Paying attention to marketing is essential if you want to appeal to new patients, build your brand awareness and grow your dental practice. It provides you with an opportunity to attract new patients as well as to keep current patients engaged and connected.
Making use of techniques such as website optimisation, SEO, social media, PPC and email marketing helps you grow your dental practice and make sure that it continues to flourish as you want it to.
The basis of your dental practice should begin with getting the right team in place. However, growing your business and getting that attention that you need for your dental practice to succeed, is where your efforts need to be drawn to next. This is where marketing comes in.
After nearly 20 years in the business, it has been a shame to see many dental practices who have the potential to thrive, fail due to the inability to get people through the door. This is why marketing is paramount to growing your business. Marketing a dental practice effectively can make all the difference when it comes to getting new patients in and retaining current ones.
Digital Marketing for Dentists
Build Your Dental Website
The first step to marketing a dental practice is to create your website. Your website is the foundation of all of your digital marketing efforts and it needs to be good. Good doesn’t need to mean fancy or complicated. Good means it converts customers into patients. There are a few different ways to do this.
Keep your website simple at first. If needs be, you can even make do with a 1 page website purely consisting of a homepage with the relevant information. Instead of creating a page for each treatment, you can just have one page covering all your services. You can then flesh your website out as time goes on and you have the relevant content.
Make your website easy to navigate as well. Keep the menus simple and try not to use jargon or split your treatments into specialties. Always put yourself in the shoes of your intended audience. Will they understand to look for gum treatment under periodontics? Probably not, so make it easy for them to find whatever they are after.
Give people as many options to contact you as possible. Make the phone numbers on your website click-able links so they can phone you directly from the website. Include contact forms on every single page of your website. Set up online booking software so they can book appointments without needing to speak to anyone. Include a chat bot on your website or even a WhatsApp number. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for them to contact you and make an appointment.
The website for your dental practice needs to be mobile-friendly as well. It’s not enough to look good on desktop – it needs to look great on a mobile as well. Most traffic to your site will come from mobile devices to make sure menus look good, the elements (things like buttons and images) are stable and don’t move around the page.
Search Engine Optimisation
Theoretically, you can have the best dental practice in the world in terms of patient care, and it will still fail to thrive if people do not know that it exists. Gone are the days when word of mouth was the way most people found a dentist. Today, people go straight to Google and search for a dentist in their area. This is why it’s so important to use SEO for dentists, to attract patients to your practice.
SEO helps you to optimise your search engine rankings. So that your practice features at the top of the results list when people carry out a search. For this to happen, it’s important that SEO is done well. There are several things to think about to successfully grow your dental practice with SEO.
Make sure you are using the proper keywords on the relevant pages. For instance, if you’re a dentist in Baker Street, you need to make sure your dental implants page uses phrases like ‘dental implants in Baker Street’ in the body of the text and preferably in the headers.
Start a blog right now if you haven’t already – it’s the perfect excuse to create content around any keyword. Write about the top tips for getting white teeth, the 5 reasons to use Invisalign, the best ways to avoid bleeding gums and so on.
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can be one of the most effective way of getting your adverts seen by potential patients. By using platforms such as Google Ads and Facebook Ads, businesses can pay to have their adverts shown to the exact audiences they want. With PPC, you pay every time a user clicks on your advert.
Google and Facebook both allow you to use narrowly defined target audiences, meaning you are not paying for your adverts to be shown to audiences with no intention of becoming a patient. With Google and Facebook by far being the largest search engine and social media platform, the advertising potential with these two services are enormous.
Start advertising on Google right now for simple keyword searches like ‘dentist in [your area]’. Set up ads for emergency patients especially, they are a great way to grow a practice and find new patients. You can target specific audiences but you can also simply target everyone within a certain radius of your practice.
Facebook can be great for PPC when used correctly. We recommend using Facebook ads for cheap brand awareness campaigns, just to get your name out there to people within your area. You should also use Facebook (and Instagram) ads for one-off offers and discounts. Target the people who have visited your website, your followers on Facebook and Instagram and also upload your patients’ emails. This means your adverts will go to more qualified leads who you know are at least somewhat interested in your services (since they have already interacted with you in the past.)
Set up a Facebook Pixel on your website – this allows Facebook and Instagram to track their users when they use your website. This then allows you to send adverts to people who have visited specific pages on your website. For instance you could send Invisalign adverts ONLY to people who have been on your Invisalign page.
Creating great content is key to digital marketing, it’s your ammunition! If you haven’t already – you need to start blogging and writing articles. These are some of the main things that search engines like Google will use to analyse and rank your website.
Write about top tips, give guides to different treatments, do top 10 lists, there are so many options to choose from and so many topics to write about! It takes time, but it will pay dividends in the long run in terms of SEO. Google notices when your website is constantly updating itself with new content and it prefers websites that do.
But blogs aren’t the end of it. The most successful and engaging form of media on any website is video. It attracts customers, it engages them and it converts. Get yourself in front of the camera and talk about your services, dentistry in general, your team and your mission & values.
You can create a short video for each treatment page explaining the procedure. You could also have a video for each team member on their profile page. Video is more engaging for audiences and also performs better than simple text or images.
There is no doubt that social media plays a larger than ever role in dental marketing. Using social media gives you the opportunity to interact with people in the local community who are patients or potential patients. You can post updates about the practice, including details of your community work and of any new treatments that are being provided.
