Expert Interview Series: Charles Crawford of Crawford & O’ Brien on Digital Marketing Tips For Dentists

Charles Crawford is the co-founder of Crawford and O’Brien, an international digital agency.


Crawford And O’Brien is a “revenue-focused digital marketing agency that helps dentists attract new patients with proven results,” according to your bio. To start, can you talk a bit about what it means to be a revenue-focused digital marketing agency, and why that’s important in today’s digital marketing environment?

Yes! Too many agencies focus on impressions or clicks or branding. We focus on how much profit we actually generate our clients, and that’s our main KPI, not just clicks or calls. Thus, it’s more of a matter of focus and what we care about as the main KPI.


Along those lines, can you give us some examples of “proven results”? What are some methods you’d recommend for proving the success of a dental digital marketing strategy’s ROI, for investors, shareholders, and business owners?

Yes, if you look at our portfolio page, you’ll see a lot of clients – you can just search their city name + dentist or lookup their site on a tool like to see their traffic. Basically, one of the best metrics we can show our clients is appointments booked. We use dynamic call tracking, and we send a list of appointments that were generated from our marketing efforts to the client every month so they can analyze those appointments to figure out which leads turned into new cases for the practice.


Crawford And O’Brien have talked about not believing “in lock-in contracts,” instead favoring transparency. What are some reasons why transparency in marketing is so important, both for dental clients as well as dentists themselves?

Unfortunately there’s a lot of shady agencies that lock clients into 2-year contracts because they know that they probably wont’ get the client amazing results, and they want to collect their revenue no matter what. We do monthly agreements because it forces us to EARN the clients business every month – because if we don’t they can cancel services. Fortunately, because our results tend to be stellar, our client retention is incredibly high.


Crawford And O’Brien are known to double your clients’ new patients in 6 months or less. What are some particularly useful digital marketing methods for attracting new dental patients that you’d recommend?

Definitely make sure your SEO is solid. If you’re not ranking top 3 in the maps and organic section of Google for at least 20+ money-making keywords that your customers are searching then you’re leaving money on the table. SEO has the highest potential ROI of almost any internet marketing strategy – especially for local businesses. When people need something, what do they do? They google the solution. You need to be positioned as the top solution to their problem. In addition to SEO, I’d also recommend PPC. Google Adwords and Facebook ads are incredibly profitable if they are setup properly. All you need is someone that can execute properly. Don’t do this stuff yourself, it’s too complex, and that’s one of the biggest mistakes I see – dentists or office managers trying to do their own internet marketing.


One of the main services Crawford And O’Brien offer is SEO services for dental practices. How important is SEO, in today’s digital marketing strategies? What are a few particularly useful keywords or phrases you’d recommend a dental practice try to rank in?

SEO is vital, it’s not just important. Without it, you could literally be leaving millions of dollars on the table every year in missed revenue. Some great keywords are “dentist near me” “dental implants cost” “best dentist in (your city)”. With the rise of mobile, most of your traffic will be mobile – in fact, for some clients, 80% of their traffic is mobile.


You also offer PPC advertising services. PPC is most effective when targeting a very specific audience. Can you talk a bit about how a dental practice might use their other marketing channels, like sales funnels and landing pages, to find the most effective PPC keywords, and what difference that can make?

Yes! There’s a big difference between Google Adwords (bidding for keywords to show your ad on top of Google for that keyword) and Facebook (showing ads to people on their Facebook newsfeed based on their demographic data). Adwords is great to buy keywords like “emergency dentist near me” or “dental implants cost” and send that traffic to specifically built landing pages for those services. So if someone searches “dental implants cost” they will go to a specific landing page that’s only talking about implants, the cost of implants, the benefits of implants etc. Then for Facebook ads, you should be sending traffic to either content or another specific landing page. I’d recommend selling an at-home teeth whitening kit at your office for like $150, but offer it at a discount or for free if a new patient signs up for a treatment plan. Then use the teeth whitening offer as a hook to get people to come into your practice.

You can literally show ads to people on Facebook who are “recently engaged in the past 6 months”. Yes, I’m serious! So one thing that is crushing it right now – is showing ads to those girls who recently got engaged, with a Facebook ad of an image of a happily married couple, and her teeth are super white – and the offer is to get a free teeth whitening if you sign up and become a new patient etc. It’s all about getting people in the door and upselling them services once they get in there. Most people don’t really know how bad their teeth are until they get in there and you can show them their problems on an intra oral camera.


You not only help practices market their services, but also products, in the case of dental implants. What are some differences between marketing dental services and marketing dental products, like dental implants? What are some principles that remain the same?

Most of the principals stay the same. The difference is just more specificity. So for implants, if someone is searching for dental implants, that means they know something about it. They actually know to search for it. Someone who just searches “dentists in my city” might not know what they really need, other than they are new to the area and needs a new dentist. Someone searching “all on 4 dental implants” is even more specific, and the more specific the better. That’s why in general, it’s better to bid mostly on specific keywords, because you’ll get more bang for your buck.


Despite the alarming claim that social media marketing is declining, due to over-saturation and a misunderstanding of how to use it effectively, social media remains a huge part of most people’s lives, especially in the United States. Which social media networks do you recommend dental practices invest time, money, and resources into and why?

Facebook. Just dominate Facebook, and that’s it. You can use Facebook ads to hit everyone in your city if you wanted to because you can geo-target the ads. Plus, you can actually show ads to people on Instagram within the Facebook ads dashboard – thus, you can hit the top 2 social platforms. Anyone who says social media is dead doesn’t know what they are talking about.


With the decline of organic reach on major social media networks, like Facebook and Twitter, it’s more important than ever to post at the right time, to make sure it gets seen and it attracts the right people. What are some of the best times to post to social media for dental practices?

The times are mixed depending on your audience – moms are at home more, and they are more of the decision makers when it comes to dental decisions within families. Single guys check Facebook more at night etc, so the timing doesn’t quite matter as much as the medium. Let me explain.

The fact is that most dentists are just having their office manager or generic agency post some random stuff on their Facebook page. That doesn’t do anything though. You might get 10 people to view it, but no clicks. The BEST single medium on Facebook is to pay for ads. That’s it. Period. Buy Facebook ads, but make sure you setup a proper sales funnel with the right landing pages and offers, otherwise, it won’t work and you’ll think Facebook ads don’t work.


Content marketing and inbound marketing are hot topics, in an over-saturated world where too many marketers are broadcasting useless, uninteresting, spammy posts. If a dental practice or dentist isn’t yet hosting a blog, do you recommend they do so? If so, why is a blog on a dental practice’s website a good idea?

Yes, blogging is good for SEO…that’s about it though. Don’t expect that many people to read your blog, it’s mostly a tool for posting content so Google can know that you’re keeping your site updated and fresh with new unique content every month. Don’t worry about content marketing and blogging too much if you’re a dentist. If you have a national business or sell products online, then SEO and content marketing changes entirely. Either way though, your agency should handle the blogging, definitely don’t spend time writing blog posts every month if you’re a dentist reading this.

Thanks for having me, happy to answer any more questions if you have any – just reach out on our website

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