Here’s what not to do when trying to reach your dentist customers online
Dental industry sales and marketing executives who are looking to promote their high-value products and services need to be where their target customers are, and today that’s online. Dentists use the internet now more than ever, whether they are researching new equipment for their practices or simply browsing headlines.
Digital methods command more control over marketing budgets because of significant advantages: online media is more targeted, more measurable, and offers greater predictability. In fact, 2016 was the first year in history that digital ad spend outpaced traditional television spending. (1) And it’s a marketing trend that's only expected to increase—by 2020, digital spending is expected to surpass television by 36%. (2)
Think of the online space as one giant trade show. Traditionally, marketers have been able to identify dentists at a trade show event by the badges they wear, helping to filter the actual practitioners from other staff and industry representatives. Trade show marketers know when they are speaking with their precise target audience—dentists. And now, with the demand for online profession authentication, there’s a way to replicate this same level of accuracy online.
The good news is that the latest technology in online marketing enables dental marketers to communicate with dentists—and only dentists—wherever they may travel across the internet, including search engines, social media outlets, and even nondental news and retail websites where dentists are acting like regular consumers. However, marketing to dentists online is still not without its challenges. Luckily, the difficulties are easy to overcome—if you know what to look out for.
Here are five common pitfalls product managers should avoid when marketing to dentists online:
1. Not doing any digital marketing at all
While it may seem easier to continue doing what has always been done, failing to adapt to new methodologies often comes at the expense of sales and profitability. For example, instead of tasking the marketing team with cold calls in the hopes of sourcing new leads, you could partner with a company to run a targeted campaign designed to bring high-quality inbound dentist leads directly to your sales team, which can then work more efficiently to focus efforts on converting the already-qualified dentist leads into new customers.
2. Relying solely on unpaid, organic efforts
Launching a new website, launching a marketing automation campaign, or posting to your company’s Facebook page isn’t going to generate the flow of prospects that you, your CEO, or your shareholders are expecting. When it comes to marketing to dentists online, you need to reach not only your existing customers—the dentists who are already connected to your company via e-mail and social media—but also new prospects, and it’s simply not possible to do so without paid advertising.
Search, display, and social media ads, when properly targeted to an audience made up exclusively of US dentists, can help you reach a wider yet more qualified audience than you may have previously thought possible.
3. Implementing a scattershot approach
Many dental product managers take the approach of trying anything and everything in the hopes of driving more sales. The challenge is that without proper tracking mechanisms in place, it’s nearly impossible to attribute success to any one campaign, and it certainly doesn’t provide the accountability your executive team demands. Failing to have a strategy in place that is tied to specific measurements of success before saying “yes” often results in a waste of valuable marketing dollars.
4. Spending the budget on behavioral-analytics-based advertising
Behavioral analytics describes the process of targeting an audience based on their online behaviors. For instance, Facebook has identified only about 13,000 users with the actual title of "dentist" in the job listing of the profile. However, if you call your Facebook rep and ask to advertise to dentists, they will often tell you they have an audience of more than 500,000 that you can advertise to. Why is there such a discrepancy?
The answer is that in order to sell more advertising to you, Facebook chooses to augment the flimsy audience of 13,000 dentists with a myriad of other folks who, according to Facebook’s behavioral analysis, walk, talk, and act like dentists—so it is simply assumed that they might be. To be sure, some of them are dentists—practitioners who simply don’t list "dentist" as their job title, choosing to use terms including "owner," "CEO," or "founder" instead. However, the vast majority of profiles in this audience are people who simply have behaviors that make them look like they might be dentists. Liked the American Dental Association? You must be a dentist! Liked Henry Schein and Dental Products Report? Dentist! Went to a university that has a dental school? Sounds like a dentist to me…
Even the most sophisticated algorithms still can’t account for human behavior that makes someone look like they belong to a profession, when in fact they may be one of any number of people who serve the profession: office managers, hygienists, dental students, dental assistants, receptionists, lab techs, dental sales reps, dental consultants, and so forth. Going back to the trade show analogy, what percentage of dental trade show attendees wear a blue badge? This is likely the same percentage of an audience created through behavioral analytics that turns out to be dentists.
5. Depending too heavily on contextual marketing or intent analytics
Similar to identifying via user behavior, online marketers can guesstimate a user’s profession based on their context or intent—where they visit or what they search for online. You may be profiled as a dentist when you visit a manufacturer’s website or search Google for "practice management software."Never mind the fact that you may actually be an office manager, a sales rep for a competing company, or a dentist who lives in India. The point is that relying on contextual marketing or intent analytics is no more reliable than relying on behavioral analytics; many marketers report that when utilizing contextual or intent analytics strategies, fewer than 20% of the targeted audience actually turns out to be a US dentist.
So where does that leave dental marketers? Some spend their time, energy, and money and buy their own media, running retargeting campaigns or advertising via Google AdWords and Facebook in the hopes of reaching actual dentists. It can be a time-consuming process with a costly learning curve—not to mention a significant amount of wasted impressions, given that such a low percentage of those who see your company’s ads are actually a part of your target audience of dentists.
This trend is why more product managers and digital marketing managers in the dental industry are turning to companies like mine, Doctor Distillery. We help dental companies connect with a verified network of over 180,000 US dentists, bypassing the gatekeepers, filtering out the ancillary job titles in the dental industry, and consistently reaching dentists as they navigate across the internet—even when they're behaving like regular consumers.
Whether you are looking for clicks, impressions or highly qualified leads from dentist, Doctor Distillery can assist your company in building and executing an extremely targeted, effective campaign designed to keep the marketing funnel full, minimize wasted impressions and maximize your return on investment.
1. US digital ad spending to surpass TV this year. eMarketer website. https://www.emarketer.com/Article/US-Digital-Ad-Spending-Surpass-TV-this-Year/1014469. Published September 13, 2016. Accessed April 11, 2017.
2.Leone C. How much should you budget for online marketing in 2017? Webstrategies website. http://www.webstrategiesinc.com/blog/how-much-budget-for-online-marketing-in-2014. Updated October 2016. Accessed April 11, 2017.
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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.