Imagine that your website and SEO provider came to you and told you that you’d just had a phenomenal month as traffic to your practice’s website was up an incredible 1,200 hits, or in other words, up over 1,000%.
You’d be really happy, right? And you’d call that a resounding success, right?
Well, hold that sentiment for just a moment.
I was talking with Amy, a mid-career, private practice dentist in California, who was in this exact situation.
We were discussing her marketing, and early into the conversation I asked her if she had a good view into how well her website and SEO was performing. She responded by saying – “It’s doing really well actually. I recently started working with a new website company and they’re getting a ton of people to my website!”
I said to Amy – “Well, that does sound great, absolutely. But, why don’t we dig into those numbers a little bit more, just to be sure”. She humored me on this request. And I’m glad (as she is now too) that we did!
You see, marketing companies can be really good (and unfortunately, sometimes, purposely misleading) in the way they present data to make you believe they’re doing a great job… even when they are, in fact, clearly not. (and please allow me to quickly caveat here that not all marketing providers are doing unethical things out there, but too many are that you really do have to be careful and educated)
In this case, what the agency was casually (and probably carefully) leaving out was that while website traffic was in fact up over 1,200 new hits… only 2% of that traffic was actually coming from within the city that the office was physically located in. And in real terms, the search traffic from within the city had hardly changed at all.
So, what happened here? Well, the marketing company had recently published a blog post on the practice’s website, which ended up generating a ton of clicks from overseas (yes, that’s right… meaning outside of not only the city in California where Amy’s office is located, but also outside of the entire country!). So, while they somehow got a bunch of people in Europe and Asia to click on the blog post… the new website traffic was absolutely irrelevant!
Keep in mind, Amy’s practice is not a high end, specialty clinic where people fly in from all around the world with difficult cases to be treated. Her practice is a standard, two-doctor, local, family dental office in a relatively small California suburb. So, as great as it sounds to have website traffic up by 1,200 clicks – spoiler alert: people aren’t flying in from the UK and China to get treatment done in a small suburban clinic in California!
The “great” results this marketing agency was proclaiming were a total farce!
Amy was not only pretty disappointed with all of this, but she had (rightfully so) began to lose a fair amount of trust in this company and in what they were presenting to her in their reporting.
She said to me – “I don’t understand how they’re giving me this reporting then. Isn’t this a bit misleading?”
I could literally see and hear the change in Amy’s energy (we were chatting over Zoom, and so being able to see her really made this all hit home visually). She had gone from feeling pretty darn good about her choice in website and SEO provider, to now beginning to really question that decision.
She asked if I wouldn’t mind looking into the numbers a bit more with her. So, of course we did.
And, as we dug into the numbers further, we discovered that, on top of all this, there was absolutely no increase in relevant lead generation….and, even worse, not a single new patient had actually come in to the practice via online search that entire month!
Now that’s just crazy! How can a marketing provider claim success when not one single new patient came in that month from their efforts?!?
I said to her – “Amy, I am really sorry to have to tell you this, but we have to chalk this bad reporting up to the fact that either your marketing company is intentionally misleading you… or instead, to their gross incompetence. And, honestly, it’s not really clear which one is preferred here because this is really, really bad!”
Amy took it hard, as was to be expected. But she also understood that knowing there is a problem is better than continuing to live in the dark. And because she was now armed with these new insights, she could course correct and get her marketing back on track. That’s the power of understanding how your marketing is (really!) performing, and not hesitating to take decisive actions based upon that knowledge.
Amy is of course in a much better place now. But she certainly is not alone in what she experienced.
If you’re thinking this story is an isolated incident, let me assure you that it is not. I’ve consulted with a lot of dental practices, and I’ve seen this type of unethical behavior from marketing companies time and time again. Unfortunately, misleading views and reporting are more the norm, than the exception. And it’s why you need to remain diligent in reviewing the results your marketing providers are claiming to you, and in managing your expectations for their performance if they want to keep working for you.
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About Kent Sears
Kent provides over 15 years experience in consulting and marketing strategy. His work has spanned the globe, in both public and private sector, with leading companies such as Microsoft and T-Mobile. He brings his corporate experience to help private practice dentists realize their full business potential through more effective marketing strategies to stay competitive in the rapidly changing world of marketing and healthcare.