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Top 4 most influential dental industry marketing trends of 2016

Nov. 14, 2016
Marketers now have to back up their promises with metrics like click-through rates and improved lead generation. What does this mean for the dental industry?
Naomi Cooper, Founder and CEO, Doctor Distillery
How key changes in today’s marketing methods are impacting decision making for dental marketers and those who sell to dentists

We live in a world that moves at an astoundingly rapid pace. News can be reported across the globe in a matter of seconds. A single sound bite can change the course of a national election. Google can alter its algorithm and instantly render thousands of companies’ SEO strategies useless.

While some might argue that the dental industry has remained somewhat insulated from the dramatic changes in the marketing landscape of the past two decades, advancements in the B2B marketing sector have certainly begun to influence the way dental companies market and sell to dentists. Modern technology and methodology have taken much of the guesswork out of marketing, helping dental marketers to make more informed, data-driven decisions and launch hypertargeted campaigns that deliver a greater return on investment. Here are four of the most influential trends affecting marketing within our industry today.

1. Increased demand for greater accountability

In recent years, there has been an increased corporate focus on ROI; as a result, dental marketers have shifted away from traditional tactics to more modern methods of selling to dentists. Why? Much of traditional marketing, especially branding, is centered on creating awareness, which is intangible and difficult to quantify. After all, it is truly anyone’s guess how many readers may actually see an ad in a magazine or signage at a trade show.

In the digital age, everything is measurable, enhancing the desire and need for accountability. Modern marketing methods offer greater tracking mechanisms than ever before. When running an online ad campaign, for instance, marketers can immediately track how many users saw the ad (impressions) and how many clicked on it (click-through rates). Suddenly, even a branding campaign can provide tangible results that can be easily reported to upper management and stakeholders.

2. Growing interest in inbound lead generation

Another leading advantage of modern marketing methods is the rising influence of inbound lead generation. Traditional tactics such as trade shows or print ads are inherently spiky, meaning that there may be a sharp increase in new prospects right after a trade show or while a print ad is running, but leads tend to dwindle as time passes. Online lead generation, in contrast, gives dental marketers the ability to continually and consistently develop new prospects to keep the top of the sales funnel filled.

Inbound lead generation can be done through a dedicated or unique landing page, a product page, or even the interest form on the company’s website. Getting dentists to request info online, download an asset, or opt in to receive ongoing communications are not only ways to deliver highly measurable results in terms of ROI. They are also tactics that deliver the most valuable information to the sales team—the direct contact information of potential dentist customers who are interested in the company’s products and services today.

Creating a flow of new prospects is important for service providers, software as a service (SaaS) companies, and equipment and materials manufacturers who sell direct, as well as for manufacturers who sell through distributors. Forwarding interested dentist leads on to a distribution partner can be a great way to show how much the manufacturer is supporting the brand through targeted and directed marketing efforts.

3. Rising influence of marketing automation

So much of inbound lead generation is tied to lead nurturing, or the concept of proactively moving prospective dentist customers through the sales funnel. It’s no surprise that there has been a marked increase in penetration of marketing automation software on the part of dental industry marketers to help make the most of each new lead that comes in. From programs such as Hubspot and Marketo to Unbounce and Act-On, more and more marketers are seeing marketing automation software as a must-have in their toolkit.

Marketing automation streamlines marketing by giving the team the ability to tailor communication based on where each prospect may be in the sales funnel. The team can now work more efficiently, helping them to better identify how and when to follow up with a lead, as well as when a lead may be ready to be handed off to the sales team. In fact, a 2015 study revealed 80% of marketing automation users saw their number of leads increase, and 77% saw the number of conversions increase. (1)

4. Continued push toward online media

However unintentionally, dentists themselves are also convincing marketers to move from print to online media. Marketers must go wherever their prospects spend their free time, and today this is increasingly online. Dentists vote with their eyeballs, and while print readership is down, screen time is up. In fact, on average, Americans now spend over 6 hours per day online. (2) So how can marketers respond to their dentist customers’ demands? By having a presence on the sites that dentists frequent online—search engines, social media, through videos, display ads, native ads, and on mobile devices.

Doctor Distillery is helping more dental companies provide a greater ROI by leveraging today’s technology to deliver highly qualified dentist leads to sales and marketing teams. Doctor Distillery is the first of its kind, a company focused on connecting your dental company with more than 160,000 dentists online, wherever they travel across the internet. With a partner like Doctor Distillery, marketing executives now have the ability to raise awareness for their brand, service, or product among dentists by reaching a highly targeted pool of online prospects to generate predictable lead flow with a direct return on investment.

With the election behind us, it’s now time to focus on the 2017. As you plan your marketing budgets for Q1 and beyond, put your dollars to use in the smartest way possible. Leverage today’s methods and technologies to deliver tangible returns and boost your company’s bottom line. Today, the data is at your fingertips—now it’s time to make your numbers work for you.

References
1. Marketing automation best bets: 80% of companies increase leads, 77% increase conversions. Venture Beat. http://venturebeat.com/2015/05/05/marketing-automation-best-bets-80-of-companies-increase-leads-77-increase-conversions/. Published May 5, 2015. Accessed November 14, 2016.
2. Media (R)evolutions: Time spent online continues to rise. The World Bank website. http://blogs.worldbank.org/publicsphere/media-revolutions-time-spent-online-continues-rise. Published February 10, 2016.

Naomi Cooper is CEO & Co-Founder of Doctor Distillery. She served as vice president of marketing for 1-800-DENTIST for nearly a decade. In 2015, she co–founded Doctor Distillery in 2015 to consistently deliver quality leads to dental companies via a unique mix of online marketing mediums. Naomi is a sought–after speaker who will be lecturing at the 2016 American Dental Association Annual Session and a dental industry opinion leader. She can be reached at [email protected].

ALSO BY NAOMI COOPER:

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Editor's note: This article first appeared in the Apex360 e-newsletter. Apex360 is a DentistryIQ partner publication for dental practitioners and members of the dental industry. Its goal is to provide timely dental information and present it in meaningful context, empowering those in the dental space to make better business decisions. Subscribe to the Apex360 e-newsletter here.

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About the Author

Naomi Cooper | Founder and CEO, Doctor Distillery

Naomi Cooper is CEO and cofounder of Doctor Distillery, a B2B advertising and media-buying network that targets more than 100,000 dentists in the United States and connects them with dental companies online. She is also president and founder of Minoa Marketing and serves as chief marketing consultant for Pride Institute. Dental companies seeking more information about reaching dentists and generating dentist leads online through Doctor Distillery's advertising network may contact her via e-mail at [email protected].

Updated May 4, 2016