77 Dental Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Practice
by Tyson Downs
This post was originally published September 19th, 2016, and most recently updated on May 11, 2020.
The ultimate list of dental marketing ideas
As a dentist, you probably haven’t devoted as much time as you'd like to coming up with effective and creative dental marketing ideas. Don’t feel bad – you’re not the only professional to find yourself in this pickle. Between handling patients, managing staff, making sure you are following all new regulations, etc. you no doubt have your hands full.
You can’t get around the fact that you need an online presence to compete in this day and age. But with a real-world business to manage, you simply might not have much time to spend on moving into the online and mobile arenas.
Luckily, there are hundreds of ways to expand your reach. And since increasing your online presence is an essential part of expanding your business in the real world, here are some pointers to help you get the ball rolling.
Of course, you may not feel like implementing these ideas yourself, which is fine. But doing nothing isn't an option if you want to grow your practice. So, if you need some help, be sure to hire a dental SEO company you can trust.
Advertising your dental practice successfully requires a rock-solid internet dental marketing strategy. If you want to attract new patients, simply having a functional website and placing a few ads here and there just won’t cut it. Even if you’re a great dentist, you will fall behind your competitors who know how to play the game.
With a targeted, focused, diverse dental marketing campaign, you could pull in upwards of 50 new patients per month (granted, this is quite optimistic, but doable). And fortunately, the digital advertising strategies that make up a successful marketing campaign are quite simple and easy to deploy as long as you make a plan and stick to it. With just a little time and dedication, these can’t-lose online dental marketing ideas will propel your practice to the next level.
Before you get started with these dental marketing tips, you'll first need to have a couple essential things in place.
1. A competitive advantage (Unique Selling Proposition) that sets your practice apart
2. A great, user-friendly website
Let’s briefly touch upon how to get both of these things in place prior to implementing these marketing strategies for your dental office.
Why should patients choose your practice?
It may take a little bit of careful thought and consideration to pin down exactly what your competitive advantage is, but you can start by thinking along the lines of your location, specialties, services, and responsiveness.
If you don’t think you have anything that makes you unique, how can you start being special? Can you promise to respond to dental emergency calls, any time of day or night? Can you begin offering a new dental technology that none of the other dentists in town have?
Even something simple like letting customers watch Netflix from an iPad during treatments can make you unique. And odds are, you are already special in some way. Once you identify your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), you can use this to entice new patients in all of your dental advertising endeavors.
Listen to this blog post:
Optimize Your Website Design
Your website is the hub of your online operation and it often provides the first impressions to new and potential patients.
A great website for dental practices is high-converting, user-friendly website. This is a website that turns visitors into patients because it delivers what people want, in a digestible, no-hassle format. There are numerous important elements to a high-converting dental website, but here are the main ones:
- Easy to navigate
- Uncluttered design
- Loads quickly
- Has a blog
- Describes your services
- Describes your USP
- Prominently displays your contact information
- Has photos and bios of the dentists at your practice
- Has reviews/testimonials
- Behind-the-scenes page elements (meta-tags) are optimized with on-page SEO
- Clear call-to-action
- Is updated frequently
One of the most important aspects of a great dental office website is user experience.
Let's first define what user experience is (Commonly referred to as UX).
Outside of marketing professionals, few service providers realize what an impact their website’s user experience (UX) can have on their conversions.
If your site or content creates difficulties for visitors to get the information they’re looking for, they'll likely leave.
1. Mobile Compatibility
Having a website that’s mobile compatible is a marketing necessity at this point. Mobile search is on the rise and here’s the kicker:
What does a mobile site look like?From Google's developer guidelines, see the image below:
People are 5x more likely to abandon a website if it isn’t optimized for mobile.
Google has also added mobile compatibility as a ranking factor, meaning that it can affect whether or not you appear in search results when a user performs a search from their mobile phone.Luckily, at this point, making your website mobile friendly isn't as terribly complex as it was years ago. Hopefully, you have hired a professional website design company that knows what they’re doing and is following design and user experience best practices. If so, they should be able to ensure your dental website is responsive, which according to Google, is the preferred method
2. Use Robots.txt
Robots.txt is used to make sure the pages you want get 'read' by the search engines are read. You can also use it to block certain pages that are in development. Here’s some information on how to create a robots.txt file for your site: http://www.robotstxt.org
3. Page Speed
Society has changed us.
It's changed me.
It's changed you.
It's changed nearly everyone.
In what way?
People don't like waiting and get more impatient than they did previously.
Remember the encyclopedia?
What did we do if we wanted to find something?
Well, if we were lucky enough to have a full set of encyclopedias, we'd go grab the book with the appropriate letter, and turn through the pages to find it, and hopefully we could find the information we wanted.
Most of us search on our phone or computer and have the exact information within seconds.
Here, let me show you.
What state do you think has the most amount of gold? Alaska? Nevada? Let's see.
So, when we are able to get information that fast, we just kinda expect it in other areas of our life.
This is why people want your website to load fast when they visit it.
In fact, even a 2-second delay in page load time can cause up to 87% of visitors to abandon a site.
You can make sure your pages load quickly with the help of Google’s PageSpeed Tools. It even identifies ways you can make your site faster, so you can start improving your page speed now.
