Google Core Web Vitals – A Website BPE

Google Core Web Vitals

Everyone knows that great customer experience is one of the factors which improve your patient experience at the practice. The better the customer experience, the happier the patient.

Google also recognises this, and now they are doing something about monitoring it!

Wow, so Google is now monitoring customer experience, right? Yes, but they are doing it on your website.

Think of Core Web Vitals as kind of BPE for your website, with Google as a dentist/hygienist.

Google will visit your website regularly and carry out a full BPE, it will note down the score and track the score. Because Google is using this as a customer experience metric for your website, the higher your score the more it is likely to send visitors to your website.

What happens if I don’t score very well?

Core Web Vitals are now an integral part of search engine optimisation… In other words, they are going to be included in some of the factors which decide how well your website ranks. If you get a low Core Web Vital score then your website will start to drop in the search results! Number 1 today, number 3 next week, number 5 the week after…Bad news!

Core Web Vitals are becoming part of Google’s ranking algorithm in May 2021. You wouldn’t want your patient to ignore their BPE score would you? So don’t ignore this!

Now we know broadly what Core Web Vitals are, let’s look a little bit more specifically. (If you don’t wish to know the technicalities of what’s going on here, please scroll down further to the section labelled What can you do about all of this)

Google is going to start monitoring 3 specific aspects of your website for the following metrics:

  1. Loading.
  2. Interactivity.
  3. Visual stability.

Loading

Google is basically saying that your website should load in a user-friendly way. Let’s say for example you have some really fabulous text on your site, but you also have one of those scrolling banners at the top of your website with large images.

Sometimes those large images take a while to load and whilst they do the user is waiting, I know you’ve seen this on websites… There could be a variety of reasons for this, anything from a slow server through to the way the code has been written.

Technically this is called a Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) and it reports the time it takes for the largest image or text block to be visible.

What is a good LCP? You should strive to have the LCP occur within 2.5 seconds of the page load.

Interactivity

Google is going to start monitoring this with something known as Total Blocking Time (TBT). Google is going to time how long it takes between the first section of content to load on your website and the point at which the user can interact with your website e.g. scroll or click on a link… In other words the total time that the user is blocked from interacting.

If the user is blocked for anything above 50 ms they are likely to notice the delay and perceive the page as being sluggish or lagging.

Visual stability

You’ve probably all visited a website where things begin to load and then start jumping around. It is very often happens on a mobile device. You might start reading a piece of content and then before you know what happened, it’s gone and you’ve lost your place… Or even worse, you go to click on a link but by the time your finger taps on the link, it’s changed and you’ve clicked on something else by accident.

Google is now going to start monitoring this unexpected movement (Cumulative Layout Shift) on your page, it’s going to monitor every single time all the layouts shift and time how long it takes for it to become stable.

What can you do about all of this?

How to check your core web vitals

How to analyse your site in Google Lighthouse

The simplest way is to open your website in Google Chrome.

Next, right click anywhere on the page and select “Inspect”, you should see this:

Click on the >> In the top right and select ‘lighthouse’, then click on ‘generate report’.

The report is quite lengthy but it does give you a good idea of where you can make changes.

The first set of Core Web Vitals That Google is going to monitor are largest content full paint, total blocking time and cumulative layout shift, as already mentioned.

Google will give you green for everything is okay, amber for warning and red for a more critical error. As you can see, the GDC website might feel a little bit sluggish due to the total blocking time.

If you have a WordPress website there are a few plug-ins which can do some of the work for you, here is one of them.

Unfortunately, unless you have knowledge of how websites are built and code then this new algorithm update is not going to be something you can fix yourself. You will need to have someone looking after your website on a technical level.

We don’t have long until May 2021 when this comes into force, so as part of my optimisation package for clients I am now going to be monitoring Core Web Vitals and reporting monthly.

As you can see in this image in my reports that I will be producing, this client’s page loading (Largest Contentful Paint) needs some work, it’s WAY too slow!

So I advise you TODAY to get in touch with your web company, ask them what they are doing about core web vitals, ask them to show you some reports on a monthly basis… If you don’t, you might find yourself sliding down the Google search positions until your website isn’t found any longer!

10 Dental Marketing Ideas for Attracting New Patients

Top 10 dental marketing ideas attracting new patients

In the last two years, 21 million people went to the dentist in the U.K. That’s only 1/3 of the population, so it’s clear that getting people to go to the dentist is not easy. On top of that, the number of visits has severely been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The reasons why people avoid going to the dentist vary, but, as you will know the truth is that going to the dentist is crucial. The best way to get them to visit your website is by thinking of dental marketing ideas or learning marketing strategies & tactics from dental marketing courses.

This article will explore 10 marketing ideas that’ll help dental practitioners boost the number of patients. Before getting into the list, let’s briefly discuss three critical matters: attracting more patients, marketing treatments, and promoting a dental practice.

