4 Essential Online Dental Marketing Strategies

A guide to leveraging the Internet to attract your ideal patients, build your brand and protect your reputation. 

More people are turning to the Internet first to find local products and services. It is imperative that your practice be easily found and well positioned on the web. Establishing a strong online presence is essential in attracting your share of those patients searching for dental services in your area.

It all starts with a strong brand and a solid reputation. Even though a prospective patient may be referred to you, see your sign driving by your office, or receive a postcard in the mail, they will still search your name online before calling you. They will be looking for reviews and feedback about you and your practice from others. So, before you start any marketing, you need to ensure you have your online reputation in order.

Essential Strategy Proactively Manage Your Reputation

In the past, reputation was primarily shaped by face-to-face communication, Yellow Pages advertising, print media and direct mail. This model has changed dramatically. Media has become digital and “word of mouth” has been replaced with “word of mouse.”

WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW CAN HURT YOU

When it comes to your online reputation, ignorance is not bliss. The most damaging review is the one you don’t know about. It can have a direct impact on whether or not you hit your monthly goals. A negative review on Facebook, Google, or Yelp can be the difference between gaining a new patient and them calling another practice. If that review isn’t properly addressed, it can result in dozens of lost patients and thousands of dollars in lost revenue in a short time. Most consumers start their search for a dentist on the Internet, and reviews play a large role in their decisions.

Positive or negative, a response to a review shows engagement to the patient. The key is to effectively address negative reviews and actively pursue positive reviews from satisfied patients.

  • 88% of consumers (dental patients included) trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. (BrightLocal)
  • 90% of unhappy customers will return if an issue is resolved quickly and efficiently. (TrustPilot)

According to a Harris Interactive survey, it is actually possible to turn unhappy customers into brand advocates. The report found that by proactively addressing negative reviews:

  • 34% of reviewers removed their original negative review
  • 33% then posted a positive review

HOW TO RESPOND TO A NEGATIVE REVIEW

  1. Respond as quickly as possible. You can set yourself apart by simply responding to reviews because it shows you care about patient feedback. The Harris Interactive study also found that 61% of consumers said they would be shocked if a business responded to their negative comment.
  2. Be thankful, respectful and polite. Patient reviews are helpful for your practice. They can confirm your services and provide constructive feedback in areas where you need growth.  Disrespect and condescension will only worsen the issue and turn off other potential patients.
  3. Own the issue.  Honesty and candor are shining lights among online reviews.
  4. Explain how you have addressed the problem and that future patients will not experience the same issues. And then…
  5. Offer to fix the issue for the reviewer. Demonstrate that you value their business.
  6. Never get into a debate online with the reviewer.  Not all reviews deserve a response. If you suspect that the patient may escalate the discussion, it may be best not to respond.
  7. Communicate directly with the patient (phone, email, postal mail). This will often surprise the patient and more often than not, they will modify or remove their review.

Thoughtful responses can reverse the negative impact of reviews. For those bad reviews that linger, the best way to suppress them is to drown them in good reviews.

What is the easiest way to get good reviews? Simply ask for them. Hand out “review cards” to patients who had a good experience, and encourage them to review your practice.

Essential Strategy Develop a Comprehensive Web Presence

In most cases, a patient will visit your website before ever stepping foot in your office. Your website is the first impression a patient has of your practice and the virtual front door of your practice.

Dental practices are often surprised to discover that building a website that simply showcases their practice isn’t enough to stay ahead of the competition.  After all, a website is nothing more than an interactive brochure, right? No, absolutely not – and if your website serves as nothing more than that, you will be left behind. Today, Google is filled to the brim with options for potential patients searching for dental services.  For example, a quick Google search for a dentist in our suburb yielded around 28 pages of results.  That’s a lot of options for the folks in our community. Statistics say most won’t even look past the first page of the search results to find a dentist or dental specialist. So what does it take to get on page one? There are several key elements that separate the well-performing websites from the not-so-well performing sites. Here are a few of those crucial elements:

Your site should load fast. Very fast.

Econsultancy.com found that 40% of people will abandon a website if it doesn’t load fast.  How fast is fast enough?  Within three seconds – any longer and your patients will become impatient and move on. Google also determines which sites deserve to be on page one of its search results by monitoring how quickly a site loads. Site speed is one of the most important elements of a functioning dental website and if yours is too slow – your marketing efforts will falter along with it.

Your site should be device responsive.

