Technology continues to shape the way dental patients find practices and learn about treatments. Today, dentists at the leading edge of dental marketing know that to communicate effectively with prospective patients they need to reach them:
- On their smartphones.
- At a time when they’re most receptive to what dentists have to say.
- When patients are searching for information about treatments.
- At the moment when they’re actively looking for a dentist.
When you’re promoting your dental practice and treatments to patients who are digitally savvy and dependent on mobile devices, you need to have the edge on your local competitors to drive practice growth. That means staying on top of the latest dental marketing trends so you can develop effective dental marketing strategies. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Your patients are checking their mobiles (on average) every 12 minutes they’re awake
According to research, 78 percent of adults say they couldn’t live without their smartphone. In the UK, people now “check their smartphones, on average, every 12 minutes of the waking day”.
So much marketing has moved online to keep pace with this trend that dentists who aren’t promoting their practices digitally will be practically invisible to many people in their local area.
To attract new customers and promote treatments such as cosmetic dentistry and implants effectively, your practice needs to appear on the first page of Google search. There are four ways to do this:
Organic search engine optimisation (SEO)
Organic SEO uses the words and phrases that patients are using during their Google searches, such as “dentist implants near me”, to help your website appear at the top of their unpaid or organic search results. Your website needs to be constantly optimised to achieve this. Changes to your SEO are cumulative, so the sooner you start, the sooner you will see rewards.
Every second of every day, 67,000 searches are carried out on Google. This presents considerable opportunities for dentists. Paid search – also known as pay-per-click (PPC), Google AdWords, Microsoft Advertising or online advertising – allows you to place ads at the top of Google and Bing. However, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad, taking them to your website. This makes paid search controllable and measurable, so you can effectively track your return on investment.
Because almost half of all Google searches are seeking local information, it’s essential that the location and contact details of your practice appear on Google Maps. Only three practices first appear on Google Maps during a Google search though. Make sure your practice is one of these, so it’s highly relevant to anyone who is looking for a local dental practice near them.
After a patient has visited your website, signed up for your email or watched your video, you can serve them remarketed ads in their Google searches and on channels such as Facebook. Remarketing – also known as retargeting – keeps your practice top of mind while they’re comparing your treatments to your competitors’. This is a highly effective strategy, increasing ad response by up to 400 percent. Not all dental treatments can be used in remarketing campaigns though. Discuss your options with a specialist dental digital marketing agency that can determine the best marketing strategy for you.
2. 92% of customers are reading online reviews
We all know about the power of word-of-mouth in convincing prospective patients to choose your practice over a local competitor. Today, 92 percent of consumers check testimonials and reviews before deciding to buy.
Dentists need to focus their resources on ensuring their website and social channels are set up to accept these. Good customer reviews are the best form of dental practice marketing and will help sell your treatments for you.
In the past, many dentists were wary of enabling feedback, but dental reputation management software can now help you catch unhappy customers before their comments go live, increasing your ability to avoid potentially damaging reviews.
High quality educational content on your site can also establish your dental team’s skill level, foster trust and promote loyalty. When prospective patients click through to your website landing page from a paid search ad for example, you have an opportunity to provide them with content they value and to create a friction-free experience that increases the likelihood of them booking that initial consultation.
3. Customer experience is becoming increasingly important
Today, 89 percent of businesses compete with each other based on customer experience, compared to just 36 percent in 2010.
Customer experience extends beyond the limits of customer service – it’s how your prospective patients view your practice before they’ve even set foot in the door. Today, technology empowers them to do this in myriad ways, including:
- Clicking on your paid search ad to learn about your new treatment.
- Clicking on a remarketing ad that reminds them about your practice.
- Using a chatbot to reach out to your practice team.
- Receiving hyper-personalised emails with your latest practice updates.
- Using Google Maps to locate your dental practice.
- Reading online reviews on your website to form opinions about your level of care.
Because of this, dentists need to consider every touchpoint they have with prospective patients, both online and offline. They need to view each of these as an opportunity to be authentic, to help patients and build trust with them. Creating an emotional synergy between your patients and your practice fosters loyalty and ultimately encourages referrals.
Dentists who can provide prospective patients with friction-free customers experience – from website loading speeds to staff who are highly trained to respond knowledgeably to their enquiries – will be giving them the best opportunity to access their treatments.
4. ‘If you can’t measure it, then you can’t improve it’
According to research, “more than 40 percent [of practices] do not track where new patients are coming from and almost 30 percent are unaware how many new patients visit their practice each month”.
One of the main benefits that dental digital marketing has over print advertising is that it gives you total transparency and control over the numbers it generates, so you can track and measure your results.
Dentists can assign a budget to a campaign promoting a new treatment for example, and quickly estimate how much extra website traffic tactics such as paid search produce. You can also see how many enquiries and telephone calls you receive for that spend. If your campaign produces too many leads for your team to handle, no problem, you can simply turn it off.
Digital marketing spend varies considerably from practice to practice. Start with a budget you feel comfortable with, then judge your results and increase when you feel ready. An ideal spend is £1,000 to £3,000 per month, for an average-sized dental practice but many dentists in London and other large cities spend £10,000 a month to effectively drive as many new patients leads as they can, while generating as little waste as possible.
5. Be future-focused by incorporating AI and voice search
Voice search and artificial intelligence (AI) such as chatbots, are just two innovations that are already changing how patients choose to find and engage with your practice.
It’s predicted that by 2020, half of all searches will be done by voice. Voice search or digital assistants such as Google Assistant use data from Google and YouTube to present prospective patients with information about your practice’s location for example. Amazon Alexa receives information from the Bing search engine.
Dentists need to optimise their website content for voice search by featuring conversational questions on it, such as, “Where is the nearest cosmetic dental practice?” Page loading speeds could impact a digital assistant’s ability to respond to questions with information about your practice, so dentists need to make sure their sites load quickly.
AI such as chatbots that sits on your Facebook page and provide information and answers to common questions, enable you to gather data about your prospective patients that will help you reach out to them more knowledgeably.
Facebook Messenger chatbots can be programmed to listen for certain words, such as price or opening times, then automatically answer those questions with the required information or by directing prospective patients to sources of information. These chatbots can also be placed on the dental implants page of your website for example and configured to provide relevant information about that treatment.
Facebook Messenger messages also works like email, offering dental teams the opportunity to send further messages to people who connect with them. Open rates for Facebook Messenger messages are 80-90 percent, whereas email open rates are around 40 percent at best. Click-through rates are also much higher for Facebook Messenger messages, at around 50 percent, compared with email, which is approximately three to five percent on average for the dental industry.
Over to you
It’s an exciting time to market your practice, with so many opportunities available to dentists to reach and engage prospective patients through digital technology. To make the most of this innovation and to remain competitive, it’s essential that dentists stay abreast of the trends so they can use marketing tactics to increase the profitability of their practice.
For advice about the best ways dentists can ‘market smart’ download the Ultimate Guide to Dental Marketing in 2020.
Guide to Dental Marketing
A Guide for Dental Practices