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Mark is the only person in Digital Dental Marketing to have an MBA majoring in marketing & creativity, run a dental laboratory for 14 years and been a dental technician for 23 years. He's also a Master Practitioner of the communication modelling system, Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) as well as being a Master Practitioner of Hypnosis...

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Mark is the only person in Digital Dental Marketing to have an MBA majoring in marketing & creativity, run a dental laboratory for 14 years and been a dental technician for 23 years. He's also a Master Practitioner of the communication modelling system, Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) as well as being a Master Practitioner of Hypnosis and a Master NLP Coach.

Mark understands business, dentistry and communication.



Let's Talk Marketing Part 5 - Social Media

part-5-twitte_20190726-093737_1 Part V - social media marketing in dentistry - Mark Oborn

Considering online marketing it's useful to look at:

  • Traffic optimisation to a dental practice website, this typically includes:
    • search engine optimisation
      • On-site search optimisation using words and phrases
      • offsite search optimisation with articles linked back to your website which Google sees as votes
    • paid advertising (PPC)
    • social media marketing
    • e-mail marketing via permission-based list building on your own website
  • Conversion optimisation to get more of those website visitors converting into patients, this typically includes:
    • calls to action and wording on the website
    • things for prospects to do, typically these are downloadable guides which are handed out in exchange for an e-mail address
    • e-mail marketing
    • social media campaigns

For a dental practice website to be effective in attracting the right type of new patients we need both traffic and conversions. In previous articles we’ve looked at various forms of traffic optimisation as well as conversion optimisation and e-mail marketing… In this final article we will take a brief look at social media which you may notice appears in both traffic and conversion optimisation.

Everyone knows that the best form of new patient attraction is word-of-mouth marketing, social media is simply word-of-mouth marketing on steroids. Social media gives us the ability to communicate with the widest number of people in one go.

In order to understand social media marketing and relationship building we need to understand some basic business marketing theory.

In a product-based industry (which dentistry is NOT) consumers can evaluate the product before purchasing by trying it out in the store. They can also take back that product after purchase. Marketing for a product is about encouraging the consumer to make a snap decision, product marketing is therefore special deals, offers and incentives such as buy one get one free, 50% off sale today etc.

This is what is known as transactional marketing.

Dentistry on the other hand is very definitely a predominately service-based industry. Let’s take a white filling for example, consumers are not able to evaluate what that filling is going to look like prior to purchasing, nor, after you have completed it and if they dislike it are they able to request you put back any removed tooth and give them back their decay back!

Because of this basic difference between a product and service it means that service based marketing is entirely focused on building trust and reducing risk… when a consumer purchases a service they are (on the whole) unable to make a snap decision and the marketing should reflect this by seeking to build a relationship with them.

This is what is known as relationship marketing. [1]

If we are to use relationship marketing, which happens to be almost tailor-made for social media, then we need to understand the core of how a relationship develops… When we understand how business relationship forms then we can take our social media marketing to the next level.

Business relationships, indeed almost all relationships, form in 3 distinct stages.[2]

  1. Actor bonds.
  2. Activity links.
  3. Resource ties.

Actor bonds.

In order for any relationship to move forwards there need to be bonds between the actors, bonds between yourself and your prospective new patient. Basic human psychology means we tend to like people we are like… So help patients to like you.

This is where sharing personal stories and information really comes into force. Great examples of this are:

  • Books you like
  • Films you like
  • Restaurants you like
  • Practice birthdays
  • Practice weddings
  • People having babies at the practice
  • Practice anniversaries and celebrations
  • etc

Indeed, any type of invent at the practice which allows someone to say “Ooh, I’m just like them, I like that too…”

These are conversation starters, they opened the door to take the next step in the relationship building process.

Activity links.

The next stage in the process will only occur when someone feels as though they like you, this next stage is giving people something to do.

