Categories
Digital Marketing Internet

Using live chat to improve your dental practice

A Guest blog from Kontak. The opinions expressed are from Kontak not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.

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At Kontak, our business is to develop new technologies that will increase the effectiveness of websites.  While not exactly new, we’ve developed an app that has a proven track record in other fields of expertise, and especially with e-commerce. When adapted and used by dentists, we have seen this technology help connect patients with dentists. What is this app? Live Chat.

What it Is

You have probably visited a website where a pop-up window appears and asks if you have questions or need help. That is Live Chat. When you type your question into the pop-up window, there is an immediate response. The ensuing conversation with the live chat specialist can answer specific questions you might have: how to schedule an appointment, how you receive payment, what services you offer, and so on. Live chat will not give advice on medical issues, try to diagnose dental problems, or suggest treatments.

What are the Benefits of Live Chat?

We think there is a whole generation of people who would prefer to search online or text for answers rather than pick up a phone and call. Live chat fits right into this communication model. And it works especially well because it is available 24/7. A trained chat specialist is always on duty, so even if you need to search for a dentist at midnight, you will find a live person available to answer your questions.

In addition to 24/7 accessibility, behind-the-scenes technology associated with live chat can collect the prospective patient’s contact information and the reason for their search, and immediately forward it to the dentist so they can respond as soon as the office opens. A chat service can also record the conversation and supply a transcript to the website manager.

Along with connecting website visitors to the office, live chat service can provide website analytics to monitor the effectiveness of web marketing.

New Kid on the Block

At Kontak, we understand that in order to be effective, a business needs to change with the times. Having a live chat service embedded on your website is a proven method of engagement that leads to conversion. Kontak offers a risk-free trial period. Check it out and see if you should be using live chat to improve your dental practice. This technology just may become the new receptionist on your website.

Categories
Cameras Digital Marketing

Worth a Thousand Pictures

A guest blog by Daniel A. ‘Danny’ Bobrow, MBA (finance), MBA (marketing), president of AIM Dental Marketing The opinions expressed are from Danny Bobrow not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.


 

BobrowFor years, we’d asked, encouraged, cajoled, and even beseeched our clients to collect Testimonial Videos from their patients.

While nearly without exception each client seemed to grasp the value of doing so few, if any, did so. I realized then that, as with any other endeavor, simply ‘wanting it,’ while necessary, is insufficient. One needs a Plan. This led to an entire weekend sequestered in my office. The result was a nine step process for securing these good as gold testimonials.

Worth a thousand pictures
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. The corollary to this is that video is worth a million. That goes not only for website visitors, but also for Google which, when it comes to connecting web surfers with websites, is the internet’s Traffic Cop. Videos from a practice’s patients are a great way to get a dental website ranked, as well as to provide the ‘social proof’ people using the internet seek to help with their decision to contact a dental practice.

Once the Team has mastered the nine step process, it will want to carefully select the ‘best’ patients to serve as Testimonials for the practice. ‘Best’ in this case, has nothing to do with how ‘videogenic’ they may be. It has everything to do with selecting patients who represent a demographic, procedural, and location-based cross section of the current or desired patient base.

An example of demographic selection would be the practice that wishes to attract more families, In that case, it would be ideal to have a patient appear on video who can talk about (or ideally have on camera with them) their children.

Procedure-specific selection would be exemplified by a practice, which performs restoration and/or placement of implants. In this case, it is advisable to select a patient who can share how her life was transformed by that procedure, then be sure to place that video on the practice’s implants landing page where it will be seen by those who are specifically interested in that procedure.

A key benefit from selecting a geographic cross section of the practice’s patient base is that it can also help get the website ranked for communities outside the practice’s geographic location. Bobrow explains “When it comes to ranking websites high on its results pages, Google is becoming more and more ‘location-centric.’ This means dental practices that are located in the town from which a search originates, that is, the IP address of the computer being used, will, other things equal, receive preferential consideration and ranking. This can be unfair to the practice which, for example, just happens to be located across the street from another town/zip code. Fortunately, by optimizing patient testimonial videos to make explicit reference to the fact the patient who is the subject of the video lives or works in another community, Google will factor that into its ranking decision.”

Need help? Contact AIM Dental Marketing at 1-800-723-6523 or Info@AIMDentalMarketing.com

NOTE: Danny will be teaming with Dr. Emmott to present “Technology on the Rocks” May 18-20, 2017 in Sedona AZ.

Categories
Management

Close Your ” Performance Gap”  by Knowing Your Box Score

A Guest blog from Danny Bobrow. The opinions expressed are from Danny not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.



Triple Your New Patient Flow Without Investing Another Dollar in Marketing

I recently I had the pleasure of hosting Chris Phelps, DMD on my PracticePerfection© online education series.  PracticePerfection© is committed to delivering skills and training from leading educators in the fields of medicine and dentistry. Particular emphasis is placed on the links between oral and overall health that are so vital to improving patient outcomes while increasing practice income.  Presenters are invited who can speak on one or more of the Three Cs of Oral Systemic Health, those being:  Clinical, Collaborative, and Communication products, protocols, and other resources.

Chris is an entrepreneurial dentist whose emphasis on marketing tracking technology was instrumental in catapulting him into the stratosphere of dental practice success.  Applying the Principles of Influence as taught by Robert CIaldini, PhD, the leading authority on the psychology of influence, Chris has helped hundreds of dentists ‘get to yes’ with their patients.

Chris is the only dental professional to be certified to coach on the Cialdini Method of Influence.

Combining these principles with his tracking technology,  Chris realized a tenfold increase in production when most dentists were struggling just to keep production level (the 2008-2010 Economic downturn).

This proven track record is what led me to invite him to speak to our Group, and why you will glad you tuned in as well.

It is also why we chose to incorporate  his technology into our own program as CallTrackDNA.

