How combining multiple marketing strategies can enhance each one and bring fresh results
by Tyler Entz
Marketing: It’s an issue every business must face at some point. The question isn’t so much whether to market but about the best ways to do so, and which platforms to use. With a plethora of options available, selecting the right ones isn’t always an easy or obvious choice.
When it comes to orthodontics, the marketing can be particularly tricky. Unlike in general dentistry, the target audience has a much narrower focus. Finding the patient who needs orthodontic work at the right time can be difficult.
However, a new buzzword in marketing is helping orthodontists reach their target audience much easier and helping them grow their patient base.
Amplification is a relatively new concept in marketing and one that is proving to be successful in not only bringing in new clients, but also helping to retain current clients.
But before we move forward, there’s one element vital to marketing, and that’s commitment. Regardless of whatever business you’re in, the key to a successful marketing campaign is having a consistent marketing strategy and staying with it, even if you don’t see the results right away.
With that in mind, what are the best ways to market in an age where there are literally thousands of different options available to businesses?
To start, let’s take a look at some of the unique challenges facing orthodontists specifically.
First, there is no traditional “busy season” for which orthodontists can focus a big push marketing campaign. However, there are what I’d call windows where opportunities exist, such as school breaks and during the summer, when it’s more convenient for families to schedule appointments.
The second hurdle can often be the target audience itself. While more adults are getting orthodontic work done, the business is facing stiff competition from newer technologies that promise results for less money (e.g., direct-to-consumer aligners). From an orthodontic perspective, when you look at the target audience, the majority of clients will be children, ranging from 7–13. Plus, unlike other medical procedures, orthodontic work isn’t often part of a person’s medical plan, so there is “no use it or lose it” rush at the end of the year.
A third factor for orthodontists is how long you’ve been in practice, which might determine the marketing approach.
Here’s where amplification comes into play. I’ve found the best strategies combine traditional marketing tools with current technologies to increase the success rate of the campaign. (Hence the term “amplification.”)
This blending of tactics should be like a well-balanced meal. Your main course could be the direct response tactic, such as a targeted direct mail campaign, while the side dish is something that enhances the main course.
While it may seem out of date, targeted direct mail continues to be one of the more successful and cost-effective marketing tools available to businesses of all sizes. And by utilizing data and a hypertargeting approach, direct mail has become the leader in direct response marketing.
Two of the more popular and successful amplification tools are mail-to-mobile and targeted display advertising. In both cases, they tap the same targeting data used in the initial direct mailing.
Mail-to-mobile works hand in hand with the targeted direct mail effort by utilizing the same targeting criteria used with the direct mail component. Using that data, we can draw up a geofence around the homes of all the folks getting the direct mail. We then focus on that geofenced area to reach out and engage those households through mobile marketing.
To do this, we use in-app ads to reach potential clients with compelling offers. By reaching potential customers in apps they use consistently, we can improve and amplify the response rate of a traditional campaign by 5%–30%, depending on the number of impressions and frequency. When talking about, say, 10,000 potential clients, that much higher success rate means a lot more people coming through the door.
We analyze all of our campaigns using a method called “holdout group testing.” This method measures the incremental lift between two sample groups of the same campaign—one group that gets just the direct mail and other group that receives the amplified effort. This is how we can show the results of the amplification.
The mail-to-mobile technology uses demographic information for the targeted households to find the apps they use most often. In some cases, the digital offer isn’t really a direct response but helps the campaign in a number of ways. To begin with, the mobile advertising is building brand awareness and increasing the overall impressions that will drive a consumer to act. It also drives consumers back to the direct mail component. In marketing, it’s usually not one impression or tactic that converts a customer, but a collection of touches that over time drives the direct response.
Going on display
Let’s assume you choose to use the direct mail campaign amplified with the mail-to-mobile tool. You may still be missing out on potential clients, regardless of how targeted the outreach is. This is where the display advertising component comes into play. Whereas the mail-to-mobile option targets specific households within the geofence created earlier, the display advertising component casts a wider net.
Think of this approach as being more generic and less focused, from a platform perspective. Typically, this strategy focuses on a radius around the practice, then sends targeted display ads on search engines to everyone within that radius. Whether it’s Google or another search engine, ads will pop up on the potential customer’s mobile device or computer, reinforcing your direct mail message.
At first glance, this strategy may seem extremely random. In the business, we often call this approach the “spray and pray” strategy. However it’s a concept rooted in previous success. Every marketing campaign wants to hit the potential client at home. However, there may be times when a potential client may not live in the geofenced area.
As stated above, the target audience for an orthodontist is parents of school-age children. By adding this strategy to your overall campaign, you can target these families where they’re most likely to spend their time—and by doing so, we can increase the impressions and build a collection of touches. This strategy reaches clients in places like sports complexes, parks, schools— even their jobs. These are ideal places to target parents with one or more children who will likely be needing orthodontic work.
The display ad tool reaches potential clients where they work and play, not just where they live. Think of it as another net to catch the potential customer who might have otherwise slipped away.
A bonus to combining the two amplification tools with the more traditional direct mail is that it keeps a constant stream of messaging to the potential client. This drives up consultation scheduling, and also helps to build brand recognition.
There are also opportunities to use the digital tools to redirect the consumer to other platforms. Depending on the practice’s goals, we can direct that mobile app or website click to a handful of other options. An orthodontist can send potential clients to a scheduling page or an offers page on their website—anything, really. The big thing, particularly for orthodontists, is just scheduling that consultation to get the client to walk through the doors.
Information is king
One of the benefits of amplifying a traditional direct mail campaign with the digital tools is the sheer amount of information that orthodontists can glean from every ad.
Without getting too technical, using these tools, an orthodontist can capture and then target the unique phone ID or IP addresses of potential clients. That information can then be used to retarget that individual in the future. Once that digital ad is redirected, the customer information you collect on your website will allow you to communicate with them again and send them new offers.
This also allows your practice to build a database of potential clients and try to get them through the doors.
Here’s something to be aware of: The process leading up to the release of any marketing campaign in orthodontics is different than in other businesses.
The first step in this process is utilizing the existing patient database. For orthodontists specifically, the best way to start is to evaluate the patient database on location, income and demographics, and then to create what we call “lookalikes.” These are potential patients who already have much in common with the practice’s current clientele.
In other words, use the existing customer data to drive insights for the best potential customer moving forward. In a way, it’s like getting digital referrals. You’re targeting the individuals who would most likely be referred to your practice by clients you already have.
Don’t go it alone
Finding the right partner to implement any marketing strategy, particularly one using amplification, is very important.
Here are some tips to finding the right people to work with as you build your marketing strategy.
Find a partner who is willing to test and understand where those best results are coming from.
Find a partner who will be transparent with the data. Too often, firms want to sugarcoat the results to make them look better than they really are. Work with someone who will tell you what worked and what didn’t.
Find a partner who can find solutions to aspects of a campaign that were weaker than expected.
Using an amplified marketing strategy that blends a variety of marketing techniques is already proving to be highly successful, but it takes time and commitment to see true results. Give your campaigns three to six months to work. Remember: The longer you test, the better you’ll be able to dial in and optimize your budget and results.
Every market is different, and every practice is different. There is no magic bullet when it comes to marketing success, particularly in the orthodontics arena. You may have to massage the formula to find the optimal solution, and it’s going to take time. But if you commit, go in with a smart strategy and use the amplified techniques and tools discussed here, you’ll find the success you’re looking for.