4. Fix Crawl Errors
If you have a few 404 redirects (Page Not Found) on your site, it won't necessarily hurt your rankings (at least not directly). However, your website visitors who are trying to navigate your site often won’t be as forgiving.
Make sure there are no barriers to navigation throughout your website, including broken links and 404 redirects.
You can use a broken link checker service and online site crawling tools to do this for you.
Google Search Console also gives you a report of your 404 errors.
To learn more about effective website design and user experience, listen to The 10 Minute Healthcare Marketing Podcast, Episode 26 that I've added below.
Most likely, you will hire an outside web design agency to create your dental practice website. However, keep in mind that this is not a one-and-done job; you need to keep the information on your website up to date and post new content on a regular basis. An easy way to keep a fresh stream of content going is by updating your onsite blog regularly.
5. Perform SEO
SEO is a must if you want to increase your online presence and show higher in the search results. There's multiple methods of SEO, both on-page, and off-page. Be sure to follow best practices that will help sustain your site for the long term and not quick fixes. The number of people who search for your office specifically is bound to be rather small. But you can use search engine optimization to increase your search engine rankings, allowing you to be seen by more people that are searching for a dentist in your area.
6. Use HTML and CSS
HTML and CSS are both coding languages you can use to build your website. More likely than not, you’ll hire a designer to create your website for you. Just make sure you validate the code so you know it’s error-free.
Knowing how to use HTML and CSS on your site can have some other benefits for dental marketing as well. For example, using schema markup can give search engines more details about your pages, and in turn, they can display more information to people in search results.
Geo-targeting is a great way to make your website more relevant to potential visitors, especially if your dental office has more than one location.
Adding Geo-targeting to your site determines a visitor’s location based on IP address, WIFI and GPS data, and delivers a page relevant to their location. So say you have one office in Moscow, ID and one in Pullman, WA.
When Geo-targeting, you can show ads to the appropriate audience when they are looking in your area.
8. Link out as appropriate
Google pays close attention to links for SEO: inbound, outbound, and internal links. So having a healthy set of links from your pages to others is a good idea. Google looks at the anchor text of your links to better understand what your pages are about as well.
9. Focus on tags and titles
Page titles and title tags are also important SEO rank factors, and they help potential site visitors understand what your pages is about. Make sure you write page titles that attract readers and are optimized for your target keyword.
On page optimization can be one of the most effective ways to dramatically increase the ranking of your website.
10. Add a sitemap
It’s recommended that you create a map of your site and submit it to Google Search Console. This makes it easier for Search Engine Bots to crawl your site and find the pages you have on your site.
If your site is less than 500 pages, you can create one for free using XML SiteMaps.
11. Choose a web host wisely
Nothing makes a dental website seem less professional than hosting it on a free domain, like WordPress or Blogger. It’s better for your image and SEO if you pay for hosting and have your own domain.
There are a lot of great hosting services out there that regularly offer affordable deals for an annual agreement. Shop around.
12. Prominently display important information
You want to make it as easy as possible for people to use and interact with your site. That’s why you should make your social buttons, RSS feed, and other calls-to-action as prominent as possible to people know where to go.
13. Build links for off-page SEO
Link-building is a part of SEO, that we refer to as 'off-page SEO'. Rather than making adjustments with the keywords and other elements of your website (on-page SEO), off-page SEO includes activities to generate traffic to your website from elsewhere on the web. Link-building is a pretty darn effective off-page SEO strategy and one that can have a pretty dramatic impact on your rankings in the search results.
Think of link-building as rounding up “votes.” With every link to your website that appears online, you get a vote. With enough votes, your dental practice can increase its rankings to the top of the search engine results page (SERP), where more people will click on it and ultimately become new patients.
Here are some ways you can build links to dominate the SERP.
- Creating awesome content with viral potential — how-to guides, infographics, videos, etc
- Guest-blogging for reputable blogs
- Claiming all of your local search listings (and third-party review sites)
- Participating in relevant local business associations and community events
For more great ideas on how dentists can get links, check out this Dentistry IQ article.
Optimize Your On-site blog
You’ll find that SEO is made much easier through the inclusion of an on-site blog. And there are several things you can do to ensure that your blog increases your online presence.
14. Create relevant, engaging, informative, and entertaining content
Contrary to popular belief, internet marketing for dentists isn’t just about search engine optimization (SEO).
You also need to draw in your audience by providing them with the helpful information they’re looking for and building their trust in the process.
A blog is a great way to build trust and a relationship with your visitors, though not the only way.
You could create an online video show.
You could create a podcast.
There's a lot of ways to create content.
Your content shouldn’t focus on overtly promoting your practice (that’s what paid advertising is for). Instead, it should concentrate on addressing common concerns of potential patients, such as:
- The best diet for healthy teeth.
- What could bad breath mean for your dental health?
- What is the best option to replace missing teeth?
You could expand on that and create a whole that can truly transform your online presence and reputation.
And don’t stop at a blog.
Creating content such as this and sharing it with your community is just the start.
15. Post timely content
Posting about current events is a great way to attract new traffic to your site. Google favors newsworthy content, and you can take advantage of that. When I saw 'newsworthy', I mean content that is relevant to the times and what is going on in the industry and world.
