CTM Blog


Digital Marketing for Dentists

by Barb Cronin

Digital marketing isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of dentists. In fact, digital marketing for dentists is an often-overlooked part of a dental practice’s marketing and business plan. However, online marketing for dentists is proven to help attract new patients and keep current ones engaged and coming back for treatments. 

There’s a lot of competition out there to win (and keep) a dental patient’s business today. According to The American Dental Association, there were already nearly 200,000 dental practices in the United States in 2020. In today’s world of digital communication, it’s essential to have an online presence–on multiple platforms–so potential patients can find you (and not your competition). Dentists and dental practices that aren’t engaging in digital marketing aren’t doing the volume of business they could be. 

“Ignoring online marketing is like opening a business and not telling anybody.” 
-KB Marketing Agency via HubSpot

But before we talk about the benefits of digital marketing for dentists, let’s discuss exactly what digital marketing is and how it helps get dentists more business

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing, or online marketing, is part of an overall marketing strategy that focuses on advertising and engaging with prospects on digital platforms powered by the Internet like desktop devices, mobile phones, and more. 

There’s no hiding from digital, almost everyone is on some type of digital platform. From social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to using Google and Bing to search for products and services, digital communication is a key ingredient to marketing and business success. 

Image of two women looking at a desktop computer in a dentist's office.

Types of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing for dentists is much like digital marketing for any other industry. However, some platforms and channels may work better for this specific industry depending on your target audience and goals. Thankfully, digital marketing covers a whole host of different types of digital communications. 

Overall, content marketing is usually the launchpad for other types of digital marketing. Let’s look at content marketing and how it fits into digital marketing. 

Content Marketing and Digital Marketing 

This type of digital marketing uses written, video, and audio content to communicate with target audiences and nurture them through the sales funnel, or buyer’s journey.  Content marketing is more or less the overall ‘bucket’ that fuels many of the other digital marketing initiatives like social media, emails, paid ads, etc., as these are all based on written, video, or audio content. 

Content marketing can help you achieve a wide range of marketing and sales goals. Different types of content help achieve different objectives and help create an effective sales funnel. The sales funnel usually includes three to four stages. Often, the type of content you create and where you syndicate it will depend on which stage of the buyer’s journey your campaign is focused on. 

Here are the four stages of the buyer’s journey with examples of the best collateral for each phase:  

  • Awareness Stage 

Your audience is just becoming familiar with your product or service. In the case of dental digital marketing, their need may just be surfacing. In this stage articles, blogs, infographics, videos, product or service pages, and social posts are great for getting their attention and engaging them with relevant content. 

  • Consideration Stage

During this stage, your audience knows they need a dental service. Now, they are ‘considering’ their options. Use comparison charts, case studies, eBooks, whitepapers, and service-focused videos and blogs to keep your practice at the front of their minds. 

  • Decision Stage

As the name implies, during this stage, your audience is actually deciding which dentist or dental practice to go to for their problem. It could be down to one or two choices. Demos, case studies, reviews, testimonials, video testimonials, and social posts could be the deciding factor for them, so make sure to have content in this stage, too. 

  • Delight Stage 

This stage occurs once the person has become a patient and focuses on keeping them happy and loyal. Emails, newsletters, social media, and podcasts are great ways to create loyal, raving fans of your dental practice. 

In addition to the specific buyer’s stage you’re addressing, the type of content and channels you choose also depend on a few other factors, like specific industry, B2B or B2C, and your target audience. You need to consider all of these when you’re building your digital marketing plan. 

When it comes to digital marketing plans for dentists some content marketing tools like comparison charts or eBooks may seem unrelated, but there are numerous ways these resources can benefit your target audience and nurture them down the funnel. 

9 Types of Digital Marketing for Dentists

1. Email Campaigns

Email campaigns are digital communications sent directly to a prospect or customer in order to engage with them in some way. Emails can be used for a variety of purposes and the content within the emails can be tailored to meet specific goals, stages of the buyer’s journey, and buyer personas. 

From sending a ‘cold call’ email to a list of contacts to product updates to 10-year customers, emails deliver some of the best ROI in digital marketing. Email can be used to attract, engage, and delight prospects and customers alike. 

ConstantContact reports the ROI on emails is $44 in revenue for every $1 spent. 

2. Influencer Marketing

This type of digital marketing is also a type of social media marketing. Influencers on platforms like Instagram or Snapchat promote your product or service to their followers. This type of marketing began as strictly B2C but has since become popular with B2Bs, too. 

Depending on your type of dental practice and target audience, influencer marketing can be a big player. If you’re looking to reach younger audiences and show them, for example, how painless and easy a dentist visit can be, consider adding influencer marketing to your digital marketing mix. 

