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How to create a marketing budget plan for dental businesses?

As a dental marketing company that has lived and breathed this industry, we have come across dozens of dental practices that are willing to invest truckloads of money to build their dental brand but not create an efficient and accurate marketing budget plan to achieve that objective. We have also consulted dental practices that are unsure whether they will sustain their dental digital marketing campaigns because they are worried they may not have the budget to do so down the line.

The common thread that binds these two types of practices is the lack of knowledge about budget planning in dental marketing. Most dental office owners don’t know when, where, why, and how much to allocate in their marketing plan. And because it depends on a variety of factors, many dental practices, or any business for that matter, end up adopting a haphazard approach to budget planning.

Having a marketing budget plan is extremely crucial to avoid impulse decisions and failure to track the amount spent on each marketing channel accurately. It helps you allocate financial resources more effectively. In this article, we’ll take you on a deep dive into designing your marketing budget plan by


  1. Setting and clarifying your marketing goals and KPIs
  2. Choose the right dental digital marketing strategy
  3. Set your revenue expectations and marketing budget
  4. How to design a patient journey
  5.  What dental marketing tactic should you use in your budget plan
  6. How to test your marketing campaigns
  7. How to measure dental digital marketing ROI


Should I spend on Traditional dental marketing or Digital dental marketing?

Traditional marketing is not capable of targeting and segmenting the audience. You simply squander your money away by promoting your practice to people who don’t even fit into your target audience. Besides, the ROI for traditional marketing is way lower than that of digital marketing – dental marketing tactics like email marketing offer an ROI of 4200%!! So while you’d spend a large chunk of your budget on traditional advertising mediums like print ads, the volume of qualified leads and conversions would be insignificant.

Difference between traditional and digital marketing

Traditional Marketing Digital Marketing
Mass marketing with no way to pinpoint the target audience Digital marketing allows audience segmentation based on location, interests, and demographics.
Quite expensive compared to digital marketing. Spend less and gain more with digital marketing.
Difficult to measure the results and performance of advertisements  You can analyze and measure your digital marketing campaign performance in real-time.
Traditional marketing is slowly losing its popularity. 80% of customers do research and shop online.


While you can still allocate a small proportion of your marketing budget to traditional marketing, most of the budget allocation should be towards dental digital marketing to leverage its affordability, profit maximization potential, and hyper-targeting capabilities.

Here are some stats about the importance of digital marketing for dentists and why you should invest in it:

  1. For every $1 spent on Google ads, businesses generate an average of $2 (Google)
  2. Email marketing yields $42 in revenue for every $1 spent
  3. 92% of people pick businesses appearing on the first search result page
  4. Recent HubSpot Research indicates that 68 percent of marketers believe paid advertising is essential to their overall marketing strategy.
  5. PPC ads can increase brand awareness by up to 80%
  6. A Bright Local study suggests that 93% of people read online reviews about a business to determine its good.
  7. According to a survey conducted by Tidio, 59 percent of businesses have invested in chatbots to reduce the waiting time and improve customer experience.


Types of Marketing budget models

Marketing takes up about 11% of an average company’s budget. But many companies are still not sure whether this allocation is optimum or not. A part of that is the lack of clarity about marketing budget models and choosing the ideal business model. 

Dentists should select a suitable marketing budget model that will allow them to optimize budget allocation to help them move towards achieving their marketing goals. While there are a few types of marketing budget models used today, we are going to focus on and discuss the two most popular models: 


  • Percentage of sales

In this method, the marketing budget is determined based on a percentage of the revenue generated in a year. The past year’s gain can be used as a benchmark to calculate this year’s projected sales.

If you wonder what the ideal percentage is, it generally comes around 8 to 15 percent. However, a dental marketing company will suggest the perfect ratio after inspecting your dental practice’s scale and size and the scope of marketing required, among other factors. Revenue is the deciding factor, and the budget fluctuates with the ups and downs in total revenue earned. 


  • Fixed budget

Unlike the above method, a fixed budget model tends to delegate a set amount for marketing in advance. You can analyze your affordability and arrive at a figure. If you are skeptical about having a predetermined budget for the whole year, start by forecasting for the coming quarter. By analyzing how much you can spend in the coming quarter, you can plan your activities well in advance. This model relies on the affordability factor. If you think you can shell more money, you divert more resources to marketing. 

The models mentioned above are just to help you kickstart your budgeting process in an uncomplicated manner. Other dental marketing budgeting models for implementing and consulting an agency specializing in dental marketing can help solve your budget allocation woes. 


How important is mapping the patient journey?

The patient journey starts when a potential patient searches for a dentist on the web until receiving the dental service and leaving the dentistry. Different touchpoints such as search engines, social media, email, websites, or live chat can be the start of a patient’s journey. BY mapping the patient journey, you can identify where you should spend your marketing budget, understand patient pain points, and rectify errors to offer a consistent experience across all touchpoints.