Get on Google Trends and look for trending stories that could relate to your field. Turn these into content opportunities.
16. Post regularly
A blog that’s never updated is worse than no blog at all. So if you’re going to host one, make sure you put in the effort to update it regularly, or risk looking unprofessional to your site visitors.
17. Add links
Linking to and from other pages on your blog creates a healthy site structure. It improves navigation by giving visitors more options to explore your site, and helps with SEO.
18. Add social media buttons for likes and sharing
Make it as easy as possible for people to share your blog posts by adding social media buttons. This is easy enough to do with a simple WordPress plugin like Social Media Share. I do the same. The Facebook Share and Twitter Share are on the bottom of most of my blog posts.
Now granted, you likely aren't going to get something to go viral because of that, but if it creates less resistance and puts it in mind for somebody to share your post, then it's worth it.
19. Add an RSS feed
People interested in reading your dental blog probably are avid online readers. Many like to keep all the blogs they follow in one place using an RSS Reader. RSS Readers copy the content from various blogs the person follows and puts them all in one, easy-to-use feed.
You need to make sure your blog readers have the option to do this by adding an RSS feed to your site.
20. Promote membership
21. Allow reader comments
Allowing readers to comment on your blog posts is another great way to attract interest and engage. But be careful with this tactic -- blogs with comments enabled can attract a lot of spam posts. Google can penalize your site for this.
So make sure you use an anti-spam filter or Captcha to weed them out:
22. Reply to reader comments
23. Ask for reader suggestions
24. Post product/service tutorials
25. Host giveaways
Hosting a giveaway on your blog is a great way to attract traffic to your site and create buzz about your business. Give away something related to your business, such as a free tooth whitening or filling. Make sure it’s valuable enough that people will want to submit their email addresses to enter. Then you can market to them later on.
26. Post employee columns to interest a variety of readers
The ways in which blogs can promote websites and increase online presence are many and varied, so you cannot afford to go without one.
27. Affiliated blogs
Guest posting is a great way to increase inbound links and participate in the larger blogging community associated with your industry. As a bonus, getting in good with other bloggers could lead to increased opportunities for partnerships, cross-promotion, link sharing, and of course, reaching a broader audience.
28. Follower submissions
Whether you encourage commentary or you allow followers to submit blog posts, just for example, getting your online audience involved in the creative process can lead to increased sharing opportunities.
Use Your Social Media Profiles
It’s not enough to create a proliferation of social media profiles – you also need to support them if you want to gain the benefits they offer in terms of increasing your online presence. You should use your Facebook and Google My Business, and then consider using Pinterest, Instagram, and other accounts in the following ways:
29. Link to your website
Some, but not all social links will show up in Google search results, so that’s one reason to do this. The other is that you want to make it as easy as possible to navigate social followers back to your site.
30. Post links to blog articles
31. Send notifications
32. Introduce new products and services
33. Come up with a compelling offer
Getting people to visit your website is important. However, traffic isn’t everything — you need to make an attractive offer to get the potential patient to take action. You can use an offer to “land the sale” (get someone to become a paying patient) or even just to collect useful information. For example, you can use an offer to:
- Get people from social media to visit your website
- Get website visitors to make an appointment
- Collect valuable contact information from people on your email list
- … or just about anything else!
So what should your offer be? Here are some compelling offer ideas for dentists:
- Free X-Rays/teeth-whitening/etc. for first-time patients
- Free $50 Visa gift card for new patients
- iPad giveaway drawing (in exchange for entering email address)
- Coupon for 50% off any dental service for first 100 people to follow your new Twitter account
- Visit our website to get a free download (visitors will be asked to fill out a form to get the download)
Start by focusing on a single, time-sensitive offer for new patients. If that one doesn’t do well, try testing out a more valuable offer or a lower-risk offer — for example, where the person only has to give you their email address or “like” your page to receive something free.
Social media is a great place to attract new patients. Use relevant hashtags related to dentistry and share special discounts and deals, such as Orsatti Dental does on Google My Business.
Just make sure promotions aren’t the bulk of your social shares -- this can annoy your current followers and cause them to unsubscribe or unfollow you.
34. Host contests and giveaways
35. Encourage sharing
36. Communicate with followers
37. Form relationships
Just like your blog, your social profiles are another place where you can build trust with potential and current patients. So make sure you post content that shows you care. Here’s a great example:
38. Provide Value!
Social media offers nearly unlimited opportunities for outreach, including the chance to funnel traffic to your website, interact with followers on a personal level, and get introduced to the family and friends of your followers from a trusted source.
39. Host Gatherings
Social media is also a great way to plan and promote in-person gatherings. Just look at the success of efforts like geocaching and flash mobs.
Use social media to promote an in-person gathering, such as an educational oral health presentation for kids in the park.
Participating in industry & geographically related forums can help you to become known and recognized among colleagues and prospective patients. In addition to the old school style forums, you can also participate in Facebook Groups. You can do this by:
40. Asking questions
41. Offering advice
42. Discussing new technologies
45. Become a known authority
Work hard enough, and it is possible to become a known authority in your field through forum posting. Take Quora, for example. People ask a wide variety of questions about dentistry on the site all the time.
