Marketing has evolved quite a bit in recent years. The way people search and consume online, how social media became a huge part of how consumers are researching brands and their reputation, etc. And dental marketing is no different.
For a lot of people, all these new marketing tactics are for millennials, except that data shows different. Back in time, getting patients to your practice was as “simple” as sending an offer in the mail, and even if that might still works in certain cases, this is an outdated, overpriced and overrated method to get more business to your dental office.
I tried to compile a few methods you can start using today that will make a difference in the short, medium and long term in how you get a better reputation online, get more brand awareness and ultimately more patients.
1. A website for your practice
Yes I know this one seems obvious. Trust me, it’s not always the case. A website is essential for any modern dental practice. This is your hub for any news, services you provide, youo and your staff, etc. On top of that, it’s obviously important for your local SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Mobile First Webdesign
It’s not enough to have a website though. It’s crucial to have a responsive website aka a site that is accessible on any device with a great experience. And that is also not enough. Copy is very important. It’s important for multiple reasons, for search engines and how your site comes up in searches, but also the vibe it gives to your reader. The style and tone of how you present your practice says a lot about your business.
And that is still not enough. An effective dental website should have content that visitors are expected to see. People want to know about you and your practice, the services you provide, the staff they are going to deal with. Also don’t forget a map. Yes people want to know how far they might have to go to get to you, they might want to know the neighborhood your practice is and of course how to get there. A must is also some testimonials. Reading what other patients are saying about you and your staff is essential. People actually read them and it influences their decision.
One more important thing about your website: make it real. By real I mean I see so many dentist websites with the exact same stock photography. Those stock photography websites sell the same photos to you and 1000s of other dental practice in the world. It’s not helping you as it’s so impersonal. Use real photos when possible. For a few $100s you can get a professional photographer that will make your practice stand out, take nice portrait pictures or group pictures of your staff. When a patient visit your office, he’ll already know everybody and everything because what’s on your website is real.
2. Work smart not hard
Ok that’s a bit vague. But there’s what’s called smart technology our there. And you can use any of them to make your work easier and free time for what actually matters. AI(Artificial Intelligence) has made huge strides over the years and today is used in what’s called a chatbot. A chatbot is pretty much an application that can create AI-powered conversations with your visitors.
What does it mean for you? Well first, they can save you a lot of time. The time your staff spend answering basic questions or book appointments can be done with a chatbot. But even more than that, they can even ask questions about symptoms, give information about treatments, etc. By the way you provide the answers.The AI is not Googling the answer for you 😉
The obvious benefits of using a chatbot is saving money and increase productivity but also by freeing time for your staff, they can do more dental marketing oriented tasks that actually benefit your business, which I will talk about later on.
3. Do some research
Do you even know who your competition is? And I mean not just the dentist next door or who you know but your competition online? Did you do a Google search lately to see where you stand? to see who comes up before you? who has more reviews or better reviews? If you haven’t done any of that I definitely suggest to start. You can do that once a week or even once a month.
Don’t stop there. visit their websites, read their reviews…and signup to their newsletters. Study what they do and see why they seem ahead of you if they are.
But don’t stop there. Ask your staff to bring any literature they received in the mail. It might be special offers or just a postcard to introduce the practice. Look at the message, the quality of the document…
And last but not least. Go beyond your immediate competition locally. Look at a broader picture to see what other dentists are doing. There might be things to learn or new things to try.
4. Get some data
Gathering data is very important. You can’t learn anything if you don’t compile the maximum data to make the best guess. A lot of businesses make the mistake to know better. And indeed you do know your job better than anybody else but what you cannot control is people’s behavior. Gathering data will help you limit the guessing game.
It comes with your website. I hope you’re using any web analytics to track your visitors. The most popular tool is Google Analytics and it’s one of the best anyway. Make sure this is installed on your website. It literally takes 2 minutes to install.
Google Analytics will help you understand how people navigate your website, what page they enter (and no it’s not obvious that your homepage is the page they will see first), how long they stay, what pages they visited etc. Those numbers have a goal: make you change what needs to be changed. If visitors leave your site after 10 seconds, they obviously don’t like what they see so you might want to revisit the content or the look and feel. If you see 60% of visitors are on phones, you might want to optimize your site for mobile FIRST. You can learn so much from web analytics!
