Peek Inside SmileDirectClub’s Multi-Million Dollar Lead Gen Strategy

If you’re involved in any type of orthodontic marketing, then there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of SmileDirect Club.

They have over 200,000 customers for clear retainers (their version of Invisalign).

And that’s just what they publicly state on their website.

When it comes to digital marketing in orthodontics, it’s safe to say that SmileDirectClub is crushing it.

Whenever I come across a company that’s doing something right, I like to dig into their strategy to find out what’s really going on.

And that’s exactly what I’m doing right now…

In this post, you’re going to get a peek inside SmileDirectClub’s brilliant million dollar lead gen strategy.

If you are in the orthodontic industry, then you need to read this.

Especially if you offer Invisalign, braces, or something similar.

And if you’re not an orthodontist and you’re as afraid of teeth as I am, you still need to read this because the same concept can apply to ANY business that generates leads.

Ready? Let’s do this!

About SmileDirect Club

smile direct club

SmileDirectClub is leading the teeth straightening boom by offering clear aligners shipped to your door.

If you offer Invisalign, or even braces, then you probably compete with SmileDirectClub to some degree with your orthodontic marketing. Don’t believe me? I’ll show you proof soon.

So, just how serious is SmileDirectClub about growth?

They raised $380 million dollars in 2018

That’s a lot of money. Personally, I’d use it to buy $380 million dollars worth of treats for my dog. But hey… that’s just me.

So, if they’re not investing $380 million dollars into improving the lives of their dogs (shame on them), then what in the world are they doing with all of that money?

A big portion of their funding goes to traffic. In other-words, attracting new patients to SmileDirectClub’s website.

How They Get Traffic

According to similarweb.com SmileDirectClub gets close to 2,000,000 visits per month.

smile direct club traffic

This is an estimate and could be 10X higher. But regardless, that’s a lot of freakin’ traffic.

So, if you’re involved in orthodontic marketing, dental marketing, or any other type of marketing for that matter, there’s clearly something to learn here.

How is SmileDirectClub getting all of this traffic?

According to Spyfu, a nifty little competitive research tool that gives you x-ray like vision into your competitors — SmileDirectClub is generating most of their traffic from Paid Search ads and SEO.

They’re spending about $118K per month just on Google Ads. This number is probably 2-3X higher.

Want proof?

Here’s an actual ad that they are running. I typed “Invisalign Prices” into Google and their ad showed up in the second spot on Google.

Remember when I said that if you offer Invisalign, then SmileDirectClub is a competitor?

Well, it’s true — if someone in your local area searches for Invisalign Prices (a high intent search term) then SmileDirectClub could easily steal this customer from you — making it that much harder for you to attract new patients to your dental practice.

In addition to using Google Ads, their SEO profile is impressive too. SmileDirectClub is ranking for over 3,000 keywords organically. They have some serious SEO wizards over there.

Keep in mind that I haven’t even touched on their Social Strategy.

Here’s a Snapshot of SmileDirectClub’s recent Facebook Ads.

They’re currently running about 29 Facebook ads in the United States alone. The ads are targeting all areas of the buyer journey.

At this point, it’s pretty clear that SmileDirectClub isn’t investing their money into fun toys and treats for their dogs like I had originally hoped.

A huge chunk of their $380 million is going straight towards customer acquisition. The crazy thing is that I only covered what they’re doing on Google and Facebook.

This begs the question:

If SmileDirectClub is getting so many people to their website, then how many customers do they actually have?

How Many Customers Does SmileDirectClub Have?

According to their About Page (which was last updated in who knows when), SmileDirectClub has over 250,000 customers.

That’s makes for a lot of people smiling brighter.

Keep in mind that I don’t know the last time this page was updated. Their customer base could be much larger by this point. But let’s just assume that it’s 250K for right now.

If they have 250K customers, then that means that their annual revenue is in the millions.

And that makes sense since a 2018 Bloomberg reportnotes SmileDirectClub is valued at over 3 billion dollars.

Okay so…

Now that you got a little sneak peak into how SmileDirectClub is generating some of their traffic, there’s one key question that we still have yet to answer…

How is SmileDirectClub converting their traffic into leads?