A recent study by Margin Media found that 48% of users say that if they arrive on a business site (dental included) that isn’t mobile-friendly, they take it as an indication that “the business does not care.” This stat is very disheartening for dentists, because of course you care!  But patients and customers are not always rational, and they expect your site to be viewable on all of their electronic devices. A responsively designed website is a great remedy to this problem.  It allows you to create, manage and update a single website that automatically adapts itself to any device it’s accessed from.  No matter which type of device accesses your site (desktop, tablet or smartphone), it will load correctly and look beautiful.

Your site should convert visitors to patients. 

A Go-Globe.com study found that of all Fortune 500 websites, 63% have content above the fold, 50% feature a scrolling content window of some kind and 63% use high quality images that connect with their users. These website elements are crucial to converting curious visitors into patients that schedule appointments. Here is a breakdown of these elements:

  • Place important content “above the fold” – Above the Fold is a traditional newspaper editing rule that said newspapers would sell better if the top content, photo or story of the day was placed above the fold of the newspaper.  This teases the reader with a quick glimpse of the best content inside and entices them to buy the paper.This same concept, also called “above the scroll”, is now used in website design to describe the content that appears first on a website: the content at the top of the page before a viewer has to scroll down to read on.  Content that sits above the fold or scroll should be short, sweet and sum up exactly what your potential patient is looking for. You have a short window of opportunity to convince a new patient to choose you over all other options, so it’s imperative your website makes every effort to give them what they want, when they want it.  It’s also a great idea to put your phone number or contact information above the scroll on all webpages for quick appointment booking.
  • Use high quality images – Quality images show your patients and potential patients that your practice is professional and modern, and Google values and rewards websites that feature high quality content and images.Whether we want to believe it or not, people make snap judgments when they view your site and images can speak volumes.  Our dental marketing team recommends you purchase high-quality stock images for your site or better yet, use a high resolution camera and use images of the dentist, staff, office and current patients to populate your site (with everyone’s written permission of course).

Your site should have dedicated service pages.

For ranking purposes, Google likes, and rewards, sites that add fresh content frequently and has separate service pages for each procedure.  Blogs can serve this purpose, but we’re finding that routinely adding fresh content to service pages can be very beneficial as well. If you are a dental specialist or a general dentist that provides specialty services, your potential patients will be looking for separate service pages when researching those procedures, so ensure your site has them. Try not to list all of your services on one page and call it a day. You’re not doing your site any favors by taking the easy road.

Your site should represent you and your practice well.

A great practice website isn’t performing if it doesn’t represent you and your brand in the way you want it to.  If you have a modern and sleek office, your website should model that theme, as well.  A pediatric dentist’s site should be fun and kid-friendly,while a dental specialist should have a website that reflects their unique clinical abilities.

Request a FREE Dental Marketing X-Ray to discover:

Get My Free X-Ray

  • How you compare to other practices in your area
  • Your website’s strengths and weaknesses
  • If you are positioned well for mobile search
  • How you can improve your brand on the web
  • Whether your social media strategy is working

We will perform an in-depth, fully customized analysis of your online presence, your website, your online reputation and your leading competitors. We will then share our findings with you in a short conversation.

Call (800) 506-9817 or get started using the button above.

In this day and age, if a user can’t find a business just by scrolling their finger across their phone, it might as well not exist. But since information is scattered everywhere across the Internet, the task to keep tabs on everywhere your business appears is daunting. The goal and mission of local digital presence management is to fight the fragmented local search market by responding to its challenges with a unified front. Your digital presence is comprised of all the places your practice’s information can be found. This includes directory listings, social profiles, video sharing websites, blogs and of course, your practice website. Having consistent information about your practice on each of these is critical for your rankings and for building trust with prospective patients.

The three most critical pieces are:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone

73% of consumers lose trust in a business when their online local listings show inaccurate information.

Source: Placeable

Wherever Google or a prospective patient might find this information, you want to ensure that the content is consistent, accurate and clear. A recent study of online local business listings found that 95 percent of respondents reported finding incorrect information about a business they were searching for on the web, with 63 percent saying this happened multiple times. In addition, 91 percent of respondents said that encountering incorrect information about a business impacted their overall customer experience. Because of the advanced technologies of today, it’s easy to believe that search engines and directory listing sites can effectively identify and auto-correct a business’ inaccurate information on the web. However, the myriad of apps and new websites popping up daily hinder this possibility. When new sites appear, they start feedback loops and search engines and listing sites start scraping old data, producing more places for incorrect information to appear. A successful digital presence management strategy requires diligent ongoing monitoring, correction of inaccuracies and continually adding your practice’s information to new, high profile directory listings.