You can also use Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster) which gives you the search data on how people find your site. That’s so important to know what people are typing to find you and know how you rank on Google. if you are a dentist in Shoreline WA for example, you would expect to show for that search. if the Search Console is telling you that you are on page 2 or 3, obviously something needs to be done.
All the data you’re gonna get are important so you can take immediate action to fix all the things that can be fixed.
5. Establish a dental marketing strategy
If you don’t already have a clear dental marketing strategy you built, well it’s time to start. You have to decide what is your plan and stick to it…AND establish a budget. I don’t suggest to start with more than 10% of your gross revenue going towards your marketing budget. Being consistent is key here. Make sure you take that budget and spend it for a few months. Being successful is first and foremost being consistent. Sometimes a strategy takes a little while to show good results and ROI so be patient.
And of course now you understand what you need to do next: analyze the data! Look at what marketing avenue you used, what was the ROI if any, move your budget if need be if something is outperforming another. The bottom line is that your effort are growing your revenue.
6. Start a blog
What would a dental office need a blog for you may ask? Having a blog is one of the easiest solution for your SEO strategy. If a good design and great content is important, it’s often not enough. People are not gonna just find your site because you want to. You can never predict the type of searches people are doing and who they’re gonna find in that search. If the search is “dental cleaning near me” for example but the key phrase “dental cleaning” is used once somewhere on your site in a sentence, chances are your site would not be considered relevant for that search therefore you wouldn’t show immediately in a search.
Now if you wrote an entire article about “teeth cleaning” that contains several times the word clean, cleaning, tooth, teeth, dental…then you can imagine that this is more relevant. That’s also why since you can write a lot more text dedicated to one specific topic in a post that you can do on an actual page of your site, that more often than not the homepage of your site will NOT be the first page a visitor land on.
7. Start a newsletter
A newsletter is a good way to get the word out about your practice, your staff, connect with current customers and retain them, answer questions…you name it. The rule of thumb is that this is interesting. If you do a newsletter just to do a newsletter it’s going to be boring and ineffective. You can share special offers you might have, if you just added a new skill to your arsenal, any events you might have, and of course any new blog you just wrote.
What’s important when you start a blog is that you actually do your homework and research either an interesting topic, a topic that is also valuable for your SEO, and overall something that brings value to your audience. You can also mix your content between patient content and professional content like white papers or studies if you have any. That will build your relevance not just for your patients and future patients but also fr your pears.
8. Increase your social media presence
To give you some perspective, 3.5 billion users used social media in 2020. Why? To connect with their family and friends, to get their news, to watch their favorite influencer dance on some trendy song… Amongst all of that they also found the dermatologist that now has a TV show, the chiropractor with 1 million followers no Tiktok etc. Yes you can use social media to build your brand and get new patients.
Developing and maintaining social media pages is crucial for any marketing strategy, even a dental marketing strategy. But don’t just have a Facebook page. Use it! Connect with your followers, bring some value. Use it to get new patients. If you post a special offer for new patients and you get one, you know it’s from Facebook then you can decide this is a good social media for you and spend more time on that platform.
Other Social Media
Don’t stop at Facebook. Your social media arsenal should include Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin. If you also do any cosmetic dentistry, Pinterest might be a good option and if you or any of your staff is creative, consider Tiktok, even Snapchat. I know what you’re thinking, this is a lot of work. Yes it it. But that’s it. Social media is free. All you have to do is be consistent. You will get better over time.
By the way, if you saved time and effort using a chatbot, that’s where you can “recycle” your time an energy and something that actually brings value too you: social media. Also know that social media is excellent to cultivate more personal relationships with your patients and last but not least, social media influence search engine results.
Sharing is Caring
Make it interactive as well. Incorporate your social media in your dental practice. Chances are every single one of your patient is on social media, when they are on the chair or when they leave, ask them if you can tag them on social media. That works even more if this is for anything cosmetic with a before/after picture for example. If you specialize or even if you have a god amount of children in your practice, they do love social media and they’ll love being “famous” on your channel. And you can also incentivize people who like/comment/share oon any of your social media.