The Presentation begins by discovering the “…guerrillas keeping you from growing your practice” then progresses quickly to a sharing of the “…opportunities and challenges on the horizon,” including the increasing trend toward consolidation, and the impending polarization of the profession, as evidenced by the increasing interest of the private equity industry on the dental profession (one group with whom Chris met invested over $250 million on dental practice consolidation in 2015 alone).

Chris is indeed a forward thinker who uses his practice as an applied R&D facility. It occurs to me that, if more dental professionals realized that, in a real sense, their own practice is actually a focus group that pays them to learn about how to improve their marketing, it could represent a positive attitudinal shift toward the subject of marketing.

Chris’s goal for the Presentation is to:

  • Educate the private dental practice owner on how marketing really works (and doesn’t work)
  • Present challenges to attracting new patients…and
  • Deliver actionable solutions to these challenges

Enjoy the webcast!

Categories
Management

Reports to Maximize Your Practice’s Productivity

A Guest blog from Denise Ciardello. The opinions expressed are from Denise not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.


 

“What reports should I be looking at daily, weekly and monthly?” I wish I had a nickel for every time I have been asked this—my Starbucks habit would be covered for life.

Unfortunately, this question often doesn’t get asked until after fraudulent activity has already occurred in a practice. The fact is that there are just a few reports that, when run and used regularly, could have spared the frustration.

Now I know there are a few people that drool with excitement over the idea of cranking through reports and numbers; however, since many of us are not quite as thrilled with reports, I will keep the list short and sweet.

Daily Reports You Should Be Running

  • Day sheet. It should only take the doctor 10 minutes to review this report every day, which lists all activity in the office for that day, including procedures completed and monies collected. The doctor looking through this report each day ensures that all procedures are recorded accurately—because I have yet to meet a doctor that remembers a month later that Mrs. Jones had a DO on #19, not an MO.
  • Adjustments only day sheet. There are so many reasons for adjustments, insurance being the main culprit. Because adjustments are inevitable, I recommend a cursory review of all the money that is being removed from the practice’s bank account on a daily basis to identify issues. Then if something seems out of line, you can ask timely questions.
  • Deposit slip. The numbers on this report should balance with all money that was collected for the day—credit card slips, checks, cash and electronic transfers. Keeping this balanced can help you stay on top of your finances before they become an issue.

 

Weekly Reports You Should Be Running

Depending on the length of these reports, they can be delayed to run biweekly or even monthly. However, the longer the report, the more often it should be run and reviewed.

  • Insurance aging. With the invention of the Internet, eClaims and electronic payments, it is no longer normal to wait 30 days for claims to be paid. Claims can be tracked online, and reports with the status of outstanding claims appear with each claim submission. Insurance companies are even oftentimes emailing the office that a payment is in the bank. This report should never be more than a few pages long.
  • Aging report and/or billing statemen It is normal in the dental field to send out statements once a month. However, if you send out 300 statements on Thursday your phone will be ringing off the hook come Monday. Running this report every other week will ensure that you will never have to worry about not having the staffing power to keep up with calls or patients who are calling to schedule an appointment having trouble getting through.Consider splitting up your statements before sending them out, like in alphabetical order. Send A-G one week, then H-M, and so forth. This will keep the calls manageable. As a bonus, this will allow revenue to come in all month long.

 

Monthly Reports You Should Be Running

These are great reports to review with your team at monthly meetings.

  • Practice analysis. Have you ever wondered what procedure(s) account for the majority of your production? This report will tell you what was done each month. It can also be used to compare to the year over year in the number of procedures. This is valuable information that will truly allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of the practice and see opportunities to grow.
  • New patient report. This will allow you to know who came in and how they were referred, as well as the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing efforts. You can know which of your patients are talking about you because as a rule of thumb, your current patients should refer 70% of your new patients.

There are so many reports that can be run if you have the time and desire. I encourage you to explore some of those reports also, but if you don’t have the time and simply want the basic reports for a successful practice, these are key to keeping an eye on your business and avoiding headaches down the road.

To learn more read my new eBook “5 Ways to Increase Your Practice Productivity”.

Categories
Paperless

Your Practice and Patients Will Love Going Paperless

A Guest blog from Dayna Johnson. The opinions expressed are from Dayna not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.

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Exhausted dentistBy: Dayna Johnson

Reasons Why Your Practice and Patients Will Love Going Paperless

You’ve probably heard it: “It’s the 21st century—go digital.” It sounds like an easy feat until you start to apply it to your practice. With tried and true methods of filing and billing, switching over would be a lot of headache, right?

Wrong. For the business side of running your practice, dental practice management software is the solution for going paperless, which will save you and your patients money.

Today’s Patients Expect Digital

Many patients expect their information to be available to you and them in seconds. No one wants to be sitting in a chair while their dentist fumbles with papers or deciphers handwritten notes.

Your younger patients are certainly more likely to respect your practice if it is up-to-date with technology. Studies have shown that 91 percent of millennials find digital documents more current. But if catering to 20-30 year olds isn’t your goal, consider the fact that 64 percent of all American adults own a smartphone, and even users aged 50 and older are regularly texting and emailing.

Patients Will Love It

Being able to correspond via email or text message, including appointment reminders and statements, streamlines the process of communicating with patients. Not only can they access all the information from their handheld device, they also can do it at a time that is convenient for them, rather than during business hours.

Many people claim that a visit to the dentist is inconvenient to fit into their busy schedules. Save your new patients time by making forms available to fill out online beforehand will cut down on their time in your waiting room.

Without physical files to keep organized, your office staff can focus on building personal relationships with your patients. The better experience the patients have during their visit, the more likely they are to keep returning.

Gets Your Office on the Same “Page”

Being connected with interoffice chat systems, digital patient files and easily accessible information ensures that everyone in your practice will see each other’s notes and comments about a patient—from scheduling to billing to their favorite flavor of toothpaste.

