Online marketing practices are still relatively new, and althoughthey adhere to the same basic principles as real-world marketingstrategies, the new medium has dramatically increased both outreach andtracking potential for businesses – assuming that platforms are usedeffectively.
As the owner and operator of a dental practice, you no doubt wantto get in on the action and take advantage of the many benefits to begained through online marketing practices.
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But you’re not a marketing expert. You’re a business owner, and you probably don’t have a lot of extra time to devote to learning the insand outs of online marketing.
Luckily, you can hire professionals to help you, if you do though, there is something you should know ahead of time. But you do need to know at least a little bit about the possibleavenues of online marketing to go down. Hopefully, this will lead youtoward intelligent decisions about how to direct your campaigns.
And you certainly want to avoid common marketing mistakes. If youfail to see where you’re falling short, you could end up wasting bothtime and money that you really can’t afford.
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If your dental practice could use the boost that online marketingis ideally suited to provide, there’s no reason not to jump infeet-first. Just make sure you avoid the costly mistakes that otherdental practices are making, mistakes like those listed below.
1. Ignoring free marketing options
You might think that the only way to reach potential customers isthrough a paid strategy like SEO or online advertising. But there aredozens of ways to spread your name and market your dental practiceonline without spending a dime.
For example, you could start by simply listing with directories. Directories like Yelp, Angie’s List, Yellow Pages, and Google MyBusiness are often used in lieu of search engines by consumers seekingarea services.
At the very least, you need to claim any listings that already exist in order to make sure that the name, location, andcontact information for your business are correct. But you can do a lotmore. You can start by adding links to your homepage, a map and/ordirections, and in some cases, buttons for liking, sharing, or ranking.This way, satisfied customers can easily endorse you.
And of course, many directories also have an option for users to post reviews so that you can see what customers are saying, gain a means of connecting with them (through responses), and address any concerns that they may have.
Plus, directories are just one of several free options when itcomes to online marketing. Maintaining a stable of social media profiles is also free, and don’t forget about blogging and guest posting onrelated industry blogs either.
Online marketing will take time or money.
But if your online marketing budget is pretty tight, free options can be a major boon.
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2. Ignoring paid marketing options
Just as there are those who scoff at the potential effectiveness of free online marketing, others will assume that they can get by withoutspending any money at all.
Unless you happen to be an SEO specialist or an advertising genius, this is hardly the case. For starters, youcannot afford to have a website without the benefit of SEO if you wantto be found by prospective customers.
Optimization gives your dental website the opportunity to be foundand indexed by web crawlers, thereby increasing your page rank withGoogle, Bing, and any other search engines you submit to. And a solidand ongoing SEO strategy will keep you at or near the top of the listfor specified search terms.
As for online advertising, it is completely different fromreal-world options, and in most cases, you’ll need the services of anagency that has the knowledge, skill, and experience to drive youronline advertising strategy.
There’s a lot you can do on your own when it comes to onlinemarketing, but thinking that you can run your business, learn SEO, andbecome a marketing whiz is pure fantasy. At some point, you’re going toneed professional help to move forward.
3. Failing to include appropriate contact information
No matter what form of online marketing you use, it is important that you include contact information so that interested parties can find and reach you.
This starts simply enough with a phone number and address on yourwebsite, as well as the header of your blog, your social media accounts, and any directories you list with. You also need to include a valid URL link so at the very least, users can click through to your homepage.
Of course, you don’t always want the landing page (the page peopleland on when they click on a link) to be your homepage. Suppose you’reusing email marketing or an online ad to offer a special deal on cleanings or teeth whitening services. Wouldn’t you rather include a link that takes readers rightto the page with the offer, or alternately, to a page where they canbook an appointment?
How and where you use contact information is crucial to ensuring that customers can find you, reach you, and enjoy ease of use.
4. Ignoring the competition
No man is an island, and this principle applies to your dentalpractice. If you want any hope of trumping the competition, you need topay attention to their online marketing practices.
The reasoning behind this has to do with content, originality, andgaining the competitive edge. When you keep your enemies close – i.e.pay attention to what they’re doing – you have the opportunity to meetand exceed their efforts.
Is your main competitor offering discounts on teeth whitening?Consider offering a bigger discount. Is he bidding for Google AdWordskeywords that are at the top of your list? You may need to outbid him.Maybe he’s started an infographic campaign. Take it to the next levelwith a viral video campaign.
Knowing what your competitors are up to when it comes to onlinemarketing can definitely inform your choices concerning your ownmarketing strategies. So don’t turn a blind eye.
5. Misleading marketing practices
You might think that this is a problem because of laws related tofalse advertising. But truth be told, fraud charges could be the leastof your worries if you lie to the consumer public.
Even if you don’t lie outright, misleading consumers can damageyour reputation, both online and in the real world. And you’ll certainly lose prospective patients when they realize they’ve been duped – nobody likes to feel as though they’ve been taken for a ride.