This is typically handing out useful, free and relevant generic dental health advice, great social media posts that fall into this activity link category are things like:

  • When should I take my children to the dentist?
  • How many dental implants that I need?
  • How to overcome dental anxiety
  • What to do if my gums bleed when cleaning my teeth
  • How to overcome bad breath
  • What’s the difference between a dental implant and dental bridge?
  • Etc

The key here is to put a clickable link into your social media post, that link can either be to an image or to a website which has the answer to this particular dental question.

The key thing to understand here is that it DOES NOT have to be your own resources… You could link out to the British Dental Health Foundation, or Colgate or any other dental resource. The point of this type of post is that you are demonstrating that you care about solving patient’s problems over and above making a profit as a dental practice.

If you are trying to sell them something by deliberately pointing them to your website all the time it does not necessarily build trust.

Once we have spent some time building trust we can then move onto the final stage of the relationship building process.

Resource ties.

And this is the part of relationship building marketing which feels like conventional marketing, it’s the part where we tell people how great we are and how well we can solve their dental problems.

In the resource ties section of the relationship building process we are asking a prospective new patient to commit some form of resource to us, either money or time.

Time resources could be reading a blog post you have written (answering one of the questions listed above) or it could be to come and see you for an initial consultation.

Patients are not going to jump to the resource ties section of the relationship building process if you haven’t spent time developing that relationship in the first place and they don’t trust you or view you as a low risk option.

Too many practices can’t resist the urge to jump up and down, shout loudly and wave their hands talking about how great they are, how fabulous their free consultation is, how much they want to give patients 50% off for a particular treatment on a certain day of the week… Completely missing the point that social media is about RELATIONSHIPS, not TRANSACTIONS.

My recommendation is to keep posts in the following percentages.

  • Actor bonds 40% of your posts
  • Activity links 40% of your posts
  • Resource ties no more than 20% of your posts

Each time you go to write a social media updates, think about which of these categories it falls into, it’s absolutely fine just to seek to deepen the relationship with someone… Not all of your posts need to be about teeth -  posting a picture of your dog, or a book you are reading, or restaurant you have recently visited may be the right thing for a person to see for the very 1st time on social media… You can then develop their relationship with you over a period of time as they see things about you in your practice that they can connect with.

Social media is about connecting with people as human beings, developing the relationship by increasing trust and lowering risk… Follow this advice and your social media marketing will work incredibly effectively.

[1] Gummeson E. (2002), Total Relationship Marketing, (2nd edition), Oxford, Butterworth Heinemann

[2] Hakansson, H. and Snehota, I. (1995) Developing Relationships in Business Markets, London: Routledge

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© Mark Oborn, GDPUK Ltd, 2019

5731 Hits

Talking Dental Marketing - How to utilise ONGOING marketing

part-4-twitte_20190606-104237_1 Email marketing works!

In the last blog post we talked about ensuring that your website had some form of longevity. One of the biggest problems of a website is you spend so much time and effort attracting visitors to the site yet when they visit the simply bounce and leave again, off to go back to doing whatever it was they were doing before.

To get the most out of digital marketing we really need to work to ensure that your website has ongoing marketability, even if people don't visit the website any longer!

Sounds strange… So how do we do that?

Let me introduce you to gentle e-mail marketing. If we can collect someone's e-mail address whilst they are on your website, whilst they are a hot prospect and interested in your services then we can continue to communicate with them after they leave your website.

I can almost hear you groan, “e-mail marketing is spam”, I can hear you saying.

Wait one moment – here’s an example…

If you do the National Lottery online you will know that if you win something then they send you an e-mail.

Every Saturday I'm avidly checking my phone waiting for that e-mail notification that I'm a lottery winner… I've occasionally received an e-mail which tells me I need to log into my account and check, my heart is racing as I visit their website to find out I've won an almighty £25!

This example shows the e-mails per se are not spam, it is the CONTENT of that e-mail that makes it spam, some e-mails (like ones from the National Lottery) we are eager to receive and waiting to turn up. How great would it be if you had a prospective patient anticipating the next e-mail from you?