3. Newsletters

These are really just another type of email. Newsletters should be segmented and go out to current customers, as well as prospects that have opted in. The content can be customized to reach each specific newsletter’s target audience, from current and former patients to prospects who visited your website and downloaded something. Including content that is helpful and relevant to each audience is vital. 

4. Paid Search or PPC

Paid search ads or pay-per-click advertising uses short, concise content and strong calls-to-action (CTAs) that get viewers to ‘click’ through to your website and drive traffic. Advertisers pay a fee for every ‘click’ received. The fees are based on the specific keyword targeted in the ad. Some cost more than others. 

PPC usually delivers quick results and wins to gain immediate visibility are one great benefit of this type of digital marketing for dentists. Software platforms like CallTrackingMetrics make it easy to build and monitor these campaigns. Some integrate with Google Ads and make it simple to track results and automatically focus spending on the campaigns that are working the best. 

Digital ads can increase brand awareness by 80%

5. SEM

Search engine marketing (SEM) is similar to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in that it promotes website visibility, but with paid advertising efforts. The goal of SEM is to rank paid ads on the search engine results page). Once you solidify your paid ads and organic strategy, you can begin to align these teams to aim for SERP placements. 

6. SEO

Search engine optimization is creating and optimizing content and content descriptions that get Google’s attention so your content pages rank for specific keywords. Google uses specific algorithms to determine which pages of content and websites to show in search results. SEO emphasizes creating content that is not only valuable and relevant but also gets ranked by Google. 

Digital marketing for dentists can rely heavily on SEO efforts. Creating content to educate, inform, and wow your audience is vital but having it turn up in search results is equally crucial to success. After all, if no one can see your amazing blogs, videos, infographics, and more, they won’t make a difference. SEO helps your content and website be found so you can begin to add in other types of digital marketing to nurture your prospects. 

The SEO industry was worth $80 million in 2021.

7. Social Media

Social media plays a big role in digital marketing today, no matter your industry. Depending on your specific target audience, social media may play a bigger or lesser role in your marketing efforts. There are numerous social media platforms for organizations and professionals, like LinkedIn, and also those for social connections, like Facebook or Instagram. 

Social media ads make up 33% of all digital ad spend according to Hootsuite.

Social media can be a good place to showcase how your dental practice is different from others and illustrate the fun side of your practice. Your exact target audience and goals will determine which platform and type of content is best. 

8. Text

Text message campaigns are becoming increasingly popular. There are different types of text campaigns that can be tailored to meet specific goals. One type of text campaign may be to re-engage a former patient who hasn’t had an appointment, while another may be to send an appointment confirmation. The versatility of text can be leveraged effectively across industries and campaigns. 

Text messaging for dentists can include reminders, messages to reconnect with former patients, and even birthday wishes. What’s more, with certain types of software, these texts can be automated and don’t have to take up a lot of time. Text automation can be based on triggers from conversations or preset conditions. 

9. Videos

Videos are an important part of digital marketing. Videos can help your audience get a basic understanding of your product or service in just a few minutes–often less than that! Dental practices can use videos to help ease fears and set you apart from your competition. 

So how can you use video to market your practice? If you’re comfortable with creating your own videos, you can use YouTube, Instagram, or even Facebook to connect with your audience and get them engaged. This is an easy and affordable way to start using videos in your marketing plan. 

The online advertising ecosystem is complex. There are multiple platforms, channels, and types of digital content to create. And, as mentioned, with so many choices, starting off with simple, easy-to-manage steps is helpful. Build a strong foundation, measure the success of your efforts,  and add more as you learn what works–and what doesn’t.

Why is Digital Marketing for Dentists Important? 

Digital marketing is important for any dental or medical practice that wants to remain relevant, competitive, and successful. Digital marketing offers a number of benefits specific to dentists and dental practices–particularly those just getting started with online marketing efforts. Here are a few: 

  • Affordable

You are in control of digital marketing efforts. You get to decide which channels you want to engage with, how often, with what type of content, and geared toward which audience. With digital marketing like paid search, you decide what keywords to bid on and know the costs upfront, and are able to set a budget. 

With SEO efforts, if you’re able to write your own content then you will be paying mostly for manpower hours already accounted for in your budget. This allows you to start off slowly, measure your efforts, and adjust accordingly.

Multi-touch marketing attribution that employs call tracking delivers full visibility so you can see all online–and offline–activity. For a dental practice, this is particularly important. Many times patients would rather call than reach out online. If you want to be able to accurately connect these phone calls to the ads that drove them, call tracking using dynamic number insertion delivers closed-loop attribution so you get the full picture of your digital marketing efforts. 

