Marketing Your Practice

A Summary to Marketing Your Dental Practice

Dental practice marketing has evolved significantly over the years. Gone are the days of phone books and Yellow Pages ads. The modern dental practice needs to market for patients in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Practices can market for patients internally through referral programs and externally through online and direct-to-consumer (D2C) marketing. This article will focus primarily on external marketing.

By Ian McNickle, MBA
Partner, WEO Media


There are many things to consider when developing a marketing plan for your dental practice. This article will focus first on branding and then explore, in some detail, online marketing, and D2C marketing.



Branding your practice is an important consideration in your overall practice success. Branding – including your practice name, logo, images, fonts, colors, practice story, and more – all “speak” to potential patients. It’s imperative your brand quickly and effectively communicates who you are and your vision for patient care. When developing these items, it is helpful to ask yourself these questions:

  • Who are your ideal patients?
  • What do you think they’d be looking for when they choose a dentist?
  • Why do they come to you as opposed to your competition?
  • What are a few adjectives that describe your practice? (family-oriented, patient-first, technically advanced, etc.)



Once you’ve established some of these branding items, it’s time to tackle how you present yourself to the world. Your story will help guide this process as you work with a graphic designer. The designer will discuss your story with you, review logos/fonts you like, and create a logo design that will best reflect your practice. Your logo should be used consistently across all materials, forms, business cards, the website, advertising, clothing, signage, etc.


Online Marketing

There are six pillars of a robust and effective online marketing program:

  1. Website
  2. SEO
  3. PPC
  4. Online Reputation
  5. Social Media
  6. Videos

When potential patients are searching online, they typically view two to five pieces of information about a practice before deciding to schedule an appointment. In some cases, they will find the practice website in a Google search, go to the website for more information, check out the Facebook page, and read a few Google reviews. While there are numerous combinations for what potential patients may view, the point is this – they are going to check out several pieces of information about your practice. So it is mission-critical all six pillars of your online marketing program are solid. If there are any chinks in your armor, you’ll certainly lose patients to practices with a more robust online presence.


Pillar #1: Websites

It is helpful to understand there are two distinct audiences for websites: people and search engines. People care about items such as the design, layout, aesthetics, ease-of-use, and related factors. Google cares very little about these factors but has a very different set of items it values; these are explained in the SEO section.

In terms of what matters to people visiting your website, it should reflect your brand logo, doctor pictures and bio(s), staff pictures (with their first name only), services provided, and detailed information about your practice. Here are the major items you’ll want to incorporate:

  • Mobile responsive – the website must be mobile responsive, which means it is optimized for mobile device screen sizes and automatically formats each page to fit the screen.
  • Customized & personalized – in addition to the practice logo, it helps to upload photos of the doctor, staff, and practice. Custom videos about the practice are also very impactful.
  • Secure – Google has indicated its preference that all websites migrate to secure HTTPS hosting, so it is a good idea to make sure your website provider offers HTTPS hosting.
  • Call to action – your website should clearly list the practice phone number in large font in the top banner. It should also feature clickable buttons and graphics about the primary topics you want to emphasize. An appointment request form is typically recommended as well.
  • 24/7 live chat – a highly effective way to convert more leads from your website is to use a 24/7 live chat service. WEO Media offers this service with the ability to schedule appointments directly into your practice management software, thereby converting the leads in real-time.


Pillar #2: SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

SEO is an ongoing process that involves a wide variety of activities to help your website rank highly on search engines, such as Google. The higher the website ranks, the more website visitors it will generate, creating more new patient leads. The most important areas impacting SEO rankings are:

  • Website Content – the most impactful thing you can do is have unique content written for your practice that does not exist on any other website. Google rewards unique content but gives almost no ranking benefit to stock (duplicate) content.
  • Website Code – unlike human visitors, search engines read the website HTML code. The website should be optimized for important sections of code: title tags, meta description tags, keyword tags, image tags, and schema markup code. Ask your SEO company to make sure they do this as part of their service.
  • Online Reviews – search engines look at reviews on sites such as Google and Facebook as key SEO factors to judge a business, so it is critical to have lots of good reviews across as many review sites as possible.
  • Social Media Engagement – Google looks at the engagement level of your social media posts as a key SEO factor. Simply posting content is a minor benefit, but if people really engage with your content, it can be very helpful for your SEO rankings.

To track results from SEO efforts it is always recommended to use a unique call-tracking phone number to identify calls coming from the website and online properties. It is highly recommended to use a reputable online marketing agency such as WEO Media to do this work.


