Figure 1: Before and after photos, including dental and facial esthetics, are powerful drivers for attracting new patients.

Top 5 reasons dental digital marketing fails

Feb. 1, 2021
These marketing mistakes will not guide your practice in the right direction. If you're making these mistakes, try taking this advice to move in the right direction.

Marketing a dental practice today is both easier and harder than ever. The platforms and tools needed to create marketing and advertising campaigns are literally all on one device that most people carry in their pockets. While we had limited options in the past, today there are almost too many opportunities, which can make your marketing efforts ineffective.

Here are the top five reasons dental practice digital marketing can fail.

Spread too thin

So many practices try to be everything to everyone. One article may tell you that Facebook is the place to advertise, while another consultant will tell you that Instagram is a must, and you may decide one day that you want to be on YouTube. There is no end! All this does is dilute your online presence, which will be unfocused and difficult for patients to relate to. It’s important to know that different online platforms have significantly different audiences. The time to make content for each platform is often more than a full-time job. Don’t get sucked into this trap! Decide on one platform that you can commit to for both marketing and paid advertising.

How do you decide which social media platform is best for you? This depends on you. You and your team members spend time on different social media platforms. Which do you think best fits the patients you want to attract? Get your team involved in this decision because most dentists will be delegating this responsibility to team members, so they must be able to manage it appropriately.

Inconsistent effort

When you visit many dental practice Facebook and Instagram pages, this is what you see—a few occasional posts to get things started, then the page is forgotten about. The doctor reads an article on the importance of having a social media page, the office jumps on social media that day with four posts, and then forgets about it. That is, until they listen to a seminar about social media. The process then repeats, and often eventually the doctor concludes that social media doesn’t work. 

It’s not the social media and digital marketing that doesn’t work, it’s you! Social media and digital marketing work only if you work with them. Establishing an online presence does not just happen. It’s like your dental practice—you have to work on it for it to work for you!

Not telling your story

You have an amazing dental practice, the best team, and you offer the latest treatments for veneers, implants, Botox, and llers. What’s on your social media pages? Do they tell the story of the excellent esthetic services you provide? Do they display happy, smiling patients who love their new smiles? Are there any testimonials? Are there before and after photos, like those in Figures 1 and 2? What about training certificates to show that you and your team provide cutting-edge care? Will your social media show the kind of patients you want to attract?

There are so many things that happen in your office every day that tell the story of your practice. Choose one thing every day about your practice personality—an interesting treatment, a happy patient, an exemplary team member—and post about it. Posting needs to be consistent if you want to tell your story on social media.

Here are three American Academy of Facial Esthetics (AAFE) members who are amazing at telling their stories on Instagram, and they’ve built successful practices in their communities. Check out Dr. Amber Wiebe @destin_botox, Dr. Pauline Le @drpaulinele, and Dr. Jon Hendrickson @dollyvitaaesthetics. See how they tell their stories and how they are building their dream practices.

Set it and forget it

This is the biggest mistake made with digital advertising. Whether you try to run your own Facebook or Google ads or hire a professional, most dentists want to set it and forget it. They assume the ad campaign is working, and perhaps they spent hundreds to thousands of dollars without having any idea if the practice received even one new patient from the marketing efforts. Everyone will tell you how many impressions and clicks your ads receive. Truthfully, the only real measurement is how many new patients come to your office as a result of digital advertising. 

Marketing services people don’t want 

Part of the success of any marketing or digital ad campaign is giving people what they want. Too many dentists market services that are unattractive or not popular with patients. Botox can be a powerful service when it comes to attracting new patients. There is simply nothing else in dental practices that comes close to its popularity. Patients know Botox, they want Botox, it’s affordable, and it helps patients look and feel great. 

The right way

Here’s an example of a successful Facebook ad campaign done by an AAFE member who wanted to attract more facial esthetic patients (figure 3). Botox was chosen for the campaign because it is an extremely popular elective esthetic service and patients are familiar with it. The practice advertised unlimited units of Botox for $10 a unit (a 20% discount). When someone clicked on the ad, they were taken to a landing page that collected their information. Once the short form was filled out, the patient was taken to an online schedule where they could directly book an appointment and take advantage of the offer. Within the first 12 hours of this campaign, this AAFE member recorded 76 online scheduled appointments. This is not 76 leads; these are actual patient appointments. 

So many digital marketing dollars are wasted by dental practices that make these five mistakes. The first step is to offer services that your patients know and want, such as Botox, dermal fillers, veneers, and implants. Then it is up to you to have the right plan to make sure your social media is on point and your paid digital marketing has a real plan to get patients into your chair.

LOUIS MALCMACHER, DDS, MAGD, is a practicing general dentist and an 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 at [email protected]. Visit, where you can find information about live-patient Botox and dermal filler training, solid-filler PDO threadlifts, frontline TMJ/orofacial pain training, dental sleep medicine, and bruxism therapy. You can also sign up for a free monthly enewsletter.

About the Author

Louis Malcmacher, DDS, MAGD

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

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