Let me show you how.

The trick is to turn marketing backward, rather than ask “what can I get out of this prospect?”, ask the question “what can I give this person for free that will build trust and reduce risk?”

The answer is generic dental health advice and information.

If you create a free guide, place it on your website on relevant pages and allow people to download the guide for FREE but in exchange for an e-mail address you can help to demonstrate you care about the readers of your site at the same time as collecting their e-mail address. You can then follow them up with a gentle series of e-mails which continues to build a relationship and answer their dental questions.

Here's an example.

On your dental implants page create a free guide entitled “Everything you need to know about replacing missing teeth.” In your guide you can talk about

  • dental implants
  • dental bridges
  • dentures
  • not doing anything at all and the consequences of not doing anything at all on the adjacent and opposing teeth, retention of surrounding bone and possible consequences of restoring at a later date with a compromised bone quantity and/or tooth position.

We can then follow-up that free guide with a gentle series of e-mails which looks at:

  1. How comfortable is it to replace missing teeth? (Notice we don't talk about pain or discomfort rather, how comfortable we can make it)
  2. How much does it cost to replace missing teeth? Here's your opportunity to talk about the various different options.
  3. Where else to go to find out more about replacing missing teeth? Direct them to various dental implant company websites and other useful resources.
  4. How many dental implants might they need? this is a great opportunity to talk about different options and how you can help.
  5. What's the process for replacing missing teeth? This is where you can talk about planning stages, diagnostics and allow the patient to understand more about the process.

I could go on, but you get the picture…

As you can see, each e-mail is simply answering various patients concerns, each e-mail may not be entirely relevant to that person depending upon what their particular question is, but because we've written a series of e-mails we can be assured that at least one e-mail is going to be absolutely applicable to that person.

Now, we don't send all of these e-mails out in one go. We want to make sure they look natural and don't clog up someone's inbox.

The best sequence to send these e-mails out is based upon the Fibonacci series of numbers and the golden proportion, exactly the same formula you would use to calculate the width of centrals, laterals, and canines when doing cosmetic dentistry. This sequence of numbers is a beautiful sequence which appears often in nature and looks extremely natural.

So send your e-mails out with the following number of days between each e-mail 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55 etc continuously add the previous 2 numbers to give you the 3rd number and then continue to repeat this process will give you the full Fibonacci series of numbers.

As you can see the e-mails get further and further apart as the prospect gets further down the e-mail series. I get a HIGH open rate of 70-100% using this system, so I know it works.

In each of the e-mails resist the urge to sell, sell, sell, rather handout your useful free and relevant advice to build trust and lower risk and at the same time give the patient a simple way to move into the next stage of the process, typically this may be a discounted dental health check or free consultation.

Make sure your e-mails have a button which is clickable that drives the person to this consultation. Again, this should not simply be phoning you, this should be a free consultation which is claimed by downloading a voucher from the website, this voucher then means that this marketing is then trackable when people come in to the practice but also if you have a voucher downloaded from the website means that we are again collecting people's e-mail addresses rather than simply suggesting they phone us which they probably won't remember to do the next day!

If you are then really clever you can use e-mail automation to drop people into additional campaigns, for example, let's say they click the free consultation button in one of the follow-up e-mails but do not take action, we can have an intelligent e-mail system recognises this and then drops them into an additional campaign letting them know the advantages of a free consultation, how gentle you will be, how much you will listen to their concerns and how easy it is to book.

All of these e-mails should be run from an e-mail management system, I recommend Aweber which starts at $19 per month (a highly affordable option) if you repeat this process with straightening crooked teeth, dental health, cosmetic dentistry and facial rejuvenation you will have built a robust marketing strategy which works off of your website 24-hours a day, 7 days a week never sleeping.

What you will find is that your return on investment from the website goes up enormously, no longer are people visiting your site and bouncing off again, they are now interacting with your site, we are collecting their e-mail address and we are using your website as simply the starting point in building a relationship with your prospective new patient.

