Dental practices, like any business, require marketing efforts in order to thrive. While marketing is crucial for your practice, it isn't one-size-fits-all. Which marketing avenues provide return on investment and which don’t? While there is no guarantee all marketing tactics will resonate with your patients and prospects, these 20 tips and strategies provide any dental office opportunities to connect with their base, grow their patient list, and get more appointments on the books.
Here are 20 tips from Dental Intelligence for making the most of your marketing efforts:
1. Optimize Your Google My Business Page
Picture this: You've just moved to a new city and have a toothache. How do you find a dentist? You probably go to Google and type "dentist in Colorado Springs" or "dentist near me."
Reports show that 46% of Google searches are looking for local information.
With a Google My Business page, people in your location can get a preview with all your business details, and have a much simpler time booking an appointment. This cuts down on the usual process of clicking on a link to view the contact page for information.
At the bare minimum, your Google My Business page should include:
- Practice description
- Working hours
- Contact information
2. Boost Your Mobile-Friendly Factor
Around half of all online traffic comes from mobile devices, so it’s fair to assume a good portion of your prospective patients will visit your site through a mobile device.
Mobile-friendliness is a dental SEO priority as well. Starting from 2019, Google takes into account the mobile versions of new sites for indexing purposes, driving home even more prominently that every business should focus on ensuring their website works on mobile devices just as well as on desktops.
Check out Google’s pre-built mobile-friendly test tool to ascertain how easily a visitor can navigate each of your web pages on a mobile device, or use a tool like Experte to test your whole website at once. Alternatively, just look at your website on your own mobile browser. If something looks off, contact your web developer to adjust.
3. Prioritize Online Reviews
Online reviews are essential for a dental practice, and not just those limited to your Google My Business (GMB) page. Reports show seven out of ten customers trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations. Although your GMB page is important for developing a reputation in your community, there are other sites like Yelp, Facebook, and more that are similarly crucial to monitor and improve the number of reviews.
Reading online reviews is one of the first ways your potential patients will form an impression regarding your practices and quality of services. But many businesses, dental practices included, don’t leverage reviews at their full potential.
It’s incredibly important to monitor reviews closely and engage with your patients, especially those who have something negative to say. Negative reviews are an opportunity to show prospective patients how you navigate poor experiences in order to make that patient satisfied again.
4. Set up a Referral Program
Your best new patients are the friends and family of your recurring patients. Nothing beats the good, old-fashion word-of-mouth recommendation. People who receive dental practice recommendations from people they trust automatically enter your practice with a higher level of trust directed at you, even before they sit down in your chair.
Dental practices should encourage patient referrals by setting up a referral rewards program. You can offer different rewards to patients who bring in new people, such as branded swag, free hygiene products, or even gift cards to other local businesses.
5. Run Local Facebook Ads
Facebook ads can be a cost-effective way to promote your practice. Seven out of ten Americans have a Facebook account and log into the platform every day. Facebook also has a small cost-per-click ($0.43) compared to the size of the audience it can reach.
The appeal of Facebook ads is you can target prospective patients creatively who might not currently be searching for dentists near them. That’s the big difference between “search” and “social” advertising. Search is “intent” based and can be significantly more expensive for high-value keywords like “dentist near me.”
With Facebook, you’re able to target for distinct demographic and behavioral characteristics of an audience. For example, you can target adults with kids, in a certain income bracket, who have recently moved to your area. It’s this granular targeting capability that makes Facebook so attractive. You can reach a hyper-targeted audience on a shoestring budget.
6. Run Mobile Call-Only Ads
Call-only ads are a Google Ads format that promotes your phone number to get instant calls to your practice. The ads only run on devices that can make phone calls, and it’s a very good way to get people to reach out to you, especially if you target key moments when the patient needs to make a call.
