Marketing for dental implants on Facebook used to be so easy. Simply throw together an ad with a picture of a person missing a tooth, post it on the social platform, turn the dials to only show the ad to people with a household income high enough to afford the care, and then wait for the patients to come rolling in. And for years, that strategy worked.
Unfortunately, today’s environment is very different. In the summer of 2018, Facebook stopped allowing advertisers to target individuals based on household income (as well as several other criteria), so targeting has become more of a challenge. Whereas in the past, ads could be targeted based on income, today they are shown to people across the entire socioeconomic spectrum. The result is many practices receive large numbers of interested leads from people who won’t have the financial wherewithal to pay for the needed services. These individuals no-call/no-show at higher rates and take up valuable time in the office when they do show. Also, more dentists caught on to the fact that practices can recruit implant patients through Facebook, so the cost to acquire a patient lead has risen over the years.
So, Facebook sucks for marketing dental implants, right? Well, not exactly. While the platform has certainly gotten more complex and nuanced, it still hold tremendous promise for enterprising dentists looking for implant patients, but just as you wouldn’t use a screwdriver to hammer a nail, it’s important to understand how to use Facebook to recruit patients to the practice.
Dental implant marketing is rapidly moving to a multi-channel approach. Successful practices are using Facebook alongside Google and email marketing to create “surround sound” for their prospective patients online, and particularly savvy practices also tie their non-digital marketing, like mailer campaigns, into a comprehensive strategy to recruit implant patients to the office.
To use Facebook appropriately, it is important to understand its strengths. Facebook, and social media marketing in general, have a couple of incredibly valuable attributes to take advantage of for dental marketing.
First, Facebook allows practices to target certain demographics in a population. Through the tool, it is possible to target based on physical attributes (most commonly age, gender, and location) and on interests. For example, if a practice determines that their ideal implant patient is a woman between the ages of 50 and 65 who enjoy baking and soap operas living within 15 miles of the office, it can target people on the platform who meet those criteria. It also allows for advertisers to build unique audiences based on actions that individuals take on the Facebook platform, like watching a certain amount of a video or clicking on an ad that the practice posted, or on the practice’s website. Often, these unique groups of people are referred to as “warm” audiences. The creation of warm audiences is critically important for the next major benefit Facebook offers.
Facebook allows a practice to “retarget.” Essentially, retargeting allows the practice to serve content to individuals who have been placed into a warm audience. Through this capability, practices can focus their advertising efforts on people who have previously shown interest in dental implants.
Finally, the third key benefit of the platform is that Facebook allows practices to push content. As opposed to search engine marketing, where the practice is only able to engage with prospective patients after they have initiated the conversation, social media marketing allows a practice to proactively reach out to advertise to targeted prospects. This is valuable because it puts the office in the driver’s seat when it comes to patient recruiting.
Now that the advantages of Facebook are clear, how does a practice best use it to recruit dental implant patients?
Facebook is best as a part of a multi-channel marketing strategy. More specifically, it is the ideal tool for retargeting prospective patients who enter the practice’s funnel through a different entry point. For example, prospects who find the office’s website through Google should be retargeted on Facebook with ads to motivate them. Patient testimonials, messages from the docs, and the like will get prospective patients to schedule and show for their appointments. Additionally, the practice can also use this retargeting capability to provide special offers only to prospects who are believed to be interested in dental implants, based on their activity on the website or reaction to a mailer. Ultimately, Facebook is a great tool to integrate multiple advertising channels into one unified approach.
A second application for a tool like Facebook is as a follow-up system. The decision to move forward with implants is often a lengthy one. It may take a prospective patient months or even years to make the decision to move forward with care. It is possible to use Facebook to serve ads to patients thanking them for their interest in the practice and to educate them while they are working through the treatment decision process. These advertisements can be time-based, so that patients who have recently interacted with the practice get one set and those that were working with the practice some time ago get a different one. These targeted prospects can also be identified through their activities on Facebook, on the practice’s website, from a mailing list, or even from the practice’s existing patient database. As long as the practice can produce a list containing the user’s email address, Facebook can advertise to the members of that list.
Advertising for dental implant patients on Facebook has changed significantly over the past several years. In the past, all a practice had to do was put a simple ad up targeting financially sound individuals in the area they served and qualified patients would find their practice. When Facebook removed the ability to target patients based on income, it got more difficult to find the right patients. Add onto that the fact that more practices are using the platform for patient acquisition, driving up the cost to advertise, and you have the recipe for a platform that frustrates advertisers.
Today, Facebook sucks as a standalone advertising channel for simple, one-step marketing. If a practice is expecting great results from doing the same thing that was done three years ago, it will waste money, time, and energy and be sorely disappointed. But, if the practice changes with the times and understands Facebook’s capabilities in either a multi-channel strategy alongside Google and email marketing or as a platform that requires multiple steps to educate and motivate patients, it can see incredible success bringing patients into the practice seeking dental implant services.