Plus, any team memos or reminders can be sent out to the whole staff for easy communication between shifts and departments.

Enhanced Security Features

There is not much security surrounding a printed piece of paper, even with the likes of envelopes and shredders on hand. But going digital provides confidential, password-protected arenas for patients to look at their dental information and billing with confidence that HIPAA laws are being upheld, and that no prying eyes will see their charts.

Additionally, the paperless system comes equipped with automatic backups for patient charts, X-rays, insurance claims, billing statements and calendars, so you never have to worry about accidentally tossing an important document.

Need more reasons to switch to digital? Download this infographic to find out how your practice can become more efficient, consistent, and secure.

Need More Help Going Paperless? Look Here:

Categories
Security

Encrypted email means dental providers can easily exchange secure messages

A Guest blog from Christine Alfano. The opinions expressed are hers not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.

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By Christine Alfano

As the need for dental practices to share Protected Health Information (PHI) grows so do the risks associated with data sharing. For years, practices have been using email to communicate with fellow professionals, patients and payers. Now, thanks to advances in technology, there are options to make email communications encrypted and truly secure. Best of all, the latest secure email tools also allow for a seamless, plug-n-play experience working with existing email services. It is easy and affordable for any practice to implement and use.

Lindy Benton, CEO of MEA|NEA, provider of secure information exchange solutions for dental and medical clients has this to say. “End-to-end encryption is something the professionals we serve have been asking for. Through a partnership with Virtru, MEA|NEA can give our clients a new level of control of their practice’s email communications. We’re making it easy and cost-effective for our clients to have added security when dealing with patient information, and peace of mind knowing that the information they’re emailing is HIPAA-compliant.”

The Virtru encrypted email solution works directly with a practice’s existing email system so it’s easy to use for senders and recipients and does not disrupt normal business processes. Users simply send a message from the same email program they currently use; no new accounts, portals or logins are required. Users also can revoke an email at any time, even after it’s been opened, as well as restrict forwarding and set expiration dates for reading the information sent in the communication.

How it works

Once activated, the service is ready for use in minutes in an existing email service like Outlook or Gmail. The sender just flips a switch any time to send a secure email. The email, along with any attachments sent, are encrypted on the device and can only be decrypted and opened by authorized recipients. Additionally, account administrators can easily set up rules that automatically encrypt emails based on identified content like SSN formatted data, credit card numbers, DOBs and more.

Data security should be top of mind for every dental practice large or small. Technologies like encrypted, secure email services combined with electronic practice management and claim attachment solutions can help practices secure patient information, streamline workflows and improve overall practice communications.

 

Christine Alfano is senior director of corporate and product marketing at MEA|NEA, a provider of secure cloud storage, electronic attachment and secure health information exchange solutions to more than 50,000 dental provider clients throughout the United States.

Categories
Digital Marketing Internet Social Media

Google+ and the Dental Office

A Guest blog from Sesame Communications The opinions expressed are from Sesame not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.

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By: Sesame Communications

Google+ Announcements

An announcement was made last week regarding the latest evolution of Google+.  A few of the great new features on the dashboard below are Insights which show the owner how many views their Google+ page has received, Driving Directions which shows where requestors are when looking for driving directions and Top Searches where the office can see which search terms are being used to find them.

Google+ Insights

“On June 10th, Google launched a new dashboard for businesses and Google+ page owners that will provide them with a single dashboard to manage many of their daily activities around Google’s tools. The new dashboard will, for example, allow businesses to update their info, including their website URLs, business hours and phone numbers, across Google Maps, Search and on Google+ right from the tools Overview tab.

As Google’s Pavni Diwanji notes in the announcement, the idea here is to “make it easier to manage your online presence – all across Google.”

In addition to managing their info across Google’s properties, the new dashboard will also give businesses the ability to monitor their Google+ notifications and to perform standard Google+ actions to manage photos and videos. They can also start Hangouts right from the dashboard.

Google+ Dashboard

Besides managing their presence, Google also allows these users to manage their AdWords and Google Offers campaigns and provides them with a number of stats for their businesses. (Pay-Per-Click Marketing Tools).”

Source: http://techcrunch.com/2013/06/10/new-google-dashboard-lets-page-owners-manage-their-online-presence-adwords-express-and-offers-campaigns/

Here is another interesting piece of information:
“Today, we are announcing a new dashboard in Google+ for all pages managed in Google+, including local business/place category pages. Read more here.”

Please note — if you are using Google Places for Business, please continue to do so. New users who are interested in appearing on Google Maps should also start at places.google.com. This announcement only affects business owners who are already using Google+ to manage pages.” This is going to be the case for most practices, and is currently causing another duplicates issue. Any BRAND NEW locations / offices should be ok, but if an office has previously been on Google Maps, there is a high chance that business listing duplicates may appear.

Happy Googling!

Categories
Digital Marketing Social Media

Scheduling Posts in Facebook

A Guest blog from Deploy Dental. The opinions expressed are from Deply Dental not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.

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By: Deploy Dental

Are you still using third party applications like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, etc. to schedule your Social Media posts? Did you know that this ability is available to you, right through Facebook? Well don’t worry because even though this change was implemented last year, many people and small businesses still don’t know about it, and it continues to be one of the most underused features on Facebook.

Uses and Drawbacks

There are several reasons why you might want to schedule your Social Media posts ahead of time. If you (hopefully) have dedicated a certain amount of time per day or week to focus on Social Media, you might be creating more content than you can actually post at once. By scheduling these posts (such as a series of pictures, case studies, etc.) you will be prepared for any unforeseen events that might keep you from doing an update, or maybe even if you are just going on a vacation. Another instance is if you have perhaps created a post that is specific to an upcoming event or holiday. By scheduling your post ahead of time, you can make sure your post coincides without having to take action on that specific day.

