There’s no way around it: the Internet has forever changed the way business is done. Today, even small local enterprises can go toe-to-toe with global corporations by leveraging online marketing. All it takes is the right strategies and the proper channels.
In this article, we’ll go through a handful of digital marketing strategies to fuel patient growth for dentists, and offer some ideas on how to improve dental practice in the digital age.
If you’re a dentist looking to help new patients, this article is perfect for you. Even if you aren’t interested in reaching millions of people online, utilizing the Internet will, at the very least, help you achieve more patients within your area— imagine the sheer volume of smartphone users near you, and the thousands among them searching the Internet for a dentist. Some, if not many, of them, are your potential patients.
First things first, starting an online campaign doesn’t necessarily require a lot of effort, although it does need some work. That said, you’ll be able to get a lot done quickly and cheaply if you play your cards right.
Ready to reach millions of customers? Below are three easy-to-implement digital marketing ideas to improve dental practice.
Advertise on Facebook
Reports by Lyfe Marketing show that, regarding cost per thousand impressions (a.k.a. cost per mille or CPM), social media marketing campaigns cost much less than billboards, radio, newspapers, magazines, TV ads, and direct mail.
Image taken from Lyfe Marketing
Should you decide to deploy some funds towards social media marketing, Facebook is the way to go.
In June of 2018, Facebook reported over 2 billion active users—that’s practically half of the all Internet users globally, and, by far, the largest user base among all social networks. Penetration is especially useful in the US, where 70% of Americans are on Facebook, and of which 74% check their Facebook pages regularly.
If your practice is in the US, there’s a good chance dental digital marketing on Facebook will gain you new patients.
Facebook is effective not only because of the volume of users it hosts but also because it allows you to target specific customers with specific ads. On your Facebook Ad Manager (see below), you can target audiences based on factors such as age, location, interests, pages they like, people they follow, and others.
Facebook’s targeting helps you increase dental patients by focus firing on people who matter to your business (and avoid spamming those who aren’t interested). After all, if your patients are mostly health-conscious millennials in Pennsylvania, showing your ads to a sixty-year-old in Salt Lake City might not be all that useful.
Improve your search rankings
If you want to attract patients online, you need to be ready to do dental digital marketing in more channels than one. Facebook is excellent for targeting specific audiences, but Google is much better at addressing particular queries.
On Google, users are actively searching (as opposed to passively browsing) for a specific thing. For example, when someone types “dentist near me” or “dental cleaning in New Hampshire” on a search bar, they’ve already made up their minds about seeing a dentist; the only question that remains is which dentist to see.
How, then, can you ensure it’s you they find?
Benefitting from Google is a matter of ranking—that is, the higher you rank, the higher the probability of engaging a potential patient.
Search Engine People reports that at least 75% of all clicks go to Google’s first page results, of which around 33% goes to the very first result.
So what does it take to be on the top of Google?
There are two ways to climb Google’s search ladder: (1) pay-per-click advertising, also called PPC, or (2) search engine optimization, or SEO. The two are fundamental to search marketing, so let’s get acquainted with them.
PPC is self-explanatory: you pay a fee each time your ad is clicked. The fee varies depending on how competitive a keyword is. For example, ranking for “dental services” will probably cost more than ranking for “dental services in Milford, Delaware.”
More expensive short-tail keywords usually give you more traffic concerning sheer numbers, but specific long-tail keywords typically give you higher quality leads—but all that depends on your audience. The trick is to find which keywords attract patients online.
PPC ads are easy to tell apart from organic (read: unpaid) search results because they always pop up at the very top with little green “Ad” signs next to their links.
PPC does have its limitations—it can only take you as far as your budget permits. As its name implies, once you stop paying, you also stop ranking and getting clicks. Additionally, people tend to prefer organic results vs. PPC ads.
This brings us to SEO.
In a nutshell, SEO is the art and science of ranking organically on Google. It involves many things, including using the right keywords, getting quality inbound links, organizing your text according to headers and subheaders, adding tags to your images and articles, and producing high-quality content, among many others.
The idea is, the more relevant your page to a particular search term or query, the more Google is “convinced” to rank you highly.
PPC and SEO each have their benefits and are often parallel. Paying your way to the top through PPC is a great way to get your name out and increase dental patients quickly while building a solid SEO strategy is key to achieving sustained patient growth for years to come.
The strategy we would recommend to drive patient growth for dentists is to start out with PPC, with a keyword specific to an area or local, and slowly transition to SEO by generating high-quality content on a constant basis.
Increase your conversion rate
All the web traffic in the world means zilch with zero conversions. Even if you gain thousands of visits from your dental digital marketing campaigns, you still need to convert those visitors into paying patients.
According to WordStream, the average conversion rate for the health industry through searches is 3.36%. Anything below that, and you need to implement some changes on your site and web pages.
Improving your dental marketing can be as something as simple as having a high-quality video on a landing page to showcase your practice (68% of people are more likely to buy a product after viewing a product video), or changing the colors of your call to action (CTA) buttons from red to blue.
Another strategy that seems to work well is adding patient reviews to your site. BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey found that 85% of consumers trust online reviews more than personal recommendations and that positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a business more.
The Tulsa Precision Dental page (see below) is a great example to follow. It doesn’t just contain one CTA, but three. Furthermore, two of those CTAs lead to customer reviews: the “Read our Reviews” CTA leads to a testimonials page, while the “Review us on Google” CTA leads to external reviews.
It’s also worth noting the large phone number adjacent to two of the CTA buttons; it’s easy to spot and will likely increase the number of calls, and drive patient growth for dentists that work there.
Increasing your conversion rate is all about empathy; it involves answering questions such as, "How do I make it easy for patients to book a meeting?
These are ultimately only just a few ideas to attract patients online and drive patient growth for dentists like you. There’s a wealth of other ideas you can implement, like email marketing campaigns and referral bonuses for patients, but hopefully, this provides a good starting point.
The world of dental digital marketing is a vast landscape that has yet to be explored, and now is the perfect time to study it. Once you learn how to attract patients online, and take your dental marketing to the Internet, the sky's the limit.
Ready to increase your online visibility for your Dental Practice?