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How to use Facebook Ads to Increase Patient Visits

Facebook has revolutionized the way dental offices can engage their patients and gain new ones.

Even though Facebook is affordable and it reaches customers like nothing else, internet marketers often fail to capitalize on this medium.

We attribute this to two things:

  1. Traditional marketers have unrealistic expectations of Facebook.
  2. They are not trained in using this wonderful medium correctly.

In this article, we are going to explain Facebook is and what it is not and how you can use what it is to your practice’s advantage.  This will ultimately effect your bottom line by giving you the power to bring more patients to your practice.

First, let’s get started with what Facebook is NOT.

Facebook Advertising is NOT Google Ads

When you use Google Ads, you are targeting people who are actively searching for your type of business. For instance, Carol is looking for a dental clinic for her son, Jason. So, she does a Google search for a dental practice in Denver, Colorado, by typing relevant keywords. Google then pops up ads for dental practices in Denver. Because she is actively looking for a clinic, she might end up clicking on one of the ads (which are displayed ABOVE the normal search results) and then perhaps take her son to that clinic.

Facebook ads appeal to patients’ interests

On Facebook people login to interact with their friends and peers. Facebook collects loads of information about each account holder, including interests and demographics. That means you can target ads directly to targeted groups. However, these aren’t necessarily people who are looking for a dental practice, so it may not always translate to business, unless you do it correctly.

A greater reach does not mean more business

Traditional advertising wisdom is – the more number of people see your ad, the more customers you will get. This theory doesn’t work well on Facebook. Facebook has more than 1 billion active profiles. That is a little less than the population of China or India. Even a tiny fraction of this audience can represent your potential customer base.

Essence of Facebook lies in targeting

On Facebook, it’s always better to advertise to a few people at a time. What you need to do is make sure that every single person who sees your ad is a potential customer.

Facebook’s advanced targeting options allow you to do that very precisely. Facebook can help you fine tune your “Target Group” like no other medium. When profiles are being created on Facebook, it collects a wealth of information from the users. And these options come handy while choosing your Target Group in your Facebook marketing campaign.

We’ll discover it just in a moment. But before that….

Do you know who your customers well?

Before you choose a Target Group on Facebook, you need to spend some time profiling your ideal customers. How old are they? What are they like? Are they married or single? What is their income group? What are their interests?

Only then will you be able to choose just the right audience for your Facebook advertising.

If you do not have enough information about your patients, you can collect it by conducting a short online survey or getting every patient to fill out their details when they visit your practice.

Once you precisely know who your ideal customer is, you can go ahead and experiment with Facebook advertising.

Creating your First Ad on Facebook

Step 1: Choose the Ad Type

As shown in the screenshot below, Facebook offers a variety of advertising options to reach out to your potential patients


The most commonly used options to use are #2, #3 and #4:

  1. #2. Promote your page
  2. #3. Send people to your website
  3. #4. Increase conversions to your website

You can use other options depending on the campaign you want to launch.

Step 2: Creating your Target Audience on Facebook

As shown in the screenshot below, Facebook offers following targeting option:


As shown in the screenshot, Facebook offers an amazing array of targeting options which makes it a gold mine to attract your precise audience:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Education
  • Relationship Status

Again, if you know patients who visit your clinic very well, you will be able to narrow your audience quite a lot. More targeting is better.

And this is where it gets really interesting:

Let’s look at the following fields:

  • Interests
  • Likes
  • Groups
  • Mobile Device

If you notice, you can get a good deal of information from patients visiting your practice and use that data here for precise targeting. For instance – what mobile phones do they use? What are the cars that they are driving?

Going even further, Facebook allows you to fine target with the following fields:

  • Apps
  • Purchase Behavior
  • Travel
  • Life Events

For instance when Carol, your potential client gets engaged, Facebook knows about it (Life Events). Maybe she could be notified to go for a cosmetic dental enhancement like teeth whitening. You can target people like her with specific products and services.

Increase engagement with existing patients

Simple rules of marketing say – “If someone has given your clinic business once, she is likely to come to you again”. Facebook allows you to leverage this extremely well through it’s feature called “Custom Audiences”

What is Custom Audience?

Custom Audience is essentially a group of people with whom you already had a professional relationship – for instance your existing customer base. On Facebook, you can choose to advertise to them with specially targeted messages.

While creating a Custom Audience list you will need any of the following:

  • Email Id
  • Facebook User ID
  • Phone Number
  • App User ID

If you already have a circle on Google +, you can import it.

Once you enter those details, Facebook matches these profiles to create your Custom Audience.

A word of caution

You need to be careful as to how you are going to use your Custom Audience. Since, they have already visited you once, you can offer loyalty discounts and special rates, freebies and new service announcements. That way, your advertising will be far more effective.

Lookalike Audiences

This is a most amazing feature of Facebook and this is where Facebook outshines every other marketing medium out there.

Suppose you have a regular customer base of 500 patients. Theoretically speaking, your potential patients will be similar to your present ones. So, if you build a Custom Audience of your existing clients, you can use it to get new patients using this feature.

The Facebook Lookalike Audience in Action

Facebook’s advanced algorithm looks through your Custom Audience and then seeks out people with similar characteristics. The same location, similar age and gender, similar mobile devices and so on.

Using your existing patients, you are able to find new patients and convert them much better through highly targeted messaging.

A few simple tricks to better targeting

Customize your Communication

Ensure that you choose the right message for the right target group. For instance, if you are targeting to your existing customers, you can choose to bring them back to your clinic with offers and discounts.

Friends of Friends

People who have liked your Facebook page are usually people who have good things to say about your clinic. Facebook allows you to advertise to the friends list of your Facebook page. This way chances are, they would already have had heard good things about your clinic.

It’s all about numbers

Whenever you select a particular parameter for choosing your Target Audience, you will be shown the total number of people your ad will be potentially seen by. Too many is definitely not a great idea. Nor is too less. Through trial and error you need to figure out the number of people you should be targeting.

The Power of Engagement

Facebook will not bring you instant results but you can no longer afford to ignore it. Facebook certainly yields better results in medium and long term. The trick of the trade is to remain engaged with your audience. The best way to do this is to have them like your Facebook page first. Once you have them on your Facebook page, you can then build a long term engagement to build up a strong brand loyalty.


When it comes to Facebook marketing, the two golden rules are: Targeting and Relevant Engagement. The more you do these two consistently, the better results you will see from your Facebook marketing initiative.

Have you tried Facebook marketing yet? Do you intend to launch one? Do share your thoughts in the comment box below.