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Google Ads for Dentists and Orthodontists

In this interview, Kyle Sulerud talks to Callum Davies, the person behind the successful agency, Illuminate Digital. Callum specializes in running ads for medical professionals. He shares the biggest mistake that these professionals make when running their own Google Ads, and what they (or their ads manager) can focus on in order to run a successful campaign.


Kyle: Hello, and welcome to the Google Ads strategy show where today, I’m going to be asking the questions, a departure from the normal format, because I have a very special guest with me. And my guest’s name is Callum Davies. He comes from an agency that he runs and owns, an agency called Illuminate Digital, specializing in medical clients.

Today, specifically, we’ll be talking about stuff that he’s doing for dentists and orthodontists. Callum also is the author of the book, The Must-have Guide to Google AdWords. So I’m excited to talk to you today, Callum. Welcome!

Callum: Thanks, man. I appreciate you having me on. Thank you.

Kyle: Yeah, and you’re actually my very first guest. So I’ve done over 50 episodes now and decided it was time to bring some other people on and get some other perspectives. So I’m really excited to have this conversation with you. So just to get things started here, Callum, how did you get into Google Ads?

Callum:  It’s interesting, because back in May 2016, and that was when I first found out about marketing and agency. Before that, I wasn’t doing anything related to business. And so immediately that was to do with Facebook ads. So originally, we were doing Facebook ads. And the problem with Facebook ads was retention.

And so it kind of got to June 2017, and a mentor of mine at the time said a guy called Fred Lam, most of his clients, he was retaining them for at least 12 to 18 months was from Google AdWords. So I was like, okay, that could be interesting.

And that was effectively it. You know, I made the switch from Facebook ads over to Google AdWords directly from there, and I’ve never looked back. And yeah, client results were through the roof as a result of that switch. So that was an interesting change.

Kyle: So now, are you still doing anything with Facebook ads or anything else? Or is it just Google ads?

Callum:  Well, the thing is, is that with Facebook ads, the issue I found is retention. And so I’ve been looking everywhere to find someone who is actually able to do it and retain clients for more than twelve months with Facebook. I’ve managed to find one guy. One guy, you think, yeah, there’s 7 billion people on the planet, I would have found more than one.

But we’re going to implement that into the agency. But in terms of just me now, it’s just Google AdWords for now. It’s, you know, the client results are by far the best with Google AdWords, especially for the medical and legal sector. So we don’t see any reason to kind of move away from that.

Kyle:  Okay. How did you get into serving those sectors that you mentioned?

Callum:  Oh, that’s a great question. So originally, I was starting out with with gyms, right? Because I was heavily into fitness, so it made logical sense. “Okay, we’ll just start with you know gyms and CrossFit gyms and stuff like that, right?”

And then somebody, just briefly off the cuff one time on a training call that we were doing said: “You know, have you considered working with Chiropractors?” (And I thought) “Oh that’s interesting, I have not considered doing the medical sector before” and this was back in early 2017.

And so we started doing that with chiropractors and then we just, after that, we just said: “Okay, well, why don’t we switch to dental?”.  Because there’s a lot more dentists for us to go after. And out of that, we stumbled on orthodontics, but we didn’t actually mean to actively go after orthodontists. It just so happened to work with an orthodontist client and that was where I realized wow, I mean, Orthodontists in many cases are better for Google AdWords than dentists are. And it’s kind of really where that started from.

Kyle:  So it sounds like you’re pretty focused right now, but still somewhat diverse in the types of clients you have. What makes dentists and orthodontists different than other industries? How do you need to treat those types of accounts differently?

Callum:   Yeah, it’s a great question. So the biggest thing about medical is negative keywords. Because what I see when I look at accounts, mostly of up and coming clients, when I when I look at their accounts, usually what I’ll see is an enormous amount of money spent on irrelevant terms, more so competitors. And the reason is, with medical, is because there’s three to four different ways.

Somebody can search for a practice because, obviously, you’ve got the actual practice itself. Then you’ve got the doctor’s name, then you’ve just got doctor and then the person’s first name and then just the person’s last name. So effectively, you need to be infinitely more thorough with your negative keyword list. And that was the mistake we made early on, you know. We largely did a lot of irrelevant terms, but we missed out on most of the competitors. And we wasted a lot of money as a result. So that would be the first thing.

