Wrong Number Calls Driving You Crazy?

With Google Ads, we pay Google to get clicks from prospective patients. So, it feels wrong when they send people to our offices who are just trying to call their current dental office! How does that even happen?! It’s a common occurrence that many offices endure in the name of practice growth. Here’s why it happens and what you can do about it.

woman holding her smart phone on an empty city street

Why Do I Keep Getting Wrong Number Calls?!

In a pay-per-click dental marketing campaign, Google is incentivized to get as many clicks on your ads as they can. They organize their results according to what they believe will generate the most clicks with the highest number of happy users. It doesn’t seem like this would lead to wrong numbers, until you look deeper.

Part of the problem is the fast-paced life led by the average user. They don’t actually read most of what is on their screen, and they make assumptions like, “If I search ‘ameritown dental excellence,’ they will show me the phone number for my dentist.”

‘Ameritown Dental Excellence’ is a hypothetical example of what digital marketers call a branded search: a search that uses the name of a business. We might think that there’s just one result relevant to that search, the business’s information, or maybe a link to their website.

Google doesn’t think that way.

When a user searches for something like ‘ameritown dental excellence’, Google believes that the user may be interested in:

  1. Dentists in Ameritown (because the word ‘Dental’ essentially means ‘dentist’)
  2. Businesses that are like Ameritown Dental Excellence.
  3. Competitors of Ameritown Dental Excellence
  4. Websites that mention Ameritown Dental Excellence as well as related ideas.

Google wants to lay out a buffet of options for its users rather than risk a user being presented with only 1 option and not selecting it. If they get the answer wrong as that single option, the user might try Bing or Duck Duck Go next time. So, instead of a single option, Google provides their best guess along with at least 12 alternatives in most cases.

mobile search for greeley dental healthmobile search for Greeley Dental Health

Here, ‘greeley dental health’ produces an ad for another practice with the option to call. The blue ad title uses keywords, which is standard practice and recommended by Google.

A search with capital letters, ‘Greeley Dental Health’ produces the practice’s information. Note: further down the page, other offices were displayed.

Google will not always know the difference between a generic search and a branded search. Patients will not always capitalize a dental practice name when they search for an office either. Unfortunately, Google expects dental offices to pay for the clicks despite these errors.

When we’ve talked to Google Ads representatives about this phenomenon, the rep asked us, “Why wouldn’t the dentist want the call?” They see it as a competitive opportunity to say something like, “Actually, this is ABC Dental, but we can fit you in for a new patient appointment tomorrow if you’d like!”

Ad platforms see this as an opportunity for them to steal a patient from another office, or again, an opportunity for a Google user to explore alternatives to the search that they performed. Other digital advertising experts advocate the same approach using geofencing, which targets patients who are physically in the offices of competing dentists.

Pro Impressions Marketing does not agree with this viewpoint. It’s not realistic and it puts the patient and your team in an awkward match that you paid to make. Google doesn’t allow us to avoid all of these situations, but we do everything we can to not create them.

What is Pro Impressions Marketing Doing to Reduce Wrong Number Calls?

We do everything we can using Google’s tools to opt-out of these situations. For all but the most generic practice names (ex. ameritown dentistry), we tell Google not to show our clients’ ads. This takes a lot of time to achieve and is actually an ongoing effort as more names come up and change over time. We also geographically target users to ensure that, if someone in a different town searches your practice name and there happens to be another office with your name in that other town, you won’t show up.

Common sense is our best defense against Google’s hunger for pay-per-click dollars, but it takes a lot of time and technical know-how. Competing marketing companies don’t seem to make it a priority. Just in our research for this article, we found other examples of dentists whose ads are showing up when they shouldn’t (states away in some cases).

Pay-per-click advertising is an investment that must be measured in how many prospective patients see your ads, the possible revenue the leads could generate, as well as real-world revenue from the patients who said ‘yes’ to treatment. You can only pay your bills in production dollars. Getting more return on investment from your investment in pay-per-click is important, of course. Wrong numbers are vexing and visible instances where that investment didn’t pan out, but they are almost entirely out of your control and account for a small leak in the overall strategy. You’ll get more improvement in your production revenue by:

  • Removing phone trees
  • Ensuring that your team’s schedule for answering phones coincides with your ad schedule
  • Inspecting how email and phone leads are handled

Improving these items will improve your return on opportunities from pay-per-click, as well as other avenues of new patient leads.

attractive business woman checking her cell phone outside her office

What Can I Do To Reduce Wrong Number Calls?

We can always use more information. Thanks to Google’s ever-increasing privacy policies, Google will frequently hide information that could help identify wasted clicks. Your team can help by making note of the date and time of the call and by asking the caller to clarify who they are trying to call and how they found you.

Pass this information back to us in an email and we will try to prevent similar wrong number calls in the future. The information will frequently show that either we could not have prevented the call or is insufficient to find how the user found your office’s ad. Still, any information you send us is welcomed help.

Human Error Happens

We have no control over what humans do with their cell phones. Our team observed how users interact with websites and it has taught us one important lesson: humans are bizarre!

What seems like common sense to one person never occurs to another user, it seems. It would seem logical to look at the name of the office you are calling before you place your call, but people frequently dial without looking. We can tell this because wrong number calls happen on call tracking numbers for organic (non-ad) visitors as well as visitors from ad clicks.

For this reason, if wrong number calls are few and far between for your office, don’t even bother with collecting the data. Human error happens and we have the rest under control. Don’t get the wrong idea. We are big fans of Google Ads. We just know that dentists have questions about pay-per-click and we want our clients to feel confident and well-informed.

If you still have questions about your pay-per-click ads or why your dental practice is receiving wrong number calls, please reach out to your designated account manager. If you are not currently a Pro Impressions Marketing client and have questions regarding PPC ads, give us a call at (970) 672-1212 and we would be more than happy to answer your questions. For dentists who are interested in starting PPC ads, or need a little help with the rest of their digital marketing, we offer several marketing packages for dentists as well as social media marketing packages. Contact us today for a consultation to see how we can work together to help your dental practice get more out of your marketing and stop wasting money.