Many dentists set up their own profiles and focus on answering these questions:
This helps them gain more page views and Quora followers, promoting their business in the process.
46. Forming partnerships
47. Social bookmarking sites
Submitting content to Digg, Reddit, Delicious, StumbleUpon, and other social bookmarking sites can help you to increase your visibility, and website traffic, increasing the likelihood that your content will be seen as eye-catching, share-worthy, timely, and trending
How the times change! We've written and revised this article several times over the years, and it's high time to take this section out. We thought about deleting it for good, but we figured it doesn't hurt. We, and our visitors can look back and see how the Internet has changed. Plus, there is a minor chance (very minor) that using social bookmarking could potential help you. It's all about undertsanding your ideal patients and going where they are.
Promotions can be a great way for dentists to get the word out about a new service, or about their practice. This is particularly important if you are the new guy in town.
How can you use promotions?
48. Discounts and deals
49. Contests and giveaways
50. Email Marketing
Maintain a connection with current patients by taking advantage of your in-house email database. Your patient intake forms should have all the relevant email address to connect with patients who are not due back for another annual check-up (this can be done once a month).
It works, and it’s highly cost-effective to keep in touch with patients. It’s a crucial part of maintaining patient relationships throughout the year. Further, it can also be a tool that you could use to remind patients of an upcoming appointment and confirmation of that appointment. This has the added benefit of ensuring that your patients show up for their appointment (saving you time and money in the long run).
Email dental marketing can be in the form of newsletters or brief information blurbs about what’s happening in your practice or industry.
Although this is a great digital marketing tool, be sure to get written consent from the patient before making any contact via email. No matter what the marketing campaign may be, always make sure that you and your staff consistently maintain HIPAA compliance.
51. Start a Podcast
52. Google+ hangouts(Google Hangouts is No More!)
53. Growth Hacking Strategies
Growth hacking involves using innovative, low cost dental marketing strategies to gain major business growth in the digital world. These strategies usually utilize social media, digital design, and viral marketing to achieve growth, as opposed to traditional advertising strategies. Click to read some Growth Hacking Ideas.
54. Joint Marketing/Cross-Promotion
Create relationships with other businesses in your vicinity or a related industry to promote each other’s services. For example, an orthodontist would be a great business to get referrals from.
Joint dental marketing with other businesses in your business complex is also a great idea -- people like one-stop shopping, which can set your dental office apart.
55. Support charitable organizations
These ideas will not only delight current patients connected to you online, but they’ll also help to catch the attention of prospective clientele.
56. Press releases
Distribute press releases to local news agencies to get more reach for your dental brand. There are also many online press release distribution services you can use.
Don’t focus on creating press releases about your dental office and services. Press releases like that are a dime a dozen, and not attractive for news reporters to pick up on. Instead, look for ways to tap into current events, such as:
- Offering expert commentary on how recent FDA rule changes impact dentistry
- Discussing a local charity event you’re sponsoring.
57. Create Videos
Creating videos about dentistry and oral health are a great way to get more reach for your business. Instead of promoting your services, make them educational, entertaining, and informative.
Upload your videos to YouTube, Facebook, and your website. Creating video content can improve social media engagement, influence purchase decisions, and more:
If you want to expand your online presence, eventually you’ll have to engage in digital dental marketing for dentists. Here are a few options that have not yet been discussed:
58. Do an EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail)
I know what you’re thinking:
Direct mail’s obsolete, right? Direct mail, or postcard mailers sent to a targeted group of prospects, is a surefire way to get more patients. Direct mail has an estimated response rate of 24% and an average return of $16.39 per name mailed, according to a HubSpot study.
Tyler Brown, Marketing Specialist at DentalMarketing.net, says he typically targets neighborhoods near a dental practice’s locations and sends out professional-looking postcards with an incentive/promotion to get people to call. Brown says that of every 5,000 postcards he sends, he gets an average of 35 calls, resulting in about 7 new patients.
OK, so direct mail isn’t 100 percent online like the rest of these strategies, though it coordinates nicely with digital dental marketing strategies. According to digital marketing expert Richard Rushing, as quoted by Direct Marketing News, companies that have a compelling direct mail offer or message that they link with their online ads can expect “a 10 to 30 percent uplift in conversion…when combining the two channels.”
One way to combine digital marketing with direct mail is simply to follow up with an email to the people you send mailers to.So, how can you get started with direct mail? Easy — buy a list of new homeowners in your area and send them offers using direct mail (postcards are best) and email follow-up. Learn more about dental postcard marketing.
It can be difficult to get your business page on the first page of Google search results. But one solution to this is investing in PPC search advertising.
A lot of dental practices use pay-per-click or other online ads without seeing much in the way of returns. But that’s because they’re not being smart about their paid ads. For online ads to work, you need to be targeted with your efforts. When done right, PPC and retargeting are excellent ways to get your online ads seen by the right people — your target audience.
Retargeting is a method of delivering ads based on prior engagement, effectively “following” your audience all over the web. Some of the most common retargeting types include:
- Site-based retargeting – Serving ads to people who have previously visited your website
- Email retargeting – Serving ads to people who open your emails
- Search retargeting – Serving ads to people who search for one of your keywords.
