The economics of a Web site

Aug. 1, 2009
Dr. Michael DiTolla: Glenn, we know that dentistry and the economy, as a whole, are currently experiencing some challenges.

by Michael DiTolla, DDS, FAGD

For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: Web site economics, Glenn Lombardi, pay-per-click programs, Dr. Michael DiTolla.

Dr. Michael DiTolla: Glenn, we know that dentistry and the economy, as a whole, are currently experiencing some challenges. Would you discuss the economics of a Web site and why, in trying economic times, it is a worthwhile investment?

Glenn Lombardi: Most dentists, when they are fully booked and everything's going great, referrals just seem to walk in the door. When this happens, they don't have the time to think about marketing. So, when things slow down it is actually the ideal time to increase marketing efforts to potential patients. A dentist can advertise a practice or specific services to the local area through Google™ AdWords™ and Yahoo!®-sponsored results programs. These are pay-per-click programs. This means you only pay for the people who click on your ad and go directly to your Web site. In a down economy, when most dentists cut back on their marketing budget, you can advertise specifically to people looking for dental services in your neighborhood for less than $1,000. This comes to a monthly budget of $100 to $200.

MD: With Google AdWords, can you advertise for specific dental services? For example, if I provide snoring and sleep appliances, can I advertise specifically to these types of patients?

GL: Yes. That's a great example. In this scenario, you want to attract a specific type of patient who you know is going to require a specific service that will generate a specific revenue flow for the practice. So, if a patient is having an issue with sleep apnea or snoring, the first thing that patient is going to do is Google “snoring” or “sleep apnea.” If you type “sleep apnea” into Google, on the left side and scrolling down you are going to see results related to Web sites about sleep apnea. But if you look at the “Sponsored Links” at the top on the right, there are numerous links highlighting messages such as “Stop Snoring Immediately! Sleep Apnea Treatment Available.”

The power of this new search technology is at the moment when prospective patients are looking for treatment related to sleep apnea or snoring, your ad and a direct link to your practice Web site is displayed. When patients click on your ad, it takes them to a specific landing page on your Web site that talks about sleep apnea and educates them. All this happens after just one click from the original search results page. The page could describe the causes of sleep apnea, what possible solutions might be used, and what appliances are available. The key is to have a call to action or special offer that entices patients to either call or send an e-mail to the office.

From this landing page, you can track how many people contact the office by using a “smart” phone number. This is a different phone number than your actual office phone number, but points to your office number so you can track and record each call.

At Officite, we use this technology and landing page process to track every click, dollar spent, e-mail, phone call, and new-patient revenue associated with an ad. Since a dentist designates a monthly budget for terms such as “sleep apnea” and “snoring,” it's easy to track the return on investment for every marketing dollar spent.

An example is this. Let's say you get 50 clicks a month on your Google AdWords campaign. You can easily track which page each of the 50 patients visited, and then count how many tookadvantage of your offer and either sent an e-mail to or called the office.

From there, you can track how many patients scheduled an appointment and the services rendered to each patient. What's powerful about the program is it's the only advertisement opportunity available — at the moment in which patients look for a specific service in your practice area (such as sleep apnea or snoring) — that allows you to market the practice and drive patients directly to your Web site.

MD: That is amazing! If I place a snoring or sleep apnea ad in Orange Coast magazine, and spend a ton of money to put a full page ad in the magazine, the people who are interested in sleep apnea may or may not ever see the ad. Thanks for your time, Glenn! How can dentists learn more about marketing on the Internet?

GL: They can call us at (888) 748-2746 or go to our Web site at www.officite.com.

To have Dr. DiTolla speak at your next study group or dental society, contact him at [email protected]. Dr. Michael DiTolla is the Director of Clinical Research and Education at Glidewell Laboratories in Newport Beach, Calif. He lectures nationwide on both restorative and cosmetic dentistry. Dr. DiTolla has several free clinical programs available online or on DVD at www.glidewelldental.com. For more information, visit www.drditolla.com.

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