Interrogating the data

As a dental practice owner or marketing manager, you live in a world of data that can be interrogated in order to improve your marketing ROI (return on investment).

Google Analytics can tell you how many people are visiting your web site, where from, with which device and exactly how they behave when they visit – what they look at and what they don’t.

It’s a free service.

Your own practice management software can tell you a lot about existing patient behaviour.

Your marketing manager and TCO can explain new patient behaviour.

When I ask clients whether they interrogate the data?

Usually the answer is “no”.

I was at Helens Bay Dental practice in Northern Ireland last Friday and interrogating the data on web site visits and new business.

We have seen a massive increase in the number of visits to their web site in the last 3 months (70% of which have been from mobile devices) and a corresponding increase in data capture numbers (more people getting their monthly ezine).


Two reasons:

  • we interrogated the Google data and realised that their search terms for SEO were too vague – not treatment specific or location specific – that has now changed;
  • they have started to invest (with 7connections) in paid traffic – advertising on Facebook and other social platforms

The social advertising has created a marked increase in visits and white paper downloads. We now have to be patient and wait to see which of those people “trigger” into contacting the practice.

Simply by looking at the data and understanding what we were being told, we were able to make a difference.

This has me thinking about other data sets that are frequently ignored in dental practice marketing:

  • ROI from all forms of digital and direct marketing
  • number of new patient enquiries
  • conversion rate of enquiries to assessments an/or consults
  • conversion rate of consults to treatment plans presented
  • conversion of treatment plans to treatment delivered
  • average value of new patient treatment plans
  • split-testing of marketing campaigns and methods to determine best ROI
  • numbers of referrals from patients/GDP’s

Equally, the data sets in dental practice productivity:

  • Key Performance Indicators for lab and material costs
  • Average Daily Production (and profitability) of fee-earners
  • Gross and Net Profit

There seems to be a gap between the minority (who create data every month, interrogate the data and make course corrections) and the majority who prefer to keep working as hard as they can but seldom look at the data.

The best interrogators obsess on the data and make the time every month to collect, collate and analyse.

Part of my mission at the monthly management meetings I attend with clients is to:

  • demonstrate which data sets are the most important to watch
  • show them how to collect and collate the data
  • help them to read and interpret the data until they know how to do it themselves
  • encourage them to make the course corrections
  • remind them to keep doing it

There is loads of data out there to help you run a tighter ship – you simply need the desire and the knowledge to interrogate.



Published by

Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.

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