One drawback about scheduling posts ahead of time is simply that you might not be as reactionary to a current event as you’d otherwise be. For example, if there is some sort breaking news or technology development within your industry, it is crucial to be at the forefront of this trending topic.

Additionally, one drawback to keep in mind is that this scheduling feature is still only available through Facebook, so if you are also currently using Twitter then this will not preclude you from needing third party applications like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to schedule tweets.

schedule-a-post-facebookHow To Do It

The process is really as simple as can be; it’s just that the icon is so subtle that many people miss it. After adding the text/images you’d like to post, click the clock icon in the bottom left of your post. Then, just choose the year, month, day, hour, and minute scheduling options and click ‘Schedule’

Once you have scheduled a post, you can view/manage all upcoming posts through the Activity log, which is located in the Admin Panel.

facebook-activity-log

Categories
Digital Marketing Social Media

Evaluating Facebook Home

A Guest blog from Deploy Dental. The opinions expressed are from Deply Dental not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.

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By: Deploy Dental

facebook-homeOn April 12th, Facebook officially released its new mobile app called Facebook Home, which at this time is only available for smart phones running the Android operating system. Additionally, Facebook actively promotes the HTC First as the phone that provides the best user experience, as it now comes pre loaded with Facebook Home.

The primary goal of this app is to place Facebook (as well as its subsidiary Instagram) at the center of a mobile device and make it the most easily accessed app for those users who value staying connected with their network above all else.

Why There is Potential

Among several new additions, “Cover Feed” is easily both the most significant and controversial of Facebook Home’s features, basically because it makes Facebook the primary use of the phone. When the app is installed, a smart phone will no longer display a “lock” screen, but instead show a picture and/or status update from a Facebook friend. The user can swipe to view all the latest content from within their network, all without ever entering the app through traditional means. If it catches on, there is great potential for increased Facebook use on mobile devices because just think about how much one might use the app if a brand new photo (enticing them to interact) is present every time they pick up their phone.

Why It Might Fail

The reception to Facebook Home has been mixed at best. Among complaints of the app making the phone too complicated and different from the traditional user experience, there is also increased privacy concerns. With no lock screen, anyone who has their phone lost or stolen has immediately given away access to their Facebook account to the person who lost/stole it. According to a Yahoo News story:

            “Facebook Home’s Google Play page shows that roughly 47% of Android users have given the new software just one star so far, while another 14.5% have given it two stars. Taken together, 61.5% of Google Play users so far have given Facebook’s newest Android software a below-average rating and Facebook Home’s overall rating on Google Play stands at 2.3 stars.”

Why Advertisers Should Still Pay Attention

There is no doubt that the company will be listening to user feedback and making some necessary adjustments, so there is great potential for advertisers if Facebook Home overcomes the concerns described above. According to a study by the research firm eMarketer and cited by The Guardian:

            “Facebook earned more US mobile display revenue than any other publisher last year, with an 18.4% share of the entire market, thanks to ads in the news feed. The move helped overall ad revenues rise 36% year-on-year to $4.27bn in 2012, according to the company’s most recent full-year results.”

Since mobile ads will now be served to a select number of pages viewed through the “Cover Feed” feature, this will directly correlate to an increase in mobile advertising market share, should the app gain widespread appeal.

Categories
Digital Marketing General Social Media

Facebook Introduces “Graph Search”

A Guest blog from Deploy Dental. The opinions expressed are from Deply Dental not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.

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By: Deploy Dental

At a recent media event, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg commenced with what had been built up as a major and secretive announcement. The two competing theories that seemed to dominated online discussions was that Facebook would unveil either a phone or a search engine. It turned out to be the latter, and while a phone may have been more exciting to consumers, the opportunities a Facebook search engine provides to business owners and marketers is much more valuable in the long run.

Called “Graph Search,” it is not (initially at least) meant to compete with Google for everyday Web searches. Rather, it is simply a tool that makes it much easier to find content that has been shared within a user’s network.

People, Photos, and Interests

The first three demonstrated areas of Graph Search were all somewhat pedestrian; adding to the ease of user experience as opposed to significantly changing the product. The application of search means that, instead of having to view a specific user’s page or timeline and manually finding a post they made, one can simply search for it using keywords. Facebook really did a good job on what they called ‘normal language’ searches, meaning that longer phrases can be used to narrow down results. An example used in the presentation was “friends in San Francisco.” The result displayed all the friends, and friends of friends, who live in that city. The same was demonstrated for friends with specific interests, and for photos from certain events or time periods.

Places

Perhaps the area of Graph Search that means the most to businesses and marketers alike, is the ability to search for places. During the presentation, they specifically mention using this feature to search for a local businesses like dentists or restaurants in San Francisco. This puts Facebook right in the mix as a new medium for search marketing.

Potential Ranking Factors for Local Searches

According to the presentation, the number one factor that determines how a business ranks for a local search is interaction within a user’s network (i.e. friend’s likes). However, it was also mentioned that several other factors make up Facebook’s proprietary algorithm, and that an emphasis would be placed on fresh and accurate information. We can speculate that these factors may include such things as number of likes, amount of posts, comments, pictures, fan interaction, and perhaps even level of page customization. It only makes sense that Facebook will give priority to those local businesses that utilize the platform to its fullest extent, so it is more important than ever for business owners to participate and build a Facebook audience.

Paid Search Marketing

During the question and answer portion of the event, the issue of keyword-based, paid search results was brought up… and then flatly put to rest. At this time, the keyword entered by a user will have no effect on the resulting ads displayed in search results. They seem to be focusing mainly on user experience rather than generating revenue. But with that vast opportunity for revenue, it would be hard to see a traditional keyword-based pay per click model being adopted in the future, since much more relevant ads could be served to users based on interests expressed in the search.

