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How much should dentists spend on dental marketing?

Businesses allocate billions of their budget dollars to digital marketing every year. However, 50% of companies and marketers feel that they are wasting more than 20% of their digital marketing budget! If you find it difficult to chalk up an accurate and effective marketing budget for your dental digital marketing, you are not alone! 

Your marketing budget plan drives your marketing decisions and their overall impact on your dental business. Naturally, you need to carefully deliberate a plethora of factors while curating the budget plan. But most dentists are unaware of what needs to be done, which elements need to focus on, how much weightage should be given to them, etc.

Your marketing budget defines the scope and effectiveness of your dental digital marketing campaign to a certain extent. And to ensure that you maximize your ROI on digital marketing, you need to set a budget that allocates enough resources for each digital marketing process to be successful.

But how much do you need to spend on individual marketing tactics? What should your comprehensive budget look like? This article will answer all these questions and many more. Let’s find out how to make clever marketing and budgeting decisions. 


Why digital marketing for dentists?

First things first, if some of you are still debating whether you should invest in dental digital marketing or not, let’s just put out a few facts that would probably help you to make a decision. Instead of writing long-drawn paragraphs highlighting the benefits of digital marketing for dentists, we will let the numbers speak for themselves.

  • 78% of patients search for a dentist on search engines like Google.
  • Leads generated from search engines are 8x more likely to convert into patients.
  • Data suggests that email marketing generates 4400% returns on investment.
  • There are 4.54 billion people active on the internet.
  • According to a 2020 survey, 40% of marketers have included content marketing in their overall marketing strategy. 
  • Statista 2020 report suggests that mobile web traffic has consistently accounted for about half of all global web traffic since the beginning of 2017.

These facts establish the tremendous importance of digital marketing for dentists and why you need to explore digital opportunities with a sense of urgency. 


5 factors that influence your marketing budget

You must first understand the factors that influence a marketing budget plan to make the perfect one. We have explained how to break down your expenses and determine the ideal amount to be allocated to each of the marketing channels, along with insights on patient acquisition costs and ROI. Keep in mind that as a rule of thumb, you should allow 80 percent of your total marketing budget for digital marketing and the remaining 20 percent to traditional mediums.


1. What are the operational costs involved?

Operating costs are costs incurred to facilitate the smooth running of the dental clinic. The overhead costs used consumables and materials along with the laboratory bills together constitute the operating expenses. Operational costs include fixed dental investments like your dental chair, X-ray machines, refrigerator, monthly variable fees like rent and electricity, clinic’s upgrade, and taxes. 


Around 65% of your revenue spend on operating expenses. 


2. How many patients should each provider in the dental office have?

A dental office usually has multiple dentists, offering specialized dental services like orthodontics, endodontics, and dental hygienists who conduct checkups and X-rays. Every dentist should have a minimum of 1600 active patients a year to attain a decent revenue, whereas each hygienist can have 7-8 patients per day. 


3. How much profit does each service drive to the practice?

Evaluate which of your dental treatments brings in the most amount of revenue and profit. You can capitalize on the demand for these services by allocating a larger portion of your budget towards such high-demand-high-profit dental procedures in your dental digital marketing plan. 


4. How much is each patient worth?

Determining the value of a patient doesn’t just provide you with an approximation of the dollars earned but also refocus on your marketing strategies. Now how do you calculate the value of each patient?

Start by grouping the patients into different categories. Throughout the year, you may have a mix of patients who opted for various kinds of treatments. Suppose you earned 12 new patients for teeth and gum cleaning, seven new patients for the root canal, and five new orthodontics patients. 

You can easily calculate the average amount spent by each patient in the entire year. Grouping also gives you the lowdown on better performing services, repeated visits by patients, along the revenue generated from each patient. Ideally, an active patient spends $660 to $770 at your clinic every year. 