As for PPC, my blog post 8 Ways for Dentists to Maximize the Effectiveness of Their Paid Search Campaigns outlines the main things you need to do when designing a pay-per-click campaign. Geotargeting, paying attention to what your competitors are doing, and carefully selecting and testing your keywords are the main ways you can get smarter with your dental PPC campaigns.
Bid on the right keywords, and your advertisements will appear above organic search results:
And the great news is you’re targeting an audience that’s already searching for dental services, so they’re much easier to convert.
60. Facebook Ads
Facebook ads can be a great way you can target your ideal audience. You can zoom into and narrow down on the exact audience you want to reach.
61. Using QR codes
A QR code is a special barcode you can put on your fliers and physical advertising material. People use an app on their phone to scan the code, and it will direct them back to your website, or another digital domain of your choice.
You can easily create one with a QR Code Generator:
62. Live demos
Live demos aren’t a common practice typically for dental marketing ideas. But so long as you remember to include online information like your URL and social media via your signage, flyers, and so on, your real-world advertising efforts can definitely increase your online presence.
Websites, blogs, social media accounts, and other online platforms are only useful in as much as you take the time to track and analyze the results of your efforts. Analytics tools can provide you with information pertaining to:
- Traffic patterns and trends
- Click-thru rate analysis
- Conversions Rate Optimization
- Determine the most (and least) popular keywords
- Number of pages viewed
- Most (and least) viewed pages
- Time spent on site/pages
- Search terms used to find you
- Traffic sources
- Referring websites
- Sharing resources
- Funnels, understand your customer journey
- Browser and OS data
- What devices are visitors using that come to your site?
Without analytics, you may never know which of your efforts are hitting or missing. Paying attention to the back end is crucial if you want to save time and money, hone your efforts, and effectively and efficiently increase your online presence.
In-Person Dental Marketing
63. Maintain a Positive Attitude and Appearance in the Clinic
You and your clinic staff need to reflect the clinic’s or brand’s values when interacting with patients within your medical office. It’s a direct reflection of your brand’s image as your patient’s perception of you, and your practice is formed during an appointment.
So it’s crucial to consistently maintain a clean and modern working environment with employees that display a positive attitude. Train your staff to be courteous, to greet patients when they come in, and display a good attitude during every interaction.
A new patient’s first contact will be with your reception staff, so it’s important that all staff members are on the same page. It’s a good idea to create a warm and welcoming reception area and waiting room. Further, have some toys for kids to play with and free WiFi for patients to utilize while they’re waiting.
Retaining patients requires a commitment to an excellent patient experiences. If your patients consistently have an awesome time when they come for a visit, your online reviews will be good, and you will be the first person they refer to a friend.
64. Chamber of Commerce
Attend local Chamber of Commerce meetings to network with other businesses and individuals interested in the community.
BNI International is a networking organization designed to help members meet up, discuss business, and share referrals. BNI meetings are a great way to find other dental professionals to build relationships with.
66. MeetUp Events
MeetUp Events are an opportunity like BNI, but more informal. You’ll be more likely to attract patients and business partners from MeetUp Events in your community.
67. Start your own after hours meet up
68. Hold regular tours for preschool or elementary school students
69. Offer regular lectures on oral health at your library
70. Hand out business cards
Never forget the power of a card in hand. People are bombarded by dental marketing material on their phones, TV, and radios these days. Many tune it out. But handing out business cards gives people a physical object to focus on. It sits on their kitchen counter and reminds them of your business in a way digital marketing can’t.
71. Take Advantage of Dental Marketing Collateral in your Waiting Room
A lot of medical offices are engaging in various dental marketing activities (email, social, blogs, etc.) and having some success. But that doesn’t mean offline marketing is dead. In fact, offline medical marketing is very much alive.
Take advantage of your waiting room, place some professionally designed brochures that patients can read while they wait. These brochures can highlight the benefits of using the services that you offer (that may not be very obvious to most patients).
Further, you can also promote wellness initiatives and provide opportunities for current patients and prospective patients to provide or update their personal details. This can be a form at the end of the brochure (and it’s a great tool to quickly acquire information for a patient database).
It will also help to have your offices' business cards easily available around your clinic. These brochures and business cards should easily highlight your clinic’s logo and contact details.
Other benefits that can be emphasized include the following:
- Brief history and profile of all the doctors practicing at the clinic
- Information about the state-of-the-art equipment used within the practice
- Information about common diseases
- Disease prevention
- New medical innovations that patients might want to know about
The only online aspect of this exercise will be your email and website addresses listed on the collateral and your call to action to visit the clinic’s social media pages (not forgetting the patient database).
Displaying brochures facilitates opportunities for (patient – doctor) dialog and will possibly lead to another consultation. So it’s a great tool to get patients returning after the annual physical.
What are you doing to increase your presence and grow your practice?
72. Optimize for Local Search
Google has updated its search ranking algorithms frequently over the years, which has made it necessary for a business owner who is marketing their practice on their own, or for the marketing agency to stay on top of these changes.
While most changes impact 'organic' results more than local, because the two different types of search results are tied together, changes can impact both.