9. Pay attention to reviews
90% of consumers read reviews before consuming so reviews are VERY important for any dental marketing strategy. Those reviews impact your online reputation and this is important to acknowledge every single one of them. So make sure you dedicate some time going over them everywhere they might be. If you have Google My Business, and well you should anyway, that’s a good place where people could leave reviews but Yelp and any other specific medical platform where you might be listed. The best way to monitor them is to set notifications. That way as soon as you have one you can react immediately.
First good 5 stars reviews can build your testimonial section on your site so that’s good content. Sometimes, the review itself is not that important. What’s important is how you respond to it. Nobody likes bad reviews but don’t sweat it as it’s meant to happen. You can never please 100% of people 100% of the time and there’s usually two kinds of consumers when it comes to leaving reviews. The ones that are very happy and the ones that are never happy. And the ones that are unhappy always have a lot of times in their hand to write a five-page essay on why your dental practice sucks. What is crucial is that regardless of the review you write a response. Always thank the person that take the time to write the feedback and take it as it is. “Thank you so much [name] for such a great review…” is a good way to acknowledge that you got the review, that you pay attention to them and are grateful.
Now for a negative review, do NOT get into excuses as too why may be the front desk was not as polite as the patient would like or how painful it was…instead, start with the same thing. “Thank you [name] for taking the time to share your experience. It’s through feedback like yours that we maintain, and when necessary improve upon the service we provide…”. In that case, you’re acknowledging that there might have been the issue without being defensive and appreciating the constructive criticism…yes even when it’s not constructive at all. You can always close with anything you can do for that patient…a free cleaning, a free anything and people do like free stuff…even the most unsatisfied ones. And why would you spend time and effort on negative reviews? Simply because over 30% of users pay attention to how you answer those negative reviews so this is VERY important.
Because reviews are so important, make sure you use their power in your dental marketing strategy when possible. Have a link in your email signature, make sure your staff to ask patients as they leave, may be incentivize the review process.
10. Mail postcards: Dental Marketing 101
Yes the old school direct mail still works and remain an effective way to get new patients. The key is to identify your target audience and get the right creative. Your first step will be to buy a mailing list from a good broker. That can be a little pricey if there’s a good deliverability guarantee with it but don’t try to buy a cheap list where half your mail ends up in the garbage.
You’ll need to come up with a special offer that can attract new patient. The ones that seem to be quite successful are new patients exam + cleaning or even free cleanings. Everybody loves free.
What I’d suggest is to test different offer AND different design. We don’t all react the same way to the same thing. A 30 years old tech nerd doesn’t have the same expectations as a 55 years old teacher. If you target specific neighborhood, you already have an idea of the type or demographic. If you target Bellevue closed to the Microsoft Campus for example, you know what type of person you are targeting where a free cleaning has little to no power and the minimal design a la Apple might not be appealing. The same way if you’re targeting a neighborhood or retirees, your design will need to be more straight forward, with bigger typography and a good deal.
11. Run some ads
Running ads is a good idea, especially if at the beginning your SEO is not on point. You’ll appear in more search results therefore get more visits to your website and if your website does its job, you’ll get more patients. Running ads alongside postcards also increase your chances to reach new patients by 400%!
Google and Facebook Ads
You can advertise on Google of course but not only. Use the power of Facebook or Instagram to be able to reach even more people as they spend more and more time going through their timeline on social media. And by the way running ads online is fairly inexpensive and you can see results right away.
One mistake I often see though is that ads redirect to the website directly. This is a mistake because those ads are meant for one thing and one thing only: converting new patients. you don’t want people to start browsing and clicking around because the more they do that the more they are likely to leave. Instead you want to have a dedicated landing page that matches the offer you have on your ad. That page should have a clear copy and call to action, whether to email or call to make an appointment.
And you can build as many landing pages as you want for every offer you may have. By the way, testing is soooo important. You can test the copy, the message, the call to action but also the visual, the colors, the size of the text, etc. You would be surprise by how much of a difference a simple change can make. And you can test each variation against each other till you get the holy grail of landing pages, the one that converts the most.
There’s plenty of little things you can do to build a successful dental marketing strategy that will bring you more patient and grow your revenue. All it takes is starting. You will make mistakes, you will fail sometimes but you’re gathering data and learning and like I said earlier doing and being consistent is already a success. If you feel like I’m missing anything, if you have any questions about anything in particular, feel free to ask me🙂