Partnership with Bing

During the presentation, Mark Zuckerberg stated that Graph Search would also be incorporating Microsoft Bing search results, but only when a search could not return any relevant social content (the example put forth was checking weather conditions). As of yet, Facebook is not looking to directly compete with Google, but again, considering the potential revenue it would be hard to see Facebook not implementing this sometime in the future. It could very well be that Bing will be used to incorporate an entire web search, with Facebook fan pages acting as local businesses listings, similar to how Google uses its map listings (Google+ Local).

Final Thoughts

As more information becomes available we will continue to keep you updated. As of right now, Graph Search is in Beta (testing) mode, so is limited to only a select but growing number. You can, however, see a preview of Graph Search and join a waiting list by visiting the tool here: http://www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch

Categories
Digital Marketing Internet Social Media

The Importance of Author Profile Photos

A Guest blog from Deploy Dental. The opinions expressed are from Deply Dental not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.

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By: Deploy Dental

Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are typically very similar in appearance. So, anything that immediately stands out within that blue and white color scheme will help differentiate your business from competitors. (Think gold stars for reviews, map listing icons, photos, etc.)

One of the most important distinguishing features that any local business can utilize is to include an Author Profile Photo. These are small headshots that can be found within a search result, on the very left hand side of the page. It shows potential customers exactly who is speaking to them, and helps send a more personal message.

While simply including any photo in this position is better than nothing, there is a whole science behind optimizing these photos to increase site traffic. In at least one case study, improving the Author Profile Photo increased the number of clicks by 35%.

What Makes a Good Photo

The Author Profile Photo should first and foremost be tailored for the wants and expectations of the target audience for which it is intended. Put yourself in the client’s frame of mind, and think of what qualities they’d hope to see. For example, a dentist should be smiling and convey a welcoming attitude for potential patients, while also appearing professional and well-dressed (a lab coat or suit and tie isn’t overdoing it). On the other hand, a general contractor should be more dressed down with a “blue collar” look, perhaps even with the stereotypical flannel shirt.

While keeping in mind the above factors that will change from business to business, there are a few constants that should be observed.

  • Rather than looking directly into the camera, the subject should be facing slightly to the viewer’s right, which draws the attention toward what you want them to see, your search result and link.
  • The photo should also be fairly tightly focused on the subject’s face to provide as good a look, and as much detail, as possible. Remember, only a very small preview of the image is displayed (44×44 pixels).
  • The final aspect to consider is color variation to attract attention. This can best be accomplished by choosing a bright background color. A bright hue of basically any color can work, so long as it’s not blue or white (the Google SERP color scheme).

Perhaps the most important advice to take away from these tips is to test, test, and then  test again with different variations of photos. Any changes made to your Google+ profile photo are almost immediately propagated to search results, so just record dates of these changes and continuously monitor your Google Analytics account to see when you received the best results.

So How do I Display a Photo in Search Results?

Displaying an Author Profile Photo in search results requires installing just some minor HTML code to your website, so while you may still wish to ask your website provider, even a novice user should have no trouble accomplishing this in a few short steps.

  • Step 1 – If you haven’t already done so, create a Google+ profile and upload your headshot.
  • Step 2 – On each page of your website (including all blog posts), create a link to your Google+ profile using the following code.

<a href=”https://plus.google.com/XXXXXXXXXXX?rel=author”>Google</a>

The text in red is, respectively, a sample address that needs to be replaced with the unique address of your individual Google+ profile, and the text you wish the link displayed as.

  • Step 3 – When viewing your Google+ profile, edit the ‘Contributor to‘ section and click ‘Add custom link.’ Enter your website URL, choose your privacy setting (most likely public), and click ‘Save.’

You may also wish to view Google’s instructions in Webmaster Tools.

When these steps are completed, Google sees the connection between your website’s content and your Google+ profile, making your Author Profile Photo eligible to be shown within search results. To preview how your site will now be displayed, use the Rich Snippet Tool, enter your URL, and click ‘Preview’. If all has went well you should see your headshot displayed, as well as a green verified status under ‘Author.’ Good luck!

Categories
Internet

New Google Search Results Pages

A Guest blog from Deploy Dental. The opinions expressed are from Deply Dental not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.

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By: Deploy Dental

Google has recently implemented a redesign of their search engine results page (known as a SERP). Previously, the menu for additional search tools such as images, maps, shopping, and news was located in the far left column. These options can now be found at the top of your SERP in a horizontal row. While this might not seem like a significant change, there are some important implications for search marketing.

Organic Results

For organic (non-paid) search results, the primary improvement resulting from this change is that the Knowledge Graph will be expanded. This is the area in the far right column that (1) features commonly sought after information related to any search, and (2) provides a preview of websites within a search results page. Expanding this area can actually decrease clicks for information based searches (since users can find the information they’re looking for right in the search results), but searches for products or services will still likely result in clicks.

Paid Results

Paid search marketing can significantly benefit from the extra room in the right-hand column. Whenever a Google search indicates a high level of commercial intent, the Knowledge Graph space is immediately utilized by Product Listing Ads. These larger, picture based ads let potential customers see all the necessary information required to make a purchase. Once these ads are enabled, either through Merchant Center or Adwords, the designated products are displayed whenever a relevant search is performed.

Final Thoughts

The expansion of the Knowledge Graph is part of Google’s ongoing effort to make search engine results pages dynamic and more efficient in delivering the information users are looking for. Additionally, through Product Listing Ads, there will be both an increased revenue for Google and an even more powerful way for advertisers to reach consumers.

SERP now across the top of the results
Categories
Digital Marketing Social Media

Where did my Google reviews go?

