Winning new patients for your dental practice is not the same process as standard "online marketing" practices. You're not trying to hawk retail from an e-commerce platform or build nation-wide brand recognition. A dental practice goes beyond brick-and-mortar, you are ultra-local for the simple fact that it's impossible to see to someone's teeth through the web or with mail-delivered packages. So naturally, you need marketing suggestions that go beyond the usual tips about being good to your customers and buying ads. You know that stuff already.
Actionable Ways to Attract Dental Patients
Today, we're here to share real marketing tips that we have used and found to be successful. To be honest, we've looked around at the dental practice marketing articles available today and (as you may have noticed) there's a serious lack of useful, actionable, non-fluff advice that dentist can put into practice and genuinely attract patients.
The following five tips are strategies based on real-world experience attracting real patients to practicing dentists. And they are things you can put into action today or work with your marketing team to power-up your current campaign.
1) Add Photos to Your Social Media Pages
Photos have their own unique impact for dental practice marketing. In fact, the more interesting or funny your photos are, the better. You can create a visual tour of the office, a tool-by-tool infographic series, or funny pictures of kids showing off their teeth. Photos lighten the mood and create extremely clickable content on your social media pages.
Great social media photos can not only create buzz, they also create a welcoming environment for potential patients doing thorough online research. If a patient has seen your Google Maps listing, read a few reviews and wants to check out the practice; they may go to your social media page to discover what kind of 'personality' your practice has. Patients want to see that you're a fun and laid-back office that will make them feel more comfortable about the personal issue of dental care.
Funny, interesting, and entertaining photos on your social media pages will deliver this message: You are a fun-loving dentist who is serious about teeth while also being fun and approachable for nervous first-time patients.
Arrow Smile Dental has taken this to the next level by not only earning a visible Google star rating in search results, but by putting together a Testimonials Page. This page is actually an amalgam of their many reviews across Yelp, Google, and Facebook. Very smart work, and shows that patients love them across multiple platforms.
2) Get Listed in Relevant Online Directories
For a medical professional, few outreach methods are more effective than getting listed in local online directories. It's important to think not just about views and clicks, but how today's patients find their doctors. Often, they begin at the search engine which leads them to a doctor directory site. From there, patients can browse local doctors sorted by location, specialization, insurance acceptance, and patient review ratings.
If your name and practice aren't in the directories for your area, you are missing out. Patients are choosing other dentists because they have no idea that you are one of their local options. After all, you're not on the list.
So find out which online directories are referring dental patients in your area and get on that list. It's worth a small monthly fee and a little time building your profile to win the many patients who come through these channels. Often, the most careful and least easily marketing-influenced patients are the ones that prefer online directories because they provide a clean point-to-point comparison method of choosing their next dentist.
3) Optimize Your Website for Search Engines
Speaking of patient search patterns, no doubt you want to use your website to attract patients through the power of SEO (search engine optimization). Done correctly, patients looking for tips, medical advice, and interesting facts about their teeth will be directed by their search engine results right to your web page. The good news is that you don't have to be an SEO marketing expert to take a few easy and actionable steps in that direction.
Consider adding more content to existing pages by flushing out paragraphs and adding friendly descriptions or testimonial stories to the content that is already in place. Flesh out your website to include content pages about the kind of work you do (cosmetic dentistry, family dentistry, orthodontics, and so on.) Talk to your web developer about adding title tags and meta descriptions to your pages and the images inside your pages. Write a few interesting blog posts answering questions you often get from patients or sharing fun insights about teeth.
Just a few SEO efforts can make a big difference in page ranking and attracting patients through your website content.
Grand Street Dental is a NYC dentist who has successfully used a combination of awesome photos and broad category hashtags like #dentist and #dentistsofbrooklyn to gain tons of followers and create an approachable practice-personality for prospective patients.
4) Invest in Google AdWords
There has been a great deal of debate in the marketing industry about the effectiveness of Google AdWords and other PPC (pay per click) methods. Some say paid ads don't garner clicks, some say paid ads are the only way to achieve overnight success.
For a local medical practice of any type, AdWords are worth it. Managed properly, Google AdWords can help your practice appear at the top of the page specifically for people who are searching for dental practices in your region. You don't need to SEO-compete with dental practices across the country because you couldn't possibly serve patients across the country. AdWords will allow you to finely target your search engine appearances.
In fact, by choosing the correct niche keywords to target, you may see truly impressive results soon after putting Google AdWords into action. Many small businesses have found that AdWords is the key to fast local customer attraction. Plus, you only pay when a patient decides to click.
To learn how to get started with Google AdWords, Google put together a comprehensive guide for you to follow and implement.
5) Write Blog Posts on Local Parenting Blogs (depending on your specialty)
One last tip for general or family dentists, pediatric dentists, and orthodontists. If there is one single group of people that cares about dentistry more than any other patient demographic, it's parents. Parents not only need to tend their own teeth, but they're also responsible for the roller-coaster experience of children's dental health. From the first baby teeth to teen braces, parents are the most likely to research, read about, and get involved in discussions about dental topics.
So, writing for local parenting blogs is an incredibly powerful way to get the word out about your practice, and about how great you are with families and kids. Local parenting blogs are sometimes hosted by groups and schools, and are sometimes hosted by popular "mommy bloggers" who have built a website and following based around sharing parental advice with other like-minded parents.
By connecting with local parents online, you can build a real local following with a few well-written and friendly guest blogs.
Bethany M. Kum, DDS gave us a great example of this with her "Cavities are Contagious" guest blog on the FamilyRoomCenter website. This has gained considerable viewership and, no doubt, increased the trust local parents have in bringing their children to her practice.
Dental Practice Marketing You Can Put Into Action
Each one of our tips today isn't just marketing fluff. They are real techniques that you can put into action today and see an influx of new dental patients in the near future. The key is to choose your marketing techniques based on how they are reflected with real-world results, not how popular they are in the digital marketing scene right now. Don't worry about mobile apps, voice search, and other high-tech fluffy marketing methods.
The real substance in dental practice marketing is whatever reaches patients as they are conducting their search for a new dentist. Building a presence in online doctor directories and appearing in the right search engine searches are far more important. After all, you're a dentist. Clicks are meaningless. New patients walking through your front door are everything. Our team specializes in legal, business, and HR services for dentists and other medical professionals. But we also know how important winning new customers is to your business. Contact us today for further advice on how to optimize your dental practice from the books to the waiting room.