Here are some important things to consider when looking to improve your rankings in local search:
Utilize Location Specific Keywords
When it comes time to research keywords to rank for, you can use Google’s Keyword Planner to find the ones most relevant to your business.
However ranking for highly competitive keywords like “dental practice” is going to be really difficult, and also isn’t very necessary for local search.
Here’s what you should do instead:
Come up with location-specific keywords that include descriptors related to your area, such as city and state, zip code, neighborhoods, or colloquial terms locals use to describe your town or parts of it.
Combine these with your relevant “dental practice” keywords, and incorporate them into your content and dental advertising:
- Title tag
- H1 heading
- Content body
73. Get Set Up With Google My Business
If you haven’t already, you should fill out your dental practice’s information on Google My Business. Use your location specific keywords in your business description and make sure your name, address and phone number (NAP) listed on the site are correct.
Next, go to other major third party review sites where your NAP may be listed (such as Yelp!) and ensure your listings there match the NAP you have on Google.
With our clients, we run a local citation audit to see where the problems may lie.
Here's an example of a local citation audit:
This step is critical because Google is going to refer to these other listings of your business to determine your dental practice’s authenticity. Even minor discrepancies in your NAP across platforms can negatively affect search rank.
But here’s the cool part:
If you do this part right, it significantly increases the chances that you will rank well in local search, and your practice can appear in the Google local 3-pack when someone makes location-based searches:
74. Engage & Market to Existing Patients
You have a great opportunity here to analyze and promote the medical services that you offer to your patient base. For example, suppose you’re running a general practice, but you have some doctors who are also qualified counselors. This is an opportunity to market another service that can be offered by your clinic.
Engaging with your patients can be conducted with postcards (like reminders) and internet marketing can be conducted blogging and via social media posts. It’s a tool that can keep the dialog between the patient and the office going (between annual check-ups) and it can help to build loyalty.
75. Attract Referrals
If you’re running a specialty practice, you’re going to depend heavily on other doctors referring patients to you. Between annual check-ups, you may have a lot of downtime if your patient base is small.
So how do you go about attracting more referrals?
The short answer is to build relationships with doctors who have the potential to refer patients to you. But how does one go about doing this?
The first step is to identify which doctors in your area can refer new patients to you. Then you’ll have to develop a dental marketing strategy to communicate with these medical professionals.
No matter how you look at it, dental marketing 'yourself' will require you to 'sell yourself' and make sure that the potential referring doctor has a reason to refer you. One way of doing this is by introducing yourself and your practice through a letter with attached literature (about the you & your office).
It’s a good way to make an introduction and make the first contact.
But don't leave it at that.
Ways to connect and build a relationship include:
- Have face-to-face meetings
- Network with colleagues at professional meetings and conferences
- Holiday cards and gifts (make it personal)
- If you already have a relationship, send them some lunch (to show that you appreciate the referrals)
You can also attract referrals by becoming an authority in your specialized area. You can do this by getting consistently getting published on authority websites (listen to the podcast below for more information on that).
Further, you can also try to become a member in the community that news organizations can contact for expert opinions.
76. Ask Your Patients for Reviews
Google reviews are quite literally changing the way patients choose dentists. And if you’re not being proactive in your approach to getting online reviews for your dental practice, your online reputation will suffer.
Providing good service is, of course, the most important way to garner positive reviews for your practice, but it is not enough by itself. You also need to make it easy for patients to leave you reviews.
One way to do this is to give patients a handout or business card with step-by-step instructions on how to leave you a review on Google (which carry a little more weight in search compared to Yelp reviews). Be sure to let them know it will only take a few minutes.
Alternatively, you can have iPads in your waiting room setup to make it easy for patients to leave you reviews. You should also have a large image link on your website allowing patients to leave you a review on Google.
Make it easy for patients to review you on Google by providing a link and instructions on your website.
Well, not quite, but hopefully you get the picture. Make it easy to leave feedback.
Finally, while it is important to also be active on Yelp and other online review sites, you should know that Yelp has slightly stricter policies regarding asking customers/patients for reviews — that is, you’re not allowed to do it. With Google, you can ask for reviews, as long as you aren't incentivizing or asking for people to leave you a good review.
77. Engage in Targeted Dental Marketing
That's where you want to be.
See that image above?
You want to find the sweet spot of your ideal patients.
We call this a persona.
Here's visually what a customer or patient persona could look like, compliments of Xtensio.
What are you doing to increase your presence and grow your practice?
When you truly know your patients and potential patients you know all information mentioned above and more!
Knowing this allows you to go where they are, and to practice targeted marketing.
In the old days, doctors would just place an ad in the yellow pages and maybe invest in a billboard. This sort of mass marketing can deplete your budget and may fail to target specific individuals who would be in need of your services.
Targeted marketing can help you reach your potential patients more efficiently and more effectively. You can segment your audience based on location, age, sex, and income. You can essentially narrow down the population according to any criteria that fit your goals and communicate relevant information.
How much more effective is it to have your advertisements, or your marketing message reach your ideal patient, a 35 year old business owner, making 100k+ per year, living in Henderson, NV, and married with 2 kids, and is a home owner?
Think of the possibilities!!!!