Guest blog from Sesame Communications:

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Believe us, we wish we had a 1-800 contact number for Google. Unfortunately, we don’t. Meanwhile, more and more instances of mysteriously missing Google reviews are popping up across the Googleverse (and not just for our members). Increasingly frustrating and dubiously annoying, if you’ve experienced Google’s “Missing Reviews Conundrum,” you’re probably asking yourself, “Just exactly what on earth is going on here, and what can I do?”

Well, so are we.

As your dedicated search and social specialists, it’s our job to keep you updated on what’s going on and work to make sure your practice is connecting and interacting with your current and potential new patients online. So, allow us to share with you what we’ve found!

Firstly, and this is really, really important: Google’s guidelines for reviews have become a lot stricter. Simply said, Google certainly isn’t making it easy on businesses to acquire those important reviews. For instance, Google will only allow one review per person. And here are some other issues we’ve come to find:

  • Copy/pasting the same review for multiple locations is also not allowed (Google will go right ahead and delete both instances of that review)
  • Putting URLs in reviews for multiple locations will result in the review being flagged as spam
  • If Google now finds content on the web that is the same as a Google review, it will be promptly escorted off of your Google reviews list
  • If a reviewer accidentally misspells a doctor’s name, you guessed it: Google will not post that review

Daily, the Sesame Social team is looking for new ways to help practices acquire acceptable reviews. Here is one unique suggestion from well-known local search marketer, Mike Blumenthal: “If you are a high volume dentist you may need to simply hand out a piece of paper explaining the review process rather than actively soliciting reviews of 20 clients a day via email.” More arduous? Maybe… But it is important to roll with Google’s punches. Staying creative and flexible (and understanding that your specialist didn’t write the rules) is your number one strategy for optimizing your practice’s reviews on Google!

Great sources for more information:

Google Post Apocalypse

Missing Reviews

Categories
Digital Marketing Social Media

Facebook Ads to Target Client Lists

A Guest blog from Deploy Dental. The opinions expressed are from Deply Dental not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.

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By: Deploy Dental

Facebook is preparing to launch a new tool that allows Pay Per Click advertisers to target their current clients based on existing email or phone number lists.  After several users noticed this new feature (which was live only temporarily) Facebook has confirmed that it is in fact real and that it is planned to be implemented sometime next week.

With this new tool, which was visible within Power Editor under a new “Custom Audiences” tab, users can simply upload a list of email addresses or phone numbers in either CSV or TXT formats.  This data is then compared with the email accounts or phone numbers associated with Facebook user profiles to compile a new and targeted list of clients to whom you will be advertising.

Those worried about potential privacy violations can rest assured that both Facebook’s existing data and that received from advertisers are hashed, meaning that neither of the two parties see any data they didn’t already have.

How Advertisers Can Use It

Clearly there is tremendous value in the ability to segment a target audience and tailor advertisements accordingly, but this update will also be particularly useful for reactivating those client with whom you may have lost touch.

Facebook ads have traditionally been only marginally effective because, instead of targeting keywords as in search-based PPC, advertisers targeted only a specific demographic based on age, gender, marital status, interests, or geographic location.  This meant that a user may have no need or interest in a product or service at the time they’re viewing the ad.  But now, since specialized ads can be served to existing clients, these users will already recognize your brand and likely have a higher chance of taking action.  You won’t be generating business from new clients, but you will assuredly realize new value from  your existing ones.

For example, a dentist could compile a list of patients who are overdue for their six month cleanings and make an ad specific to getting a checkup, they could make a list of patients with children and make an ad about pediatric dentistry, or they could make a list of patients who have had teeth whitening and make an ad about touch ups.

The possibilities are potentially endless, especially for those businesses that have been diligent in keeping up-to-date client records.

Categories
Digital Marketing Social Media

Verifying Your Google+ Local Page

A Guest blog from Deploy Dental. The opinions expressed are from Deply Dental not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.

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By: Deploy Dental

In late May, Google announced that Local Listings were being replaced with the aspect of their social network devoted to local businesses, Google+ Local.  Since then, there has been relatively little progress in the area of verifying/merging these new profiles, however, Google has just recently made this option available, so we’ll provide a step by step walkthrough.  If you haven’t already created a profile for your business on Google+, you should immediately do so here, http://www.google.com/+/business/, since it will be required to complete the rest of the process.

1. Verify from you Google+ Business page

First, log in to your Google+ Business page and check that all the appropriate fields are made public. Click the link that says “Unverified,” located to the right of your business name.  Then, simply click “Verify now” to move on to the next step.  Note that, instead of the verify option, a warning will be displayed if all the appropriate fields have not been made public.  You will need to make these changes before proceeding.

2. Choose Your Business’s Profile

Google will display the different business profiles to which yours most closely resembles.  This may include a variety options, including previous businesses at your location, your businesses old locations, or a business that previously had your phone number, so it is important to pick the business profile with that is correct and most up to date.  Click “Continue to verify” to continue.

3. Request Postcard

At the next screen, agree to the terms and conditions and click “Request postcard.”  In a few days to a week, Google will send you directions along with a PIN number to complete the verification.

4. Enter PIN

When the postcard arrives, make sure you are logged in to your Google account, then follow the instructions by going to http://www.google.com/local/verify/, entering your PIN, and clicking “Submit.”  The process is now complete and your Google+ Local page should appear as “Verified.”

You can also view Google’s step by step instructions at this link: https://support.google.com/plus/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2609871

Categories
Digital Marketing

Improving AdWords Quality Score (Part Two)

A Guest blog from Deploy Dental. The opinions expressed are from Deply Dental not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.

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By: Deploy Dental

Read part one to learn about Quality Score Ad Rank and other basic ideas to improve your PPC investment.