How To Attract More Dental Patients 

Unfortunately, people need to be continuously reminded that they need to go to the dentist. That’s why dental practitioners need to understand CLV (Customer Lifetime Value) and develop a dental marketing strategy to successfully get existing and new patients to continue to visit. The good news is that there are many ways of reminding patients to visit than ever before.

Dental practitioners can make full use of social media or email marketing to stay in constant contact with patients. Email marketing and social media remind people they should go to the dentist while giving them the option of going when they want. This also helps attract new patients, as so many people use social media nowadays, especially during the virus crisis 

Email marketing and social media will be discussed in greater detail later on in the article. 

Marketing Dental Treatments

One of the biggest mistakes many professionals in the dental practice field make is thinking dentistry is a transactional market. They need to remember that dentistry is a relationship market, and the idea is to build trust with patients. Once trust has been established, it’ll be easier for them to get the dental treatment they need.

Dental practitioners can establish trust by communicating with their patients with social media posts, telephone calls, video calls and more. They should also follow the ideas outlined in the article and if they need extra guidance perhaps in role on some dental marketing courses.

How to Promote a Dental Practice

While email marketing and social media presence are essential parts of a dental marketing strategy, it’s not enough. A dental practitioner needs to optimise their website (Google #1), add a blog and create ads for their practice. Thankfully, they can find reputable professionals that specialise in these things or even attend dental marketing courses.

The following section will discuss the marketing ideas that have already been mentioned in greater detail and introduce some new ones. 

1. Dental Marketing Ideas During COVID

Despite many dental offices being up to date with the latest preventative measures, people seem to still be afraid of going to the dentist. Highlighting proper PPE, improved sanitisation practices, patient screening, and minimised waiting room crowds are some the things they can do. After all, they’re putting themselves in an exposed position when they step into a dental office, so putting their mind to ease is of the utmost priority.

I’ve created some more content here about the specifics of marketing during the coronavirus.

2. Dental Social Media Marketing Ideas

As previously mentioned, social media presence is an excellent way of attracting new patients. Instagram is one of the most effective ways to utilise this dental marketing idea. Orthodontists can show off nice before-and-after pictures which will attract new patients. 

3. Appointment Prompts

People might forget about going to their appointments because of the busy lives they live, yes, you know that happens! Dental practitioners can help them by using Google calendar alerts or sending appointment confirmations and reminders by email & text. This keeps you continuously front of mind.

4. Create a Blog

When a business has a blog alongside their website, it’ll significantly increase presence on Google, why do you think I write this one. As people are continually searching for answers, a well-written and SEO optimised blog will help a website come out on top of the search results. This is perhaps the most effective dental marketing strategy on this list.

5. Optimise Overall Website 

Even if a website has a nice and modern design, it’ll do nothing to attract new patients if it’s not optimised. The most useful thing to do is hire a professional to optimise a website, as they know what needs to be done. Of course, taking SEO courses can enable dental practitioners to optimise their own site.

6. Virtual dentistry

Due to the pandemic, people are now used to staying home, which has made them used to do things virtually. Emphasising virtual dentistry (appointments performed virtually) can fundamental to dental marketing. Virtual consultations help patients build trust with you, prior to leaving their home, which can really help save time in the practice.

7. Local Facebook Ads

A highly effective dental marketing strategy is using Facebook to place ads. Local Awareness ads on Facebook are a great way to reach a local audience. Dental practitioners can add details like the address, distance to the business, or operation hours. Facebook has a very clever algorithm which can then learn, it will learn which type of people are most likely to request an appointment and then show those people more adverts. This really is using the connected power of the Facebook database!

8. Email Marketing

As already mentioned, by using email marketing dental practitioners can give patients the option to make an appointment without being pushy. The real secret here is to be able to collect an e-mail address from a patient very early on in their decision-making process.

When you understand the psychology of someone on your website, you can then utilise e-mail marketing more effectively, here’s a video I’ve created.

9. Parasitic Marketing

It’s a dreadful name, I know but parasitic marketing is the principle of using other people to do your marketing for you. Let’s say you have a local gym that was absolutely brilliant are getting their name out locally. You might be able to offer gym members a special offer to keep their teeth healthy, as well as their body.

You could offer to provide the gym with some marketing videos or information leaflets, the gym would then use their existing network to distribute these… At no cost yourself.

10. Google Ads

Google is the most popular search engine globally, so placing ads on it is very important. By effectively using this dental marketing strategy, dental practitioners can be the first to pop up when people search for “dentist <location>” or “<treatment>< location>”. If you are clever about using your Google paid advertising budget you can optimise it for the best performing local area and demographic.

By following these 10 ideas, a dental practitioner will reach more patients while keeping existing ones.

Each Dental Marketing Idea Is Important

In the world of dentistry, every dental marketing idea is needed to be able to survive, especially right now. Hopefully, with the knowledge given in this article, you can thrive and reach more patients than ever.

Of course, taking dental marketing courses will further increase the effectiveness of the information given.

