Advertising your dental practice successfully requires a rock-solid 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 marketing campaign, however, you could pull in upwards of 50 new patients per month. 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.
First things first:
Before you even get started with the dental marketing tips, you’ll first need to have a couple essential things in place. These include:
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.
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 special, how can you start being special? Can you promise to respond to dental emergency calls, any time of day or night? Can you start 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.
Is your website up to par?
A great website for dental practices is a 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
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.
OK, now that you’ve got your dental marketing basics in place, you can get going with the specific advertising strategies to start bringing in new patients on a regular basis.
1. Build links for off-page SEO
Link-building is a type of off-page SEO. Rather than tinkering around 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 it’s 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.
2. Come up with a compelling offer
Getting people to visit your website is important. However, traffic isn’t not 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.
3. Step up your social media marketing
Social media marketing goes hand in hand with the off-page SEO. Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google +, YouTube, Instagram, Quora, and others are useful dental marketing tools in a number of ways. But social media is about so much more than SEO — it’s about shaping your brand’s online image. You can use social media to:
- Distribute your content across the web
- Promote your offers/discounts/giveaways/etc.
- Get backlinks to your website
- Get new “fans” by posting fun and useful content
- Network with other industry professionals
- Engage in the online conversation about your dental brand
- Set up targeted ads on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, etc.
- Take appointments and collect reviews right from your social media profiles
You can let patients make appointments right from your Facebook page.
In order to really get the most from social media marketing, you need a solid social media strategy that includes a social media calendar to plan out the timing and content of your posts. Learn more about ways you can get new patients with social media by reading our blog post on social media for dentists.
4. Advertise your dental practice with direct mail
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.
5. Get smart with your PPC
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. In order 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.
6. 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 set up 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.
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 don’t “solicit” them.
Once you get started with all of these dental marketing techniques, you will watch your new patient numbers start to grow, maybe steadily, but probably in fits and spurts, at least initially. It is good to do a combination of short-running campaigns (i.e., direct mail, time-sensitive promotional offers, PPC), along with continuous online marketing strategies (writing content for link building, staying active on social media, email marketing, etc.).
Be sure to pay attention to your web analytics so you can note which keywords and offers work best and refine your strategies as needed.