How to Consistently Attract New Patients into Your Practice
Although dentistry is a fairly stable market thanks to strong demand, the vast number of dentistry practices give consumers plenty of options. According to AreaDentist, there are over 200,000 dentists actively practicing in the US. The site also notes that around 600 dentists begin their own practice each year. Retirements have an impact on the amount of competition in the market, as older dentists are leaving faster than they’re being replaced.
Nevertheless, some markets are denser than others, and both new and old practices may need modern marketing strategies to better compete. There are several reasons you may find it valuable to seek new dental marketing techniques for your practice.
Why You Need to Market Your Dental Practice.
Patient loyalty is becoming more difficult to achieve. Even one bad experience in your office can lead patients to search online for alternatives. Additionally, review sites such as Yelp, Google My Business, and Healthgrade make it easy for patients to leave both positive and negative reviews. Consumers are more likely to leave negative reviews after a bad experience than positive ones after a good experience, making it necessary to boost your practice’s’ positive image in the case of negative reviews.
That said, effective marketing can bring in new customers. You can also build patient loyalty using a number of customer-focused techniques. New practices, in particular, need to establish a presence in the local market, which can involve developing an online presence and making your practice discoverable online.
Having a combination of marketing strategies, such as creating a conversion website, implementing search engine optimization (SEO), running Google Ads, developing a strong social media presence, and using various online customer reviews practices, can help your dental practice bring in new patients and foster patient loyalty.
Websites Draw in New Traffic
A majority of patients searching for a dental practice prefer to use each business’ website to learn more about the companies offering the service. In fact, 75 percent of consumers use business’ websites to learn more about them either half of the time or more. Which is to say, if your business doesn’t have a website at all, you’re likely losing a significant amount of business potential.
It’s not enough to just put up a website, however. It needs to be professionally constructed, avoid simple mistakes like misinformation or spelling errors, have all of the requisite information that potential new patients need to understand what you offer, and an online interface for appointment scheduling and communication.
Effective websites also offer some tidbits to help build trust, such as customer reviews visitors can review directly on the website, and a Google Maps plugin that makes it easier to physically locate your business.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Helps Visitors to Your Site and Business
Building a website is great, but if nobody can find it, the website is effectively useless. This is where SEO comes in. Search Engine Optimization is a sometimes complex method which involves tweaking your online presence so that anyone typing entering various search terms in Google (such as “dentists near me”) can find your business. There are dozens of SEO strategies that exist to help make it easier for your website to appear in a Google search, but a few options that a dentistry practice needs include:
- Getting your website listed on Google locally using Google My Business, which is essential for anyone looking for local dentist practices
- Incorporating relevant keywords into your website’s homepage and landing pages
- Using local SEO strategies, such as getting business citations (business name, address, phone number, etc.) on websites like Yellow Pages, Super Pages, and Yelp.
- Develop a regular content strategy, including a regularly-updated blog with high-quality and consumer-focused guides, news, and information
Although there are numerous search engines consumers can use, Google’s market share is still around 75 percent of search engine traffic. Needless to say, if your practice is not showing up on Google, it becomes significantly more difficult for patients to locate your business online.
Google Ads Help Supplement SEO Strategies
SEO can help drive traffic to your website and business, but ranking on Google is not a sure thing. Some SEO strategies are guaranteed to get you to show up, while others can fail if the competition is doing a much better job of ranking in Google searches. This is where Google Ads come in.
With Google Ads, you can get your practice listed at the top of a Google Search for valuable key terms. Google also makes it easy to manage your ads across different platforms and makes it easy to only spend as much or as little as you want. You can run Google Ads until your business starts ranking on Google organically or keep your strategy going if it’s successfully leading to conversions and drawing in new patients.
Social Media Makes Your Practice Shareable
A large amount of business is converted through search engines, but social media is also playing a significant role, as well. A presence on major social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, can be valuable in your SEO strategy. It can also make your business more approachable, as you can use your social media accounts to share day-to-day features of your practice, posts you create on your business website, and other information that social media users (and potential and current clients) may need or want.
The key to social media is in the first part of the term: social. To make social media work, you’ll need to keep the content interactive, interesting, and shareable. Content that fosters discussion is also valuable, as is content that effectively highlights what you do well.
Social media is also a good platform for paid marketing campaigns. In a similar fashion to Google Ads, you can purchase ads on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that target key markets, both by location, demographic points (such as age, gender, or marital status), and based on users’ identified interests (such as candy).
If you’re looking to elevate your social media strategy, contact Madison Ave Media.
Seek Out Positive Reviews to Drive New Business
Review sites can be a huge boon for your business, or they can do an incalculable amount of damage. You can help manicure your reviews, but you’ll also want to avoid hurting your business reputation along the way.
Note that patients who’ve had a bad experience are far more likely to leave a bad review than those who’ve had a good one. This is altogether unavoidable, even for the best practices. However, the easiest way to get positive reviews is to ask for them. Point your patients to various review sections, and ask them to leave positive reviews. Not every customer will do this, but loyal customers who have had a great experience will, and this can help outweigh the damage from negative reviews.
And those negative reviews can indeed be harmful. It takes about 40 positive reviews to undo the damage of one negative review. This makes it all the more important that you ask patients to leave those positive reviews as often and as frequently as possible without becoming intrusive, and iterate to your loyal customers why those positive reviews are necessary for your practice.
There are a few things you’ll need to be wary of, however:
1. You can give incentives for customer reviews but don’t incentivize positive reviews. Many businesses give customers discounts and rewards for proving feedback. However, your business may appear to be illegitimate if you only give rewards or discounts for positive reviews. Paying customers for reviews can land you in trouble with the FTC, after all, so if you do plan to incentivize reviews, do so generically, and don’t tie it to just the kind of reviews you want. As well, don’t punish patients who leave negative reviews.
You may want to consider offering something simple, such as a free teeth whitening treatment or free floss as a gift, versus providing monetary benefits.
2. Avoid fighting patients who leave negative reviews. Yes, sometimes customers leave negative reviews that are misleading, unfair, or completely untrue. But you’ll do more damage to your practice’s image if you argue with and demean customers in online review comments than if you left no comment at all. Instead, focus on increasing the number of positive reviews.
3. Ask the review site to remove legitimately false reviews. Review sites understand that some reviews may be completely false. If that’s the case, work with the review site to have the review investigated and possibly removed. However, avoid trying to get negative reviews removed for any and every reasons. This type of activity can reflect badly on your business and word may get around that you manipulate your reviews.
How to Manage Your Dental Practice Marketing
Most dental practices are small businesses, and as is common, most small business owners have to wear multiple hats to make a business run effectively. Marketing is just one of those hats, but it can also be time-consuming and difficult to navigate effectively. If you need professional assistance to get your dental practice marketing off the ground, contact Madison Ave Media for a complimentary consultation.