5. What is patient acquisition cost?

The patient acquisition cost, quite simply, is the average amount you spend to acquire a new patient. The cost of acquiring a dental patient falls somewhere between $150 – $300 depending on treatment and service type. This amount reflects the collective marketing efforts that go behind earning new patients. One of the goals of dental digital marketing is to bring down the acquisition cost, which would drive up your profits. 


How to optimize your website for maximum traction? 

A website acts as a catalyst in hastening the process of lead generation and patient acquisition. Before you could start expecting tangible results, you will need to optimize it for search engines. Here are a few optimization tactics to make your website search-engine-friendly:

  • Responsive Design

Responsive design ensures a consistent experience for all patients, irrespective of the device they choose to view your websites. Desktop, mobile phone, or tablet – the viewing experience is not disrupted for any user.

  • Load Speed

A mere one-second delay in page loading reduces your conversion rate by 7%. This stat alone should tell you why you need to have fast-loading web pages.

  • Hassle-Free Navigation

Easy-to-navigate website means enabling visitors to explore your website as effortlessly as you turn the pages of a book. Your website should be easy to use, and visitors should move from one page to another seamlessly and consume valuable content. 

  • Quality Content

Cookie-cutter websites are a big no for search engine rankings. These websites are a replica of millions of other dental websites. Building an innovative website is how you can convey your dental practice’s unique value proposition to prospects who know nothing about you or your clinic. 

  • Keyword Strategy

Prospective patients out there are searching dentist-related queries on search engines, but your website doesn’t show up. You need to conduct keyword research and sprinkle the right set of keywords throughout the web pages to be found easily by Google search bot. 

  • Online Booking Integration

Place a clear online booking button on your website to escalate your revenue generation capabilities. Online booking promises appointment schedules anytime, anywhere without restrictions. Online appointment booking is precisely the kind of convenience that patients are expecting from healthcare providers. 

  • Dental Chatbots

A dental chatbot to attend to prospective patients once they arrive on your website can go a long way in nurturing leads and engaging prospective patients. Dental chatbots reduce the staff’s workload and save your resources from being consumed on repetitive tasks that are better left to technology.


How much to spend on Google ads? 

Google ads are pay-per-click ads displayed at the top of the search results’ first page. So now, what is the ideal amount to be spent on Google ads?

Your Google Ads spend depending on numerous factors like:

  1. Your local competition
  2. The services you intend to promote
  3. The goals you aim to achieve

The cost per click (bid) of each keyword in a PPC advertising campaign varies according to the search volume, the number of competitors bidding on the keywords, CTR, and landing page score. If you locate in a big city with a large population, you will have to increase your Google ads budget to outbid competitors vying for the same set of keywords. Similarly, if you want to promote multiple services, you need a higher budget since the cost per click will be on the higher side.

Dental practices and clinics can spend from $1000 per month up to $15000 to gain new patients via PPC ads, depends on the size of their dental business.


How much to spend on dental SEO?

SEO for dental offices is probably the most affordable digital marketing tactic to earn new patient appointments. When done correctly, SEO marketing for dentists can bring your dental website right in front of potential patients before they view your competitors’ websites, thereby driving more traffic to your website.

The cost of SEO for dental websites depends on the size of your practice, your location, and the degree of competition you face in your market. If your office bases in a populated city like LA, you’ll spend a lot more on SEO than a practice based in Carlsbad. A small dental practice with a marketing team will do just fine spending a few hundred dollars on SEO, but a medium to large-sized practice will need to hire a top company in the realm of local SEO for dentists, and their dental SEO services would start at about $1000 per month.


How much to spend on social media marketing?

Social media ads comprise paid dental social media campaigns on Facebook and Instagram. Social media management is publishing content and regularly engaging with users online, encouraging them to like, comment, and share your content. Social media advertising and social media management should collectively account for 15 to 25 percent of your total digital marketing budget.

Effective social media for dentists requires visual designers and copywriters to create compelling content. You need to create a schedule for your social media activities and regularly post on social media platforms. DIY social media marketing can cost somewhere around $500 to $1000 per month. If you outsource your social media activities to an experienced dental marketing company, you can expect to incur a cost of $1000 to $5000+ per month.

