Targeting the Ideal Audience with your Sleep Marketing

September 2019 DSM Insider Article By Marc Fowler, CEO of Bullseye Media

Remember the days when postcards were the marketing medium of choice? Back then, the key to a successful campaign was the mailing list. A below average postcard sent to an excellent prospect list could produce solid results. However, an amazing postcard sent to the wrong list was doomed to failure.  

In the digital world, targeting the correct search terms (keywords) can make or break a campaign. To succeed, a digital campaign must not only have compelling, informative content, but that content must be targeted to the right audience – the people actively searching for the type of content you are providing. 

So how do you know which keywords/search terms you should be targeting? Too often that decision is based on gut feel, which is inherently tainted by personal bias. 

Smart marketers compare their gut instincts with hard data because, as the saying goes, the numbers don’t lie. 

When analyzing Google search data for sleep-related terms, the numbers break out as follows:

Over the past 12 months there have been an average of 368,000 searches on Google each month for the term “sleep apnea”. Comparatively, “snoring” has received an average of 60,500 searches per month. 

If a marketing campaign manager incorrectly assumed snoring would be the best search term to target because more people know about it, more spouses complain about it, etc., they would be targeting an audience that is six times smaller than the audience for “sleep apnea”. 

That isn’t to say you wouldn’t want to include snoring in your campaign, it’s just helpful to know that sleep apnea receives over 300,000 more searches each month and you should allocate your time and budget accordingly. 

Additionally, knowing that CPAP receives 165,000 monthly searches shows that it is another keyword you would want to spend some energy targeting. While it’s true that a lot of those CPAP searches are being conducted by happy CPAP users simply looking for replacement CPAP supplies, we know from experience (and digging deeper into the data), that a high percentage of them are ideal prospects for a dental sleep practice. 

Current CPAP users have already been tested and diagnosed, and statistics show that the majority of them aren’t using their CPAP consistently. Many would be open to an alternative. Even those who are CPAP compliant could benefit from having an oral appliance for traveling, as a backup when they don’t have power, or when they’re too congested to use their nasal CPAP mask. 

Using the broad keywords listed above is just scratching the surface of a proper targeting strategy. To really maximize your marketing efforts, you’ll want to research keywords associated with those main terms. A deeper dive into the term “sleep apnea” turns up numerous additional search terms with large search volumes. For example, the term “sleep apnea symptoms” has an average search volume of 40,500 per month, nearly as many searches as the broad term “CPAP.” Even “sleep apnea machine” presents a strong opportunity for targeting, with over 27,100 average searches per month. Adding granular search terms such as these can help you really hone in on your true target audience.

Understanding your audience and targeting them properly can be the difference between another failed marketing campaign and bringing significant numbers of new sleep patients through your doors. 

Does Advertising Work? Part 2

What have I done right? What do I wish I could get a “do over” on? What is generating the best ROI? Radio? TV? Google AdWords? Facebook AdWords? Or the good old-fashioned way through professional referrals?

Last month I reported on March and April. To recap: a slow start, but it picked up a bit in month two.

May, 2017: 148 calls, 125 NP appointments, 82 showed, and we made 59 dental devices from media generated leads alone. Wow! We actually turned a profit! 59 devices, wait let me do the math, $542 per device was our break even. (I took the last week of May off from radio and tv due to scheduling error so total spent was less).

June, 2017: 140 calls, 90 NP appointments, 55 showed, and we made 35 dental devices. The math: $1142 per device was break even. An unwanted downturn but still not bad. Because of the 10 days we did not do radio and tv, we did see a downturn in the number of calls for the first week of June. It then began to quickly pick back up.

The skinny:

Radio, TV, Adwords: they all work. And they work synergistically. The jury is still out on which one provides the best ROI, but my surprise is that the web is generating a lot more leads than I thought it would. So far, it appears that it is winning. We are in the process of reallocating some of the radio and TV spend to Adwords, and we’ll see how that pans out. It is unsure to me, but my guess at this point is that the radio and TV creates more awareness, and this in turn drives many patients to the web, where they then pick up the phone and call or actually click through to create a call back request. Stay tuned for more info, but know that we are at least trying to figure out what works best so we can help you be more successful.

A New Patient call template, one for diagnosed, and one for undiagnosed, is a valuable tool, and one you should consider using. It lives inside DS3, and you can contact us for more information at 877-95-SNORE x1.

What I’ve learned.