Quantify Your Marketing Efforts
An important step that many beginning marketers forget about is finding a way to measure their success. There are two essential components of doing this well, one you should adopt before you start your dental marketing plan, and one you’ll start using after you begin.
Before you launch a concerted marketing campaign, you need to have a clear, quantifiable understanding of what you hope to achieve with it.
Improving your bottom line is a goal, but there are a lot of component tasks that you can work towards to make that happen, such as:
- Increasing customer referrals
- Decreasing acquisition costs
- Improving customer retention
- Building brand awareness
Whatever objectives you have, you should make them specific and measurable. For example, you could plan to:
- Increase customer referrals by 10% this year
- Decrease acquisition costs by 3% this quarter
- Increase web traffic by 30% this month
- Gain 40 new blog subscribers this quarter
Set goals that are achievable for your size practice, and know you can always adjust them down the road.
a. Track the ROI of Your Dental Marketing Plan
The main components to figuring out your ROI are to keep track of new patients, new leads (prospective patients), and revenue.
If potential patients don’t convert, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your marketing strategy failed.
But it can be a good indicator that something’s not working.
For example, a new lead may have seen your ad on Facebook and made initial contact with your office. However, one of your front desk staff members may have been under-performing (perhaps didn't have a phone script to go off of, or didn't follow the phone script) and as a result, a potential patient didn’t convert.
This makes it vital to keep an eye on new leads that don’t convert and find out why they didn’t (and fix the problem). Resolving these issues can, in turn, enhance patient experience and retention.
You must know as much information as possible about why they didn't convert.
Was it because:
1. The attitude/skills/knowledge of the person answering the phone?
2. A mismatch in your ad message and what you are actually offering?
3. Of price?
Whatever it is, your team that answers your phone needs to be tracking these leads and why they didn't convert (at least their best guess based on the information they have).
Use Analytics Tools
Once you have your goals and are beginning to implement your marketing plan, you need to have the dental marketing tools in place to see how well your efforts are paying off.
Google Analytics is a must-use tool for any business hoping to market online.
Get your website set up with it, and start getting detailed insights into your marketing efforts, such as your website’s:
- Bounce rate
- Click through rate
- Overall traffic
- Time on page
- And a lot more
b. How do You Calculate Your Internet Dental Marketing Return on Investment?
The standard formula to calculate ROI is as follows:
Net Profit – Campaign Costs
_______________________ = Campaign ROI
This is straightforward, however, when it comes to timing and inputs concerning net profits, things can get tricky. So how do you overcome this hurdle? The best way to resolve this issue is to set up a Customer Retention Management (CRM) System.
Further, to avoid human error and time wasting, it’s best to automate it. It’s quite difficult to accurately enter data and manage it on a spreadsheet, so investing in a good CRM system can help your practice.
A good CRM system will provide consistent ROI methodology and revenue attribution. The factors also can be configured based on service line characteristics. Further, you can also keep information like email threads, social media threads, and patient data all on a single platform. What’s even better is that you can figure out direct and indirect revenue in a practical manner.
With the right CRM software for your practice, patient relations and marketing activities can be significantly enhanced.
What should you consider when setting up a CRM system?
First, you have to consider it as an investment and focus more on the long-term benefits than just cost. You also have to look at how the cost of training your staff to use the system efficiently. You might also need to consider how well it’s going to integrate with systems you’re already using at your dental practice.
There are all sorts of options these days from CRM Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) to software that integrates into your phone system and social media platforms.
A good way to make a decision is to take an in-depth look at your practice and ask your employees what they need and compare that to your bottom line. This should help you develop a good idea about what kind of CRM system will suit your dental office.
It’s also good to note that CRM software isn’t automatically all-encompassing. So you have to do your homework to ensure that your staff isn’t wasting time manually entering information from one platform to another. It has to be set up in a way that it automatically captures the data you’re your interactions with patients regardless of the platform (email, telephone, or social media).
Automation and security are the best part of CRM software and mobile apps, but not all offer it. So you have to look into that aspect as well when choosing the right CRM solution for your practice.
According to PCMag, the best CRM solutions are as follows:
- Apptivo CRM
- com Sales Cloud Professional
- Zoho CRM Professional Edition
c. Tracking the ROI of Social Media for Dental Practices
Marketing ideas for dental offices are usually focused on a digital platform these days, so strategies involving tools like pay-per-click (PPC) and social media come up often. When engaging in promoting your dental practice on a social media platform, your strategy needs to have two main components:
1. Stay connected to existing patients.
2. What patients experience at your practice needs to match the culture of your social media posts.
Without engaging with your patients, there is no real way to calculate the costs and benefits of your social media campaign. Further, you won’t be able to have a clear idea about patient retention, reviews, and referrals.
The best way to get the most out of your social media campaign is to maintain a dental office culture that actively posts and promotes on social media. However, it’s essential that your employees are aware of the rules when it comes to staying compliant.
To get the maximum ROI, dentists need to be engaging, consistent, and remember to focus on providing value. Some tips to keep your social media platform active are as follows:
- Staff check-in
- Sharing of (relevant) dental health related information
- Dental hygiene tips
- Patient Check In (Yelp, Facebook)
- Calls to action
Further, consider if your posts are something that your patients would want to share, or want to 'like.' Getting 'shares' or 'likes' helps you get noticed by more people, which means better brand exposure, and more potential patients.