For example, a potential patient might view your dental advertisement while casually browsing the web on his laptop. He may not immediately take any action, but later, when he searches for a local dentist, he comes across your PPC advertising and eventually ends up on your website on his cellphone and book an appointment. 

Here, the patient uses two devices (mobile and laptop) and interacts with your ad, website, and probably your staff too if he chooses to call. He may choose your competitors if they are dissatisfied with the overall experience through the patient journey while interacting with your dental practice.


How to create a patient journey map?

The following steps can create your patient’s journey mapping.

  1. Set clear objectives and scope for the map.
  2. Identify your patient personas and define their goals or pain points.
  3. Select up to three primary patient persona
  4. List the possible touchpoints that patients may interact with your practice.
  5. Determine the resources you need to implement the map
  6. Test the patient journey by taking it yourself
  7. Apply the strategies to the patient journey and make the necessary changes


Goal setting – Cost per lead v/s cost per appointment.

Dental Marketing is no wild goose chase, and every dentist must center his/her marketing plan around reducing the cost per lead and cost per acquisition. A lead refers to a prospective patient who has expressed interest in your dental services—for instance, anyone who fills out a form or makes a phone call inquiry. Cost per lead refers to the money spent on acquiring each lead. These leads may or may not convert into patients. For instance, If you gain twenty leads, only five or six may convert into patients. On the other hand, cost per acquisition is the money spent on acquiring a new patient.

ROI-driven marketing is all about minimizing the cost per lead and cost per acquisition while increasing the patient acquisition rate. What goals should you set for your dental practice? The cost per appointment is what you need to consider. While a higher cost per lead may worry you initially, the cost per acquisition is what matters in the end. In an attempt to reduce your cost per lead, you shouldn’t end up incurring a massive patient acquisition cost.      

If you have a marketing agency by your side, they can increase your chances of cutting down both the costs by testing ads and utilizing a set of tools to measure the marketing campaign KPIs and improve conversion rates. 


How much should you spend on dental marketing?

As a rule of thumb, you must be able to generate eight to ten times more revenue from marketing compared to what you spend. The budget also depends on whether your practice is newly established or operating for years in the market. You can pre-decide the number of patients you want to earn and adopt a backward calculation approach.

For instance, if you wish to generate $1,200,000 at the end of the year, you need to put aside a minimum of $120,000 (10% of revenue) annually for marketing. Revenue of $1,200,000 is possible only if you earn at least 480 new patients spending $2500 a year. The CAC can be up to $250 per dental patient.

According to Linchpin’s Projected 2021 Average Cost Per Lead By Industry and Channel, the healthcare industry’s average cost per lead stands at $162. 

A Wealthy Dentist survey suggests that 22% of dentists spend above $5000 a month on marketing.


Marketing Budget Calculator  You may use this Marketing Budget Calculator to estimate the marketing budget



8 powerful marketing tactics to include in your marketing plan

Achieve your ambitious marketing goals with the right marketing plan that encompasses a wide range of digital marketing tactics. Below are a few tried and tested marketing strategies that have helped dentists accelerate their dental practices by leaps and bounds. 

1. Google Ads

Also referred to as Pay per click ads, these have emerged as one of the most lucrative and effective dental marketing solutions for most dentists struggling to gain visibility. Google ads appear above all the organic search results with the sole intention of capturing prospective patients’ attention. No matter your website’s ranking, a PPC ad reserves a spot for you on top. Plus, Google deducts money only when a user clicks the ad. Visibility on top coupled with increased traffic to landing pages, and Google Ads have helped dental practices bounce back to success. 


2. Social media advertising

Social media has gained such widespread popularity that people’s conversations revolve around viral content shared and liked across social media. Social media marketing for dental clinics can steer your dental clinic’s growth to new heights with limited monetary resources. 

Facebook and Instagram have enabled highly targeted advertising in favor of businesses. There is no reason you as a dentist should refrain from launching targeted and trend-savvy dental social media campaigns. With the same amount of monthly budget, you can reach a wider audience relevant to your dental specialization area and regularly engage with patients or prospective patients. 


3. Dental SEO

Search Engine Optimization for dentists optimizes your website and your digital footprint to improve your website’s visibility on search engines. Organic traffic is vital to attaining higher rankings, and there are several whitehat SEO techniques that you can employ to grab the top spot.

From optimizing your website for the local audience to modifying content to match the quality criteria of Google algorithms, dental SEO establishes your dental practice as an authority in the industry by making your website easily discoverable. Apart from keyword research, internal linking, backlinks, and a user-friendly interface are crucial components of SEO for dental websites and contribute to higher rankings.


