October 2017 Ceatus Chronicles

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Digital Marketing ROI: Trick or Treat?

Three ROI tricks…don’t be fooled

Return on Investment (ROI) are three words that receive an enormous amount of attention in the digital marketing sphere. We often speak about digital marketing at major conferences and inevitably, there are questions from the audience about how to evaluate ROI for digital dollars invested.

This is a very important question, but unfortunately it provides a great opportunity for some marketing companies to “spin” the ROI calculation. This month’s article describes three of the most common strategies used to TRICK doctors, and other businesses, with regard to the true ROI they are achieving.

Trick #1 – “We Guarantee First Page on Google or You Don’t Pay!”

Over the years, this trick had pretty much died out. Unfortunately, we are now seeing a resurgence of this tactic. Marketing companies that don’t have the skill for this brave new world are now looking for anything to hang their hats on and “promising” first-page Google results. But in today’s world, simplistic “key word stuffing” no longer works. Real SEO requires real analytical skill and real time-intensive work.

As with every claim, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Digital marketing is still marketing, and there are no magic wands, only hard word and skill. Any company that can “guarantee” a result has a trick up its sleeve. (On a side note: these companies always have ironclad contracts you can’t get out of – why is that?)

The Scam goes like this: The practice signs up for “guaranteed SEO” and the digital marketing company provides a list of search terms that will be optimized for first-page Google results. The problem is that this list always contains terms that either a) the client already ranks for or b) are ridiculously easy to get ranked for on the first page of Google, with essentially no work; for example, terms such as the practice name, business name or doctor’s name. The website is probably already ranking for many of these terms.

As a backup plan, if these companies can’t get the site to rank for even these non-competitive terms, they will purchase a little PPC advertising, which costs them only about 10 cents per click. Voila – the company has sneakily achieved “first-page results” and promptly collects their fees. Yet no real optimization or digital marketing work has been done, and importantly, your website still doesn’t rank for important procedure terms that actually drive revenue.

Trick #2 – “You Don’t Pay Unless We Generate New Patients or Clients!”

This scam is particularly enticing for doctors and other businesses because the ultimate goal of marketing is to increase sales and profit. If no payment is required unless practice sales increase, what a deal, right? Not so fast.

The way this scam works is that the digital marketing firm places a tracking phone number on the practice website, Facebook and your other online platforms, and then they “track” every call that comes from these platforms.

But here’s the rub: in many cases, consumers visit your website, social media and other online practice assets due to factors unrelated to efforts by the digital company (such as word-of-mouth referrals). Also, a large percentage of visitors arrive on the practice or business website by first searching on Google for the name of the doctor, practice or business. The website pops up, the potential patient or customer visits the site and then calls the tracking phone number.

The problem is that the digital marketing company counts EVERY contact and takes credit for EVERY call made on the tracking phone number. So, a skilled doctor who provides great service and a great patient experience will generate word-of-mouth referrals. These word-of-mouth referrals end up on the practice website, use the website (i.e. tracking) phone number to contact the practice and – BIG SURPRISE – the digital company unjustifiably takes credit (and your money) for all of the “new” patients and clients generated by your own word-of-mouth referrals. Pretty slick TRICK, huh?

Trick #3 – “We Track the Source of All New Leads to Determine ROI”

 The basic promise goes like this: “We have a unique leads tracking system that automatically tracks all leads and then populates our system to calculate the revenue and ROI generated from each digital lead source.” This trick has so many holes in it, but many practices and businesses sign off on it because it sounds so good.

The holes: First, let’s talk about email leads that come from the practice website. There is no physical or technological way to determine exactly how the consumers sending these emails actually arrived on the site. Was the visit due to a word-of-mouth referral or did the website visitor land on the site due to search engine optimization of a competitive procedure-related search term? Was it from a current (or past) print or broadcast advertising campaign initiated by the practice? Or maybe the visitor came through a directory listing that links to the website. The list of possible sources goes on and on.

Second, most leads come into practices and businesses via phone, not email. This means that whoever answers the phone is responsible for inputting, into the practice database, the correct lead source, while continuing to take care of administrative work and patients. Phone-answering staff are demonstrably ineffective at capturing and inputting marketing information (the reason being that they are busy answering the phone and typically have other demanding duties). Furthermore, consumers often become irritated if the phone-answering person is asking too many questions to determine the lead source because, after all, the customer is calling to find out more about what they are interested in and ask questions, not the other way around. And as if this isn’t enough of a challenge, even if the consumer is willing to answer the question, “How did you hear about us?” they often reply “I found you on the Internet,” providing no information about the original “source” (e.g. a word of mouth referral, search engine optimization, a directory listing, a review site or some other type of online presence). And yet, with all these technological and human challenges, these companies still claim they can track every lead – Seriously? This is nothing more than a TRICK to artificially boost ROI numbers and give their clients the false impression that they are tracking ROI for each digital strategy.

Tired of all the tricks? Good news – now it’s time for the treats. 

