay-per-click results.
  4. Does the company have dental industry expertise? There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel for the company.
  5. Is the company interested in your current Website layout and design and how it is performing?
  6. Does the company have a network with other local search engines besides the “big boys?” Look for a company that has a wide distribution.
  7. Are you given a dedicated account manager that understands SEO and PPC?
  8. Are there any hidden conditions or fees?  Read the small print.
  9. Is the company trying to sell you a specific number of keywords for PPC? It’s important to educate yourself so not to be taken advantage of. Obviously, we are not born knowing this information!
  10. What type of credentials do they have? For example, Google has levels of certification such as Google AdWords Authorized Reseller.

While many more practices have Websites today, they are competing with millions of other dental sites. The key to having an effective Website is ensuring that prospective local patients can not only find it, but are driven to it through various search engines, such as Yahoo!, Google, MSN, and others.

While various online advertising companies promote “pay for clicks,” clicks aren’t phone calls and they are not patients. It is important to rank the keywords on a practice Website that generate calls and patient traffic into the practice - not just clicks on the page. Take the word “veneers” or “fillings” for example. The click-rank technology that some online advertising companies offer can track both the number of calls and number of patients that those words generate. From there, bidding on the more effective keywords may be adjusted to allow higher placement of a practice Website on the various search engines.

I know that as the CEO of your dental practice, trying to understand all of this Internet jargon can be very foreign. But I also know that if you don’t stay on top of it, your neighbor may very well start taking your patients - very silently and without any warning.

“Local Online Advertising for Dummies”  is a great educational tool for those of us that feel a little “dumb” on the subject. According to the book, people tend to use organic search engine listings when they’re researching a particular kind of purchase, and then look to sponsored listings when they’re ready to buy. I had no idea that was the trend, but the more I thought about it, I realized that’s exactly what I do! Last week I had an office that emailed to say they received a lot of “shoppers.” I think that’s the nature of the economy right now - shopping for the best value, the best care and the best price is not beneath anybody anymore.

In the current economy, many dental practices are looking to optimize their advertising resources, but few have the time or the expertise to singlehandedly make the most of today’s most reliable and cost-effective marketing tool - the Internet. The patients are out there, the key is using the right tools to drive them to your door. 

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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