Essential Strategy Laser Target Ideal Patients with Online Ads.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a type of paid online advertising that is used on a wide range of websites, including search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, where the dentist only pays when their ad is clicked. PPC ads are typically the top three listings and all the listings down the right hand side of the Google search results page.

Why PPC advertising?

  • The top three paid ads in a Google search get 41% of the clicks (Wordstream)
  • 80% of search results now contain PPC Ads (Moz.com)
  • Paid ads are covering as much as 85% of the space above the fold on the results pages (Moz.com)

PPC’s advantages

  1. Instant results – you start getting visitors to your landing pages within hours of starting your campaign.
  2. Control & targeting – you control how much you pay for each click, when and where your ad appears and the page the consumer sees when they click your ad.
  3. Feedback – you know within days if your campaign is effective.
  4. Tracking – no more guessing if anyone saw your ad; you know which ads are getting clicked, how often and how many of those visitors are becoming new patients.
  5. Early exposure – PPC places your ad in front of consumers who are in the research phase.
  6. Reputation & brand management – if you’ve had a problem with negative reviews, you can bid on your name and have your ad show on the first page when someone Googles your name, thereby giving you another friendly listing on the first page of the results.
  7. Closing the ROI loop – you can track which patients set an appointment from your ads and which procedures they received, thereby enabling you to determine exactly how profitable PPC advertising is for your practice.
online-dental-marketing-strategies-1
As can be clearly seen, Google Ads occupy both the prime and majority of the real estate on the search engine results page.  Being seen here is a distinct advantage.

A properly executed PPC campaign can begin bringing new patients into a practice within days of launching.  However, we find that the majority of dental PPC campaigns are poorly managed.

The 7 most common & costly mistakes in dental PPC campaigns

1) Poorly written ads – This can be reflected by poor grammar, a weak headline, ad language that doesn’t match the term the searcher typed, and a weak or no call to action. Here are a few examples of poorly written, off-target ads. The search term was “dental implants Fort Worth” with the searcher’s location set to Fort Worth:

^  If I’m a consumer searching for dental implants, this ad does not speak to me.

^  According to a quick search on Google Maps, it is an inconvenient 63.5 miles from Fort Worth to Wylie.

^  The poor grammar doesn’t allow for much confidence or credibility.

^  What’s the connection?

2)  Poor geographic targeting – As illustrated in the sample ad above, very few people are going to drive 63 miles to visit a dental practice that they don’t already have a very good relationship with. Yet, so many PPC campaigns are running this way. Ads that show far outside the reasonable distance from the office result in poor click through rates (# of times the ad is clicked vs. the # of times it shows up) and can lead to paying more per click.

3)  Not testing – Decisions in a PPC campaign are often made on assumptions. The dentist or the person managing the practice’s campaign assume  he or she knows all the right keywords, the most attractive call to action and the most effective headlines. The problem is dentists have a much different view of dentistry and use different terminology than the average consumer. Without testing headlines, ad copy, landing page headlines, images, calls to action, keywords, etc. you are short-changing yourself and throwing money down a black hole.
4)  Weak, or no call to action – Don’t assume visitors to your website are going to know what to do. Answer their questions and provide them with reasons to choose you via patient reviews and other social proof. Then clearly tell them the action, which is most often picking up the phone to schedule an appointment. For example, Call 555-555-5555 now to schedule your complimentary consultation and receive free whitening for life.
5)  Ineffective landing pages – Of all the mistakes, this is likely the most costly. The majority of dental PPC campaigns send the visitor to the home page of the main practice website, but there are several problems with this approach. Studies show you have about five seconds to grab the visitor’s attention once they land on your page. If they don’t immediately see what they were looking for, they will hit the back button and move on to the next dentist’s website—and you just wasted that click. Also most home pages give way too many options to distract the user, such as videos, blogs and links to a Facebook page. To be effective, send your potential, future patients to a page that speaks to them. If they are searching for dental implants, they should immediately be greeted by a landing page with a headline that talks about dental implants, followed by content that talks about the benefits of dental implants and why this particular practice is the best choice.
6)  Poor tracking – Most PPC campaign tracking consists of nothing more than the total spent, total clicks and the cost per click. While important numbers to know, they don’t begin to tell the whole story. Other metrics provide tremendous insight, such as click-through-rate, bounce rate, average ad position, etc. However, the one that trumps them all is Conversion Rate: the number of people who called your office or filled out a form and scheduled an appointment. In addition to having analytics properly installed on your landing pages to track form fills, coupon downloads, etc. you also need call tracking phone numbers in place. The prospective patient calls a tracking number that rings to your front desk. Meanwhile the call is captured and recorded so you are able to see who called, what time they called, how long they were on the phone and hear a full recording of the call. No more guessing or relying on inaccurate tracking processes.
7)  Not knowing the value of a new patient – Do you know how much a new patient is worth during the first year? How about during the entire time they are your patient? If not, you are definitely not alone. Most dentists have no idea. The problem is, if you don’t know what they are worth, how do you know how much you can profitably spend to get them? Is $125 per new patient a good acquisition cost? That depends. If the value of that patient in the first year is at least that much, then yes. Assuming that patient stays with you 5 years and spends just $820/year (the ADA average, which most analysis reveal is low), then during the first five years they are worth $4,100 (assuming they don’t refer any family or friends). So, you spent $125 to make $4,100. That’s over a 3,200% return on investment (ROI). Now an uninformed dentist might see that it’s “costing” him $125 to bring in a new patient, to whom he’s offering a $69 new patient special. He would assume that he’s losing $56 on each new patient and determine that PPC is a poor investment. That’s good for you, the informed dental professional. Less competition for the clicks and more opportunity for you to make $32 for every $1 you spend.

