3 ways to win over more dentists online

Want to build digital marketing campaigns that stand out from the competition and resonate with dental professionals? This is how you do it.

Jan 30th, 2017
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Want to build digital marketing campaigns that stand out from the competition and resonate with dental professionals? This is how you do it.
The key to effective advertising has always been getting the right message to the right audience at the right time. But in today's digital world, when the average dentist, like all other consumers of media, may see thousands of messages in a single day, how is it possible for dental marketers to cut through the clutter and actually reach dentists online?

Digital marketing is effective because it puts the power back in the hands of the consumer. And consumers—dentists included—turn to the Internet when researching information, whether it's information about a new piece of equipment for the practice or a family vacation.

If you're a dental marketer, this means that your brand and messaging need to be in front of dentists wherever they travel online, not only during the limited time when they are browsing the Internet as dentists, but also when they are browsing as regular people. This is the key to success: reaching dentists in ways that are surprising yet relevant, making your marketing campaigns simultaneously less intrusive and more effective.

Here are three ways to do it.

Change the context

Imagine running into your neighbor at the corner store. Maybe you exchange a quick greeting, but it's a relatively unremarkable event. Now imagine running into this neighbor while on vacation in Mexico or Paris. Now that is remarkable! What has changed here to make it such a memorable event? The context.

When a dentist sees an ad in a trade show's event directory, for example, it's rather unremarkable—precisely because it's expected. Dentists intuitively understand that they are being sold to via this medium. But if they see an ad for a dental company while scanning the headlines on their favorite news site or scrolling through their Facebook news feed, this ad is more impactful because it is unexpected, and thus, it has the potential to break through the clutter.

This type of strategy can help dental marketers reach dentists online when they are behaving not necessarily as dentists but as consumers. Ad placement that is out of context yet somewhat familiar makes a more memorable impression in an unobtrusive way. This is evidenced by the fact that online users who are retargeted are 70% more likely to convert. (1) While cookie-based retargeting campaigns have inherent limitations, dental marketers can now target dentists online based on their professional identities. Identity- or profession-based marketing is efficient and precise, and it yields predictable outcomes, including clicks and even leads.

Focus on audience quality and frequency

One of the main attractions of digital advertising is its ability to reach a vast number of people. But is quantity better than quality when it comes to online impressions? The answer is a resounding "no."

Consider the metric of buying ads by thousands of impressions (i.e., cost per thousand or cost per mille [CPM]). One hundred thousand impressions sounds impressive at first, but who is actually seeing the ad? Most likely, it's 100,000 people who have been identified as "potential dentists." This designation is typically assigned to users via behavioral analytics, either based on past behavior, such as cookies assigned by websites they have visited in the past, or based on companies, pages, or profiles they have liked on social media. The audience is presumed to be comprised of dentists, but in reality, an online audience based on behavioral analysis is likely made up of people who are somehow associated with the dental industry but who are not necessarily dentists—just like attendees at a dental trade show, who are most likely a combination of dentists, hygienists, assistants, office staff, spouses, students, and dental industry reps. These 100,000 people, who may or may not be dentists, are potentially seeing your message just one time each. This strategy could be equated to advertising on a billboard located on a major freeway; it gives your message high visibility, but it's not a very targeted strategy.

Marketing executives looking to achieve a measurable return on investment should instead focus on reaching the right audience with a certain degree of "effective frequency," which measures how many times a particular audience sees an ad. Would you prefer 100,000 "possible dentists" to each see your ad once? Or would you prefer an audience of 20,000 verified dentists to each see your message five times? Targeting a more refined group of verified dentists and placing your ads in front of this smaller audience multiple times is proven to be an effective marketing strategy. (2) This is the only way dental marketers can consistently cut through the deluge of advertising and truly penetrate the online dentist audience.

Be everywhere

Let's be honest: The chances of a dentist visiting your website one time and making a purchase are, unfortunately, slim to none. The majority of online dentist leads do not come in ready to buy, but that doesn't mean that a lead can't be nurtured and converted into a paying customer in the future.

Marketers are tasked with the challenge of "being there" for dentist customers as they make their way through the purchasing journey. Online strategies can be designed to attract dentists who are in the early information-gathering stage, and they can be used to keep warm leads engaged along the way, with the ultimate goal of turning those warm leads into dentists who are eventually ready to buy from you.

This requires a multichannel, branding- and education-oriented approach to advertising. It's essential to place ads wherever dentists may travel online in their personal browsing time—on search engines, social media, retail websites, and news websites, to name a few—and to leverage multiple formats including display, social, video, content syndication, and mobile advertising to promote and distribute content about your product, service, or brand.

Admittedly, it's difficult to run a frequency-oriented campaign and execute a multichannel strategy effectively, largely because it is difficult to build a verified dentist audience, not just an audience made up of "potential dentists." So don't let your message get lost in the shuffle. Rise above the advertising clutter by using a combination of efforts designed to generate more qualified leads and ultimately win over more dentists through your online marketing efforts.

References

1. Ahmad I. 17 incredible retargeting ad stats – infographic. Digital Information World website. http://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2014/09/infographic-retargeting-advertising-statistics.html. Published September 24, 2014.

2. Fulgoni G. The varying impact of ad frequency in the digital environment. ComScore website. https://www.comscore.com/ita/Insights/Blog/The-Varying-Impact-of-Ad-Frequency-in-the-Digital-Environment. Published March 31, 2010.

More by Naomi Cooper

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Editor's note: This article first appeared in the Apex360 e-newsletter. Apex360is 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. Visit the Apex360 home page here, and subscribe to the Apex360 e-newsletter here.


Naomi Cooper is the CEO and cofounder of Doctor Distillery, a B2B advertising and media-buying network that targets more than 180,000 dentists in the United States and connects them with dental companies online. She is also president and founder of Minoa Marketing, and she previously served as the chief marketing consultant for Pride Institute and as the vice president of marketing for 1-800-Dentist. Dental companies seeking more information about reaching dentists online through Doctor Distillery's advertising network may contact her via e-mail at naomi@doctordistillery.com or learn more at doctordistillery.com.


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