The second thing is, especially with these niches, (and especially with chiropractic, if anyone’s interested in that niche), is that typically, females will respond a lot better than males will. Meaning, what we normally will do is will separate male and female campaigns out. And typically the female campaigns will not only produce a lot more conversions, but they’ll produce them a much better cost per conversion as well.

So that’s really the main differences. I mean, the rest is just fundamentals, understanding the industry in terms of writing high quality ad copy, but for the most part, it’s really those two things. Most people don’t really seem to know about those. And yeah, they’re, they’re a huge huge factor.

Kyle:  Yeah. Let me go back to what you said about adding competitors as negative keywords. I’m on the same page with you there. That’s something that I teach. But a lot of people think you should do the opposite. You should, you know, target your competitors, because you want to steal business from them, right? Business owners want to do this all the time. So why is that not a strategy that you use? And why is it better just to exclude those searches?

Callum:   Oh man, we used to take that same approach as well. You’re actually the person that convinced me otherwise on this. So basically, what we found is that, if you just leave competitors all together, you don’t exclude them as negative search terms, what will happen is your ad will show up for one of your competitors. And what happens is that, when a potential customer searches for that competitor, and your ad shows up, they click on your ad, thinking that you’re that competitior. Now as a result, you’ve now wasted money.

And typically competitive terms, they’re not cheap, you know. They can range $10, $20, $30 a click for one competitive term, and it just doesn’t lead to quality customers. If a potential customer is searching for a competitor, and then they click on your ad, the chances of them moving from that competitor over to you is effectively slim to none.

Like I was talking about this with a client actually earlier on today on Zoom. And he was debating the same thing with me. And I said, “Well, at the end of the day, it just doesn’t produce high quality customers. That’s just the reality of it. So as a result, it wastes more money than it does good.”

So that’s the reason that we don’t take that strategy. We’ve tried it both ways. And I can tell you, having an infinitely extensive, negative keyword list with all of the competitors on it is really the key.

Kyle:  Yeah, okay. Now, either consciously or unconsciously, I’m sure having multiple clients in the same niche helps you perform as an agency. What do you think the benefits to that are that to having multiple clients in the same industry? How does that help you service all of them better?

Callum:   Well, one thing is for sure, is that the main thing I would say is really around two things that surround keywords and ad copy. Because at the end of the day, you know, if you’ve got an orthodontist in, say, Los Angeles, for example, and then you have an orthodontist in Austin, Texas (for the sake of argument, you know), and then you get new search terms from your search term report, which pop up on the Austin, Texas (account), you can then apply that over to the client in Los Angeles as well. That’s the first thing you can do.

The second thing that you can do is you’re always testing different forms of ad copy, always trying to beat your main control, which is obviously producing the most customers. And if you you find something that works really well for the client in Austin, you can then apply that over to the client in Los Angeles.

So again, effectively, you get a holistic perspective of the industry as a whole when you work with clients from multiple different cities in the same niche, right? If you had, let’s say, for example, you had a divorce attorney in Los Angeles, and then you had the orthodontist in Austin. Again, there’s no real synergy between the two. You can’t really apply one thing over to the next thing because they’re completely different. So it’s a huge advantage, absolutely. Have it working in the same industry for sure.

Kyle:  Specifically regarding dentists and orthodontists, since you’ve been helping them, have you noticed any changes to how you need to approach campaigns? Have things gotten easier, harder and more competitive? And how have you had to adjust for those types of changes?

Callum:   I wouldn’t say that there’s  been any enormous changes, especially over the last six months like with regard to those industries. I mean, the only thing that I would say is (and I find that this is not particularly known) is that the one thing we have found is that orthodontists typically do much better with Google AdWords than dentists do if you’re focusing on like “Invisalign” specifically. Because with orthodontists, if someone types in “orthodontist” into Google with the city, there’s only two things in orthodontics does: Braces and Invisalign.

If someone types in “dentist, Los Angeles”, there’s like six different services that they offer. So if you’re talking about service-specific and getting specific types of customers for an orthodontist or a dentist. Orthodontist are going to be much better, and that’s the big change that we’ve seen. This is one of the reasons now, we’re working less and less with dentists on the Google AdWords side and focusing more on orthodontists because it’s a lot easier to structure, better offers and it’s a lot easier to get specifically Invisalign patients for orthodontists. That’s one of the things that I would say is the big change we’ve seen over the last six month. Definitely, that would be the biggest.