Pillar #3: PPC (Pay-Per-Click)

PPC (pay-per-click) ads are paid ads that show up on the Google search network. When someone clicks on your ad, Google charges you an amount per click. Each click will take the person to a landing page on your website. Your ads should link to webpages for that same topic. For example, if you have a PPC ad for dental implants, then the ad should link to a dental implant landing page (not your website home page). It is best to use an online marketing agency to run these campaigns since they can be technical and easy to make costly mistakes.


Pillar #4: Online Reputation

The most important review sites in the dental industry are Google, Facebook, Yelp, and Healthgrades. As noted earlier, having online reviews aids your SEO performance, but even more important is the impact on your online reputation. Potential patients will almost always read your online reviews before deciding to contact your practice for an appointment. You’ll want to have at least a 4.0-star average on these major review sites. The more reviews, the better and the more recent the reviews, the better (for both SEO and online reputation).


Pillar #5: Social Media Engagement

Social media accounts for a significant amount of all activity on the internet, and the usage is widespread across all age groups, geographies, and demographics. This makes social media an attractive path towards gaining exposure, and new patients for your practice. The most important platforms in the dental industry are Facebook and Instagram.

You can engage in both free posting and paid promotional posting on both platforms. Posts to your practice social media pages should include a combination of personalized “fun” posts (60% – 70% of posts), educational oral health posts (20% – 30% of posts), and promotional/new patient special type posts (10% of posts). While posting frequency is not an exact science, we recommend posting one to three times per day, on the high end, and two to three times per week, on the low end.

Paid Posting

To generate new patients Facebook offers several strategies for paid ads. You can target your ad to show up in front of friends of people who have liked your page, or you can target a specific demographic, or you can do both. Ads are quite affordable on a pay-per-click basis, so you can experiment with different headlines and offers to determine what works best. It is recommended targeting specific subsets of your patient base like sedation dentistry for special needs kids or pain-free laser gum treatment for adult patients, etc. Specific targeting tends to generate more impactful results.


Pillar #6: Video

One of the most underutilized and impactful pillars of online marketing is video. There are many reasons to incorporate videos into your marketing including improving your website lead conversion rate, improving SEO performance, increasing social media engagement, improving PPC campaign performance, and numerous other benefits.

Videos can be featured on your practice website, social media platforms, review sites, and waiting room. There are several primary categories of videos to incorporate into your practice marketing including:

  1. Practice Overview Videos
  2. Patient Testimonial Videos
  3. FAQ Videos

A practice overview video, incorporating interview and background footage to develop a narrative about your practice. The goal is to convince patients to visit your dental practice by educating them about the practice’s personality, doctors, staff, equipment, and expertise. These videos should be shot by professional videographers and have a duration of one to two minutes. Practice overview videos should be placed on the home page of the practice website, ideally located in the top half of the website.

Patient testimonial videos are highly impactful at connecting with potential patients, especially when the patient and the person on the video have commonalities such as age, gender, life stage, or concern about going to the dentist. The more testimonial videos, the better!

Patients often have questions on all kinds of topics, so it can be a powerful tactic to create a series of videos that answer the most common questions you get in your practice. Feature these videos on an FAQ page on your website and as webpages on that specific topic.

All three of these video types can be effective when posted on social media channels and review sites.


Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) Marketing

The recommended approach is generally to get your online marketing dialed-in first, so you understand typical website traffic and results. Once you establish a baseline, it can be very effective to implement some forms of D2C marketing to generate even more new patient leads.


Direct Mail Campaigns

The most common form of D2C marketing is direct mail campaigns. These campaigns should feature a call-to-action with some sort of offer to increase the response rate. Ideally, these campaigns would use a unique phone number tracking leads from the individual campaign(s). Often, a unique landing page is generated on the website to additionally track leads generated from the campaign(s).



In some cases, it makes sense to be even more aggressive and implement other forms of D2C marketing such as radio, print, TV, newspaper, and billboard ads. These campaigns are typically more unpredictable than online marketing campaigns, but they can still produce great results once tested and optimized. Each campaign should use a unique call-tracking phone number and unique landing pages on the website, whenever possible.


Budget & ROI (Return on Investment)

In general, for practices that want to grow, it is recommended they should spend in the range of 3% – 7% of gross revenue on marketing. A well-executed marketing program should be able to produce new patients for approximately $100 – $200 per new patient (for general dentists). For specialty practices, the acquisition cost can vary quite a bit more depending on the type of patients targeted. For example, orthodontic and dental implant patients can cost hundreds of dollars to acquire, but the profit is greater, so the ROI can still be quite good.


Marketing Consultation

If your practice would like to talk with a professional dental marketing agency, please contact WEO Media for a free consultation. WEO Media is an award-winning dental marketing agency.

Call: 1.888.246.6906



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