For example, mobile call-only ads are perfect to promote your emergency dental care services. Say someone breaks a tooth and is in need of urgent dental care. They search on Google for a dental office that offers these services and they see your ad. The ad also features a mobile number, so they don't have to browse through your website to look for your contact details. Because it's more convenient, they click to call you directly and book an appointment. This shortcut to searcher intent cuts down the conversion funnel tremendously.
7. Install Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Pixels
Pixels are pieces of code from these platforms you add to your website. This allows you to track the journey of a potential patient across all the channels and profiles you run, which is a very good way to gather data on your target’s online behavior.
For example, you run a Google Ads campaign to promote one of your services. People click on the ad, land on your page, look around, and then they bounce before making an appointment.
Based on the data collected with the pixel, you can tailor your dental marketing efforts to the specific behaviors of your audience, and ensure your efforts are much more effective in helping you reach your goals.
8. Run Remarketing Campaigns
Remarketing is one of the best ways you can get new patients to book an appointment and visit your practice. It works by installing a snippet of code, called the pixel, into the back end of your website. This code tracks who clicks on your ads, what buttons they push, how much time they spend on page, and so on. You can then use this information to refine your campaigns and target these people who have actually expressed interest in your services but are yet to convert.
Consider all the dental marketing efforts you’re running right now to get new people to call you. Now, consider those who get close to converting, but for some reason don’t follow through.
Maybe they call your office but hang up right away, or they sign up to an online form to book an appointment but cancel. Either way, these are not missed opportunities if you come back with a remarketing campaign, which will allow you to reach these potential patients again, and kindly remind them to come back.
9. Organize an Event
Participating with your practice at a local event or even organizing one yourself is an effective way to present yourself to the community and lay the foundation of trust.
Community engagement efforts often pay off in the long term and can do a lot to improve your brand reputation, especially if you genuinely offer something useful to the community. So think fewer conferences for other dentists, and more community events to get out and meet the people in your town who need your services. Considering getting involved in or sponsoring events like food drives, family fairs, farmer's markets – the possibilities are endless.
10. Get Active on Local Facebook Groups
Facebook groups are digital gatherings where people turn to for just about anything - including recommendations for dental practices.
It’s worth becoming active in some of your local groups and starts engaging potential patients, and not just in moments where someone specifically asks about "a good dentist" in the area.
- Answer questions people have about dental services, procedures, etc.
- Provide tips for better at-home dental care
- Post questions and polls to engage the community (and maybe find out something interesting about your target audience)
- Share news about your practice
11. Run Google Maps Ads
Google Maps ads can quite literally lead a potential patient to your practice. When people search for dentist services, Google will show them Maps listings to help them find what they need a lot faster, and if you run these ads, you make sure your practice is one of the first they see. If you've already set up your Google My Business page and connected it to a Google Ads account, advertising on Maps is simple. Just create your ad campaign, enable Location Extension, and be sure to add geographical terms to your targeted keywords (e.g. "pediatric dentist Chicago" or "dentist near Tinley Park").
12. Find Time-Sensitive Search Keywords
Certain keywords can lead to an almost immediate booking because they contain a sense of urgency right there in the phrase. Opting for a paid search campaign to target these keywords in particular can be a smart way to show up for high-intent searches.
Specifically, the ‘emergency’-type keywords usually lead to quick calls or appointments because the patient is in a book-now mindset, not a research mindset. Some examples include: "24/7 dental services near me,” "emergency dental services near me," or “shooting tooth pain.”
13. Use an Online Scheduler
When you reach your ideal potential patient, it’s a good idea to offer them a quick way to book an appointment with you by themselves.
An online scheduler integrated into your website is a great way to increase conversions because patients can look at your real-time availability and instantly book an appointment when it’s most convenient for them.
14. Claim Your Business on Yelp
Just like your presence on Google or Facebook, online directories like Yelp are a useful dental marketing approach to increase your visibility. Unclaimed business profiles rely on consumer data, which can be very inaccurate.
Consider looking up or creating a profile for your practice on Yelp, and add the updated information potential patients might need to reach you.
