The four A's of digital marketing attracted this patient for elective esthetic services.

The 4 A’s of esthetic digital marketing

Oct. 1, 2020
I’ve talked to many dentists who made the mistake of hiring a digital marketing firm on the promise of getting leads, only to be disappointed that the leads they paid for were not at all qualified and did not end up in their chairs for treatment.

For many dentists, digital marketing remains a mystery. You may have read articles or seen ads about digital marketing and may share in my frustration that these articles seem to focus only on producing “leads.” Indeed, I’ve talked to many dentists who made the mistake of hiring a digital marketing firm on the promise of getting those leads, only to be disappointed that the leads they paid for were not at all qualified and did not end up in their chairs for treatment. 

Let’s look at digital marketing and the way it should be done. By now, most dental practice owners have heard the term “funnel,” which means Facebook ads designed to offer consumer clicks in order to gather their contact information, which is then given to the dental office as a lead. Unfortunately, what typically comes to mind is a cheap voucher system that can devalue the dental office’s services and flood it with unqualified leads, and this leads to disappointment and skepticism about marketing in general. The fact is that a funnel is only as good as the system and philosophy that supports it.

I asked Rick Diaz of Tier3Media, who has successfully helped many American Academy of Facial Esthetics (AAFE) members with their digital marketing of esthetic services, for some of his expertise.

Diaz says that every dental practice is unique, either in its value to the market or the way it wants to be positioned in the market, and therefore its digital marketing funnel must be unique. There is no one-size-fits-all funnel. The industry has been saturated by the “magic funnel,” and this has done more harm than good. Instead, practices need a process that focuses on what Diaz calls the four A’s: activation, automation, action, and accountability.


The dental practice must have some certainty about who it is trying to attract, its ideal patient. Once that avatar has been clearly defined, it is the job of the marketer—internal or outsourced—to activate those ideal patients with an offer that communicates why they should choose this practice. Most practices either never define this ideal patient or stop at this step, and this is where most of the frustration occurs. Activating a prospective patient merely starts a conversation. The practice doesn’t necessarily earn the right to get that patient in the door, much less earn the right to have that person spend money for services in the practice.


The next step carries the activation into a dialogue through automation, which is prepared responses designed to establish a relationship with the prospective ideal patient. Tier3Media employs the Growtox Schedule-Filler System to automatically carry the conversation, and there’s no need for the practice employees to follow up with leads. Diaz suggests the dental practice owner should determine the “voice” that the automations will have and incorporate a team member’s contact information into all follow-ups. This allows for a natural conversation between the practice and any prospects, and it generates rapport while qualifying ideal patient candidates before they commit to an appointment.


Once a candidate has been qualified, the practice puts the action into place, which is a call-to-action. This is for the team to carry patient conversations in a way that primes candidates to invest in the best esthetic outcome and to book the consultation or treatment.


The fourth A, accountability, ensures that each team member is doing his or her part to communicate the right messages to the right prospects. It is so important for practices to have a funnel or marketing system that encourages accountability and supports the business’s goals. Each practice needs to create accountability checks and balances so that management and teams can see and hear how conversations with potential patients are going. Calls are recorded so that if there are opportunities for improvement, management is equipped with enough information to develop a training plan and determine where there are gaps in the new-patient acquisition strategy.

The four A’s is a system that every practice can implement. It can lead to significant increases in revenue, as well as treatment compliance and overall patient satisfaction. You can perform the four A’s of digital marketing yourself, or a service such as the Growtox Schedule-Filler System can automate a large portion of the redundant tasks and save the practice time.

Case study 

Smileology is a three-office practice in Destin, Florida, run by Olivier Broutin, DMD, and Amber Wiebe, DDS, a married couple who are very accomplished dental professionals. These practices perform a high level of dentistry, including dental implants, clear aligners, facial esthetics with Botox, fillers, PDO threads, and porcelain veneers.

Here are some statistics that demonstrate the precise targeting that can be accomplished with digital marketing. Using Facebook ads for facial esthetics and the Growtox System to automate the four A’s, from July 15 through August 1, 2020, the office generated 137 leads with 83 appointments scheduled and a 90% show rate for Botox, dermal fillers, and PDO threads with an average case fee of  $1,632. For Facebook ads targeting high-quality patients interested in porcelain veneers and implants, the average case treatment fee was $14,000 per patient scheduled.

Digital marketing is very powerful in its ability to target patients with interests in specific treatments, and it finds consumers who spend a lot of their time on social media. Similar to clinical treatment, the success of digital marketing is about having a plan and a process, especially in the area of elective esthetic treatment. Every practice needs a steady flow of new patients, and it is even more important to be able to attract patients who have a high interest in the elective esthetic services that you provide. Digital marketing will be the key to this success for years to come. Integrate digital options into your marketing, and when done right it will have the highest return on investment of any marketing efforts.

LOUIS MALCMACHER, DDS, MAGD, is a practicing general dentist and internationally known lecturer and author. Dr. Malcmacher is president of the American Academy of Facial Esthetics (AAFE). You can contact him at (800) 952-0521 or [email protected]. Visit to find information about live-patient Botox and dermal fillers training, solid filler PDO threadlifts, frontline TMJ/orofacial pain training, dental sleep medicine, and bruxism therapy, and to sign up for a free monthly newsletter.

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