This Dental Marketing Course has been designed by an expert in the dental and marketing field. Mark Oborn has run a dental laboratory for 14 years and worked in dentistry for 23 years as a dental technician. He also has a major in marketing & creativity, coupled with a Masters Degree in Business (MBA).

How to create and optimise a blog post image for local search engine rankings

How to create and optimise a blog post image for local search engine rankings

Wanting to get noticed more in Google locally?

This is GREAT way to do this with a blog post…

Having an image at the top of a blog post can be a really good way to captivate your readers, get the blog post shared more, and optimise it to get found locally.

Did you know it is possible to geo-tag your images, letting Google know where your business is located?

If you begin to do this with all of the images on your blogs, you’ll begin to find Google recognising where your business is and showing those blog posts higher than your competition

In this video I show you how to very quickly create captivating blog post header images PLUS geo-tag them with your precise practice location.

If you would rather read how this is all done, please skip past the video and go straight to the transcript.

Transcript

When you create a blog post such as this, having an image at the top can be a really good way to captivate your readers, get the blog post shared more, and optimize it for search optimization. And I’m going to show you how to do that. It’s really important you get this image in there.

One of the primary reasons, I think… Actually there are two reasons, but the first reason is that when your blog post gets shared, because you’re going to want to be share it on your social media channels, particularly Facebook, will look for an image to display as part of that sharing. This is the image it will display. So it’s good to get the image on there for that. And also, you can optimize it as part of a local dental practice optimization, and I’m going to show you how to optimize it as well.

So, here is a way to create that image really quickly and simply. So, you’ve written your blog post, you take your blog post title, and go to Canva. When you go to Canva, you need to create a design.

So click on create a design and just type in blog. Go to blog banner and Canva will give you some examples on the left-hand side. So you can pick some banners that you might like, choose your template.

Once we’ve chosen out templated we paste in our blog post title. Resizing everything to make it look good. We might want to put your Practice logo in as well.

Very cleverly, what Canva will do is, if you want to change the colors, you click on the color, because you’ve uploaded the logo, you see here, it will automatically pull those colors out of the logo. So you can have your background, match your logo, or have it contrasted. You can change the title to match in with the colors of your logo very nicely.

And then, we may want to go to photos, type in the topic of your blog post. Insert image of your choice. So now, download it. Download it as a JPEG file.

Then, I want you to go to geotagonline.com. Get your image and drag your image in. Now, the next thing we’re going to do is we’re going to geotag it. This is how to find the coordinates of your dental practice. Now, Google is reading these geotag coordinates and is able to recognize that that photograph taken locally for your practice, so it can be good for local search optimization.

So type the name of your practice in Google and click on maps. When you click on maps, you will see the web address at the top automatically jump to include geographic coordinates. You will see your coordinates in the web address in the format something along the lines of 51.23628736,-0.4123213. Copy these coordinates click on ‘Write Data and Download’.

So download that image. So that’s the image downloaded. Then you can add it to your blog post.

When we preview that, we’ve now got our blog post with a nice title image in it. But actually what we’ve also got is some local search optimization because on that image, we have tagged that image for a geographical region and a geographical area.

So if you open that image, when you go to file information, you can see we’ve now got a location on it. And we have the exact location of your dental practice absolutely geotagged into that image so that Google can find where your dental practice is simply from an image. What a great way to optimize your blog post to get found in the local searches.


I’ve been working in dental marketing for the last 12 years having started my career as a dental technician way back in 1987. Now, with an MBA I spend my time helping dental practices attract more the right type of patients.

Are you looking to attract more the right patients into your practice?

Are you looking to write more effective blog posts which helps them stand out from the crowd and gets found by Google?

Take a look at my search engine optimisation course which is available to take at your own leisure, in your own time and comes with 3 hours of CPD

Stop selling treatments – PLEASE!

As the UK comes out of lockdown and dentists are beginning to think about what happens from here on in. I’m seeing more practices (and indeed more marketing agencies showing me adverts on Facebook) talking about selling more treatments.

Facebook seems to be awash with marketing agencies exclaiming they can make you £X,000 by selling specific treatments using their magic formula. If only you knew the secret!

In this blog post I’m going to explain why this is a damaging and wholly inappropriate marketing strategy for dentists.

The thing is, selling treatments is what is known as transactional marketing.

Transactional marketing is a business strategy that focuses on single, “point of sale” transactions. The emphasis is on maximizing the efficiency and volume of individual sales rather than developing a relationship with the buyer.

Transactional marketing is used in the high Street for selling things like computers, mobile phones and sofas. In transactional marketing we focus on:

  • The features of the product we are selling.
  • The benefits of the product we are selling.

In such transactions the customer is able to undertake certain key functions:

  1. Know that the product can be made ‘reliably and repeatedly’ (known as the ‘promise’), they can verify this because they can see the product on the shelf.
  2. They can try the product before they buy, this, therefore, reduces the risk to the purchaser.
  3. If, after purchase, the product does not live up to expectations they can take the purchase back. This ultimately reduces risk to an extremely low point, regardless of the value of the purchase.

