By Glenn Lombardi
When you think about an online presence and all that it entails (i.e., website design, social networking, search marketing, patient reviews), what comes to mind? For many dentists, the mere thought of managing an entire Internet strategy for their practice sounds like more work than it’s worth.
Despite the misconceptions surrounding the management of a website, an integrated Web strategy is the most effective and efficient way to attract a growing number of Internet-savvy patients today. In fact, websites are one of the most critical parts of your practice, and when done correctly, can deliver your highest return on investment.
1. “Always on”
One of the greatest benefits of having a website is that your office is essentially never closed. Acting as your virtual storefront, patients will always have access to important information concerning your office procedures and their oral health, such as treatment/symptom information — from work, home, or wherever they may be. Why put limits on your office hours when a website enables new patients to find you around the clock?
Smartphones now make up 40% of all mobile phones in the United States. As mobile phone usage continues to gain popularity, your practice can always be available to patients whenever and wherever they need it. Mobile-specific features — such as click-to-call, interactive directions, and appointment requesting — make it easy for patients to stay connected with your office in the exact way they prefer to communicate.
2. Online patient education improves treatment awareness
A practice website also provides the perfect opportunity to educate patients outside of your office. From patient libraries with hundreds of pages of informational articles on oral health to dental animations and an interactive blog, you can always provide patients with the most up-to-date, educational materials about dental health.
An educated patient is better equipped to make knowledgeable decisions about their treatment options. It also reduces time spent answering questions during appointments and alleviates any fears or misgivings a patient has about an impending procedure.
3. Streamlined patient-to-practice communication
A phone call may be the best method for reaching your office during regular business hours, but after hours patients desire additional, convenient ways to communicate with your practice. With a website, patients can easily submit a question or comment after hours via their computer. Additionally, incorporating online appointment request capabilities allows patients to make an appointment around the clock from their computer or smartphone while reducing phone calls to your office.
4. Expedite first visits with new-patient forms
Routine paperwork can’t be avoided, but it can occupy a large portion of a new patient’s first visit to your office. With a practice website, patients can easily download, print, and complete necessary paperwork in advance of their first appointment. This helps streamline first-visit procedures while ensuring the patient has ample time to spend meeting the dentist and having him or her answer oral health questions.
All dental online marketing starts and ends with the practice website, the hub of your multi-channel marketing efforts. Not only does a full-featured website help you grow your patient base by attracting new patients, it also streamlines many in-office procedures and empowers patients to connect with your office even after regular office hours.
Glenn Lombardi is president of Officite, LLC, the No. 1 provider of websites and Internet presence management strategies for the dental community. Officite has built more than 6,000 websites that have generated hundreds of thousands of appointment requests since 2002. To learn more, visit www.officite.com or call (800) 908-2483.
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By Glenn Lombardi