Kyle: Okay, is there anything harder about doing orthodontist campaigns compared to dentist campaigns?

Callum: I would say orthodontists are actually easier. Because you know, when somebody is actively looking for an orthodontist, there’s only two things that they offer at the end of the day. And most people in the modern age now, just simply because of mass media, are kind of moving away from bright braces, ceramic braces, metal braces. So many people now are focusing more on Invisalign anyway.

So for the most part, when people are looking for an orthodontist, largely they’re looking, you know, for Invisalign, and it’s right there, so it’s a lot easier. Or if somebody looks for a dentist, there’s so many different things that the dentist actually offers. So it’s a lot easier to say to an orthodontist, we’re going to focus on getting you Invisalign patients this month, compared to a dentist because, you know, somebody types in dentist, there’s so many different things. There’s so many different things that they could want. So that would be it, orthodontists are definitely easier to get great results for than dentists, at least right now.

Kyle: Okay. So you’ve kind of touched on this and maybe you mentioned something you’ve already mentioned, or maybe you’ll give me an a new answer. But question is, what is the biggest mistake that you see dentists and orthodontists make when they try to do things themselves? (They try to set up their own ads.) What’s the biggest mistake that they’re making?

Callum: Oh there’s too many! I would say it comes down to negative keywords again, they’re just not thorough enough. And I mean, you know, we can sit here and say that dentists and orthodontists themselves aren’t thorough enough, but most agencies aren’t thorough enough with the negative keywords that need to be applied for these types of clients.

Because when you’re dealing with a doctor, you know, and that practice has like three to four different ways that somebody could search for that competitor. So what it means is that most campaigns I see, you know, 70% of their budget every month is largely going on, you know, competitive search terms because they’ve not excluded them.

So I would say that is the biggest mistake 150% that I see. Absolutely. Yeah, there’s many other mistakes, but that would definitely be the biggest for sure.

Kyle:  Sure. And again, with this next question, you’ve touched on some things, but let’s focus it in now. What are the top three things that dentists or orthodontists should be doing with their Google ads? What should they be focusing on?

Callum:  Well, the first thing is they need a thorough negative keyword list. That’s the first thing that they need beyond anything.

The second thing that that I see is not enough keywords. So we talked, we’re saying not enough negative keywords. That’s the first thing.

The second thing is not enough keywords. We made this mistake before we used the Keyword Burst, which is an incredible tool by the way, everybody listening should use it. It’s incredible tool. Effectively, most dentists and orthodontists, they don’t get or use enough keywords, which means they miss out on a lot of traffic that quite frankly, they should be getting, because there’s not enough density to the amount of keywords that they have.

You know, they might be using fifty keywords when, in reality, they should be using at least two hundred. They’re just missing out on so much traffic. And too much of their money is being wasted on irrelevant, crappy terms.

And then the third thing that we’ve seen is would be conversion tracking. 150% abso-freakin-lutely, if they don’t set that up properly, then they can’t optimize the campaigns properly.

And then the final thing will be ad copy. You know, if you look at most orthodontists and most dentists, the ad copy that they have is very general. And it’s just, to be honest, very bland. There’s no real excitement to it, and the offers that they’re putting forth in that ad copy is no good either. So ad copy would be the fourth thing. Absolutely.

Those four things would be the top four things you need to focus on for sure.

Kyle:  Do you work on landing pages at all for clients? Or do you just do the ads?

Callum:  Yeah. We tested Leadpages, we tested just going into the client’s website, we tested building landing pages in the client’s website, and what by far the best is your landing page template without a shadow of a doubt. You know, like, I think the highest we got to on those other three was about 15% conversion rate. And now the average with your ClickFunnels template is about 25 to 30%. So that’s all we do, and it works. It works extremely well and the clients very, very happy.

Like, you know, sometimes clients say, “Well, how come you’re not running it through my website?” or “Why are using, you know, ClickFunnels or whatever?” And we say, well, at the end of the day, sending people to a website, again, most of the time they get lost on the page. It’s like a maze.

