Dental Marketing: 17 Effective Strategies To Grow Your Practice
It is the year 2005; Dr. Robert Hastings has recently graduated from Dental School and has plans to open his private practice in California. At that time, all he needed was to rent a suitable place, hire staff, and buy the necessary equipment. That’s it! And patients would start coming to his practice within a few days—no need for an extensive dental marketing plan or financial forecasting. Running a practice was straightforward in those days.
Fast-forward to the year 2022. Running a successful practice is not that simple anymore. With new dental offices springing up everywhere and more and more dentists graduating every year, the competition had never been so high. Today, running a profitable and successful dental practice requires more than just excellent clinical skills. Today, dentists need to be excellent strategists, financial planners, and marketing specialists, besides having superb clinical skills to remain afloat in the ever-mounting competition among dental professionals.
Here are 17 proven dental marketing strategies to help dentists grow their practice and enhance their revenues. We have broken this list down into four key areas of dental practice growth:
- Attract – new patients and retain existing patients
- Convert – improve your lead conversion rate
- Optimize – never lose a patient again
- Systemize – effective practice management
Attract New Patients
1. Patient Reviews
Besides retaining existing patients, dentists need to attract new patients to ensure sustainable practice growth. One of the most effective methods to do that is through patient reviews. Today, every prospective patient will first head the search for reviews of the practice they plan to visit. The more 5-star reviews your practice has garnered over various social media platforms, the more likely your practice will gain new patients. Besides, satisfied patients also help advertise your practice by giving good reviews in their friends or family circle. Every time you come across a happy or satisfied patient, ask them politely to leave a review over one of your social media platforms.
2. Local Business Listing
Local listing works just like yellow books; your practice’s location and phone number are listed virtually on platforms like Google, Yelp, Facebook, and other search engines. This helps potential patients in your locality find your practice more easily. The listing also helps in increasing your website’s traffic.
3. A Website That Makes an Impression
- Improve your Website Navigation Experience – Whenever we wish to visit any restaurant or hotel, the first thing we do is to head over to their website. A purpose-built, easy-to-navigate website is essential for attracting more patients. According to the 2018 Adobe Consumer Content Survey, even if customers visit your website, 38% of consumers or buyers will simply stop navigating further if they find it poorly designed or difficult to use. Furthermore, a slow loading website can drop your conversion rate by up to 20%. According to a study from Google, when the website loading time increases from 1 to 10 seconds, the probability of mobile users switching to another website increases by 123%.
- Make your Website Mobile-Friendly – The importance of having a mobile-friendly website cannot be over-emphasized. According to Google, over 61% of U.S websites in 2020 were made for mobile devices, compared to 57% in 2019. Today, people prefer easy access to information – booking an appointment from their smartphones or tablets, instead of laptops or desktop PCs.
- Harness The Power of Good Content – More importantly, your website should give clear, crisp information about the services you provide. For example, before undergoing any procedure, patients head to the practice’s website for more details. Your website should provide information regarding the scope of your services but also be an easy platform to book appointments and contact information for 24 hour emergency dentist services.
- Search Engine Optimization – SEO refers to optimizing your website to have higher chances to show up in local search results. The better your website’s SEO optimization, the higher its ranking on Google or any other search engine. However, SEO can be confusing, especially for someone physicians and dentists it for the first time. That is why it is better to hire an SEO specialist for this task.
The concept of advertising has changed greatly over the years. Gone are the days advertisements for dental offices would be posted in magazines or through flyers. Today part of your dental marketing plan must include digital advertising. Digital advertising is not only powerful but leveraging social media platforms like Facebook and Google Ads is one great way to reach new and existing patients. But one must be smart about it. Too much advertising and you may drive away patients! Publishing the reviews of your satisfied patients on social media platforms is another excellent form of advertising.
5. Sponsor Local Events
Another great dental marketing idea is to mingle with the community. Let them feel that you’re one of them by sponsoring local events. For example, you could sponsor a local charity of sporting event. This is especially helpful if you’re starting afresh. Having your practice’s name or logo in an event helps build brand awareness. Patients love friendly and socially active dentists.
6. Patient Referral Program
Reward your patients every time they bring in a new patient by offering them free or discounted services. For example, every time one of your patients refers a new patient, you could offer them discounted teeth whitening or cleaning services.
Improve your Conversion Rate
Now that you have attracted more patients to your website, the next step is to convince them to visit your practice. This is known as lead conversion. Here are some ways to boost your practice’s lead conversion rate.
7. Online Booking
Patients or customers want a smooth online experience. Instead of allowing them to “request” an appointment, empower them by letting them book and confirm appointments. For this, you need to have a robust patient appointment scheduling system that lets patients book appointments, make amendments in the schedules, and even send reminders to them on the day of their appointment.
