Most dental practices can't rely on word of mouth forever - at some point, the business will consider advertising, and some will choose social media marketing for dentists.
- How do you advertise your dental clinic on social media?
- Do dentists (actually) need marketing?
- And, how do you ensure your marketing works?
Here's everything you ever wanted to know about social media marketing for dentists...
Why social media ads for dentists?
Social media advertising offers a dental practice a broad but controlled 'reach' that you can apply over and over again, for as long as it's working for the business.
- Target potential clients in your local area
- Run campaigns targeting previous or current clientele
You can maintain a drip campaign on a low budget, encouraging repeat visits or letting the general public know your service exists. For example, this Perth cosmetic dentist runs a campaign targeting Perth residents...
There are aspects of this ad that can definitely be improved - for example, add a before and after pic rather than this toothy one, BUT, you can see they are targeting a local area.
So how do you start a social media campaign for your dental practice?
Let's cut to the chase: if you want quality outcomes, you're going to need quality ingredients...
Quality Ingredients = Qualiteeth Outcomes
It can be an avoided conversation...
1. You Need A Budget
You don't have to have a McDonald's level advertising budget, but, like the tooth fairy, your dental clinic will need some form of a budget.
What should you budget for social media as a dental clinic?
Most dental clinics will start with around 1k a month + specialist fees. Anything less than that and it's likely you're dealing with a newbie service provider OR, are dabbling in some DIY. Both of these options are a resource risk.
Some geographic regions and specialist services, like orthodontics, may require a higher budget. This is because these services have what we call a longer lead-in time, (kind of like a deliberation phase), and higher-priced services tend to have more advertising competition. It's that competition that drives ad platform pricing higher.
What roi should I expect?
What you get in return for your social media marketing budget depends on:
- Your product/service and its value to the customer
- Your customer lifetime value
- How your advertising platform works (Facebook Ads manager, Twitter ads, YouTube ads etc)
- How effective your creative is (your ad content)
- Your supporting content (website, Google Business reviews etc)
- Targeting (Geographic area, demographic etc).
- How good your marketing specialist is
If you ace 1-7, you'll bring your costs down, and increase your returns.
2. Consider Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
Weigh Up Customer lifetime value & Use This To inform your budget
The prospective client may decide to come in for a basic check-up and if they have a positive customer experience, chances are they'll be back. This repeat behaviour becomes recurring revenue for the business and helps inform your ad spend. Nobody wants to be out of pocket, so how you calculate this is important to the longevity of your practice.
There's various debate over the average Customer Lifetime Value For dentists, but if you want to be specific for your dental practice, here's a formula you can use that will give you an average to work with:
Average annual value eg. ($ 700) x Lifetime ratio (7 years) + Customer referral value ($ 4900)
= A lifetime value of $ 9800.
Your customer referral value is how much business you find a patient tends to refer to you. It could be that they have a positive experience with your dental practice, so they refer a family member or bring their child in for a check-up.
Once you know the lifetime value of a patient, you can make more informed marketing and advertising decisions to acquire new patients. You don't want to spend more money on acquiring new patients than the lifetime profit they bring to your clinic.
Even the tooth fairy has a budget, after all.
3. choose a social media platform to advertise on
Choosing A Social Media Advertising Platform
It's actually not so hard to choose a social media platform worth advertising on. Your priority is to consider: where's your target market at? You want to leverage the platform your target market is engaged and active on. For example, in its early days, TikTok was hip but it was almost strictly teens only. If you're a cosmetic dental practice, this young demographic are unlikely to have a budget for veneers. Savvy?
4. Creating Ad Content
Sometimes ad content is what you have the most control over. This is because once you engage a social media advertising specialist, you may discover that they only manage the ad targeting, not the ad content.
For this reason, I've focused this article on content advice for dental practices wanting to advertise on social media.
Lead Viewers To The Outcome
Dental advertising imagery sometimes just focus on the service: teeth, when the outcome improves the entire face. Focus on results, not teeth.
On social media, some argue you only have milliseconds to capture seconds of someone's attention.
Articulate your message instantly:
- Use outcome-led ads
- Split, 'before and after's
- Use: Pain + solution (+ fear)
This Cottesloe Dental ad for example highlights painpoints and offers a solution:
use eye contact In Dental Ads
Eye contact and smiles capture attention, and dental practices can work this into ads for their dental services, particularly if they leverage 'before and after' imagery.
For example, Dental Members Australia use before and afters which maximise eye contact.
