There are so many ways to market your practice these days, they sometimes can be overwhelming. Marketing is an interesting aspect of any business, because there is never a clear path for success. You always need to test to understand what will work for your practice. There are no magic bullets among these strategies, but collectively they can help you generate more patients.
For example, I enjoy using both online and offline strategies. When I directed the marketing for Salt Lake Dental Lab, it took me around 6 months to figure out which marketing channel worked best for the business. Every business has attrition, and it would be wise to keep a consistent marketing plan to help boost new patient flow to your practice. Here are 9 strategies you can use
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of making your website more user friendly and readable for Google and other search engines. Google requires every webpage to include certain information so its search algorithm can understand it.
For instance, you need to have your business name, address, and phone number on every page of your site. You also need to create local directory listings on sites like Yelp and Google local and get great reviews from your patients. This can help you improve your local search rankings, which will make it easier for your patients to find your practice when they search online.
There are many SEO marketing companies out there, but finding one that understands dentistry is essential for your practice’s success. The main goals of a good SEO campaign should be an increase in your website traffic from search engines (measured by tools like Google Analytics) and increases in inquiries (measured by analytics, call tracking, and customer surveys).
Good SEO agencies do this by improving the usability and quality of your website, optimizing your local search listings, and increasing the number of good websites that link back to yours. All of these elements together help dental practices get more business from SEO and online searches.
Pay per click (PPC) advertising allows you to research keywords that your patients are searching for and create online ads based on them, such as “dentist in Salt Lake City, Utah.” Then, you can experiment with search advertising to drive interested patients to your website and motivate them to call your office to schedule an appointment. To create your own ads on Google search, you simply sign up for Google Adwords. Once you have signed up, you can research the keywords you want to target, create your text ads, and link them to your website.
One of the benefits of using PPC advertising to drive qualified leads to your website is that you can track phone calls from each ad. When you or your marketing professional signs up to place ads on Google search, you will be able to set up call tracking on each ad. Call tracking will automatically create a forwarding number to your office.
When someone uses that number to call your office, it will be considered a call conversion by the Google Adwords software. By using Google Adwords, you will gain access to important marketing data from Google. PPC advertising also is a great way to quickly get new patients who are searching for your services to contact your office via email.
Social media is a great channel for patient retention, support, and marketing. The key to being successful with social media is to post useful and educational content consistently. You can also pay Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter to promote your content to people in your local area. You can create an ad that offers discounts or promotions for your practice too.
Public speaking is an effective strategy to build credibility for your practice. If you can teach and educate your potential patients about the importance of dental procedures or certain dental products, you will gain their trust and they will become your patients.
I speak at dental marketing events and always come out with a handful of customers. Education is the new sales. If you enjoy speaking and educating at public events, this could be a great avenue to help grow your practice. Look for opportunities to speak and educate your target audience.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Consumers have shut off the traditional world of marketing, and useful content should be the core of your marketing strategy.” Content marketing is the process of creating educational or entertaining content such as videos, blogs, guest articles (just like this one), and photos with the goal of increasing awareness of your practice both online and offline.
In the Internet marketing world, content is king. You consistently need to create content and post it on your blog, social media, and other networks where you are participating in content marketing. Consumers research everything these days, and they start their research online.
If your practice posts new and educational content online, consumers will find it and it will drive traffic to your website. One example would be a weekly “frequently asked questions” section on your website where you post answers to your patients’ most asked questions and concerns. This builds trust with potential patients, and they will probably end up scheduling with your office.
Referral partnerships always provide a steady stream of new customers. It would be smart as the dentist and owner of your practice to network with other professionals who target the same patients that you do.
If you’re a general dentist, it would be wise to create referral partnerships with pediatric dentists in your area because their patients always grow up and need to start going to general dentists. Pediatric dental patients have parents who need to see a general dentist as well, so partnering with these physicians could generate a lot of new patients for your practice.
Email is still one of the best ways to market any business. Many people have their email accounts connected to their phones. You will need to have a mixture of educational content (hence content marketing) and promotional content in your emails to be successful. You also will need to create lead generation forms on your website and give away something of value so potential patients will want to give you their email address.
A good example of this would be giving away a coupon for 25% off a first visit to new patients when they sign up for your email list. Once you capture a prospect’s email, you can automate marketing emails to that address each week or each month. This will allow you to stay on the top of your prospects’ minds, and eventually they will schedule an appointment with your practice.
Direct mail can be an effective way to get new patients or communicate with existing patients. When you send direct mail, you can use 2 things to elicit a response.
The first is your list. You can choose to send mail to everyone in a specific carrier route, which would be a neighborhood of 300 to 800 homes. This type of mailing is often referred to as saturation or every-door direct mail (EDDM).
You can also mail to a targeted list. Some offices find success purchasing lists of older people (who may need dentures and implants), homes with teenagers (who need wisdom teeth pulled or braces), or addresses of people who are new to your area and may be in need of a dentist.
The best list is the list that no one else has. Inactive patients or patients who are past due for re-care are good lists because they already know and trust you. The likelihood of them responding is much higher than a generic list.
The second thing you can use with your direct mail campaign is your offer. This is a very important component to your mail piece. You need to give people a compelling reason to take the time to go to your office and try your services. I have seen “ugly” postcard designs drive new patients to practices because the offer motivated potential patients to call. Make sure your offer is clear and something of value and that it doesn’t devalue your dentistry.
All of these marketing channels are important, and they can really help you generate new patients. But marketing often comes down to your website. If you have a low-quality website or don’t even have a website, it will be difficult to attract new patients to your office.
A complete, professional website has pictures and bios of your staff, educational information about your services, live chat software so you can speak with patients right when they find out about your practice online, and online bill payment to help increase cash flow to your practice. It also needs a professional and clean design that fits perfectly on mobile devices.
All of these features will give your patients a quality experience when they visit your website. To get these features, though, your practice needs to have professional web designers help you build and manage your website so you can focus on being a quality dentist.
Jordon Comstock is the founder of BoomCloud Apps, a software company that allows dental offices to accept payments via their websites and create in-house membership programs. He also owns RocketFire, which provides dental offices with a small team of Web designers for an affordable subscription. He can be reached at 801-753-8586 or firstname.lastname@example.org.