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Inside Dental Technology
October 2014
Volume 5, Issue 10

Start Small But Think Big

Online marketing tools help level the playing field

By Rob Nazzal

As more dental laboratories transition toward an increasingly digital future, they may inadvertently allow the pursuit of growth opportunities to fall through the cracks. As a result, opportunities for revenue growth are lost. However, by thinking big, dental laboratory owners have some great marketing tools available that can positively impact the bottom line.

Marketing practices have become more varied and specialized in the past few decades to include traditional approaches (eg, print, direct mail), digital channels (eg, banner ads, paid search), and social media. This evolution allows for multichannel marketing for enterprises of all sizes. From multimillion-dollar companies to bootstrapped startups, businesses can take advantage of these tools because they easily scale as budgets and customer bases grow.

In the past, marketers only had a “buck shot” approach to engaging potential customers they hoped would be interested in what they were selling. Print advertisements and mailers were sent to individuals the company assumed would want their products. Obviously, the success rates for this tactic varied by the industry, but the average margin of return was relatively small—roughly 1% to 3% across the board.

Today, online search marketing takes an inverse approach, targeting only people who are looking for your product. For instance, a dental laboratory that wants to promote a new multishaded full-zirconia product can use online search to create an ad that dentists in a particular area looking for “new crown materials” or “pre-shaded crowns” would see. The beauty of this approach is that only potential customers searching for that particular product type would see your ad, increasing the value for your investment dollars.

Digital Marketing Services

The number of digital services that claim to provide this return has grown exponentially in the past few years and shows no sign of slowing. With this rapid growth, getting overwhelmed by the abundance of online services that claim to help grow your business happens easily. Fortunately, one tool has stood the test of time and continually proves to deliver results for business of all sizes, even dental laboratories. Whether you have heard of Google AdWords or not, you have most likely interacted with one without even knowing it.

AdWords is an advertising service provided by Google that allows companies to buy advertising space at the top, bottom, or side of search queries for specific terms. Ad placement, as well as which ads to show for a particular search, is determined by Google’s proprietary algorithm—a program that determines when your ad is shown based on your goals and criteria. Every time someone clicks on one of these ads, your company is charged a small fee, as determined by the audience, competitiveness, and relevance of a particular search term. Companies using Google AdWords set budgets on each ad until the allotted amount has been reached. The ads are grouped into marketing campaigns that are associated with a dozen or so search terms that relate to the product or service you are featuring.

Typically, ads through Google AdWords, when clicked, lead to a dedicated page on your company website that promotes the product or service you are selling. This landing page usually contains engaging visuals, some text describing the product, and a call to action to complete an electronic form, buy an item, or download a coupon. For a dental laboratory that does not have a strong web presence, services such as Custom Automated Prosthetics' Site in a Night are available to quickly and easily produce a professional website and landing page.

One of the great benefits of Google AdWords is its close tie-in with Google Analytics, linking your AdWords campaigns with your website's traffic. Once you begin utilizing AdWords, you can track your spending and engagement using the Google Analytics dashboard and tie it with the traffic it generates for your website.

This is handy for several reasons. First, you can see how much traffic your paid ads produce. Second, you can track the number of impressions (people who see your ad), clicks (people who click on your ad), and the total amount you paid for that ad within a given period. This information is key to understanding your click-through rate, or how much money it costs for every visit to your site. This number is determined by dividing the total amount spent by the total number of clicks.

With Google AdWords, start with a small budget, as little as $20, and see your return almost instantly through the built-in analytics or your Google Analytics dashboard. This is a great way to test the potential audience reception and tweak your ad copy. At that point, you can begin to increase your budget to accommodate the ads that have been proven to work, adjusting as needed along the way.

Using Google AdWords, just like using any other marketing initiative, requires continual upkeep and tweaking to ensure your ads are working for you as effectively as possible. According to a recent article on Search Engine Land, only 1% of small businesses make changes to their AdWords once a week in a full quarter. On average, most small businesses operate two campaigns, 18 text ads, and 212 keywords in a full calendar year. With a small budget and a commitment to invest as little as 20 minutes a week for upkeep, a dental laboratory can easily set itself apart from the competition.

New online services and tools “guaranteed” to help grow your business abound, making it easy to become frustrated and confused about which will give you the best return on investment. As a good rule of thumb, look to services that are battle tested, have existed for some time, and have weathered the storm of digital services.

About the Author

Rob Nazzal is CEO of Custom Automated Prosthetics in Stoneham, Massachusetts.

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