Experiments have found a direct gaze increases engagement, understanding and credibility. Viewers understand your message better and eye contact boosts the spokesperson's credibility. For these reasons, it can boost the effectiveness of the informational-style ads that dental practices often use.
My Implant Dentist uses eye contact in their campaigns in a different way - the clinic showcases their dentist:
Genuine smiles in advertisements evoke positive emotions and lead to positive evaluations. Smiles that have a few crow's feet, (Duchenne smiles), work best, encouraging receptivity to the advert.
Compare the last two ads to this next one that doesn't have eye contact and you may see what I mean...
The ad above could perform better if it included eye contact. A small business is often fighting for attention, so eye contact is a way to increase your campaign engagement.
Careful with how you use women in ads
Being careful about how you portray all people in your ads is important, but particularly women and not for reasons you may expect. Imagery of women on mediums that rely on split-second viewing, like social media, have been found to delay brand recognition, depending on how the photography is done. The theory is that this is basically because the woman can distract the user from the actual ad content.
For example, this social media ad for dentists has an image for the clinic Dr in cute trackie daks. When people are scanning an ad on social will they understand the ad instantly?
For best results, you want your ad to be quickly understood. People scan on social media, and a Facebook ad like this one may work better in another medium, like a TikTok video for a young target market. Try to make sure your imagery articulates your message rather than distracts from it.
Compare that ad to this one by the same clinic:
The next ad still uses women in the ad, but better reflects the campaign offer.
Photo tips for social media ads for dentists:
- Use direct eye contact
- Smiles are contagious - use them
- People should look real and relatable
- Use images that reinforce key messages in the ad
- Paint a picture of positive aspects of the process, like talking to the dentist, rather than imagery of tools in the mouth
Some ads on social media for dentists are hiring ads. Pacific Smiles uses videos of their dentists, turning their ads into genuine, friendly-looking testimonials that attract talent. Bonus points for video captions.
Imagery where you can still see pores in the skin look 'real' and are seen as more authentic, and therefore more trustworthy. Heavy filters or photoshopping should be avoided.
Treat your social media ad Like a 1:1 conversation
We can forget that social media is usually viewed on mobile - a personal and direct medium that can turn content into a 1:1 conversation. Treating it exactly like it is one can be more engaging than ads that say something like, "Hey GC! We're your local dentist!". Remember, your ads might reach many, but they are viewed 1:1. Writing in first or second person is a common copy preference in advertising, simply because it tends to outperform third person copy.
Gorgeous Smiles Dentistry does a great job making their ad a one-to-one conversation in this video ad:
Think of it like radio. When a radio jock says, 'Hey y'all', or 'hey everyone!' he's forgetting that the medium is usually received 1:1. You may be broadcasting to thousands, but how your audience receives the content is contextual.
The ad pictured below would be more engaging if it was written to speak to one person. It reads, 'Hey, Perth, Let's support our Seniors...' where as it could read, 'Hi we're your local dentist with competitive dental implant pricing...'. They probably don't even need to mention the word senior if they set their ad targeting to that demographic. Nobody likes to be called 'old' after all, except maybe the Dalai Lama.
When you speak directly to a person, you're less likely to be ignored. Your copy is your conversation. And, even if you have no imagery, you can still create a 1:1 dialogue.
For example, Vivid Smiles Dental Centre have a series of ads quoting their dentist. 'I truly believe my job is to make sure people smile.' Ad captions can be a conversation.
using fear in ad copy
A small note on using fear in your ad copy content: I've noticed dental campaigns in Australia tend to avoid using fear as a motivator. Fear is not an evil tool in marketing, it's a powerful motivator that encourages action to avoid it. Captions like, 'Teeth getting worse?', 'Sensitivity increasing?' 'Better late than never... except for dental checkups' actually help prospective patients or current patients maintain their dental health by motivating them to come on in.
Video Ads Vs Still Image
Popular belief dictates that video is a must for an engaging ad. However, on social media, this is not always the case. We see so much content that it's sometimes the still image that users focus on.
A phenomenon called 'banner blindness' was first reported way back in the 90s and has only grown on digital advertising channels. This is a phenomenon where users 'don't see' animation, and only the static content they are scanning for. Video ads are still high performers, but they aren't the rule. If you don't have video content, you can still have a high-performing ad.
Create Supporting Campaign Content
Supporting content is what clients see after viewing your ad. It's not enough to have a flashy ad, you need content on surrounding touchpoints that equally support the 'path' to making a booking.
create a quality Website or Landing Page
The Dental Room is a Melbourne-based practice offering cosmetic dentistry options. Their personable ads lead to a killer website landing page, packed with conversion-driven content few dental practices invest in.