For these reasons, a transactional sale is low risk to the purchaser and requires little trust in the person making the sale. Remember this, as I’m going to come back to it later.

Transactional marketing’s focus is simply “buy my product and sod off!” A little bit blunt, but you get my point?

Let’s flip the tables on this. Now we know what transactional marketing is about let’s ask those same questions about dentistry.

Key questions to ask in dentistry about transactions

  1. Can the purchaser know that the person delivering the dentistry can ‘reliably and repeatedly’ perform the ‘promise’ over and over again? No. The purchaser will inherently know that dentistry is performed by a unique individual every single time and therefore the quality of service will inevitably fluctuate. This is known as a service heterogeneity.
  2. Can the purchaser try before they buy? No.
  3. Can the purchaser take back the purchase (think about a white filling for example) can they ask the vendor (YOU) to take the filling back and restore all of the decay so that they can go elsewhere? No.

One can easily see that these questions are almost completely the opposite to those posed in a transactional sale.

This is because dentistry is a SERVICE!

Thinking about the questions above one can also easily notice that the 2 factors, risk and trust are also completely opposite to a transactional sale.

In the example given above risk to the user is high (because they cannot try before they buy, they know that the promise delivered can vary and they can’t take their purchase back afterwards for a refund)… Because of this they will require high trust in the person making the sale – that’s you!.

We are now no longer looking at transactional marketing… We are looking at relationship marketing and it is this we should focus on in dentistry.

What does this mean for marketing?

In simple terms, a transactional marketer will offer sweeteners (pardon the pun) and incentives in order to reduce the risk of the purchaser to such a point that they cannot refuse to buy.

Think about purchasing a sofa, a salesperson may include an extra armchair, free cleaning after a period of time or discounted insurance. All of this is done because the salesperson knows that trust doesn’t need to be very high and that purchasing risk is low.

Relationship marketing is almost the complete opposite.

In relationship marketing we can’t use the same (high pressure) incentives because the purchaser needs to develop trust with the person making the sale, coupled with this the purchase is higher risk.

Relationship marketing is about marketing the RELATIONSHIP between the players, not the goods/services being exchanged.

What should dental marketing focus on?

Dental marketing should therefore only focus on 2 things:

  1. Increasing trust.
  2. Decreasing risk.

End of.

So, stop selling treatments – PLEASE!

If you want more information, guidance and support, please do check out my dental marketing courses

Waking up to a Brave New World Post Covid-19

Everyone can see that the world has changed. Let’s look at this from a marketing perspective, particularly the 4 C’s of marketing.

  1. Customers
  2. Convenience
  3. Communication
  4. Cost

It wasn’t too long ago that:

  • No one would have known what a zoom meeting was. The ability to communicate conveniently from the comfort the patient’s own home has increased exponentially. This makes the cost to the customer considerably lower, particularly in terms of time.
  • Many would have said it was impossible to run businesses which were classically face-to-face in a more hands off way. Yoga teachers, dance teachers, restaurants and pubs have all been thinking out of the box to deliver their services with little or no contact making their offering much more convenient to the customer.
  • The older demographic wouldn’t have known how to use the technology. The customer is now more competent as they have been communicating with the family.
  • Patients (customers) have become conditioned to be concerned about personal contact, it will take time for this conditioning to ease in their mind.
Infographic: Zoom Grows Exponentially | Statista

The customer‘s expectations of how a service can/should be delivered has changed – in order to keep up we need to step into the mind of the customer.

The ability to offer services in a more convenient manner has had a paradigm shift.

People have become more used to communication digitally, they have become tech savvy and now know how to use that technology.

Customers have got more used to reduced (time) cost by not having to travel, for example restaurants (they get a takeaway instead), yoga classes (they join a zoom meeting instead)

What will the brave New World look like?

I predict that:

  1. Patients will now expect at least part of their journey with you to be digital.
  2. Patients will be more tech-savvy and be able to use digital media to communicate with the practice.
  3. Patients will be more aware and concerned about close physical contact, at least in the short term. They will therefore expect physical contact to be kept to a minimum.
  4. The context we live in has changed. Patients have become used to fast moving and fast changing social context and will be therefore more open to adaptation in your new patient journey. This makes it an ideal time to move into the digital era, be more relevant and efficient.

Get planning

I therefore suggest you get planning, I recommend the following:

  • Create a new patient journey flow
  • Draw a diagram to represent this flow
  • Which parts can be made digital?
  • Which parts can other people do with training?
  • In what way has the social context changed? Create a list, for example:
    • people don’t want to leave their homes
    • social distancing is the new normal
    • concern and feeling scared about spreading or catching the virus and creating a 2nd peak
    • convenient solutions now required in a different way to before
  • Think about how the new social context is relevant to you, your practice and how you can use technology to improve things.

