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Using the Internet to Help Yourself and Your Clients
An engaging website, SEO, and online advertising can boost your business
By Nick Azar
Most successful laboratory owners in today’s quickly changing dental industry already have an online presence. Most laboratories have a website and a Facebook page, some have a Twitter account and a LinkedIn page, and still more are connected on other social sites to promote their businesses. This online existence is a powerful marketing vehicle for developing a business and building a network. However, the key to all this is procuring the best results from these efforts. If your online presence is not optimized, you are wasting time and money because you will not see the best possible results.
When building your professional network online, having a plan for how to use it as a networking tool in the future is imperative. Therefore, the following strategies should be considered while developing your overall online existence.
Build an Effective Website
Your laboratory’s website is the most important part of your online networking strategy. Your website is where your customers and their potential patients can go for meaningful information to compare services and products. A helpful suggestion is to organize your dentist-clients’ offerings and services, and provide side-by-side comparisons so their potential patients can make quick and informed buying decisions. Create a landing page with good infographics for each of your customers and their services that people will link to on a regular basis. Invite your customers to contribute content for their landing page, such as quizzes with incentives; funny comics; case studies based on their experiences with your services and products; or anything else that is relevant.
Whatever method you employ to optimize your site for yourself and your customers, make sure that the links work, the copy is grammatically correct, and all irrelevant contents and bad keywords are removed. Also, make sure your site can upload in 2 seconds or less. All of these details affect clients’ and potential patients’ perception of your laboratory.
Search Engine Optimization
Google is regarded as the most popular website in the world, so leveraging it well can give you and your customers an advantage. Search-engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing a website’s visibility in unpaid online search results.
One way to accomplish SEO is by creating linkable content, known as backlinks, for others to link to your website on a regular basis. Google factors backlinks into the process of determining where a website is listed during searches.
An example of linkable content is if you maintain a blog about important industry news and topics that are relevant to what your customers, their current patients, or their future patients may be searching for online. If the topics help generate a conversation, it could help drive traffic to both your site and the site where the link is posted. Readers might then share the link with even more people. As your links are shared more frequently, your website will appear more prominently in search results, which can make traffic to your site multiply.
One thing remains relevant to any content marketing: statistics. Make sure that you can back your content with numbers. Offer your own interpretation of the data pertaining to a certain topic, and if your interpretation is right, others will want to read your content regularly.
The key objectives of online advertising are making products and services visible to those who do not already use them, and keeping them accessible to those who do. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, Yelp, Foursquare, Tumblr, and Instagram can help achieve those objectives by reaching audiences much wider than those of traditional advertising vehicles, i.e. TV, radio, or direct mail advertisements. This can be done at a fraction of the cost, as most social networking sites are free.
Your dentist-client’s business is built on the trust they establish with patients. One way to advertise that trust is with a YouTube video that introduces your client to potential patients in a nonthreatening way—almost like a visit to an online dating service. The video can include testimonials from patients, or a case study of a particular patient experience, perhaps someone who was fearful or nervous about the dental procedure but ended up satisfied. The video could feature an interview with the dentist, the patient, and you. Constant use of fresh content on YouTube is a strategy that usually increases website traffic and converts it into inquiries.
One of the advantages of the YouTube platform is the YouTube Partner Program, through which a publisher or uploader of a video can share in the revenue produced by advertising on the site. Your business and your dentist-client can sponsor a video through this program so that, for example, a user who searches for a video on implant surgery may be presented with a sponsored video from an implant company or a dental laboratory among the other search results. YouTube says it typically takes 45 percent of the advertising revenue from videos in the Partner Program, with 55 percent going to the uploader. According to the digital video advertising company TubeMogul, in 2013 a YouTube pre-roll advertisement (shown before the video starts) cost advertisers on average $7.60 per 1000 views. It is affordable exposure for advertisers, and potential new revenue for video publishers; laboratory owners and their clients could fit into either category.
Since generating sales is the goal of any marketing activity, certain metrics are paramount to ensure the effectiveness of your online efforts. Those metrics include volume of visits, leads, customer satisfaction or complaints, size of audience, and their vigorous activities—i.e., sharing and retweeting.
The best advice might be just two simple words: Be patient. Your social profile could take up to a year to become popular online. The key to the success of this long-term investment method is sharing good content and participating.
About the Author
Nick Azar is a DAMAS consultant, business strategist, executive coach, and founder of Azar and Associates in Santa Clarita, California.