Everything gentle.

Everything with the patient at the centre and not you.

If you treat e-mail like this, as a way to help people you will find e-mail can be one of THE best ways to maximise the benefits of digital marketing.

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© Mark Oborn, 2019

3160 Hits

Talking dental marketing - How to make your website more effective



If you have a dental practice website then you want it to work, otherwise it's a completely wasted resource!

For a website to work, in my opinion you need to have 2 primary functions in place.

  1. Traffic optimisation.
  2. Conversion optimisation.

Without either of the above the website becomes ineffective.

If you had wonderful traffic optimisation and 100,000 visitors to the website per month yet only had a 0.001% conversion rate then you would only have 1 new patient per month. This scenario is highly unlikely to give you a good return on investment on your website.

Equally, if you had wonderful conversion optimisation with a 100% conversion rate yet only had 1 visitor per month then you would still only have 1 new patient per month. This scenario is equally highly unlikely to give you a good return on investment from your website.

You ALWAYS need traffic and conversion optimisation working hand in hand. If you work with a search engine optimisation company and all they do is get more traffic to your website then, in my opinion, this is completely worthless unless conversion optimisation is also worked on.

In my experience I have found that a dental website needs to be performing in the following areas:

Each of these five key areas provides an excellent way to audit your own website, so open your website now and compare your site with these performance areas.


This is pure search engine optimisation and includes (but is not limited to) the following areas:

Website title, description & headers - these should accurately reflect the content of each page. Every single page on your website should have a different title, description and headers.

Image alternate tags - these describe images for people with visual impairment, Google is able to read the description and may give a slight boost your website if the descriptions are relevant.

Text - Google is (currently ) unable to read text on images. For the moment at least we need to ensure that we have excellent and expansive content on your website which uses a range of keywords and phrases that people type into Google. If Google isn't able to understand what your website is about and/or it is not relevant to what people are actually looking for then Google will not send traffic to your site.

Inbound links (votes) - if your website is good then people will talk about it, Google knows if people are talking about your website online because it will notice the links back to your site. The more of these links you have then the higher you will rank in the search results.

Link authority - but it’s not only about volume of these links. If you manage to get a quote about your dental practice and a link back from the BBC website then this link would have MASSIVE authority. With this one single link you would almost certainly see a huge improvement in your search engine results

Internal linking - Google is able to crawl around your website following all of the links. If you have orphaned pages (pages with no links) then this is an indication to Google that this page is not important, think about it, if you had a really important page on your website such as the dental implants page then you would obviously link to it from multiple other places within the site! If your dental implants page is an orphan, with no links from anywhere else then you are indicating to Google that your implants page is not very important… And Google may choose not to rank it very highly.

External linking - good quality links out from your website to high quality sources can help your website be seen by Google as a useful resource. Example, let's say you're talking about dental implants and want to communicate more about bone grafting, linking to a good quality bone grafting information website could help the way Google sees your site is a useful resource.


Good usability helps both the user and your search engine optimisation, Google ranks some usability factors quite highly.

Video -having videos on your website enables patients which like to see visual moving images and/or listen to audio engage with your site more. Particularly patient stories and testimonials.

Calls to action - in marketing terms this is telling someone what you want someone to do from your website, every single page should have a very specific action that you want the patient to do… This could be download a guide, request a free consultation, book an appointment, send you a message or phone you.

General enquiry - you should have an ability for a patient to make a general enquiry, this should be separate from the request an appointment form.

Request an appointment - you should have a specific request an appointment form which potential patients can complete requesting an appointment at the ideal day and time, this should then drop into an automated e-mail marketing system which follows up automatically.

Flow through the website - your website should flow smoothly and guide patients, try to think big and then narrow your thinking down, for example:

Straightening crooked teeth (the problem) > Invisalign (the solution) > Invisalign cost (potential questions about the solution)

As we granulate the problem down into solutions and questions you can have separate pages on the website, this means patients can be guided through from their general problem through to potential solutions and then answer the questions about those solutions.