This is how I imagine the New World will be

Patients will continue to use practice websites as the primary mechanism to investigate their dental problems (Google optimisation), identify possible solutions as well as evaluate alternate providers (remember, whenever we make a purchase decision we will always have a list of potential solution providers, we may come to an answer about which provider we use very quickly – sometimes in milliseconds, or, it may take us some time – sometimes years).

They will continue to evaluate providers but have a different criteria for comparison.

In order for a dental practice to make it onto the list of potential solution providers when the patient is evaluating, the practice will need to fulfil the new patient’s criteria of:

  • “Allowing me to be as distant as possible so as not to spread the disease.”
  • “I’m scared of catching the disease, so I don’t want to see too many people.”
  • “I want the lowest time cost option as I’ve become used to spending more time at home and doing the things I want to do.”
  • “I’ve got used to using technology to communicate, I think it’s relatively quick and simple to do.”

The primary mechanism to encourage prospective patients to take the next step is therefore going to be a virtual consultation.

Patients will be happy to contact the practice either using a virtual chat system (this can be automated) or by completing a form on the website.

The consultation will be offered via a Zoom (or similar) meeting, it will be the 1st part of your new patient consultation where you can have a broad discussion about patient concerns, possible treatment options and get the patient booked in for the 2nd part of the consultation which will be clinical.

The booking for the new patient video consultation and booking into the clinic will all be done virtually with participants in any geographical location, not necessarily at home or in the practice. This video consultation may or may not be done by a clinician. The patient has then spent the least amount of time out of the house, keeping them safe but also allowing them to do more of the things they want to do in their leisure time.

Follow-up e-mails will be sent to patients after their virtual consultation to follow up on the process and ensure they have no unanswered questions.

A reminder e-mail will be sent to patients prior to their clinical assessment, reminding them of how the practice is taking social distancing seriously helping to keep the patient safe.

When the patient comes into the practice the e-mail marketing system will be automatically updated, removing them from any prospecting list and adding them to a patient list.

Once they have been in for their appointment the e-mail system will automatically ask for a review.

Resources you could use

  • Aweber – for e-mail marketing. Plans from $19 per month.
  • Calendly – for virtual consultation scheduling. Free plans available.
  • Zoom – for virtual consultations. Free plans available.
  • Zapier – for linking virtual consultations into e-mail marketing. Free plans available.
  • Manychat – for virtual Facebook chat bots.

So, are you ready for the brave New World?

How your marketing message should change during the Covid-19 crisis

The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines marketing as:

“ … the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”

Nothing has changed. The role of marketing is exactly the same during this crisis as it was before, but what HAS changed is the customer’s requirements and the fact that the profitability will come at a later date, not now!

I am primarily thinking about marketing to existing patients here, rather than new patients, but the concepts I talk about work for both.

Let’s delve deeper.

The primary question any marketer should ask of their customers/patients is “What problem is this person trying to solve?”. During ‘normal’ times the problem could be straightening crooked teeth, replacing missing teeth, wanting to improve dental health or just needing somewhere to call a dental home.

… But these aren’t normal times!

The relationship between stress and time horizon

In times of increased stress our ability to think with a longer time horizon reduces.

This means that in a relatively stress free environment we are able to have a longer time horizon and think about events happening in 6 months time or even a few years time.

As stress increases the time horizon of our plans will reduce accordingly.

A person that is critically ill (highly stressed) is only focused on the next few minutes of survival, as they recover and the stress reduces, so their ability to think in hours, then days, then weeks etc increases.

What that means is, the more stressed your patients feel about the current virus crisis, the shorter the time horizon will be.

They will stop thinking about treatments happening 6 months from now e.g. implants and straightening teeth.

They will start thinking about immediate problems which may arise.

So the question is, what problem are your customers trying to solve now?

A New Type of Problem Being Solved

There are 4 classifications of problems that current patients are facing, in order of ascending severity/seriousness/immediacy:

  1. “I’m okay now, I have no dental problem, but what if…?”
  2. “Is it okay if…”
  3. “What do I do about…”
  4. “Help me now”

The way we answer those questions and the mechanisms we use e.g. social media, e-mail, websites will change accordingly.

“I’m okay now, I have no dental problem, but what if…?”

These people have no dental problem at the moment, they may be plan membership patients with a healthy dentition that visit you for their dental health check and hygiene appointments, rarely requiring any form of additional treatment.

These patients want to feel you are still there for them in the event of a problem.

“Is it okay if…?”

The people in this category may have an issue they are concerned about, they might want to know “Is it OK if I leave this filling which needs doing for 3 months?”.

These patients may want to contact you to be reassured.

“What do I do about”

Moving along the immediacy scale is patients are likely to have some form of dental problem which needs to be solved, remember, their timeline may well be short so it’s unlikely to be about straightening crooked teeth. It’s far more likely they will want to know about some mild pain they have, a tooth that seems loose or bleeding gums etc.

These patients will want to contact you for reassurance and advice.

“Help me now”

This final group of patients have (in their eyes) a dental need which has to be fixed NOW.