How SmileDirectClub Turns Traffic Into Leads

You can get all of the traffic that you want to your website, but if you can’t turn it into leads, then you’re finished.

I don’t care how big you are or how much money you have.

You will go bankrupt if you can’t turn a single visitor into a lead.

That’s why understanding HOW SmileDirectClub turns visitors into leads, is just as important as understanding how they’re generating some of their traffic.

It All Starts With a Free 30-Second Smile Assessment

SmileDirectClub’s website contains a number of strategically placed call-to-action buttons that read, “Am I A Candidate?”

When you click on the button, SmileDirectClub redirects you to a very short 30-Second Smile Assessment.

The assessment contains seven simple questions that anyone can easily answer.

Questions like:

“Why are you thinking about straightening your teeth?”

“Have you worn braces or invisible aligners in the past?”

On the final step, SmileDirectClub asks the visitor for their email address in exchange for their results.

Do you see what’s happening here?

SmileDirectClub is using the 30-second smile assessment to generate a lead.

The only way to improve this process is to turn this form into a multi-step lead form. But that’s a conversation for another day.

So, what happens next?

Then They Follow-up With Leads

What happens after SmileDirectClub generates a new lead with their 30-second smile assessment?

They follow-up:

email follow-up

… And when I say follow-up…

I mean follow-up.

I completed the form on Feb 25, and received 18 follow-up emails in less than a month. And I’m still receiving emails to this day.

A little too aggressive?

SmileDirectClub doesn’t think so (and remember, they’re valued over 3 billion dollars)

That’s just the type of sales persistence that every small business owner should be applying to their business.

There you have it.

This is exactly how SmileDirectClub is generating leads and turning the leads into a billion dollar business.

But there’s still one more thing to talk about:

Why Does This Lead Gen Strategy Work?

When SmileDirectClub gets a visitor to their site their messaging isn’t just: “Hey buy my stuff!”

They also don’t ask you to submit your contact details for a free consultation, right out of the gate. Because really… who wants some stranger poking around in their mouth the first time they meet?

And they don’t send you to a dreaded contact form to figure out what to do next.

Instead, SmileDirectClub adds a simple step to the top of their funnel.

Step #1

First they engage and qualify visitors who are new to SmileDirectClub and are not ready to commit. This group represents the vast majority of any website’s visitors.

Step #2:

After the visitor submits their contact info, and if they are qualified, SmileDirectClub starts aggressively following-up.

Step #3:

Then the sale happens.

Most orthodontic practices and almost all small businesses for that matter, start at step #2. They go straight for the sale without regard for where the customer is in the buyer journey.

If that sounds like you, then you’re missing out on leads.

Wait… I Don’t Have $3.8 Million in Funding and I’m Not As Big As SmileDirectClub!

That’s okay. I get it…

Not every orthodontic practice, business owner, or marketer has 3.8 million dollars in funding and can afford to acquire millions of new visitors, like SmileDirectClub.

But don’t let that discourage you.

This same strategy works even on a smaller scale.

Even if you’re a local business that doesn’t have the same market size as SmileDirectClub.

If you have a website, then this exact same strategy will work for you. You don’t even need to invest and any money into ads (although I’d recommended doing so).


If you are an orthodontist in the same market as SmileDirectClub, then you have some fierce competition that could potentially steal many customers away. But don’t let that discourage you. Learn from your competitors and model what they are doing to level up your lead generation game.

If you’re not in the same market as SmileDirectClub, then don’t think that what SmileDirectClub is doing doesn’t apply to you. It’s a brilliant strategy that can be applied to any business type — from plumbers and chiropractors, to agencies and eCommerce stores. You should be thinking about how you can apply what they are doing to YOUR business in YOUR market.

What You Should Do Now

For orthodontists offering Invisalign, braces, or any similar service, you can get your very own 30-Second Smile Assessment for your website using LeadForms. See an instant demo here.

If you’re not an orthodontist, then I can help you think through some creative ways to generate leads. Simply signup for a trial of LeadForms and I’ll be in touch. Start your trial here.

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