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The Messy Art of Marketing Success


Posted on 4/21/2016 by Rosalea Peters, WEO Media Staff
Voice search is here. Facebook is launching a local search service. More desktop traffic comes from Facebook than any other social service. SEO is more than optimizing for Google. Content is king, but only relevant, rich, story. These are headlines of articles you can find when you're looking for the latest information on digital marketing - which really doesn't need the qualifier of "digital" - because Everything is Marketing (right Fred Joyal).

The other headlines you'll see talk about ROI (return on investment for the uninitiated) and how as dentists, you are responsible for YOUR business, and you should always "trust but verify" that your marketing team is doing well by you.

To a dentist sitting in the latest marketing course put on by her state association or trade association, she is told that she's wasting money if she's not measuring the results of her marketing plan, and that she should ask these 10 soul-searching questions of any SEO company that she plans to hire. Is it really that easy?

This is where you should take your cue from the title. Marketing is messy - and it's pretty rare that you'll find an even trajectory from point A (congratulations! you hired an SEO company or marketing agency) to point B (congratulations! you have 20 new patients a month from your website).

This graphic below is one of my favorites - from a great blog article by Ian Lurie about how marketers aren't storytellers - we are world builders. What this represents is the path that a consumer interacts with your brand. As marketers, we know that there is a high likelihood that a prospect will have brushed elbows with your brand multiple times before they are at a point of conversion.



Those "brushes with brand" are such excellent representations of why marketing is messy, and why it can be difficult for a dentist to measure the ROI of their marketing efforts.

Example: A prospective patient may have seen a sponsored ad in their Facebook newsfeed, or even better, one of their Facebook friends shared a post from their dentist's page. A few weeks later, they run into another friend who tells them about the amazing experience they had at their last dental appointment because "Of all the things, the evening after my surgery, the dentist called me to make sure I was doing okay!". A few months go by and our prospective patient realizes they're past due on their twice-yearly (okay, in reality - their once yearly) dental visit and can't remember the name of this fantastic dentist that their friend recommended, so searches "dentist in Austin, TX". A few names pop up at the top of the first page, and they recognize Dr. Toothy Adams. After a few seconds on the website to find contact information, a call goes in to the office.

Now we all know what happens next. Our friendly receptionist asks, "Who referred you to our office" Our prospective patient says "my friend Amy". No mention of the online interactions the patient has had.

Would the prospect have called the office if their website wasn't on page 1? Maybe. Was the office or dentist's name heightened in their conscious mind because of the three touches (Facebook, in person, website search)? A case would likely be made that yes it was. How then, does the dentist measure the true results of their marketing efforts?

1.  Take the time to train your dental team on more specific questions to ask of a new patient. Instead of "who referred you to us" ask "How did you hear about our office?" and then digging a bit deeper. If a patient replies "an internet search" the next question should be - "oh, did you look on Google or another search engine, or did you see us on social media?" It's also great to refer back to your website as a place to request an appointment, download new patient forms, or find information about your services

2.  Review your referral sources each month, and share that data with your marketing agency. If out of 20 new patients you welcomed to your practice in April, 5 of them found you through online Google search, and 1 searched for you on Bing, that is great data to accumulate. However, this is highly reliant on our first method of a trained dental team being in place.



3.  Dive into your new patient data. Instead of observing that you had 20 new patients, observe what your actual production and collection data was for those patients. Based on our above sample of 20 new patients, if 10 came through the insurance website you have contracted with, 5 found you through an online Google search, 1 found you on a Bing search, and 4 were patient referrals, you should then break down per section what your production was for each of those groups. This helps you understand what you paid into each referral source, and what it cost you to obtain that patient.



4.  Work with your marketing agency to identify trends in your practice and for each of your campaigns. Your marketing agency should have a strong history of innovation, closely researching new trends, and is positioned to have expert knowledge about different forms of marketing. At WEO Media for example, we spend time researching data and evaluating industry trends in both dentistry and marketing in general as we look toward the future of what our clients might need. SEO and social media marketing change constantly - and the landscape is an ever moving target. We bring quite a bit to the table, but we need to sit at that table with our clients as partners; helping us to understand what they are experiencing in their day to day operations so we can use the best approach possible, and yield them the results they are looking to achieve.


Marketing is messy. It requires trial and error to finesse the "sweet spot". It requires research, time, and collaboration. It's constantly changing and innovating. There are new things to learn everyday - as we noted from our introduction - the headlines can be mind-boggling. But when the mess of marketing comes together in just the right way - a work of art is born; and the synergy it creates? Amazing.
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