Treat #1 – Some Email Lead Sources Can Be Tracked

It is important to note that there are certain technology applications that can be applied to better determine the digital source of a visitor to a website, and thus the digital source of the email lead. Ceatus applies this technology to all of our client sites so that the digital referral source for each email lead can be identified. (Examples of digital referral sources include Google Organic, Yelp, Directory Listing, Google Paid and Facebook.) But still, a visitor from Google Organic or Facebook, for example, could have been originally driven to those platforms by a variety of sources, including word of mouth, SEO, print advertising, etc. And while the technology can determine that the website visitor did a search on Google before visiting the site, it cannot determine the actual search term used. Basically, it is misleading for a digital marketing company to promise that every lead can be tracked – it simply is NOT possible.

Treat #2 – The Best Metrics to Determine ROI

By now you are probably asking yourself, “If these scams do not represent real ROI, then what is the best way to determine if my digital strategy is working?” The answer is twofold. First, the ultimate goal of digital marketing is to generate more traffic to your online platforms, and more leads. Higher traffic and more leads are the best ways to measure ROI. For a new client, it is not unreasonable to expect a traffic increase of 10-15 percent, or perhaps as high as 20 percent the first year, depending on where the strategy begins. Then, over time, a 5-10 percent increase each year would be considered a success. Lead generation should increase by approximately the same percentages. Of these variables, lead generation is obviously the more important of the two measures to assess. That where the real TREAT is.

Internet Tip of the Month

Just a Bunch of Hocus Pocus

With Halloween on the horizon, we thought this would be an appropriate time to talk about a scare tactic often used by digital marketing companies to retain clients, even when their strategies are failing. The tactic we speak of is when a company insists that you can’t change companies because you will lose your current rankings, or tells you that another company can’t build you a new website because, again, “you will lose all of your traffic.”

NONSENSE! These scare tactics are exactly that, just tactics. An experienced company can take over a digital strategy or build a new website without harming your rankings. Of course, if the company is inexperienced, or doesn’t really understand SEO, then it really is time to be SCARED.

Case Study

Walking Dead Reviews

Background: The report below is for a LASIK and cataract surgeon from the east coast of Florida. Like many surgeons or dentists, he had only about 20 reviews spread across a number of reviews sites.

Problem: Due to the relatively small number of reviews, the negative reviews stood out and had an outsize influence on his online star rating. He noticed that the number of patients who scheduled consultations but then cancelled surgical appointments was rising. He asked his staff to follow up on a few of these patients, and they all said the same thing: “I read his reviews and decided not to have surgery with him.”

Solution: The practice implemented the Ceatus reviews strategy. The results are shown below. In the space of 6 or 7 months, the average online score improved from a dismal C+ (3.5 star rating) to an A (4.6 star rating). The number of online reviews also increased fourfold (from 20 to 80). The surgeon experienced a significant increase in revenue from the same quarter the previous year. Bottom Line: Reviews do equal Revenue!! This is not a Trick, it’s a TREAT!!

Questions about your Reviews Strategy? Call us today at 858-454-5505 or email us at contactceatus@ceatus.com.


Maximize Your Internet Strategy

Come by the Ceatus booth for a FREE website evaluation!


New Orleans, Louisiana
November 11-14, 2017
Booth 949

Is your Digital Marketing Strategy out of FOCUS? Come visit Ceatus at this year’s AAO conference (booth #949) and see how we can help you grow your practice.

Also, Ceatus CEO David Evans, PhD, will be leading a discussion focusing on effective Internet Marketing and reviews strategies and how they affect your practice’s success. So don’t miss out!

“Effective Internet Marketing for Practice Growth”
Monday, November 13
Room 292

“Reviews Equal Revenue”
Monday, November 13
Room 295


New York, New York
November 26-29, 2017
Booth 4414

See how you can grow your practice by visiting Ceatus at booth 4414. We look forward to increasing your conversion rate and bringing new patients to your door!

Stay Tuned for more shows in 2018!

Not attending any of these shows? Give us a call (858-454-5505) for a FREE Digital Strategy Evaluation!

Just Here for the Boos!

7 frighteningly delicious cocktails for a spirited Halloween


Everyone’s favorite drink with a spooky Halloween twist! The usual boos crew of lime juice, tequila and triple sec with some unexpected guests. Get the recipe.




Mr. Hyde Potion

Is it good or evil? We’ll let you decide! Vodka, herbs, and blackberry liqueur. Stir them in and give your guests what they deserve. Get the recipe.




Bloody Orange Cocktail

Don’t let the word bloody or the fact that syringes are involved make you queasy. This orange and raspberry cocktail is delicious! Get the recipe.




Witches Hat Cocktail

Double, double toil and trouble. Don’t let its sinister color fool you — this cocktail is a perfect mix of fruity and tartness and that’s why they call it witchcraft. Get the recipe.




Poison Apple Cocktail

This green-with-envy cocktail has just the right amount of sweet and sour, and it’s wickedly tasty. Add dry ice for a dramatic touch! Get the recipe.




Black Widow Shot

Once bitten twice shy. The cranberry juice layered with black vodka gives this drink a venomous bite. Red crystals on the rim yell out a warning, so drink if you dare. Get the recipe.




Black Magic Cocktail

Cast a spell with this bewitching and Halloween-esque themed cocktail. Black vodka, triple sec and orange juice combine to give you a frightfully good sip. Get the recipe.



Source: http://www.hgtv.com/design/make-and-celebrate/entertaining/23-to-die-for-halloween-cocktails-pictures