Managing your Online Advertising

The world of online advertising can be a scary place for dentists.  Many choose to take matters into their own hands.  They fail to realize that there is a science to online advertising, and using the right tactics can help make a campaign more effective.  I personally don't like search engine ad campaigns, but many dentists use them.  If you are going to use them, use them correctly.

Most dentists start out with Google Adword campaigns.  These campaigns are usually pay-per-click or pay-per-impression.  Pay-per-click advertising will charge you a variable rate when someone clicks on your ad.  Pay-per-impression advertising will charge you every time the ad is shown.  Each type will require you to place a maximum bid.  The maximum bid is the maximum price you will be charged for a single click or impression.  The price may be less on a single click, but it will never be more.  The maximum bid will determine the placement of the ad on the page.  The higher the bid, the higher the placement on the page.  The ads will appear under the heading "sponsored links."  Ads that appear above the search results are the most coveted, and also the most expensive.  In my area these ads will cost about $20-25 dollars a click.  This explains why Google is such a profitable company.  The lower price ads will fall along the right side of the search page, and will rotate with different searches.

Google ads will also appear elsewhere on the web in Google partner sites.  This is a major concern for some people.  They may appear near directory listings for other dentists or content that is not appropriate for dentists.  If you allow Google ads on any of your own content, like a blog, be aware that you may have an ad for another dentist appear.

The daily budget can make or break a ad campaign. It is very important to determine a monthly or yearly budget, then break it down into a daily budget.  $15 or $20 a day may not seem like much, but it can add up very quickly.  Determine whether the ad campaign will work for your budget.  If it takes $15 dollars just to get a decent position on the board, and your daily budget is $20, then Ad words may not be right for you.

Determine the right "keywords" for your campaign.  Most dentists choose the name of their city and "dentist."  This will make the ads appear when someone searches for some variation of these words.  i.e. "Dallas Dentist."  Using only "Dentist" may dilute the results, since this is a very popular keyword.  You will also have to increase the bid to appear higher on the list.  Their are several keyword tools out their.  Use these tools to find the phrases people are looking for the most.  There is some disagreement among the experts about keywords.  Some favor canvasing the big words like "dentist," while others say long tail keywords like "dallas dentists implants and invisalign" are more effective.

Be sure to monitor the ad results, but don't over analyze them.  Their is no point running an ad that no one clicks on.  Give each ad time to find its way.  You will learn more from ads that fail, than you will from successful ones.  Ads will fail for a number of reasons: bid is too low, content not appealing, and wrong key word use.

The area where many go wrong, is the content of the ad.  I live in Virginia.  When I search for a dentist using my city and the word "dentist", 12 ads appear.  Nine of them have the title "Richmond dentist".  Now I have nine choices that all pretty much say the same thing.  Two of them probably paid $20 dollars to be at the top of the page.  There is nothing there to influence the choice of the potential patient.  This is why I really don't like this type of advertising.  The potential patient will be much more likely to visit the Google local listings, and find a dentist with several good reviews.  The ads need to be eye catching, and only more interesting than the next guy.  This should be pretty easy if all of the other ads say the same thing.  Step outside of the box a bit.

Now I do like the pay-per-click advertising on Facebook.  When users join Facebook large amounts of information is asked of them.  This information then allows the Facebook ads to accurately target a specific audience.  It is much more specific than Google Ad words.  Facebook and Google are often times very close in traffic.  Facebook users are often on the website almost an hour a day. That is much more time than Google.  This translates into increased visibility for longer periods of time.

The ads on Facebook also operate on the pay-per-click and pay-per-impression system.  They allow for very specific targeting, even places of employment, birthdays, and Facebook activity.  This allows for very specific placement.  Optimized targeting will help the effectiveness of the ad, and help keep costs lower.   Facebook ads also allow for the inclusion of a photo.  This is a great feature, because it can really bring the content to life.  An advertiser may even add more text in the picture to make better use of the space.

The Facebook feedback system is also very advanced and allows for a quick analysis of results.  Once again, I advise to pause campaigns and not delete them for future study.  If you run a different special, or different hours throughout the year, it would be helpful to have old ads around to reference.

Online advertising is best left to the reputational sort, but if you have to use targeted ads, use them the their fullest potential.

Jason T. Lipscomb is a general dentist in Richmond, VA and a co-author of Social Media for Dentists.  Dr. Lipscomb has developed the methods used by Social Media for Dentists after several years of private practice.  He maintains a unique perspective on dental marketing by operating two busy practices and researching social media practices.  Social Media for Dentists is one of the only dental specific Social Media marketing books.  Social Media for Dentists L.L.C. offers hands on training to dentists all over the country.