Digital marketing for dental practice: Google or Facebook

May 21, 2020

There was a time when dentists would print pamphlets to advertise their brand-new clinics and pay off the neighborhood newspaper vendor to distribute it along with the newspapers. This would be followed by hoping and praying that someone who is experiencing tooth pain would read the pamphlet and turn up to their clinic.

Very often the prayers would go unanswered, since, as you may have guessed by now, the odds of the pamphlet making its way to the patient are very, very low.

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

John Wanamaker

Luckily, dentists now have access to marketing tools that enable us to be more effective with our advertising spend. What’s more, we can show our advertisement exactly when the patient is experiencing pain, and is looking for help. We can choose to advertise to more affluent patients, and even customize our messaging. To top it all, the effectiveness of the advertising spend can be easily measured and monitored.

Google and Facebook have become truly powerful digital marketing platforms. Their role in our lives and decision-making as consumers is unquestionable and all-pervasive. While large corporations have long been using these tools for marketing their products, it has only recently picked up among small enterprises such as dental clinics. As you start evaluating your options for digital marketing, we urge you to consider the following factors:

Purpose of your campaign:

The purpose of the campaign plays an important role in the choice of the platform. Consider the following choice. Is the motive of advertising short-term (increase footfall) or long term (build a brand, attract medical tourists)?

Google ads are more suited for short term impact as it is more real-time than Facebook. For instance, when a patient has tooth pain or is looking to find a better bargain for a particular treatment, he is very likely to open his smartphone and do a quick Google search to find out dentists near him. The patient here is seeking an immediate solution to the problem, and there is an urgency to visit the dentist soon, possibly in the next 24 hours. So, campaigns run by a particular clinic, answering the most commonly asked queries can attract more patients (e.g., “dentist near me”).

Meanwhile, Facebook ads help create brand awareness through videos or banner creatives that are displayed to users as they scroll through their feed. Ads on Facebook are better suited for advertising special, more generic offers (e.g., teeth whitening services) and providing knowledge around oral health awareness. These measures ensure awareness of the clinic in the user’s mind, and attracts patients in the long run. Facebook campaigns can be stickier by use of retargeting (showing the ad again to the same user), or if users like the clinic’s page and receive regular updates.

Desired method of targeting (Search keyword vs. profile):

Google ads are highly dependent on keywords and the bid you make for each click. You pay the bid amount every time someone clicks on these ads. Commonly-used words cost more per click (e.g., “dentist near me,” “dental clinic near me”). The skill of a good digital marketer is to attract the maximum footfall in a clinic while making creative use of lower-priced keywords. The Google keyword planner is also helpful in finding out which keywords are most effective. Apart from keywords, Google also uses data like the users’ location, demographics, and interests to improve targeting of the ads.

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On Facebook, users are primarily targeted based on their interests, behavior, demographics, or location. User profiles are a good way to reach to the desired audience. For instance, dental clinics may advertise expensive dental treatments such as Invisalign, implants, smile designing to more affluent and young customers. If a clinic intends to run a free consultation for students of particular college, or employees of a particular company, Facebook can target those users and display ads only to them. Facebook also targets people based on their current city, but the targeting is less specific than Google’s.

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In general, the cost of advertising on Google is higher than Facebook. But the conversion rate is also much higher in Google Ads.

Who should manage the digital marketing effort?

As in dentistry, taking the help of an expert will increase the effectiveness of your ads significantly. If you wish to start running campaigns yourself, we recommend starting with Facebook as the user interface is much simpler and convenient for beginners. Google Ads is a bit more complicated and requires a thorough knowledge of keywords, options, and settings. Initially, one may need the help of an expert to fetch fruitful results.

However, not all professionals provide the best return on investment. Several of our friends have been fleeced by digital marketers who were not transparent with billing, and charged exorbitant commissions. We strongly recommend you seek access to the monthly invoice generated by Google or Facebook, which outlines the number of impressions, keywords used, and number of clicks on the ad.

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Need more guidance on digital marketing? Please reach out to us here and we will connect you to our digital marketing partners.

About the author

Dr. Shilpy Bhandari is a Hyderabad-based Periodontist and the founder of Dentistry Insider. She has worked extensively across dental clinics of all sizes — from large corporate chains to small, independent setups.

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