Dental Marketing: Using Data For Success


Dental Marketing Results
Newsletters Or Postcards

Do you want a better ROI on your new-patient marketing campaigns?

Read on. I’ll share some mistakes, well, maybe more like oversights, of two of our clients.

Patient News is a full-service dental marketing agency, so we offer everything a dentist needs to grow their practice. That includes practice and marketing intelligence in Practice ZEBRA™, responsive websites, PPC paid media campaigns, SEO, blogging, marketing automation, email newsletters, reputation management, Review Booster™, 2-way texting, appointment reminders, dental savings plan booster, and of course, the place we started … direct maildental newsletters, and postcards.

In a massive study across 300 markets, we put newsletters head-to-head against high-quality jumbo postcards, identically targeted, identical offers and content, and the data proved that newsletters drove 17% more new-patient calls than postcards. Our newsletters just don’t get lost in the pile of mail as a postcards does.

But remember. Not all newsletters are the same.

We use 100lb high-quality bright-white paper stock, exceptional printing quality, we mail our newsletters full size so they STAND OUT in the mailbox. Our system has always included advanced targeting capabilities using hundreds of data points including detailed demographics, review of psychographic and socioeconomic data, lifestyle data, buying behaviors, and drive time, plus we understand the full scope of the competitive landscape and analyze the specific practice location market share so that client campaigns are reaching their ideal consumers. We never take a “shotgun” approach.

In addition, using the significant data we understand about the practice environment, we work hard with each client to uncover the practice differentiators and create content that is relevant and engaging for that specific demographic.

This is why, on average, our clients experience a 6:1 ROI on their direct mail campaigns.

Yes, we do produce postcard campaigns for many clients. We apply all the same analytics and targeted rules and processes, and because we track everything in Practice ZEBRA, the results are black and white.

With Practice ZEBRA, there is no confusion about whether or not newsletters or postcards or other marketing is for the practice.


The point of this blog is, if you’re overlooking any of the following – you too could be missing out on significant, and I mean significant, money.

The following two offices have significant opportunity to increase this ROI by (a) being consistent and (b) looking at internal support of marketing.

These are two areas where many practice marketing shortfalls occur.

1. Consistency. Why oh why do some stop a marketing campaign before it can get rolling? Especially when it’s actually driving results? Random acts of marketing never lead to consistent success at the practice.

Client #1. In a very short time, just 7 months, they’re already experiencing a 10:1 ROI – TEN TO ONE! This isn’t a made-up number. It’s not a random calculation of calls, conversion rates, and industry averages. This is reported directly from their practice management system, with their production, their new patients, and only those patients from their precisely targeted area.

Yet they’re quitting because “anecdotally,” they don’t believe the campaign is working! They feel that results are coming from other marketing. This is consistent behavior for this office. They did the same thing in 2017, resulting in a rocky run in 2018, and subsequent return to us in spring of this year because of that.

It is frustrating to see this repeated behavior with certain dental practices. It’s not even that the practice is struggling financially. They can afford to invest and continue to grow. Unfortunately for this practice, they will feel the impact, the data will end up showing the same result as before. That’s the message. Don’t expect different results from the same behavior.

2. Internal support. Involve the entire team in practice goals and success. Educate everyone about each marketing campaign, the offer strategy, the VALUE OF EACH NEW PATIENT, why conversion is important, why scheduling is so critical and how all of this will lead to a stronger more positive practice reputation, long-term job security, a thriving and happier work environment, and pride of job well done.

Client #2. Successful practice hitting the $2.5 million mark. They have been consistent marketers, but they’ve been slow to implement necessary changes in the practice to improve ROI.

Let me first say that they’re doing great with a 7:1 ROI on their marketing investment with Patient News. BUT, they could double that with a focus on internal operations. This client has pushed back on recommendations for call handling and scheduling because “that’s their problem,” because our task is to “manage the marketing.”

But we can’t take that attitude. If I run a marketing campaign for Patient News, it is my marketing campaign. I’m involved like you’re involved in approving everything. If then, internally, my team doesn’t handle the calls well enough or doesn’t schedule proper appointments with our clients to follow-up on inquiries, I can’t quit marketing. Nor can I ignore the problem. We’re here to be successful and profitable. It’s my job to work on our internal systems and training and continue to improve and support marketing effectiveness.

This is particularly true in a dental practice. Your market is your market. You must continue to build awareness, reach out to consumers, and constantly work to maintain a healthy flow of new patients and retain quality patients.