You can also interact with your patients, by encouraging them to provide reviews of your practice, or ask questions. Do not forget that it is not sufficient to simply set up social media accounts; you need to make sure that they are managed effectively and regularly updated.
At the very least, you need to be on Facebook and Instagram. Not only can you keep in contact with your patients, keep them engaged and send them updates, offers and news. You can also advertise very effectively straight from these platforms.
Social media is essential to growing and marketing a practice. Even if you do not use Facebook or Instagram in your personal life, you need to be using it for your dental practice. Post about once a day. Post things like blogs, articles, behind the scenes videos, even content that isn’t directly related to the practice like motivational pictures!
One of the best ways to grow your practice using digital marketing is to encourage current customers to review your practice. Hopefully, these reviews on online spaces such as Google Reviews or Trustpilot will be positive. However, negative reviews can still be an opportunity for you to address them in a helpful and positive manner. Look at the negatives as constructive criticism and make sure you are seen to be addressing the problem.
In this day and age, when prospective patients are looking to go to a new dental practice, the first thing they usually look at is reviews. Reviews are what will entice or repel prospective clients. When people see those reviews online, they will (hopefully) see that your dental practice is reputable and highly thought of. This makes it more likely for them to book an appointment with you and use your services.
Your best, as well as your worst, reviews equally have a way of quickly spreading online. Encouraging customers to review your company is an easy way to expand your brand’s reach. When people have good things to say and have a positive experience at your practice, they are more likely to spread their review to more sites including external websites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp and FourSquare.
Not only will good reviews impress possible patients, it also impresses Google. The better your reviews, the more reputable and trustworthy in the field of dentistry Google will consider you.
Email marketing is still one of the most effective digital marketing methods, if it is utilised in the right way. You can provide a means of people giving you their email address, such as a newsletter sign-up page on your website or in person when they book an appointment. Once you have collected email addresses, you need to decide on your campaign.
For instance, you may want to offer discounts for treatments or an ongoing newsletter with details of latest news within your practice. Newsletters that consist of getting to know the staff segments and continuous updates of your practice, helps your clients feel closer to you as a business. Think carefully about the people you are targeting with your emails and make sure that the tone of your email content is engaging and appropriate.
Newsletters can be a great way of keeping your customers engaged, enhance your brand awareness and build a feeling of community.
Offline Marketing for Dentists
Before we begin on effectively marketing a dental practice, we need to start with what you are promoting. Needless to say, it is your brand name and image that will define you and get you recognition. But you need to start somewhere else entirely, your brand should come later. The first thing and main thing you need to market is the benefits of your practice. This is what will get you the attention you need. Remember, benefits before branding.
You need to promote the specific benefits patients will get if they visit your dental practice. The fact of the matter is, the dental industry is heavily populated. You need to market what makes you different and special. That is what your audience will respond to, your unique selling points.
It is hard to be unique as a dental practice, but there are certain aspects of your practice that can make you different, that is what you should market.
Think about anything positive about your surgery that can be promoted. Here are a few aspects that we have come up with but remember, with the right team, you can promote just about anything.
- Easily available emergency appointments.
- Easy access to appointments.
- Orthodontic surgery available on site.
- Specialist care for nervous patients.
- Specialists available (eg, orthodontists, hygienists).
- Children’s dental care specialists available at the practice
- Cosmetic dental procedures available on site.
Many dental patients tend to respond well to benefits like these before they even begin to respond to traditional commercial branding. Now you know the specific aspects of your dental practice that you need to promote, you need to remember to navigate a direct path from these benefits to the name of the dental practice. The aim is for patients to associate the benefits of the practice to the name of your practice, this will be your brand. Essentially, you will be branding your dental practice with your unique selling points.
Interact with the community
The patients who attend your practice are part of the local community, so it makes sense that you should ensure that your practice is known and respected locally. Community involvement can be of huge benefit to any business that is so closely involved with people in the local area.
The type of involvement that you can consider includes attending local fêtes, contributing to local charities and sponsoring junior sports teams. You may even be able to attend local schools, to talk about the importance of good dental care or about the pros and cons of a career as a dentist.
Postcards and Flyers
It is important to remember that not all of your dental marketing efforts need to be based online. Your practice is physically located amongst both your current patients and prospective patients. Therefore, you are in the ideal position to make use of non-digital marketing solutions such as postcards and flyers.
Make sure that your postcards and flyers are relevant and have something important to say about your practice. Remember that there are many businesses that post their advertising materials through the postboxes of your potential clientele. Many people still get bombarded with many flyers and postcards that are all more or less the same, which is why your content needs to stand out.
Using customer testimonials on your flyers is always a great thing to add, but be sure not to go crazy with any designs. Sometimes it helps to include a promotion or discount on your flyers to provide more of an incentive for people to come to your practice and actually keep the flyer rather than throwing it away.
However, with society becoming more environmentally conscious, it is important to use sustainably sourced materials and to advertise that fact.
SMS marketing has made a huge comeback recently. If you’re like me and knew nothing about text marketing until recently, then you’re in for a pleasant surprise. In the last few years, there have been a lot of new and old marketing strategies that have seen a sudden boost in popularity, and SMS marketing is one of the older ones but is now more effective than ever. It has been around for a couple of decades now but only now has it really caught on, especially with the smaller to medium-sized business market.
SMS reminders are a great way to keep existing patients engaged by reminding them about scheduled appointments or prompting them to book an appointment if they haven’t been in a while. Almost everyone has a smartphone in their pocket nowadays and SMS reminders can help you reach your patients directly, cheaply and easily.