Put quite simply social media is word-of-mouth marketing on steroids. Your website should have a simple facility (usually a button to click) which encourages patients to share the page they are on with their friends on social media… It sounds simple but can work really well to get your website shared.


Is your website focused around trying to sell treatments or help patients? A website that is dedicated around selling will be focused on YOU… A website which is dedicated around helping patients will be focused on the user. The latter will be considerably more effective.

Social proof - social proof is the technical marketing name for testimonials and reviews, you should be collecting these on Google and Facebook and then displaying a selection on your website. Testimonial videos can also be used to enhance this.


One of the things we want to do is to get your website working over the long-term for EACH user. Most websites only work whilst the visitor is on the site, the best websites manage to capture visitor details whilst the visitor is on the site, if we do this then we can continue to communicate with that person over the long-term. This means your website doesn't just work for the minute or so that each visitor is on, if you can capture their details then you can drop them into an automated and extremely gentle relationship building marketing system.

In the next blog posts in this series we are going to look exclusively at this gentle relationship building marketing system, we will look at how to use it on your website, how to automate it and how to ensure your website works 24/7, never sleeping, never tiring and continually providing new patients for the practice… Until then.


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3316 Hits

Talking dental marketing - a complete system

twitter-1 Mark Oborn-dental-marketing-trackers-hunters-explorers

In the last blog post we looked at the meaning of dental marketing, how (in my opinion) it should change in dentistry and focus entirely on the patient. I talked about flipping the focus of our marketing to not be about what we can sell as a practice or be about the treatments we want to do, rather, it should be about solving patients problems in an engaging and relationship building way. The natural result of that is that people are attracted to us.

In this post I'm going to begin looking at some of the more specific ways that we can make that happen, future posts are then going to look at each of these individual ways that we can build relationships with patients.

When we look at digital dental marketing is useful to break down into 2 primary areas:

  1. Traffic optimisation to a dental practice website, this typically includes:
    • search engine optimisation
      • On-site search optimisation using words and phrases
      • offsite search optimisation with articles linked back to your website which Google sees as votes
    • paid advertising (PPC)
    • social media marketing
    • e-mail marketing via permission-based list building on your own website
  2. Conversion optimisation to get more of those website visitors converting into patients, this typically includes:
    • calls to action and wording on the website
    • things for prospects to do, typically these are downloadableguides which are handed out in exchange for an e-mail address
    • e-mail marketing
    • social media campaigns

Now that you've broken down digital marketing into very specific areas you can begin to understand more about whether you can do this yourself, who could do it in your practice or what you may need to outsource.

In general, I recommend 3 marketing strands:

  1. your website
  2. e-mail marketing
  3. social media marketing

Each of these should work in unison, as a system, referring patients backwards and forwards to the correct pace at the correct time in order to answer their dental problems and subsequently to gently attract them into your practice.

No single strand is more or less important than the other.

This is typically how I might approach this.

Patients that engage with you in some way via your website or social media stream  may not be ready to book an appointment straightaway, They may be:

  • TRACKERS : They know exactly which treatment they wish to buy and are using your website to check the price, availability and your service.
  • HUNTER: They don't have a specific treatment in mind yet but they do know what type of treatment they are looking for e.g. orthodontics, they probably have a few more features in mind. They are using your website to compare alternative options.
  • EXPLORER: They don't have a particular treatment in mind yet but they may have a particular objective e.g. straighten crooked teeth. They may even be looking on behalf of someone else.

We therefore need to provide things for each of these people to do, in order that they can feel as though they have taken action whilst on your site (at the same time we get to collect their information!)