  1. Dental sleep medicine patients are very heavily front end loaded. We have to do an unbelievable amount of work up front and the more of this we do the more likely we are to treat a patient.
  2. Radio and TV advertising will generate calls for you.
  3. Google and Facebook AdWords will generate calls for you.
  4. No matter how much you prepare yourself, you will still be under-prepared for what comes.
  5. It is difficult to accurately track exactly where a media lead comes from.
  6. Media generated leads are difficult patients to get to show up.
  7. We must treat diagnosed and undiagnosed patients with a very different approach.
  8. We must treat in and out of network patients with a very different approach.

Dental sleep patients are different. You can’t treat them the same way you would a ‘normal’ dental patient referral. Logistics of gathering the appropriate information in a timely manner can be difficult. Not getting all the information requires a call back, and 70% of the time those calls go unanswered, and phone tag ensues. Email and texting are options we presently employ, but one must be cautious not to transmit sensitive health data.

About 15% of our calls are from Undiagnosed patients, and even though they are the least likely to show up, make sure to have a protocol in place to help facilitate getting these patients sleep tested. A diagnosed patient requires more work. If the patient is a D/I (diagnosed, in network), then we must capture their insurance information in order to do a VOB (Verification of Benefits). Patients want to know what their out of pocket cost is. We want to have a discussion about finances with the patient before we spend time chasing down the SS and LOMN. So our NP, D/I patient protocol mandates that my staff complete the appropriate template that I’ve created in DS3 (makes this process MUCH easier). Be aware that this process can take 10 minutes to complete.

I’m hoping that you have learned something that will enable you to launch a successful advertising campaign of your own. Remember to be patient; it takes time; prepare the proper protocols and rehearse repeatedly with your staff. Make more dental devices, and save more lives.

Does Advertising Work? Part 1

You’ve screened all of your patients of record and treated dozens, hundreds, THOUSANDS of patients with Oral Appliance Therapy. You’re getting some physician referrals, but that can be inconsistent. Ten in one week and then none for two weeks. So what do you do? I’ve recently begun a pretty extensive external D2P (Doctor 2 Patient; I think I’ll coin that one) marketing campaign. Has it worked? I don’t know. It’s still in progress, but guess what? I’m going to bring you along the journey with me.

We spent time interviewing media buyers and marketing gurus to finally come up with “the plan” last fall.  Two themes, we thought:  one for PAP failures, and one for snoring and tired all the time. That about covers it, doesn’t it?   The 10%, and the 90%, respectively, of the 400,000 plus sleep apnea candidates I estimate reside in San Antonio, Texas.  We hired an actor, an actress, and a camera crew.   We set up the bedroom scene in the media buyers home, and before you can even write the $10,000 check it took to make three thirty second commercials, I heard someone say “Lights, camera, action!”

Concurrently, we held staff meeting after staff meeting trying to distill our current systems to better handle and route the calls we soon expected.  Phone scripts.  Updated job descriptions.   How long do we schedule for an undiagnosed patient?   For a diagnosed, in network patient?  For a diagnosed, out of network patient?  Expected time to capture VOB info, sleep studies, and the dreaded LOMN’s.

The TV commercials start tomorrow night on the 10 o’clock news, she said, excitedly.   I hope you are prepared for the calls.  You betcha!   We’ve been working on this for months!

Fast forward 60 days from the day the first commercial aired. What’s happened?  Did we get the calls?   How many?  How much did we spend on the advertising?   Did we also do radio?  What type of patients did you get?   Did they show up?  Were you able to convert them to a dental device?  What percent?  ROI?  I know. You have a thousand questions.

March, 2017:  178 calls.  45 appointments scheduled.  22 showed.  11 dental devices made from media leads alone.  Yikes! I thought we were prepared, but we were far from it.   ROI after the first month would have been break even IF we could have averaged $4,113 per dental device, which we did not, of course.

We ever UNDER-PREPARED for what happened.   You see the numbers, and I hope that you’re saying to yourself “We could have done better than that!”  Back to the drawing board.   I hired a business consultant, someone outside the realm of dentistry and medicine, and we started over again. Updated job descriptions.  New hire for a New Patient Coordinator.  What worked, what did not?  Tweak.  Tweak.

April, 2017:  155 calls.  90 appointments scheduled.  60 showed.  34 dental devices made from media leads alone.  Better.  ROI after month two is break even if we just average $1059 per dental device (we did better!)   More meetings.    Now the business coach is holding kaizen events for the staff.   Things are looking up, and we’re getting better.