Bear in mind that this is classified by the perception of the patient, not you or any form of government advice.

The reality may be that the patient doesn’t have a dental emergency (clinically) but if they believe they do, then as far as they are concerned, they do.

These patients need an immediate way to contact you to either have their mind put to rest that they don’t have a dental emergency, or for your advice and guidance on how to deal with the situation at present to them.

Engaging with these patients

You therefore need to have engagement mechanisms for:

  • Patients wanting to know you are there if they need you – reassuring e-mails and social media posts that you are still working and able to help if required should be the thrust of marketing to these patients.
  • Patient looking for reassurance – frequently asked questions section is on your website could be used to help answer these general questions. A simple form on your website should also be implemented to allow patients to make a general enquiry.
  • Patients looking for reassurance and advice – as urgency increases a patient is unlikely to want to spend time looking through your website at frequently asked questions etc. They need some advice as they are concerned. If you have the ability to answer your practice phone during the crisis this could work, but I also strongly recommend looking at creating a video consultation.
  • Patients requiring an immediate contact – at the furthest end of urgency spectrum patients need away to get in contact with you and possibly have a more detailed discussion. Either advice over the phone or a video consultation should be made simple and easy for the pension to access. Remember, the time line these people will be short, asking them to go through multiple steps and to jump through hoops to be able to contact you may put them off. A simple mechanism whereby a patient can book in a phone call or video consultation with you, when it is at the front of their mind, should be available.

Social media

I strongly suggest you use social media and bear in mind the 4 different categories of patient above in your posts. Think about the individual problems that these groups will be experiencing, ensure you have solutions for them and then talk about these solutions on social media.

E-mail

Communicate with your patients letting them know you are still there, still working and still have the patient in your mind… Even though you might actually be digging the garden or helping a child with homework!

In those e-mails link to the relevant resources so that patients in each of the 4 categories can contact you in a way that is right for them.

Creating a video consultation

I strongly suggest you create a video consultation, it’s actually quite simple using Calendly (scheduling software ) and Zoom (video conferencing software). These 2 systems links seamlessly together enabling you to create a virtual video consultation with booking facility which can then be used via e-mail, on your website or on social media.

It’s also worth pointing out that this can be done for FREE using the website mentioned above.

Here is a video you may want to watch about creating a virtual video consultation.

Summary

Should you be marketing during these times?

Yes.

Have the concerns and needs of your customers changed?

Yes

Should your marketing message change?

Yes

Should you stop marketing longer term treatments such as implants, veneers and orthodontics?

Yes (remember the shortened timeline)

Should you start marketing about reassurance, the fact you are still there and contactable and that you care about your patients?

Yes, yes, yes!

Covid-19 Dental Practice Communication Advice

Latest update – 23/3/20

What follows are my findings and understanding of the best practice for communicating with patients during this crisis for dentistry in the UK.

As the situation unfolds I will add additional resources and information to this page, please ensure you visit regularly to see the latest updates.

This page will NOT focus on anything clinical, there are other resources for that.

23/3/20 – Digital communication checklist if the practice is forced to close

With more practices closing each day I thought it would be good to create a checklist for your digital marketing.

  • Stop regular social media posting – I’m not convinced that it’s appropriate to continue cosmetic dentistry or other forms of marketing whilst the crisis is in full swing.
  • Begin public service announcement social media posting – giving patients information and advice about the latest virus updates from the government.
  • Place a message about being closed on the homepage of your website.
  • Place a message about being closed on Facebook, use Canva to create an image of this. Images and text messages seem to get better views, so using both will get your message out. Once you have created this post, pin it to the top of your stream so it stays visible.
  • Create a looping message on Twitter with closure details – messages tend to decay on Twitter so the loop, once per week is fine.
  • Notify patients via e-mail, letting them know what to do in the event of an emergency.
  • Update your opening times on Facebook and Google.
  • Consider setting up a Virtual/Digital consultation, please see the post further down on this page

If you think there’s anything missing from this list, please do let me know.

20/3/20 – Creating a virtual initial consultation

With the current situation many dental practices are considering the possibility of closing their doors, having a virtual video consultation gives the ability to remain in contact with potential new patients.

In this video, I (very roughly) explain how to use Calendly and Zoom to set up a virtual video consultation for FREE.

I put this video together very quickly and am learning myself how to get this working effectively, so I reserve the right to make changes to this as the situation and learning develops and grows.

Resources:


19/3/20 – What marketing should we be doing at the moment?

Right at this moment in time, my personal thoughts are that as members of the healthcare profession we should have our patients as a primary focus (to be honest, it should always be like this).

With the current situation most people are going to be concerned about their health and what they do if they have a dental emergency, rather than looking for elective treatments.

My current recommendation is that we continue to update social media streams and create blogs in the same way that we have always done, except this time the message should be focusing around key areas.