For the respective categories this should be:

  1. HUNTERS or EXPLORERS: Free guides and downloads for patients wishing to solve a dental problem.
  2. TRACKERS or HUNTERS: An incentive to request an appointment, this could be a free consultation, refund of initial assessment or explicit promotion of your new patient health check. This will help to convince patients if they are wavering about requesting an appointment.
  3. TRACKERS: A request an appointment facility.

As you can see, explorers are not going to book an appointment yet, so what are you going to do to ensure you don’t lose them at this early stage in their decision?

We are using social media to drive people to your website, your website to collect their details, e-mail marketing to answer their questions which then sends auto responses (assuming we have permission) to drive them to make an appointment if appropriate.

Most of this is automated and all of it will work 365 days of the year, 24 hours per day. Never sleeping!

My opinion is that if you don't use all of these mechanisms, all of them working today as a cohesive system then your digital marketing will be less effective and you will be able to help fewer patients.

In the next article going to go through marketing on your website specifically, looking more at hunters, trackers and explorers and how you can get your site to be more effective.

Until next time…


Mark Oborn



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© Mark Oborn, GDPUK Ltd, 2019

7745 Hits

Let's Talk Dental Marketing

Relationship marketing

Let's talk dental marketing.

Actually, let's not!

That word “marketing” often has negative connotations.

  • Trying to get someone to buy something they don't want
  • Annoying people with multiple adverts
  • Spammy e-mails
  • and from the point of view of the patient, trying to be sold treatments just to make you more money! (Yes, that's what lots of people think)

This old school way of marketing is what is known as a push strategy. You have your marketing message and the treatments/products you wish to ‘sell’ (I hate that word in health care), you then push that message out to the maximum number of people in the hope that someone, somewhere sees your message, identifies with it and buys whatever it is you are selling.

It's a strategy often used in transactional marketing, we simply want someone to engage in a single transaction, part with their money, take the goods, go away and not come back again… Is that something you really want to do in a dental practice?

Let's flip this completely on its head. Let's look at this from the point of view of relationship marketing. [1]

Relationship marketing often uses a pull strategy instead of the classic push strategy.

A pull strategy involves allowing prospects (new patients) to pull the relevant information towards them at a time that is right for them. It's about handing over control, they control what they see, when they see it and what happens next [2]

Rather than try to force our message on these people, we simply generate a range of content which answers various dental problems, we put that content in various places on the Internet (think your website, e-mail marketing, social media, YouTube) marketing is then simply driving people towards this relevant content which helps them solve a dental problem.

Here's the thing…

Stop thinking about treatments, services and products.

Start thinking about the problems that those treatments solve.

  • I want to replace missing teeth.
  • I want to have straighter teeth.
  • I want to overcome my dental anxiety.
  • I want to look and feel good whilst being able to eat more efficiently.

These are the concerns that patients have, NEVER has a patient woke up one morning and decided out of the blue that they want to have dental implants, what they will do, is wake up one morning and think that they wish to solve their problem of missing teeth, they then go on a search to find out the best way to do this… This search (hopefully for you) ends with them deciding to have dental implants in your practice.

And by the way, by the time you get to the end of this series of blog posts you will see how this search absolutely can end up with them coming to see you in your practice.

If we begin focusing on solving patients’ problems (pull strategy) rather than trying to sell treatments (push strategy) we turn marketing into a relationship building mechanism whereby we genuinely help people with their dental health, and isn't that what dentistry is all about?

In the next blog post I'm going to go through some definitive techniques that you can use in order to implement your new relationship building marketing strategy. I will show you how you can attract new patients in an ethical, friendly, kind and gentle way which builds trust [3] and reduces risk.

Something which pushing your messages on people absolutely does not do!

Until next time…

[1] Gummeson E. (2002), Total Relationship Marketing, (2nd edition), Oxford, Butterworth Heinemann
[2] Urban, G L. (2005), Customer Advocacy: a New Area Marketing?, Journal of Public Policy and Marketing May 2005
[3] Bibb, S. and Kourdi, J. (2004) Trust Matters, Hampshire UK, Palgrave Macmillian.

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