8. Web Chats
Most websites ask potential patients to fill a form in case they have any queries – customers don’t like that. They want quick answers; if you cannot provide answers quickly, they will head over to another, more responsive website. To avoid that, you should have a WebChat option available 24 hours a day that is preferably manned by a human customer service representative. Alternatively, perfect AI-based chatbots are now available that can be programmed to answer typical queries. If there is a question that the chatbot cannot answer, it can then be referred to one of your staff for real-time answering.
9. Stand Out from the Crowd
Attracting new patients to your practice may be difficult if you’re also offering the same services as your neighboring dentists. When developing your dental marketing plan, think about how your practice is differentiating itself from the crowd. Make sure to develop a unique selling proposition as a part of your marketing strategy for your brand. Today, many practices offer “luxury dentistry” services or dental spa-like services as a part of their USP – and that works too. Apart from these, you can also offer unique dental treatment services like Botox treatment, sedation dentistry, and sleep therapy appliances. Again, it is important to market and advertise your “unique” services effectively to increase your patient flow.
10. Hire a Brand Manager
Today, dental practices are becoming increasingly commercialized. Having an effective dental marketing plan that positions your practice as a “brand” is key. If you are aiming high, consider hiring a brand management expert, who will devise and implement marketing strategies for your “brand” to stand out from the rest.
11. Start your Practice Blog
Did you know that blogs are one of the most effective ways to improve your lead conversion rate? On average businesses that have blogs generate 67% more leads than those who don’t have blogs. Besides, blogs are an excellent way of disseminating information about dental treatments, procedures, interesting dental facts, and even to keep in touch with your patients.
12. Collaborate with an Influencer
It may sound unnecessary, but it really works. Offer discounted treatment and special offers to your local social media influencers to promote your services. Statistics from Twitter show that over 40% of Twitter users made a purchase based on a recommendation or direct tweet from an influencer.
Optimize Patient Treatment Experience
13. Business Texting
Most dental offices prefer to communicate with their patients through emails and telephonic calls. But did you know what patients prefer? Being able to get in touch with their dentists through text messages. Research has shown that 9 out 10 patients prefer to text their doctors. There’s more; 90% of text messages get opened. So, you have higher chances of getting your message across – like promotions, offers, or discounts – through text messages. Besides, patients like to get in touch with their dentists on the go. While it may be possible to always attend calls, text messages are convenient and take less time to respond.
14. Marketing Campaigns
Customers love nothing more than the feeling of being valued. Marketing campaigns are the perfect way to keep in touch with your patients, while offering them loyalty benefits like free checkups or discounted professional cleanings. In addition to sending them appointment reminders, you can also send them birthday messages or referral requests. It’s easy, simple, and cost-effective. Most modern patient appointment scheduling systems allow for sending automated messages to patients on their birthdays, or on important local or national events. The idea is to make them feel valued and welcomed. Here is another reason for you to consider investing in a good patient management software.
15. Patient Comfort
Today, patients want high-quality dental services, and they are willing to pay for it. Investing in a purpose-built waiting area that has sufficient sitting space and is equipped with a television can immensely improve patient experience. This can also boost their moods ahead of their appointment; more importantly, don’t be shy of advertising about it. You can post pictures of your newly renovated waiting area on social media platforms to show your patients that you really value their comfort.
Upgrade Systems and Equipment
16. Good Practice Management Software
Many dentists under-estimate the usefulness of practice management software (PMS). PMS are not only for scheduling patient appointments or reminders, but they also offer much more value. Right from new patient registration to patient record management, and from billing to digital payment gateways, the opportunities are endless. PMS save the time of your staff, allowing them to focus more on patient care. Besides, PMS also allow you to keep track of your inventory, reminding you and your staff of dental supplies and materials that need to re-order. You can also keep track of servicing your equipment – PMS will inform you once servicing of a particular equipment is due. Overall, it improves patient experience and saves your time.
17. Upgrade your Equipment
Investing in latest technology like intra-oral scanners, 3D printers, or a CBCT system will not only improve your efficiency and diagnostic quality, but will also help you stand out from the rest. For example, if you invest in an intra-oral scanner, you could let your patients know about its benefits, such as the accuracy of impressions and more importantly, eliminating the need for messy and uncomfortable physical impressions. Similarly, advertising your newly-bought desktop 3D printer will allow you to fabricate prostheses in a matter of hours. There is nothing dental patients like more than quick and friendly service!
Marketing your dental practice can be challenging, but it is not impossible! The most important thing is to advertise your practice as a brand and utilize digital marketing strategies to promote your services. According to Twitter, 40% of users follow brands on the social media platform. More importantly, it is important to make your patients feel welcomed and loved. So, develop strategies to stand out from the rest by offering unique services and promotions – and to make your patients realize that their comfort and satisfaction is your first priority.
More About Our Guest Contributor Dr. Mehmood Asghar:
Dr. Mehmood Asghar currently works as an Assistant Professor in Dental Biomaterials at the National University of Medical Sciences, Pakistan. Besides being an educator, he is also pursuing a Ph.D. in Dental Biomaterials, and works as a dentist as well. Apart from his professional activities, Dr. Asghar loves reading, writing, and working out.