The analogy I use, it’s like a maze. You know, they usually get lost. Whereas the ClickFunnels page acts like running in a straight line. It’s very very easy for potential customer and as a result, it converts much better. So we do that and again, it works really, really well.

Kyle: Sure, and I didn’t pay Callum to say any of that. And I will put the link to that landing page. It’s available. I’ll give you guys the link to that. If you want it, check the description on YouTube, where the show notes for the podcast wherever you’re listening to this, and you can check that out.

Editor’s note: Here’s the link to ClickFunnels landing page template

So Callum, are you plugging in your own ad, your own copy into the landing page then? And is that kind of mirroring what you’re doing with the Google ad copy?

Callum:  Very much. So yeah, very much so. I mean, the biggest thing that we found is to make sure that the offer that we’ve put forth in the ad copy is, you know, accentuated enormously on the landing page. And I think that’s one of the main reasons that it converts so well, and then social proof at the bottom.

I mean, we used to look at so many different angles at the end of the day, but what we found works best is high quality offer from the ad which is then accentuated on the landing page and then emphasizing social proof on the landing page. That at the end of the day has just what better by far and best, especially when we’re talking about online advertising as a whole.

I mean, again, one of the nice things we like about ClickFunnels is it’s very easy to add new things on the page. Like, originally, we were using four different testimonials on the page. Now we’re testing with six. And we know it’s an increasing conversion rate. So that’s what we do. That’s all we do. It’s simple, but it’s extremely effective.

Kyle:  So this has been great. Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that I should have? Anything else you think would be helpful for people watching or listening to hear?

Callum:  What I would say is with regards to how long does it take to get results for campaigns? I think it’s a useful thing to kind of let people know about because, you know, we’ve been debating this and looking at this over the past twelve months. Really kind of getting inside of this and thinking well.

For a local business an orthodontist, a dentist, typically how long does it take to see high quality results? And this is what we said. We said 90 days. Because for some clients, for whatever reason, you turn the campaigns on, you let you don’t really do much with them. And customers, they just flow in, like within the first week or two. Like you just have some campaigns, which do extremely well immediately and continue to do well. Right? Whereas we’ve seen other campaigns which the first sixty days, they completely bomb and lose money. And then that final thirty days up to ninety days, they completely kill it.

So what I would say, you know, if you’re an agency and you’re working with these types of clients, or you’re an actual medical practitioner listening to this, the main thing is nintety days. If anybody tells you that it takes longer than ninety days, I mean, that’s just simply not true. You know, sometimes it’s immediate, you see results immediately see customers within the first week. Other times, it takes 90 days to see any real return on your money back. So that’s what I would say, really setting your expectation well.

Kyle:  Right? Especially with a business like an orthodontist. There’s not a ton of search volume. It’s not like you’re getting ten leads every day, right? It’s more like “how many leads are you getting per week on average, per month?” Those are the questions. So when you’re dealing with smaller numbers, yeah, it can take longer to get results sometimes. It just depends on how the numbers work out for a specific client.

Callum:  Well, I was saying this to a client. At the end of the day, with a local business specifically, the mindset is completely different. You know, and I told them “You can’t fret if you don’t see any calls in one particular day”. You know, like, some days you’ll get like five calls, other days you won’t get any.

So it’s just really making sure that the expectations is set properly. And that, you know, just making sure that they’re done properly. Okay? Because yeah, some days you’ll see five calls. And then the next day you think, holy crap, we got five calls yesterday, we’re going to see at least five today and you don’t get any.

That’s just kind of the nature of Google AdWords, you know. But the main thing is, you look at it, you know, every single week, you look at it on a monthly basis, and you kind of get a much better perspective of the success of the campaign, rather than looking at it every single day getting, you know, really annoyed, if no calls come in. I used to do that and it’s not good, not good.

Kyle: Well, this has been very insightful, Callum. Where should people go if they want to get in touch with you?

Callum:  I would say the best place right now will be LinkedIn. Just search my name Callum Davies, and then Illuminated Digital and you’ll find me immediately. That would definitely be the best place for people to reach me.

Kyle: Okay, great. Thanks for coming on.

Callum: No problem, man. Thanks so much for having me. I really do appreciate it. Thanks so much.

Kyle: Yeah, this has been the Google Ads strategy Show. I’m your host, Kyle Sulerud. And I will talk to you later.

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