15. Use Video Marketing
Video is king when it comes to marketing, and that rings true for dental marketing too. Video content is one of the best ways to tick your patient engagement box, and it can allow you to promote your practice a lot more effectively.
Think of practice presentations, video testimonials, procedure guides, or even hygiene educational videos, which can all help you reach a larger audience.
16. Email Marketing Efforts
Email is another great way to engage patients. Staying in regular communication with patients before and between appointments can do a lot to improve your patient retention as well as acquisition. Email is also an easy way to make patients aware of the different services you offer and remind them about benefits expiration towards the end of the year.
Here are a few things you can do with email marketing:
- Send automated reminders about upcoming appointments
- Re-engage patients who are overdue for hygiene
- Create email campaigns to engage prospective patients and bring them closer to your business
- Stay top-of-mind between appointments by sending regular newsletters or updates
17. Loyalty Programs
Loyalty programs incentivize patients to stay on top of their dental needs and keep coming to your practice. Dental Intelligence, for example, has a built-in loyalty program that can reward patients instantly for a variety of things:
- Showing up for appointments on time
- Same-day bill payment
- Completing their forms prior to their appointment
- Referring friends and family
You can read more about our loyalty program here.
18. Add Your Practice to Relevant Dental Directories
Think YellowPages, but only online and dentist-centric. This is the blunt description of a dental directory.
Pew Research found that 25% of people prefer to use their state dental society or dental board to find a dentist, so it’s a good idea to ensure your practice is present on these directories.
Here are some to consider:
When profiles are optimized to match that of your Google My Business page, this dental marketing strategy helps your local SEO efforts, ensures more people discover you, and works on improving your reputation. Make sure each listing has your full practice information and incentives for people to choose you.
19. Live Chat & 2-Way Communication
Most consumers want to be able to talk to a representative of the businesses they turn to easily. For many, ‘easily’ means live chat.
Not everyone will want to call your office, so you shouldn’t try to force them to. Live chat functionalities like those offered through DI allow current patients to chat with you over whatever medium fits their preferences, including email, text, or mobile app.
With live chat functionality from almost all CRM providers today, you can also gather and organize prospect information instantly - the live chat will save them as a contact, which you can then use to reach them or add them to your marketing list.
20. Actively Work to Retain Your Current Patients
Getting people through the door is one thing - it’s making sure they stay in the long run that’s the tricky part.
Patient engagement software like Dental Intelligence greatly improves the way you communicate with your patients, making sure they are always in the know, without putting too much strain on your staff to facilitate. Enhanced communication, personalization, and matching patient preferences are huge determinants of patient retention. Through patient engagement platforms, you’re able to accomplish all three goals efficiently.
Balancing The Digital Marketing Landscape
Keeping up with the latest news and trends in digital marketing all while running a dental practice is no easy feat. However, the competition in this industry is fierce and if your potential patients can't find you online easily, a huge part of your potential patient base becomes alienated. People are more online today than they’ve ever been. Instead of relying on the recommendations from a single friend about a practice nearby, they can go online and read hundreds of thoughtful reviews. Offices that are able to resonate with people in the community, develop some brand awareness, and develop trust are going to rise to the top.
The question is, though, how do you balance 20 different marketing strategies at once? Well, the easy answer is, you don’t. You only have so much budget and time in the day for marketing. Try a couple strategies at a time and test their effectiveness. What is the ROI of those efforts? When you find something that works for your practice, stick with it.
The fact that there are so many ways to reach your audience online is a blessing, not a curse. It opens up the playing field for any dental office willing to participate.
But remember, just as much as your outreach to prospective patients is essential to a healthy practice, so too is strengthening current relationships with patients.
That's where we can help make a difference.
Our approach to patient engagement allows you to streamline both pre and post-appointment activities, leading to better results, happier staff, and a lot more satisfied patients who will keep returning to your practice and referring you to others.
If you want to see Dental Intelligence in action, you can schedule a demo here and tell us a bit about your practice and its needs.