Improve Ad Text

One of the most crucial ways you should be improving Quality Score, while also optimizing ad performance, is by continually improving the text of your ads through intermittent changes.  These changes are not random, but a strategic split test to determine what words or phrases are most attractive to your potential clients and that result in a higher Quality Score

Within an Ad Group you can view each ad variation that was created when you first set up your campaign, along with all the vital performance statistics.  There will almost assuredly be one or two top performers (those with the highest Quality Score  will almost always also have the highest number of clicks, Clickthrough rate, and lowest cost-per-click).  These are the benchmarks against which all future ads will be measured.  Edit the poorest performing ads by clicking on the ad text (when the pencil icon appears), and then copy the exact wording and punctuation of your top performing ads.  Finally, make one or two slight changes to test for improvement.

Once these new ad variations have had time to collect enough data (typically a few days to a week) log back into your account to view the results.  Repeat the process of keeping the best performers while deleting the poorest.  This method of split testing is a very efficient and continuous way to improve the Quality Score and performance of your ads.

Optimize Your Website / Create a Landing Page

Finally, Quality Score can be increased by manipulating the website itself.  The idea behind this step is that each ad should first be sending its traffic to the most relevant page on the site, and then you can work to further increase the relevancy of these pages (optimization).  For example, if you are a dentist targeting a specific procedure like teeth whitening, then it would be most relevant to send visitors to a teeth whitening page.  This may require adding new specialized pages to your site (called landing pages), but it will have duel benefits of decreasing the cost of your ads as well as increasing the conversion of visitors, since they will be more likely to contact you once they find the specific information they were searching for.

Optimizing these landing pages (and your entire site) will improve how Google views the relevancy when determining Quality Score, and will additionally help improve your website’s organic (non-paid) search engine rankings.  Include descriptive and informative text that incorporates your targeted keywords, but that is not so repetitive that it can be construed as spam.  Also, add your targeted keywords into the title tag and meta description and keyword tags.

Final Thoughts

With any marketing tool as complex as AdWords there is a substantial risk for inefficient, wasteful spending.  It is therefore crucial that any individual or firm in charge of your marketing be diligent in reducing every possible cost of your PPC campaign, especially in regards to small businesses.  By adhering to the concepts described in this article any business manager should now have the knowledge to accomplish this in what is perhaps the most efficient way possible, which is through improving your AdWords Quality Score.

Categories
Digital Marketing

Improving AdWords Quality Score

A Guest blog from Deploy Dental. The opinions expressed are from Deply Dental not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.

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By: Deploy Dental

Pay Per Click advertising (PPC) is without a doubt the fastest way to drive traffic to your website, and is especially effective when running a targeted campaign for a specific service offered.  However, those with limited marketing dollars are often understandably concerned about spending too much per click.  In this article, we’ll take an in depth look at the most effective way to drive down this cost, which is to improve your AdWords Quality Score.  If you have not already done so, we highly recommend a thorough reading of our previous articles on PPC to ensure other aspects of your campaign are all properly configured.

Quality Score Components

Quality Score measures the cumulative keyword relevancy across several aspects of your campaign.  While the exact algorithm is a proprietary secret known only to Google, we do know the factors that comprise it.  First, whenever a keyword is searched and triggers your ad, Google measures the relevancy of that word against (1) your advertisement, (2) the keywords you targeted, and (3) your website or landing page.  Next, that result is calculated against the historical click through rate (CTR) experienced by that targeted keyword AND the historical CTR of your individual AdWords account.  The end result is called Quality Score; measured on a scale of 1-10.

The importance of this number becomes evident once you see that Quality Score is part of a much simpler equation that determines Ad Rank.

Quality Score X Bid Price = Ad Rank

Every time a potential client searches a term that triggers your ad, the Quality Score is instantaneously calculated and then multiplied with the bid price to determine Ad Rank.  The ads with the greatest Ad Rank are the ones that will appear (or appear in the higher positions).  With a direct relationship between the two variables, you can easily increase bid price to win bids and get more clicks.  However, since this will obviously increase costs, you would be much better served to increase Quality Score; resulting in higher average ad positions at a lower overall cost.

Improving Quality Score

If you feel a bit overwhelmed by any of the previous descriptions of Quality Score then don’t panic, because it’s much more important to simply realize how you can improve each of components rather than understanding how they necessarily relate to each other.

Relevant Keywords

Perhaps the most basic step to improve your Quality Score is to simply evaluate your targeted keywords to ensure they are as relevant as possible to your campaign.  You should do this by viewing the statistics on what exact search terms were entered when people clicked on your ad.  If there seems to be a wide variety of perhaps erroneous terms not related to your campaign, consider altering your keyword match options to “phrase match.”  This will result in less overall clicks, but will ensure that your ad is only served to more relevant searches.  Additionally, you should include as many “negative match” keywords as you can think of.  These would by any terms that are not conducive to a relevant or desirable visitor.

Group Similar Keywords

Another way to increase Quality Score is to create unique Ad Groups for related keywords.  When unrelated keywords are grouped together, the ads you created within that Ad Group may be irrelevant to the wider variety of topics.  When this is the case, you run the risk of irrelevant ad being served to potential clients, decreasing your Quality Score and effectiveness of your campaign.

For example, if you are a dentist targeting teeth whitening, all teeth whitening keywords should go in one ad group.  This way all the ads within that group can be tailored for that specific subject.  Likewise, if you are running a special for new patients, place those keywords in their own Ad Group and create them their own set of ads.  If these two topics were grouped together, a teeth whitening ad could be served to a potential client who was searching for a new patient special.

This is not all, look for more in part two.

Categories
Digital Marketing Internet Social Media

Leveraging YouTube for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

A Guest blog from Deploy Dental. The opinions expressed are from Deply Dental not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.

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By: Deploy Dental

One of the most powerful ways for local small businesses to leverage YouTube is to take advantage of the high value Google and other search engines place on video content.  When viewing a Google search results page you have likely noticed that YouTube and other video results are often the most prominently displayed (featuring a small screenshot preview of the video).  Even if these videos are not in the number one position, they often still get many clicks due to this visual distinction.

