How do you tell how well your dental practice is doing compared to its competitors? We’re all prone to magical thinking. Your competitor down the road has a small building. The front of it looks a bit knackered, and the owner drives a 2010 Ford Mondeo. They can’t be a serious threat to your market share, can they? Appearances can be deceiving.
I’ve worked with unassuming practices that turn over impressive sums and operate extremely profitably. So I’ve come up with a new way of ranking my clients against the competitors in their catchment area. It’s called share of search. Back in pre-digital Mad Men days there was a metric called share of voice. An agency would look at all the advertising spend in a particular sector, how much each brand was spending, and then be able to calculate what a particular share of voice would cost. If you wanted to have a 5% share of voice in that category within 12 months, say, there was a formula to calculate how much it would cost you.
It’s hard to calculate that figure today because there’s so much spent on digital channels. It’s messier. But even though we can’t reach a figure for share of voice, we can calculate your share of search, and that will point to your share of the market. This is worth considering in a sector like dentistry where there are so many digital marketing providers fighting to get across the benefits of their particular digital specialism. In that context integrated marketing — as described here — can seem passé, but we still regard it as the foundation of digital marketing.
You may be able to get the best responses from Facebook or Instagram ad campaigns, but the user intent isn’t as strong there. So we still see the best conversion rates (browser to buyer) from a holistic approach to search marketing — more on that here. If you just do social media advertising it’s certainly cheaper per lead but in the end, in our experience, you’ll work harder for the conversion and get less return on investment.
Share of search is a simple concept. It gives you a bird’s eye view of how your business is performing in terms of online visibility. To calculate it we look at the most important search phrases for dental patients in your catchment area and rank your practice on how well it performs on each one in the search engine results. Then we look at the click through rate for each of these positions. Your share of search is the total click through rates divided by the number of key phrases. This produces a ‘visibility percentage’ that orientates you in relation to your competitors at a glance. You don’t need to rely on hearsay any more.
Once you know what your share of search is you can start making decisions. If your share of search is strong you’ll want to maintain it and then divert remaining marketing budget to other traditional and digital channels. If it’s low we’ll need to look at beefing up your search engine presence. It might be that your site ranks poorly with Google and this might indicate issues with the site itself; perhaps it’s not secure, maybe it performs badly on mobile devices or an algorithm change is undermining its visibility.
Share of search is essentially a metric of the mental availability of your brand in the minds of your potential patients. Having high visibility on Google supports the efforts you put into other channels. Not everyone will respond at the time you send stuff out, but when they are doing research later and they see you on Google, if your brand is already familiar to them, they’ll go with you. A prospect that comes from online search has more intent because they’re ‘live’ or ‘hot’; you’ve connected with them while they’re actually seeking a solution.
They’re ready to make a decision and they’re probably impatient. They might be tired, stressed or drunk. They’re likely to feel frustrated (you know the feeling of having a million things to do) and are ready to settle for something that feels reassuring. If you’re brand feels familiar and you’re appearing high in the rankings, and you have touchpoints like Google reviews and videos you’re doing them a favour. They’ll go with you, and have one less thing to do on their to do list.
We can calculate your share of search as part of a free digital audit of your business. Get in touch for yours.