Are your photos scaring away patients?
Are the before and after photos on your dental website actually attracting more patients? Is this really what patients look for when deciding on a dentist? Well we’ve run some A/B testing experiments and determined that these photos may be doing more to scare away your potential patients rather than attracting them.
The idea behind before & after photos
A lot of dental websites feature before & after pictures showcasing the amazing work that dentist has done for their past patients. It makes logical sense doesn’t it? If you want to get more dental implant cases for example then you need to showcase what a great job you’ve done for your past patients. How else are you going to stand apart from every other dentist in the area that also offers dental implants?
The reality of before & after photos
Well, we put this theory to the test. We created two versions of our dental implants landing page, one that had before & after photos and one that didn’t. We then set up a test using Google Optimize so whenever someone visited the page, 50% of them would be shown the original version without before & after photos, and 50% would be shown the page with before & photos.
We let the experiment run for a month and here are the results. Google determined that there is a 100% probability that the original version of the landing page, the one that didn’t have before & after photos, was the better page.
In a sample size of nearly 300 unique visitors to our dental implants page Google Optimize determined: The original has a 100% probability to be best
- The original page that didn’t have before & after photos had an average time-on-page of 4 minutes and 3 seconds.
- The page with before & after photos had an average time-on-page of 48 seconds.
The affect on Conversion Rate
But now here’s the most important stat to look at. The conversion rate. How many new patient leads did each page generate?
- The original page that didn’t have before & after photos had 10.06% conversion rate and secured 17 new patient leads.
- The page with before and after photos only had a 6.45% conversion rate and only received 8 new patient leads.
That’s a HUGE difference. The other thing to keep in mind is that to drive 300 unique visitors to your website who are looking for dental implants is actually very expensive. According to Google, there are somewhere around 165,000 people every month in North America who look for dental implants online.
This is a very competitive niche in dentistry and there are tens of thousands of dentists who want to show up anytime someone in their area is looking for dental implants. If you were to run a Google Ads campaign for example to attract people to your website who are looking for dental implants you could expect to pay, according to Google, anywhere from $3.83 per click on the low end, all the way up to $16.60 per click on the high end, mainly depending on the town or city you are in and how competitive it is.
While a sample size of 300 people may seem small, keep in mind that to drive 300 unique visitors to your website who are looking for dental implants could cost you anywhere from $1,100 all the way up to $5,000 or more depending on where your practice is located. You have to remember that a new dental implants patient is worth thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in treatment so there is a lot of competition to get in front of these prospects.
Why this happens
Now you may be saying to yourself “well… it’s only a sample size of 300 users… maybe it’s just a fluke right?”
Normally I would agree with you here but it turns out there is such a big difference between the performance of both pages that Google simply didn’t need a large sample size of thousands of users to make the call on which page is better. In just a few weeks and with only 300 users Google Optimize was 100% confident that the original page without before & after photos was the better page.
You may be thinking to yourself “if I needed dental implants, I would want to see the type of work this dentist has done and see proof that they’re really an expert at what they do!”
Here’s the real problem. Most dental websites are not built from the ground up to with information, content, videos, or pictures that actually impress patients. Instead they’re built from the ground up to with content and pictures that the dentist thinks patients want to see.
“Most dental websites are built to impress the dentist NOT the patient”
While some websites suffer from a lack of useful information, there are also a lot of websites with way too much information, too complex, too medical, showing things that are not what patients actually want to see.
For most web developers and marketing companies their primary goal is to make sure the dentist likes the website. The dentist is signing the cheque so the marketing company wants to make sure the dentist is happy. But when you think about it, it doesn’t actually matter whether the dentist likes the websites, what matters is if your potential patients like the website. There is often a very big disconnect between what gets patients to act and what dentists (or web developers) think gets patients to act.
Don't Use Photos Like This
Now for the record, I do think before & after photos can be useful and can help drive more patients, but not the type of photos that 99% of dentists out there take. Let’s look at an example. Here’s what we typically see on most dental websites out there when it comes to before & after photos.
The photos seem like they were taken primarily for medical documentation purposes rather than to inspire new patients about how this procedure could transform their lives. The quality and the lighting is usually pretty bad and in the vast majority of photos you don’t see the the eyes or the rest of the patient’s face which makes it feel like you’re looking at crime scene photos of a murder. Usually these photos feature some of the worst cases the dentist has dealt with.
These photos convey a very different feeling to patients than they do to dentists. To the average patient these types of photos look gruesome and actually make them second guess themselves as to whether or not they really need treatment.
What actually works
Now let’s compare this to the types of photos that Smile Direct Club uses.
As you can see the photos look warm and friendly. You can see the patient’s entire face. They’re smiling, they’re happy, they’re enjoying life. What this communicates to potential patient is “this could be you”.
Also notice that the before photo doesn’t look bad either. In the after photo the patient does look better but they’re still happy and smiling in the before photo as well. It’s very subtle but it’s very smart. What it’s saying is “you’re already beautiful, but we can make you just that much better”
Now Smile Direct Club is a major competitor to most dentists out there, and say what you will about the quality of their service, but you cannot argue that they are experts at marketing and they really understand what patients want. As of this video they’ve signed up nearly, if not more than, a million customers. There’s a lot you can learn here.
So what’s the take away here? If you have before & after photos on your website should you get rid of them? Well… if they’re not the type of photos you see on Smile Direct Club then… yeah I would probably get rid of them, or at least test it out.
The most important take away though is to realize that there is often a HUGE disconnect between what patients actually want and what dentists THINK patients want, and this is largely why a lot of dental practices out there struggle and why large companies like Smile Direct Club and Open Care are able to enter the marketplace so easily and disrupt the whole industry.
What may have worked in dentistry 5 or 10,years ago is not what’s going to help you build a successful dental practice today.
With the whole industry becoming so competitive, it’s never been more important to start taking a data driven approach to your marketing.