Marketing your practice can be an overwhelming task. Between reputation management, your website, posting to social media sites, email campaigns and soliciting new reviews, the list seems never-ending. You spend a lot of time ensuring that your practice flourishes, but you may be missing out on a way to maximize your marketing efforts. When you know which platforms reach which patients, you save time and keep your dental chair filled.
Marketing for New Patients
When attracting new patients, all roads lead to the same destination — your website. If your website isn’t up to date, designed to resonate with your ideal patient and easy to scan, potential patients are going to click on the next search result. Once your site is updated, use the following platforms to attract new patients:
- Google AdWords — This option only costs you when people actually click on your ads. When you set the ideal criteria (such as specific search terms and a realistic radius from your office), your ad only will appear to those who have been searching for treatment in your area. Google AdWords allows you to target people who are looking for a new dentist or even those who are interested in a specific treatment. This can be further enhanced by remarketing to remind casual surfers that they recently looked at your practice.
- Facebook Ads — Everyone in your target demographics is on Facebook. From a marketing perspective, Facebook allows you to hyper-focus your ads. You can narrow your ideal patient base down to age range, proximity to your office, online behavior and interest. Best of all, Facebook Ads are an affordable way to reach the people you want to see in your chair.
- Local listings — Navigating the web can be messy. Local listings are the best way to make your business visible in a sea of other dental practices. The more thorough the listing, the easier it will be for prospective patients to find your practice. To make yourself more visible, list on multiple sites such as Google, Healthgrades and Yellow Pages.
- Reviews — Even if someone is referred by their trusted friend or loved one, they’re going to check out your online reviews. Staying on top of your reviews (and making sure that the good outweigh the bad) will convey the right message to those who are looking for a new dentist. It’s ideal to have your positive reviews posted on Google (which continues to be the No. 1 search engine worldwide) where they’ll be most visible. Because Facebook has the greatest number of active users, you might also consider posting your reviews there.
- Video testimonials — Who doesn’t love a tear-jerking success story? Even a run-of-the-mill story may be just what it takes to convert a casual searcher into an actual patient. Video testimonials don’t need to be long or overproduced; in fact, the more realistic, the more relatable and effective they will be. Your testimonials will carry the most weight if they’re posted on your website or Facebook and included in an occasional blog.
- Blog posts — Blog posts allow you to establish yourself as an expert in your field. Like web content, your posts should be written in easily digestible bites. Use short paragraphs, bullet points and eye-catching headlines and subheads to get more people to read about your practice. The more content you provide in your blog posts, the easier it is for potential patients to decide that you are the right dentist.
- Facebook Newsfeed — While Facebook is an amazing platform for patient retention, it also can be useful when it comes to reaching new patients. When a current patient shares your posts, their friends and families are given insight into your personality, which sets you apart from your peers.
Marketing for Current Patients
Why do you need to market to existing patients? Retention. You can bring in new patients, but if your existing patients don’t feel connected to you, they’ll leave for a dentist who is closer, has been recommended by friends or has an amazing Groupon special. Marketing to your existing patients creates loyalty, which keeps them in your chair and not some other dentist’s.
Additionally, with focused marketing, you may extract more value out of your current patients through referrals. The following platforms will help build rapport with your current patients:
- Email marketing — Personalized emails (written from your perspective) are an effective way to remind patients that you’ve been listening. While you don’t want to inundate mailboxes with messages, a monthly email can go a long way. This is particularly effective when emphasizing the importance of a treatment you’re passionate about. Emailing can provide patients with the education they might need to commit to a treatment.
- Facebook posts — Facebook does it all — written messages, photos, videos, even live feed. Each of these options creates opportunities for you to humanize yourself, promote your brand and keep patients coming back. How can they leave a dentist who posted pictures from a local charity race, a pie eating contest or a goat yoga session?
- Blogs — While blogs allow you to demonstrate your knowledge and promote your technology to new patients, they’re also useful when convincing existing patients to commit to treatment. Sometimes, all a hesitant patient needs is some additional information, and monthly blog posts do just that.
- Video testimonials — Like blogs, video testimonials can be used to appeal to both prospective and current patients. Have you been talking to a patient about implants for the past 18 months? Veneers? Nothing is more moving than a video testimonial from a real patient who has experienced success thanks to your treatment.
The only way truly to grow your practice is to bring in new business while also keeping your current patients. Hopefully, the above tips will help you optimize your efforts.
Jackie Ulasewich is co-founder of My Dental Agency, a marketing company specializing in dental practice. To comment on this article, email firstname.lastname@example.org.