Essential Strategy Connect with your patients.

Your patients and potential patients are engaging in social media in record numbers.

  • 85% of internet users have a Facebook account
  • 27% of total U.S. internet time is spent on social media sites, making it the #1 activity on the web.

Patient connectivity: This is the “social” part of social media and offers an excellent opportunity to connect with your patients.  More importantly, potential patients expect to see your practice on social media because it’s become so pervasive in every other aspect of their lives.  In short, they trust it and will be surprised if they don’t find you there. A strong social media program takes work, careful planning, commitment and consistent attention; but if done right, can yield great results.

“80% of users (your patients) prefer to connect with brands (you) on Facebook.”

– Huffington Post

By now we know that people often use online search engines to find the products and services that they need.  But more and more people are supplementing their search with social media to familiarize themselves with the brands and products they find.  Simply put, your potential patients will find you in a Google search, and many will also look for and consult your Facebook page before they make their final decision before booking an appointment. Yet, some dentists are hesitant to acknowledge that Facebook is a worthwhile marketing strategy or to even engage in Facebook for their practice at all. Dan Zarella of Hubspot offered a reasonable explanation for this when he said: “All too often, social media marketing advice comes from greasy, snake oil hucksters selling platitudes like ‘engage in the conversation,’ or worse, ‘be awesome.’” We understand that you have a practice to run and patients to treat with hardly any time to have lunch each day, much less “be awesome” on Facebook. But creating a successful Facebook business page doesn’t have to be time-intensive, daunting or difficult.

4 tips for a great facebook business page

TIP #1 – Keep it strictly social – The Facebook comments and shares that are important for good SEO and patient connectivity will usually come from social-style posts.  Your patients are much more interested in pictures of your hygienist’s office birthday party than a link to a medical journal article on the latest dental implant technology. Share accordingly.
TIP #2 – Don’t forget SEO – One way to make sure you’re on track with your organic SEO efforts is by choosing the right classification when setting up your Facebook business page. By choosing the local business category, you have options to provide details about your practice, such as hours and maps. Facebook also knows to rank you for relevant searches.
Tip #3 – Your profile photo matters – Use YOUR photo as your profile picture instead of your practice logo. People connect with other people much more than any logo or image, so using a photo of yourself is much more appealing to your potential patients.  Your practice logo will usually fit quite nicely in the cover image, the larger spot behind your profile picture.
TIP #4 – Engage enthusiastically – Post at least once a day, and quickly reply to comments. The likes, shares and comments from your Facebook fan base not only send social signals to Google for SEO but also give your patients one more opportunity to connect with your brand.