  • what to do if you are in dental pain
  • what the practice policy is for keeping you safe if you have to visit
  • what the practice policy is for patients in the middle of treatments (for example, patients that have temporaries fitted)
  • what the emergency policy will be if the practice has to close completely

By keeping your communication streams open, it will help the local community feel less isolated, after all, isn’t that the true role of healthCARE professionals?

Client Note – if you are a client of mine, please keep ME updated with the above information and I can ensure that your communication continues to go out to your patients and local people.

17/3/20 – keep patients up-to-date

3 things to get you started.

  1. Send a communication e-mail to your patients letting them know that you are dealing with the situation. I recommend you follow Chris Barrow’s suggestion and download his example.
  2. Be clear that your advice may change to patients over time as the situation evolves.
  3. Let patients know that you are actively involved in information groups enabling you to make the best clinical decision at any given moment.

Modify Your Opening Hours

In view of the present situation with the Coronavirus (COVID-19), provide your customers with the most up-to-date information about your business:

  • If your business hours have changed, adjust your opening and closing times.
  • Update your business description with information on whether your business operations are affected by COVID-19. You can also let your customers know about extra precautions your business is taking.
  • Make sure your phone number is correct so that customers can reach you.

As the situation evolves and you need to modify your opening hours, be sure to keep all of your listings around the Internet up-to-date – especially your My Business listing on Google (previously Google maps) and your Facebook page.

Client note – If you are client of mine and I am managing your search optimisation then I will update all of the listings around the Internet in one go, please let me know of any updated opening hours so that I can keep everything in sync.


Places/people to go for support

Google Adwords PPC for Dentists

Quite a few clients come to me already running Google adwords campaigns, my questions to them are always the same:

  1. How many appointment requests have you had as a result.
  2. How many phone calls have you had as a result?
  3. How many free consultations have you had as a result?
  4. Which geographical location close to you is working best and therefore have you optimised for this location?
  5. Have you integrated your adwords into your Google analytics so you can track what these people do on your website?

Guess what the usual answer is to all of these questions above!

By optimising your account you can ensure you spend a minimum amount of money, in other words getting the maximum amount of clicks to your website for the same budget.

It’s also possible to optimise the campaign for ‘conversions’*, rather than clicks…

If you allocate certain events on your website and define them as a ‘conversion’, for example clicking a phone button or clicking a button to request an appointment these events can be tracked… You can then let Google know how much you are prepared to pay per event and ensure you get the maximum bang for every pound spent.

This is a little bit technical to set up, which I guess is why many practices don’t bother, but it is incredibly easy to spend money on Google… It’s a whole different thing to make money, and that’s what this video is dedicated to…

The video has a total runtime of just under 15 min, I look at creating events on your website such as the phone call or download, tracking these in analytics and then integrating them into Google ad words to ensure you get the maximum number of conversions for the minimum ad spend.

Let me know what you think…

*a conversion in this instance is defined as someone taking a specified action on your website, this could be a phone call, appointment request, downloading or requesting a free consultation.

It’s all about connection

One of the fundamentals in any business is to truly understand what it is you are here to do and how the world will be a better place as a result of your business.

Let’s be honest, the world isn’t going to be a better place just because someone has a new amalgam filling! So this is more than what you do day-to-day… It’s about making the world a better place and making it a better place for the local people.

If you ask that question of yourself and your own business, what would the answer be?

I’m going to give you a template by way of a personal example of myself… yes, I want to explain to the world how it will be a better place for me having lived in it… And at the same time I want to give you an example so that you can use this in your own business.

I’ve been reflecting considerably over the past 6 months or so… And this is what I have discovered.

Mark Oborn Ltd… Indeed ME… is all about connection.

Marketing isn’t Something You do, It’s Something You Are

Marketing isn’t simply a function of your business, it isn’t something which gets done for half an hour once a month or which gets discussed at your monthly marketing and business development meetings… No, it’s far more than that.

This is what I mean.

Fundamentally my business is about connecting dental practices with local people that have a dental problem and are looking for a solution. It’s simply presenting the dental practice in the right way and communicating with the right people at the right time and in a way that makes sense to them.

And yet, this connecting isn’t something I do when I’m working day-to-day, it’s something I truly am.

  • I dance. When I dance (at least twice a week for 3 hours each time) I’m dancing with a single person for a three-minute track, during that time I have a deep connection with that person and in that dance. Such joy.
  • I buy locally. When I buy locally I looked the person in the eye that has taken to the time to source these amazing goods for me, I truly connect with them and an able to thank them. Such joy, in their eyes and mine.
  • I ride my motorbike. When I ride my bike I am connecting with the world around me and the road, without the safety blanket of a metal box around me. Such joy.
  • I’m a member of a local Community Supported Agriculture scheme. When I buy my vegetables from Adam and Dee I’m able to connect with them and look them in the eye, and thank them for sustaining me. Such joy, in their eyes and mine.

Connection to other people, the planet, my work, my friends and family and the world around me is incredibly important.

Marketing isn’t something I do, it’s something I am… And what I am is about connection

What is important to you? How does this come out in your business? Is your business just something that you just do (like dentistry), or is it something that you are?