Is it really worth all that just to improve click-thru or sharing?Instead of using headlines, claims, or promotions that stretch the truth or are downright fabrications, it’s imperative that you followtruth-in-advertising guidelines to the letter.
You might not see the same traffic, but the targeted customers whodo come your way will be pleased to find exactly what was offered.
6. Incorrect use of advertising
There are all kinds of ways to go wrong with online advertising. Forexample, you could get into trouble with search engines by promotingyour content with trending keywords, tags, or titles that don’t matchthe full copy. Keyword stuffing will get you in trouble (well it could). You can build an amazing website, then not optimize it and have itbasically be like a billboard on a desert highway.
Or you might think the way to get attention is through titles allin caps with tons of unnecessary punctuation. You may believe thatsensational videos will create an uptick in traffic, even though theydon’t accurately represent your business or your brand.
And of course, a major mistake that many dental practices make isfailing to engage in ultra specific geo-targeting, which is marketingthat focuses on a specific geographic region such as a neighborhood.After all, you don’t want to waste money targeting distant locales where consumers are very unlikely to use your services or worse yet don’thave the money for them.
A good online SEO, marketing, or advertising agency should be ableto help you make wise decisions when it comes to selecting the rightcomponents for your online marketing efforts.
7. Failure to monitor and respond
It’s not enough to push content and let people find it. If you wantto make the most of your online marketing strategies, you need toinclude follow-up, especially when it comes to interactions withconsumers.
Allowing for options like commentary is a great way to see howpeople respond to your marketing efforts. Then again, opening the linesof communication and then failing to monitor them and respond toquestions, comments, and concerns is like playing virtual “ding dongditch” (ringing a doorbell and running away).
In other words, it’s rude. And the last thing you want to do iscome across as uncaring when a clearly interested party takes the timeto reach out.
For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to your blog, your social media accounts, your directory listings, and any other onlinemarketing efforts that allow for interaction. And make sure to collectcontact information and reply whenever possible.
8. Failure to track and analyze
Regardless of the methods you use for online marketing, it is imperative that you track the results of your efforts.
In the past, tracking the results of marketing campaigns likeprint, radio, and television was largely dependent on public feedback, a methodology that is spotty at best.
But the internet offers almost unlimited options for tracking.These options include tools that can follow digital trails and deliverinformation about click-thru, sharing, and the amount of time visitorsspend on certain pages. So why wouldn’t you take advantage of theseoptions?
You can start simply enough by using Google Analytics, a program that makes tracking your SEO efforts a cinch. You can evenuse funnels to follow your efforts from the point of inception straightthrough to specified conversions.
And you’ll find that there are also targeted tools designed for use with your social media accounts and other online marketing platforms.
Of course, analyzing these metrics takes some amount of skill, andyour online marketing specialist may be willing to do the heavy liftingand provide you with reports that are tailored to the layman. But overtime, you could certainly learn to track or analyze the results of youronline marketing efforts on your own.
9. Failing to manage your online reputation
Part of your online marketing strategy should include increasingpositive mentions and decreasing or nullifying negative commentary. When prospective consumers search and find you online, you want to make sure the information they receive casts you in a positive light.
There are a couple of ways to go about achieving this goal. Firstof all, you should see every negative review as an opportunity toimprove. Customer service is an important part of any businessoperation, especially a service industry like dentistry.
So when you come across negative commentary or reviews, start byreaching out to the unsatisfied party to see if you can rectify thesituation, turn a negative experience into a positive one, and convert a naysayer into a loyal patron.
However, you also need to understand that not every negativeexperience can be remedied. And further, you might face issues withdisgruntled ex-employees spouting off online or competitors postingfraudulent reviews in an effort to defame you.
This is an instance in which hiring a professional reputation management service could help. Such vendors have the knowledge, experience, andresources available to track down negative press, petition to havefraudulent commentary removed, and replace negative listings withpositive ones. This will allow you to make a good first impression onsearch traffic.
10. Sticking to one strategy
Things move pretty quickly in the online arena, and rapid advances in technologies and practices make it difficult to keep up. But you haveto stay on top of your game if you want to make the most of onlinemarketing opportunities. One way to do this is to connect with your patients.
On the SEO front, this means staying abreast of changing algorithms, policies, and standards and practices. And your other marketing andadvertising efforts should change frequently so that you can hone yourstrategy for the best results.
But you also need to keep up with new social media outlets,changing trends, and tools designed to help you meet your onlinemarketing goals more effectively.
As a dental practitioner, you’re probably not an expert in anything related to online marketing. But that doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel and accept defeat.
When you are aware of the many mistakes that other dental practices have made when marketing online, you can avoid common pitfalls andensure effective campaigns and long-term successes. With a little common sense, attention to detail, and marketing experts on your side, youronline marketing efforts can pay off in a big way.
So what do you think? Has any of this info given you something tothink about? If so, and you want others to benefit from the informationprovided, click the “thumbs up” icon and like it! Better yet, commentand let us know what you are doing to avoid making these mistakes! Consider to read why advertising is important for your small business.