Know the Value of Facebook Graph Search

Facebook’s Graph Search feature is a way for people to bypass a traditional Google search and find a dentist who has already been “vetted” by their Facebook community. facebook-bar

  • Have an active business page on Facebook
  • Just like your directory listings, make sure your information is correct and 100% filled out.  This includes your About Section (with keywords), Category and Sub-Category

Creating a content mix that’s good for business: Options for a dental practice

Successful business Facebook pages have a great content mix. Now, pinpointing exactly what that content mix should be can be difficult to specify. Too much business content can be a turnoff, while posting the wrong kind of entertainment posts can give you a lack of credibility. We believe that compelling content for a dental practice should be relevant to your patient’s interests while staying within the context of why they know you in the first place. The best content mixes combine fun, useful or unique information and promotion of your practice. As a way to remain relevant and gain Facebook fans, follow our formula of posting once daily with the following content mix.


80% – Entertainment or “Fun at your Practice” Content

Examples:

  • “Caption This Image” – Post a funny or silly image (dentistry-related or not) and ask your Facebook Fans to post a caption to go with it. This engages your Facebook fan base and asks them to participate, plus it will provide you the likes and comments you need to give Google some social signals needed for search engine page rank.
  • One little known way to…” – Provide a short tip that provides a little-known solution to a common problem.  This is one of the best ways to get your content “shared” on your patient’s newsfeeds.
  • “Ask a question” –Pose a question to your Facebook or Google+ community and ask them for their input by replying with their answers.  The question can be dental related or not.

 

  • Events at your practice – When your practice celebrates anything, such as birthdays, anniversaries, new babies or office improvements, share them!  Make sure to include photos, especially of your staff. Research shows that photos are shared the most on social media.facebook-post-2

 

  • Patient photos – Nothing gives you and your practice more social proof than beaming, happy patients after a procedure.  Ask them for their signed permission to share their photo on your social media pages and snap away!

TIP: If you sync an iPhone or Android device to your Facebook account, you can snap the photo, caption it (Example: “Just one teeth whitening application and Sarah is ready for her wedding day!”) and share it all in one step. It really is that easy.  

facebook-post-320% – Dentistry-Related Content

Examples:

  • Links to dentistry-related articles – Even though your Facebook fans won’t likely share this information, it keeps you within the right context and reminds your social community about what you do. Some examples at this link: https://www.facebook.com/SWDentalCare
  • Links to blogs on your website – Updating your blog once or twice a month adds to your credibility.
  • Tips from the dentist – Provide short, valuable tips from the dentist or hygienist.

TIP: Make this content a “must-read” by branding it and giving it a unique name like, “Dental Tip Tuesday.”   The Importance of Images Images rule social media. Consider these statistics:

  • 300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook every day via Instagram.
  • Facebook posts with an image generate 120% more user engagement than just text.

If you want your content to receive the likes and shares needed to reap the marketing benefits that social media provides, it’s important to use as many original images as possible within your posts on Facebook.

Social Media No-No’s

No-No #1 – Engaging in “bad reputation” conversation – Volatile conversations can quickly escalate in social media platforms. If someone makes a negative comment about you on Facebook, don’t engage on your public timeline. Ask them to discuss it in a private message. No-No #2 – Not posting images – Facebook posts with images have a 37% higher engagement rate than posts with text only. If your Facebook fans see nothing but links to blog articles on your website or text-only posts that say “Happy Monday Facebook Fans!” they’ll likely disengage. It’s important to incorporate plenty of compelling and high-quality images in your Facebook and Google+ profiles. No-No #3 – Posting sporadically – A Facebook study says that the average user checks their Facebook account 14 times a day on their smart phone. That’s 14 opportunities for you to connect with your patients and potential patients! A consistent visual presence is key to successful dental practice branding, and that includes your audience seeing you or your practice’s social media activity at least daily in their Facebook newsfeed.

Request a FREE Dental Marketing X-Ray to discover:

Get My Free X-Ray

  • How you compare to other practices in your area
  • Your website’s strengths and weaknesses
  • If you are positioned well for mobile search
  • How you can improve your brand on the web
  • Whether your social media strategy is working

We will perform an in-depth, fully customized analysis of your online presence, your website, your online reputation and your leading competitors. We will then share our findings with you in a short conversation.

Call (800) 506-9817 or get started using the button above.

My new patient flow is up 130% and we are seeing more of the type of cases I like to treat.

dr-koos
Steven Koos, MD, DDS
ORA Oral Surgery & Implant Studio

Since we’ve been with them, hits to our website are up over 800%, our new patient flow is way up and of the patients we see, about 70-75% convert to treatment, so I’m very happy.

Phillip Kozlow, DDS
General Dentist

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