Now let me share the stats for Client #2 and what that could mean financially.


It’s important that you read this.


Amount Invested in Targeted DM: $36,000
Production Generated: $249,000
ROI: 6.92:1 – SEVEN TO ONE
Live Call Answered: 62%
Call Conversion: 49%
New-Patient Value: $2,800
New Patients Back for 2nd Visit: 69%
New Patients Scheduled To Return at ALL: 31%

Live-Call Answer Rate. For top practices, this exceeds 90%. The insight here is that the call answer rate is not only impacting the campaign we’re tracking, it's reflective of what’s happening to every effort the practice is making to drive new patients and patient calls to their practice. They are missing 30% more calls than successful practices. This is negatively impacting ROI and could easily be improved.

Call Conversion. Top practices convert 75% of the calls they answer. So in addition to missing 40% of their calls, this practice is converting 25% less than they should. Practice ZEBRA shows you the top reasons for no conversion (of the calls that are answered) so you can review, train staff, adjust messaging, or make operational decisions to help add more patients to your roster.

So what do these metrics mean with an average new-patient value of $2,800? It means the practice is missing over ONE MILLION in production annually.

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New patients scheduled back. This practice is losing on this metric as well. In a recent webinar, Roger Levine said that if a practice doesn’t schedule 98% of patients to come back, they’re losing between 15 and 30% of their production potential. With only 30% of their new patients scheduled to come back, this practice is definitely on the low side – an adjustment would increase their new-patient value by $800 annually and their patient value significantly. If call-answering performance could add a million to the top line, what would a further 30% bump in overall production do? For this practice, that would add another $750k to the topline. With these tweaks, you turn this $2.5M practice into a $4M office.

And that’s only with a focus on call handling and scheduling.

How does Patient News help?

  1. Practice ZEBRA. This is the dental industry’s first practice intelligence tool that tracks, measures, and facilitates every step of the patient journey. Practice ZEBRA truly will change the way you look at your practice – and you can look for FREE. We’ll include it with your 2020 Planning Session (see below).

    “Education is critical. It’s one of the reasons I have a great deal of respect for Patient News. They explain things you can improve or might not have noticed with the data to back that up, and with ways to help you. It made me realize that I’m not in it alone. We’re in this together and it’s been amazing.” – Dr. Hazel Glasper

  2. Phone Power is included in Practice ZEBRA. This best-in-class new dental telephone training system can really help turn things around. Clients have gone from answering 50% of calls to hitting 100% consistently. Reception teams are challenging themselves to beat their best. When leaders get their teams engaged, WOW! What a difference this makes to production.

  3. Team Lead. Every office has at least one receptionist who does a rock-solid job at conversion. Make them team lead. They should answer the bulk of new-patient calls, and they can monitor results in Practice ZEBRA and help coach the rest of the team.

  4. There are so many things a practice could implement around scheduling, it can be overwhelming. Visibility is the first step, then just take one step at a time.
    • Implement a scheduling goal and assign responsibility. The least-effective processes are those without clarity between team members. “I didn’t know I was supposed to do that,” “I thought that was Hygiene’s job,” “No one told me about that during my training.”
    • Practice ZEBRA gives you easy-to-use lists of non-scheduled patients. Our most successful clients have a consistent process – across the US and Canada, we have the same program in place. Print list, hand out on Monday, hand in on Friday. Pay $3 for every patient scheduled. Keep your top new-patient call handler and team lead on inbound calls, and utilize the skills of others for this task.
    • Check your reminder program effectiveness. It can’t work if you’re missing 40% of your patient email or cell numbers. Practice ZEBRA provides you with easy-to-update lists of patient records missing email or cell. You’ll also get lists of invalid emails.
    • Implement value-added retention tactics like monthly patient newsletters, patient appreciation events, surprise-and-delight gifts for top value patients, etc.
    • Harvard Business Review suggests that an increase of 5% in client retention can increase profits by 25-95%. Use the data in Practice ZEBRA to hone in on the areas you can impact and you will improve your practice revenue outlook.

So dental marketing. Yes, newsletters usually work better than postcards, but either type of campaign must be supported by proven strategies, and they must be supported by an engaged practice and team to drive top results for the practice.

Our Account Success Managers work hard to help our clients achieve their goals. The black and white insights in Practice ZEBRA leave nothing to chance.

Right now we’re working on 2020 marketing plans to ensure they align with your goals.

Do you know what you’re going to do to drive growth for your practice? Schedule a Planning Session Now.



Schedule My 2020 Planning Session!
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