Outsourcing social media advertising to a dental marketing company can cost somewhere around $450 to $850, with $200 ad spend per month. But bear in mind that the agency should specialize in Facebook marketing for dentists and Instagram marketing for dentists.


How much to spend on dental technology?

Nothing is more important than the patient experience. Patients expect quick responses and no longer prefer telephone calls or personal visits to book appointments. To keep up with the patients’ demands, you need to deploy a dental chatbot to handle all repetitive manual tasks with excellent efficiency and zero errors. Dental chatbots can book appointments, interact with patients and assist them throughout with prompt solutions. 

If you are a small dental practice with a minimum budget, you can go for low-cost pricing plans provided by a dental digital marketing agency. Gradually you can unlock premium plans that offer various features as your capacity increases. Data security is crucial in healthcare sectors, and it would be wise to approach an agency to have 100% HIPPA compliant chatbots.

Chat bot monthly fees will demand approximately $50-$500 from your monthly budget, depending on the chatbot’s technology and functionality.

Another essential thing to include in your marketing plan is online appointment booking software integration. Automated scheduling, appointment reminders, calendar sync, and online payments are critical features of an online booking system. The starting prices fall somewhere around $50 or $100 per month. 


How much should dentists spend on online review management?

85% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from family and friends. Negative reviews can cause serious harm to your practice. So we’d advise you to reserve $200 to $300 for reputation management services from a dental digital marketing agency. Investing in reputation management for dentists will reap considerable benefits in the long run.


How much to spend on email marketing?

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing solutions for dentists. With emails, you can send personalized messages, promote offers and discounts on particular services or announce new offers exclusively for new patients. 

Emails are one of the most influential and innovative dental marketing ideas to forge lasting relationships with prospects and, in turn, generate beneficial results. Collaborating with a dental digital marketing agency to execute your email marketing campaigns will cost around $500 to $1000 per month. If you try to manage your email marketing all by yourself, you will spend $9 to $1000 per month.


How much to spend on content marketing?

Content marketing for dentists presents content in a wide range of formats for creating awareness and educating prospective patients. It would be a stretch to quote the exact budget allocation for content marketing as it encompasses a host of content formats such as:

  1. Blog posts
  2. Videos
  3. E-books
  4. Dental social media campaigns
  5. Infographics, etc

But most business organizations allocate 22% of their budget to content marketing. However, some businesses spend as much as 43% of their budget on content creation. At Dental Marketo, we recommend our clients to assign 19% to 33% for content marketing. An agency can better review your current position and suggest a suitable amount that needs to be set aside for content marketing alone. 


Finding the right dental marketing company 

An excellent dental digital marketing company is equipped with all the resources to guide your practice on the path to success. But your pursuit for success may soon turn into a massive disappointment if you entrust your marketing responsibilities to a bogus agency. How to find the right marketing agency? Read on to find out!


Evaluate the areas of expertise 

Hiring one-trick ponies whose knowledge is limited to certain areas of marketing is a job half done. A company that crafts a cohesive strategy to address all your ongoing marketing concerns is vital to get new patients at your door. A dental marketing company must possess all the tools, resources, and knowledge to create an overarching plan that successfully establishes your online presence with an omnichannel approach and innovative dental marketing solutions.


Transparent pricing policy

Transparent pricing is an easily identifiable trait of reputed dental marketing agencies. You can quickly figure out if the company has some hidden agenda by evaluating its pricing policy. A substandard agency may either charge too little to rope in maximum clients and introduce new hidden costs to make up for the ‘too good to be true’ rates they offered initially. But an excellent dental marketing agency would be honest and transparent about its pricing structure.


Why shouldn’t you chase agencies with low service fees?