Often, an advertiser's website can let an ad down. A lack of resources toward content quality inadvertently causes prospects to drop off. For example, the ad may be about teeth sensitivity, but the website page the user lands on after clicking the ad is a website home page that doesn't even mention it.
An example of a fantastic Dental website
The Dental Room has invested in a killer website that supports any curiosity driven through its ads. Their landing page showcases the professionals and the process a customer can expect when they visit, all within a short video snapshot. It's brilliant on desktop and mobile devices and loads fast, all important factors to seize engagement.
Having a website that supports your ad is critical to ad performance.
Process-focused simulations like the video on The Dental Room's website allow people to visualise and then formulate a plan in their head before they've even made an initial booking. Highlight the positive aspects of the process!
consider the type of content best for your service
Studies have found this tends to work well for products or services that tend to have a longer lead time, such as cosmetic veneers. The visual enhances the chance that the plan will be enacted.
However, for a service like teeth whitening, it's cheaper so it is likely to be a shorter consideration period, so your content needs will differ. It's lower price point means there's already a lower barrier to purchase. If you have content that focuses on what is often not the most pleasant process, you emphasize a barrier, rather than squash a barrier on the path to purchase.
For example, this Teeth Too Fresh campaign pictured below could be described as terrifying. Alien-like tubes lead to client mouths, and the clients are all lined up in a room with lighting that rivals a scene from the matrix. This ad emphasizes a process I'd avoid, rather than embark on, thank you.
test what works
If you don't have cash to splash on in-depth content development, you may like to try some experiments instead. A website masking tool, like Unbounce, allows a marketer to create a landing page for you, without a developer. Then, the marketer can test what content works best for your campaign.
Here's an example of a well-structured dental landing page template, created using Unbounce.
Leverage The Positive
One of the first things people do when looking for a dentist is a Google search for a dentist near them. Or, after viewing a social media ad about a dentist, they go 'look them up' on Google. Positive reviews on search engines like Google Business listings fast-track the path to booking an appointment with your dental practice.
How does a dentist get reviews? Normally by using automated EDMs (SMS + email). For example, here's an SMS I received from my dental clinic:
Different ad platforms have different targeting options and it's best to leave this up to the social media marketing expert. Dental practices tend to target a broad 18+ audience within their local area with split ad sets designed for acquiring new customers, and retaining customers.
You can 'retarget' those that take interest in a specific product or service on social media. This targeting method homes in on recent website or landing page visitors. The prospect has already checked you out, now they just need to be 'reeled in'. For example, the ad below is likely to work well for those who already want dental implants but just need an extra 'push' to come on by for a consult.
Cool Dental Ads
Creative social media marketing for dentists doesn't have to break the bank account. For creative campaigns you will need a marketer or marketing agency with a creative bent, preferably that can integrate your on and offline channels.
This tooth campaign is offline but could encourage social media shares in your local area. Creative ads like this are clever, but it may be helpful to know that you don't necessarily need a super creative advert for an effective ad.
Social Media Marketing Ideas For Dentists
Here's a nice list of captions for dental ads to help you in your brainstorming:
- Smiles made here
- You know the drill, time for a dental checkup!
- Better late than never... except for dental checkups.
- It's never too late to set your smile straight
- Eat with confidence
- Don't let coffee dull your shine
- We believe each of our patients are born to shine
- Recession? RECESSION (gum recession)
- Oh holy tooth (Christmas)
- Sparkly teeth can be cheaper than getting your nails done - book a dental clean today
- Shine bright like a diamond
- Stop hiding
- War on stains
More examples of social media ads for dentists
Humour is a great way to lighten up a serious topic like tooth decay. Take this campaign for example, by Advanced Dentistry. The cheesy comic focuses on sensitive teeth, with nice clean lines making it an ad that's easy-to-engage with. The second ad is a meme ad, which is also pretty funny but perhaps only fully appreciated by certain demographics.
Summary: Social Media Marketing For Dentists 101
- Use customer lifetime value to inform investment
- Choose a social media platform where your target market is at
- Lead viewers to the outcome
- Use eye-contact, real people and genuine smiles
- Still imagery or video can both work well
- Have supporting content that supports your ads (well-structured website etc)
- Work with a social media specialist for faster results
Need a hand? I'm a marketer that's worked with many small businesses including dental clinics to increase campaign performance. Drop me a line.