In this tutorial we’ll discuss the necessary steps to get your business featured in these video results, fully capitalizing on the opportunity YouTube provides for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  Although these principles can be applied to almost any product or service, specifics will be discussed in the context of dentistry.

Choosing Video Topics

Long Tail vs. Short Tail Keywords

SEO specialists often break keywords down into two categories: long tail and short tail.  Short tail keywords are typically characterized as being the shortest in overall length and covering the most general topics of your business.  For example, a common short tail keyword for a dentist is simply location plus dentist, such as “San Francisco dentist.”  Since these are the most general, they will almost always receive the most searches in a geographic area.

Long tail keywords are exactly the opposite.  They contain longer keyword phrases and are much more specific to services or specialties within your industry.  For example, a long tail keyword for a dentist might be “teeth whitening San Francisco” or “pediatric dentist in San Francisco.”  Since these are more specific searches, they will generate a lower amount of traffic.

Which Strategy to Pick?

Categories
Security

How is embezzlement normally uncovered?

A Guest blog from David Harris of  Prosperident. The opinions expressed are from David Harris not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.

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By: David Harris

How is embezzlement normally uncovered?

The answer to this question might surprise you.

According to a recently published American Dental Association study only 19% of discovery was prompted by the planned operation of the dentist’s system of controls (day-end balancing, review of software audit logs, fraud found by the dentist’s accountant etc.).  The remaining 81% was discovered by some accidental occurrence (examples include another employee reporting the theft, patients identifying billing discrepancies or an employee working unexplained extra hours).

There has been a lot written by advisors who suggest that the way to prevent embezzlement is to implement more (and more) controls.  I’m sure you have seen articles that give frustratingly long lists of things a dentist should check weekly and monthly. 

In addition to the large time commitment that accompanies this internal audit process, I have always questioned its effectiveness.  Embezzlers are driven by some powerful forces, and to expect them to be discouraged by some visible and easily circumvented controls seems like a delusional exercise.

With the ADA’s survey results reinforcing my view, I hope that dentists and their advisors begin to see the futility of attempting to manage fraud through internal controls and self-directed audit.

Please don’t misunderstand me — there are lots of controls that serve purposes other than fraud detection.  For example, even though day-end reviews uncover less than 8% of all embezzlements, these reviews serve other useful purposes like catching clerical errors.

This silver lining is that, regardless of the methodology used to steal, embezzlers behave in very predictable ways.  We have developed and constantly refined a “Fraud Risk Assessment Questionnaire” that is designed to help you capture and assess these behaviors.  You can request the free questionnaire here.

Related Update (LE)

Categories
Digital Marketing Social Media

Google Plus Local Replaces Google Local Listings

I have been urging dentists to claim their Google places page for years. In my opinion places pages are far more important for the typical dental office than having a Facebook page. Now Google has gone and changed everything by converting places to feature Google+.  The people at Deploy Dental have written a guest blog that explains it all. (LE)

A Guest blog from Deploy Dental. The opinions expressed are from Deply Dental not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.

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By: Deploy Dental

The most recent news that has caused a shake up in Social Media Marketing, is the long awaited announcement that Google is abandoning its traditional system of local listings to instead feature Google+.  It’s called Google+ Local, and it is now the standard Google profile for local businesses.  It can be found exactly where local listings were previously located, which is in every Google search result page that relates to local businesses or services.  In this article we’ll cover all the major changes (so far) and how this update will affect the marketing of local businesses.

Significant Changes

User Reviews

Although the appearance of  your profile has been changed, almost all of the features and functionality has remained.  The exception is the method for user reviews.  In September 2011, Google acquired the popular Zagat review system, and now they are putting it to good use.  Instead of the traditional 5 star rating scale, Zagat reviews are from 0 to 3.  This score is averaged with all users, then multiplied by ten for a maximum score of 30.  Currently, most local businesses are only reviewed on a single, general aspect called quality.  But, as Google develops this system, don’t be surprised to see multiple rating variables as is already in place with many restaurants. (Restaurants are rated on food, décor, service, and cost.)

Review Others as a Business Owner

Another change is that (once you sign up for Google+ Local and claim your listing) reviews you make of other local businesses will be attached to your business name as well.  This significance of this is that it is simply free advertising; a way to get your name and brand to a wider audience.  In the local search arena, your exposure had previously been limited to only those people who specifically searched for your service.  Now, if you make a wide variety of reviews, your business can be exposed to the entire spectrum of local searches.

This is also a great way to quickly gain some reviews from other local business owners, since they will now know exactly to whom they can attribute what were previously virtually anonymous reviews.

Social Circles

In much the same way that “checking in” at locations has become a popular feature on Facebook and Foursquare, Google+ Local is also looking to make interactions local businesses a matter of public record in Social Media.  If a member of your Google+ Social Circles leaves a review, it will immediately be displayed to you when you view that business’s profile.  This makes the whole aspect of user reviews much more personal, and, of course, any review from someone you know personally will have a much greater impact on your decision making.

Effects on Marketing

According to Google’s official blog, this is only the first step in what will be many more updates in the coming months.  It goes on to read, “Soon we’ll make it even easier for business owners to manage their listings on Google and to take full advantage of the social features provided by local Google+ pages.”

This update from Google only confirms that the social aspect of Google+ Local will become an ever more important to local small business marketing.  Pictures, status updates, and videos you post to Google+ will very likely appear on your Google+ Local profile.  And, with Google+ Local now at the forefront of search results pages, it is critical that all business owners sign up, claim their listings, and interact with their customers.  Your livelihood and reputation depends on it.

As we continue to keep you updated on any additional changes and features of Google+, look for our next article on this topic, in which we’ll break down the entire process of claiming and customizing your Google+ Local profiles.