If you’re looking for a dental marketing agency that would do the job for you at dirt cheap rates, you’ll find hundreds of them around. But the thing is – you shouldn’t go looking for one! Tall claims at low prices may seem exciting at first, but you’d be stabbing your foot by running after low service fees agencies. Here are some disastrous consequences you will face if you base your hiring decisions solely on the price factor.


  • It Proves to be a Loss in the Long Run.

Your attempt to save a few bucks will cost more money than you had ever imagined. Hidden fees may pop up now and then, and guess what? You can’t deny paying those extra charges as the agency will put your marketing campaign on hold if you do so. Ultimately, you’ll end up losing more money than what you would have saved by hiring a cheap agency.


  • You’ll Lose Patients to the Competition.

Poorly designed marketing plans and cookie-cutter solutions don’t require extraordinary skills, and hence such agencies demand low fees. Any minor marketing error can immediately backfire, and before you realize it, you have already lost dozens of potential patients to your competition. That’s going to hurt. 


  • You’ll Never Achieve Your Goals. 

A cheap agency neither has the advanced tools or enough marketing experts in their team to plan, organize and implement strategies quickly. Goals that should accomplish within the first six months may take a year or two simply because the team is incapable of adapting to recent trends and doesn’t possess ample resources to materialize your goals into reality.


Settling the debate on in-house marketing v/s dental marketing company

Having an in-house team is great, but with time, you will realize that it is impossible to manage the workforce and salary expenses as your practice starts growing. As you earn more and more patients, you will have to keep expanding your team. This means a steady rise in expenses with very little profit to keep for yourself. Outsourcing to a dental marketing agency will relieve you from the extra burden of overseeing everything from patient treatment to marketing tasks.

Outsourcing is cost-effective since you don’t have to pay a full-time salary, workers comp, insurance, and other expenses to your marketing staff. Apart from expensive wages, you will also incur extra costs for employee benefits. On top of that, additional training costs and lost productivity during employee leaves together will burn a hole in your pocket.

By hiring an agency, you gain access to a massive team with a diverse skillset who can see things from a different perspective. There are SEO specialists, content writers, social media marketing professionals, PPC managers, web designers who work collectively to breathe life into your marketing plans. A dental marketing agency can effectively tackle scaling challenges and relieve the stress of hiring the right talent to adapt to your evolving needs. 



This article intended to provide valuable tips to assist dentists with the nerve-wracking task of dental marketing budgeting. And, well, it was a slightly long read. So let’s refresh your memory:

  • Depending on the yearly revenue earned, your budget allocation will differ. 
  • There are no hard and fast rules, and the total amount assigned for marketing may change from one dental office to another. 
  • Google Ads, SEO, social media, and other digital marketing channels need to work in tandem to yield successful results. So you’ll need to set aside a reasonable amount for each of these activities. 
  • 80 to 85 percent of your marketing budget must go towards digital marketing, whereas the remaining 15 – 20 percent reserves for traditional marketing. 
  • Evaluate how much revenue every dental service and service provider brings, every patient’s worth, and your operational and patient acquisition costs while planning a marketing budget.
  • Ensure that the dental marketing company you hire specializes in comprehensive dental marketing and isn’t a one-trick pony. Also, check if their pricing seems fair and honest.
  • Newly established dental practices would need to allocate about 20 percent of their budget for marketing. With a strong patient base and a dedicated marketing team, an established dental practice will do well, spending 7 to 10 percent of gross revenue on marketing.


The subjects discussed in this article will help you: 

  • Formulate a dynamic budget
  • Allocate your financial resources optimally.
  • Rectify any budgeting errors and focus on improvement areas
  • Achieve your business and marketing goals without overspending 


Dental Marketo

Tired of wearing multiple hats in your dental business? Get in touch with Dental Marketo, the Full-service dentists-only marketing agency, to leverage your dental practice with a buoyant marketing strategy. Destroy the competition and rise to the occasion with our meticulously designed advertising tactics like Google ads, local SEO for dentists, dental social media campaigns, among other dental marketing solutions. Book a complimentary consultation today to find out how we can help you to achieve your dental business goals.


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