You can also dig deep into the effectiveness of your social media efforts with analytics tools. Social media automation platforms like Buffer, for example, will micro-analyze your every tweet or post engagement, shares, etc., in addition to scheduling posts to go out at optimum times.
To have a successful dental marketing plan, you’ll need to establish operations for a lot of unique strategies and follow marketing best practices.
Still, marketing a dental office can be an overwhelming undertaking.
Though, when you do it right, it is extremely rewarding!
d. What is the ROI on SEO for dental practices?
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is important to make your site visible in local searches. So if you engage in an SEO campaign, you can help your practice show up on the first search page and improve your search ranking. Further, you will also be visible on more patient review websites.
To achieve the online visibility you want you will need the following components in your SEO campaign:
- Become an online authority (build influence online by getting featured on authoritative sites)
- Create Content
- Optimize your website in a way that makes it easy for search engines to understand
- Claim your local profiles
There’s always going to be competition and new dentists entering the marketplace, so you have to have an ongoing campaign to stake your claim on the digital real estate. As a result, you should stake your claim on local listings and work on removing duplicate profiles.
You can also encourage your patients to leave reviews on these sites and manage it regularly. This can be done by the dentist during consultations or by office staff.
e. What is the ROI on Pay Per Click for Dental Practices?
A holistic dental marketing strategy also entails pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. PPC is a paid search advertisement that appears when someone searches on a platform like Google, Yelp, or Facebook.
It can significantly enhance your search visibility and get new patients in the door. As a result, if your goal is to increase patient leads, a PPC campaign can be one of the best ways for you to achieve it.
The benefits and costs can be calculated as follows:
Approximate value of new patient – Cost of acquisition
_______________________ = ROI
To get the most out of your PPC campaign, you also have to keep track of every patient lead call. You also have to keep tabs on any online scheduling form that’s filled out.
One thing to note when engaging in PPC is that time defines the success of your campaign. Each time a prospective patient clicks your ad, calls your dental office, and schedules and appointment, it has to happen quite quickly, or you have the potential to lose that lead.
So PPC alone isn’t enough to get the maximum ROI. You will need to use other internet marketing strategies we've discussed in this post.
For example, when a prospective patient contacts your office after seeing your advertisement, you need a well-trained individual at the other end of the phone with a knack for closing the deal and confirming an appointment.
The ad copy should also be enticing to make the prospective patient click it. Further, the ad should use keywords and location targeting accurately (or you’ll be wasting a lot of money).
You might also want to consider device-specific landing pages to ensure that you don’t miss out on the mobile audience, or better yet, use call only ads with Google Ads.
Further, make it easier for them to call you directly after visiting your website with a call to action.
Call recording and tracking can also help to see what keywords and times are driving calls. However, if you decide to record the calls for quality assurance, please make sure that your patients and prospective patients are made aware that the conversation is being recorded.
Here's what call tracking for dentists can look like:
When it comes to digital marketing for dental offices, the touch points need to tell a convincing story. By consistently engaging, monitoring, and if appropriate, tweaking your dental marketing strategies and tracking your results you have the potential to reap the highest benefit (or your end goal of getting more patients in through the door).
How much should you spend on marketing? There is no set amount, however, if you are trying to attract new patients, we recommend spending between 20 and 30% of your gross revenue on marketing. Please check out this article and listen to the podcast below for more information.
Summing It Up
Digital or internet marketing is vital to communicate information about your practice and bring transparency to the clinic. You don't need me to tell you how the Internet has transformed how doctors market their practice, and the potential that it offers.
So if you want to be easily found when a potential patient searches online, you have to have a digital marketing strategy as part of your medical marketing plan.
Your website and social media profiles need to communicate your clinic’s brand image clearly and remain consistent throughout every interaction. Further, these media avenues need to list all the services that you offer at your practice, staff bios, payment policies, and insurance plans that are accepted at the clinic.
The website, in particular, should make it easy for all visitors to schedule an appointment. Further, your hours of operation should be communicated clearly (although a flexible schedule is recommended). It’s an opportunity to make a good first impression, so invest in designing a professional website that not only looks good but is also highly user-friendly.
You, like most internet users probably click on a results on the first page of an internet search, right?
So, it would be a good idea to work with a search engine optimization (SEO) company that understands your business, your industry, your patients, etc. and has helped medical professionals like you with their online presence and Google rankings.
This isn't something you can take lightly.
Did you know that I still have potential clients contact me on a regular basis that think that SEO is some voodoo type magic?
Make your website easily readable by the search engines.
Get other websites mentioning you in some way shape or form.
There's obviously a lot more ways you can build your practice, but just take 2 of these and utilize them every week. Next week take two more, by the end of the year you'll be done with the list, and no doubt will have expanded your reach, and your patients more than you have now.
That's it in a nutshell.
About the Author
Tyson Downs, the owner of Titan Web Agency, has years of experience working with small businesses and helping them meet their revenue goals. Prior to starting Titan Web Agency, he freelanced in SEO and Web Design while working in the corporate world. Tyson is a graduate of Brigham Young University, the father of 5, and enjoys spending time with his family. Particularly on the baseball field.