  • Measurable

As with any type of digital marketing, it’s essential to measure the results of your efforts across all channels and campaigns. This is the only way you’ll know what’s working and what’s not. With this critical information, you can optimize the ads, campaigns, and keywords working and ditch the efforts with little or no return.  

This will let you focus your budget on those efforts driving the highest value for your dental practice. Be sure to align your efforts with your goals and use the right channels and messaging for your target audience.  Knowing the return on investment (ROI) for each of your online marketing ventures is crucial to maximizing your budget and consistently driving success. 

  • Scalable

Paid ads are an easy way to get started with digital marketing. You can easily scale which makes investing in digital marketing less worrisome. Certain platforms have integrations with paid ad platforms like Google Ads, which make it simple to adjust ad spend. 

CallTrackingMetrics has a bidirectional integration with Google Ads so the ads working are automatically optimized and spend is pulled back on those that aren’t–all in real-time. This makes it easy to invest more money when you have a clear picture of what’s working the best. 

  • Customizable

Digital marketing lets you meet your audience where they are with the right message at the right time. With insight into which ads, campaigns, and channels are resonating with your ideal patients, a deeper understanding of their behaviors and needs, and numerous platforms to engage with them, you can personalize your messages to better connect. 

A woman in a navy blue shirt on the phone and looking at a laptop.

For example, if you have a dental practice and you cater to the elderly, you probably won’t spend a lot of money investing in TikTok or Instagram ads. Your audience simply isn’t there. When you understand who your ideal audience is through conversation intelligence tools, you’ll be able to talk to them about their needs and concerns in the places they spend time. 

Consider These 4 Things Before You Start

There are a number of factors to consider before getting started with digital marketing for dentists, or any other industry. 

1. What are Your Goals?

What are your goals for your digital marketing efforts? Do you want to sign up new patients, get former patients back on your roster, or increase your practice’s visibility? Your exact goals will determine which types of digital marketing you use and how you utilize them. 

You should start off with small, manageable goals and build. As you get up and running, you’ll add more goals, strategies, and campaigns. But first monitor how your initial efforts go and adjust to maximize your success. 

2. How Will You Measure Success?

It’s important to determine what you’ll measure as a success or conversion and what key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll use to gauge this. Getting closed-loop attribution is an essential part of this measurement equation so you know where all of your leads–both online and offline–are coming from. This will give you a true picture of your efforts and prove the ROI for all of your efforts. 

3. Are You Investing Wisely?

There are so many areas you can invest in with digital marketing. It’s important to have a full understanding of your options and what types of software can best support reaching your goals and streamlining processes. Be sure you invest in software that can grow with you and handle a variety of functions. While you may not be ready for all of the capabilities now, as you get used to digital marketing for your dental practice, you’ll be ready to take on more and want a platform to support that. 

4. Who is Your Target Audience?

When it comes to digital marketing for dentists, it’s important to understand who your target audience is and adjust your efforts based on their preferences. 

If you decide you want to only work with adults, your messages, channels, and campaigns will differ from those of pediatric or geriatric dentists. Determine who your ideal patient is and target them by creating content on the channels they view in a language that resonates with them. 

“It’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away.” 
-Douglas Warner III, Former CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase and Co.

How to Get Started

There are many platforms, channels, and types of advertising to choose from when it comes to digital marketing for your dental practice. With so many options and ways to get started, it can be a bit overwhelming at first. But it’s worth the effort to learn about, and begin to invest in, digital marketing for your dental practice. 

In fact, according to HubSpot, 63% of organizations have increased their digital marketing budgets in just the last year. 

Graphic showing that 63% of organizations increased their digital marketing budget in the last year alone. Source: HubSpot

While it’s a smart move to invest in digital marketing for your dental practice, you must choose wisely and don’t bite off more than you can chew. You may be an expert in dental hygiene, but that doesn’t mean you’re an expert in Google Ads. Depending on your time and resources, you may want to find some help doing things like:

  • Building and managing your website
  • Managing your local business profiles
  • Running advertising and social media campaigns
  • Managing email campaigns and lists
  • Qualifying and routing prospective patients for scheduling 

It’s a lot to do on your own, even for a thriving dental practice. Some dental practices turn to digital marketing agencies to help. Just remember, whether you do it on your own or hire out to support first assess your goals and resources, build a comprehensive plan, and then take baby steps. Start off slowly, evaluate your results, and go from there.  Your efforts will pay off and be well worth it! 

Once you’ve mastered some of the basics of digital marketing, be sure to continue to grow your digital marketing knowledge and efforts. Marketing attribution and call tracking are essential on this digital marketing journey so you know precisely what’s working–and what’s not. 

Want to learn more about how call tracking and how it helps healthcare organizations? Book a Demo today or check out our blog on how to Practice the Best Healthcare Marketing with Data-backed Decisions.