4. Social media management

Social media management is different from social media marketing in that the latter has its focuses on generating leads through multiple strategies. Social media management refers to publishing content on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, establishing an engaging relationship with prospects by responding to their comments, encouraging their participation, and inspiring them to share your content.


5. Dental Reputation and review management

Healthcare is one of those sectors where online reputation management for doctors matters significantly. If there are negative reviews doing rounds on the internet, you should not be surprised if you end up losing your existing patients as well.

There is no way to stop people from posting negative reviews, but you can prevent them from spreading like wildfire. Reputation management for dentists negates the bad reviews’ effect by diverting prospects’ attention to positive comments and feedback. With 70% of users trusting online reviews, dentists cannot overlook the ratings and feedback registered online.


6. Technology

Incorporating technology into every aspect of your practice is the only way to stay in tune with evolving patient needs. Chatbots are one of the integral components of digital marketing for a dental practice.

They assist patients by immediately responding to their queries on behalf of your staff and scheduling3 appointments without keeping them on hold for long hours. A ‘book appointment button is an absolute must on websites and landing pages to facilitate hassle-free online bookings anytime, anywhere.


7. Email marketing

Emails establish direct communication with patients and offer a cost-effective means to convey personalized messages with relevant offers and discounts. Emails have proven to be handy dental marketing tools to attract a steady stream of return patients. A study by Dental Marketing Association suggests that email marketing fetches a revenue of $42 for every $1 spent on it.

For example, you can inform patients about ongoing discount rates on root canal treatment and encourage them to book an appointment by including a call to action button in your email. 


8. Content marketing

Content marketing for dentists is essentially any content published to create awareness, educate, engage, and ultimately persuade the target audience to take favorable action. Quality content rules the internet, and it is the only way to reinforce the brand continually and stay on top of patients’ minds. A dental practice’s collective content marketing efforts culminate into a skyrocketing success rate with enhanced visibility and brand recognition. An excellent content marketing strategy uses blogs, videos, photos, infographics, ebooks, newsletters, and whitepapers to promote a favorable opinion among patients.


Testing cost

Marketing campaign testing essentially means comparing two versions or isolated aspects of the same marketing campaign by sending them to a limited number of users. A/B testing and multivariate testing are the two common ways employed by a dental digital marketing agency.

Testing a campaign saves money in the long run as you don’t end up launching poor campaigns with low leads or conversions rate. Since marketing professionals better handle testing campaigns, collecting data, and implementing changes, it is better to seek a well-experienced agency.  


How to test campaigns?

Let us take the example of an email marketing campaign to understand the concept better.

  1. Create two versions of the same email campaign. (Campaign A and B)
  2. Set your KPIs such as open rate, click rate, and conversions.
  3. Give a different headline, CTA, body text, or color to each one of them.
  4. Divide the same audience type into two groups. 
  5. Send them the email campaigns at the same time.
  6. Determine the KPIs and analyze the responses.
  7. Once you have all the data, launch the campaign that received better responses on a wide scale. 

You can also test PPC ads and Facebook ads to identify a set of keyword combinations that convert best for you. 


Campaign testing cost

It is recommended to allocate 10 to 20 percent of your marketing budget only to testing. The number of variables and various segments of the audience involved in the testing process depends on your budget. The dental digital marketing agency you choose must possess the most advanced tools and software to test ads simultaneously and track results. 


Beware of hidden costs.

Hidden costs in the name of testing might come as a bolt from the blue if you hadn’t bothered to check its credibility while hiring. Suppose you come across any company that promises to deliver at rates too good to be true, back off immediately. Such companies already have made elaborate plans to extract money from you in the name of hidden charges. They claim that these extra charges were incurred as a result of testing your ad campaigns. Always remember that a trustworthy agency discloses all the costs beforehand. Testing is an inevitable part of dental marketing services, and charging additional fees at the time of launch is unfair and unethical. 


How to measure ROI on dental digital marketing?

You want your revenue to trend upwards after all the heavy investment in marketing. Calculating ROI is a complex process, significantly if you have invested in multiple marketing channels. Here are some factors you should monitor while calculating your marketing ROI:

  1. The sales produced by each marketing channel include dental PPC ads, social media ads, or emails.
  2. The number of new patients earned
  3. The number of return patients
  4. Profit of the services that most patients chose to avail

Assumptions stand no chance if you are aiming to beat the competition and earn revenue surpassing your expectations. You can take advantage of a professional dental marketing company’s expertise that relies on the most advanced tools and software to calculate ROI with pinpoint precision.

Dental Marketo

At Dental Marketo, we have years of experience designing and implementing ROI-driven digital marketing strategies for dentists. Together, we’ll put your practice on the roadmap to success.

Book your consultation today!


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