Making a Practical Difference

So, you’ve taken some time to think beyond what you do day-to-day and have begun to think about who you are (and I don’t mean a dentist or a marketer) and you now know how the world will be a better place as a result of who you are

How do you make a practical difference?

Again, I’m going to use a personal example. I suggest, as I did, you then begin to look at the world around you in terms of:

  • How will you impact the people you work with?
  • How will you impact your customers?
  • How will you impact your suppliers?
  • How will you impact the local people?
  • How will you impact the local economy?
  • How will you impact the local environment?
  • How will you impact the wider environment?
  • How will you impact the planet?

Knowing who you are (remember, I’ve said I am about connection) you can then look at this as a frame of reference for the questions above.

Here’s what I came up with… And I’m going to share these images on social media over the coming weeks and months.

What is really important to note is that some of this may not resonate with you… And that’s fine, the point is that you use the following as an idea and as the starting point for you to think about your own business and yourself, and who you are and what motivates you…

If I am to truly connect with my clients I need to have a code of honesty with them, if they upset me it doesn’t benefit either of us for me to keep quiet… And the same works the other way round, if I upset them it doesn’t benefit either of us.

With gentle and honest communication, even through difficult subjects we can truly connect with our clients and the people we work with.

Like I said, honesty is important, and that includes money and pricing. I have never and will never offer any form of discount on my services. I want to be totally honest all of the time and transparent, this then enables me to connect with not only existing clients but prospective clients.

Everyone knows they pay the same and that the whole pricing system and structure is fair, honest and open.

My personal belief is that the planet around me sustains me. I eat a very healthy wholefood diet which is predominantly sourced locally. This doesn’t mean I’m going to take a horse and cart everywhere but it does mean that I will do what I can to limit my footprint and include the environment in EVERY business decision, thereby connecting more with the planet which sustains us.

What is the local environment like in which you live?

I live 0.8 miles from the sea and I’m painfully aware that if I put lots of chemicals into the sewerage system they could easily make their way into the sea. If we connect to the damage we can so easily cause we can find ways to help prevent it.

I do what I can to limit the amount of electricity and gas I use at home and this has to be the starting point… Just use less fuel!

I accept I need to use fuel so I buy it from an energy company which produces energy in the UK (and thereby helps to sustain the local economy) which is also renewable and/or carbon neutral.

I’m a digital marketing agency after all! But going digital means we can cut down on envelopes in the post, cheques going backwards and forwards, letters being sent etc. I’m about 95% digital at the moment and am committed to getting this to 100%.

A finally… This is the really big one for me. Dentistry is about connecting a local business (YOU) with your local community…

Like I said, marketing isn’t something I do… It’s something I am…

… and connecting with the local people in my home and personal life when I purchase from them gives me a deep sense of joy…

Where is the joy in what you do… Indeed where is the joy in who you are?

How to Get Your Website Working for Each Category of Visitor

When someone visits your website do you know where they are in their decision-making process?

Not everyone that visits your website is going to be ready to click the request an appointment button or the phone call button, in fact, this is likely to be the largest cohort of website visitors… People that are NOT ready to take any immediate action and contact you.

Unless you have something explicitly on your website for them to do then you have lost this visitor and lost an opportunity.

Patients that visit your website may not all be ready to book an appointment straight away, They may:

  • Be simply looking for information on how to solve a problem e.g. replacing missing teeth or looking for information about a specific treatment to resolve that problem e.g. dental implants
  • Have done their research about their problem and treatment and are searching for the right service provider, needing a little bit of convincing to take the next step.
  • Have researched the service provider and decided that you are the one they wish to go for.

We therefore need to provide things for each of these people to do, in order that they can feel as though they have taken action whilst on your site and gone some way to solving their immediate issue, at the same time we get to collect their information!

For the respective categories this should be:

  • Free guides and downloads for patients wishing to solve a dental problem. Handed out freely in exchange for an e-mail address (GDPR compliant, of course)
  • An incentive to request an appointment, this could be a free consultation, refund of initial assessment or explicit promotion of your new patient health check. This will help to convince patients if they are wavering about requesting an appointment.
  • Request an appointment facility. This needs to drop into an automated e-mail campaign where patients are followed up if they don’t come in to see you.

All of these conversions (downloadable guides, e-mail follow-ups, free consultations etc) should be tracked in Google analytics, we can then see where traffic comes from and focus more on that traffic source and/or conversion page.

Using free information downloads & free consultations etc and incorporating these into an automated e-mail system allows us to send relevant e-mails at the correct time for each patient. Once they book an appointment these prospecting e-mails should automatically stop and they should be asked for a review. This then sets up a fully automated and robust follow-up system which works 24/7/365… Never sleeping!

With a system such as this, you now have something for everyone to do on your website, no matter where they are in their decision-making process, the prospective patient is happier as they have received the information they want and you are happy as your marketing is now working more effectively!