Optimizing your dental practice – Ask yourself these 5 questions

So you think you're marketing your dental practice correctly, yet you still aren't seeing the number of patients you'd like? Ask yourself these five questions to be sure you're on the right track.

Jun 30th, 2015
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The dental industry thrives on patient interactions, but in today’s fast-paced world, the frequency of patient visits is quickly dwindling. According to a 2014 study by the American Dental Association, nearly 23% of adults revealed they have no intention of visiting a dentist during the next year. Even with standard checkups set at six-month intervals, 52% of adults indicated they had not stuck to such a schedule, and one in five said they had not visited a dentist for the past few years. With this in mind, it is now more important than ever to optimize your dental practice in an effort to combat consumer apathy. To do so, dentists need to evaluate their marketing tactics.

If your dental practice is sitting with more idle time than you’d like, losing patients, or just not getting as many leads as hoped, ask yourself these five questions to evaluate where you stand.

Do I have an effective online presence?
Approximately 85% of all Americans use the Internet to research and find local businesses. If your practice doesn’t have an online presence, the chances that potential customers will find you greatly decreases. Simply relying on user-generated review pages such as Yelp and YellowPages is no longer enough. Dental practices need to have a dedicated website in order to control messaging and generate more leads.

If you have a website, it’s imperative that it be responsive and adaptable to mobile devices. Eighty percent of consumers now use their smartphones to browse online, and 47% use tablets to surf the Internet. If your website isn’t mobile- or tablet-friendly, modifying it to be accessible on all devices can make a big difference in practice performance.

Am I relevant on social media?
In addition to having a responsive website, it’s important to promote your practice through social media. Last year, 92% of marketing professionals claimed that social media marketing was important for their businesses, and 80% cited these efforts for increasing website traffic. Having a Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn profile, and Google+ business page can greatly increase the overall awareness of your practice, ultimately leading to better patient relationships and more leads.

When optimizing your practice on social media, keep in mind that there is such a thing as too much and too little. A happy medium for activity on all accounts is between three and four posts a month, making them as compelling and informative as possible, and including a striking call-to-action. With certain platforms such as Google+ business pages, make sure to include your logo, mission statement, contact information, employee bios, and patient reviews to build organic SEO. Being on Google+ and having the option of patient reviews also helps build overall credibility.

How flexible are my patient interaction methods?
Being able to communicate with your patients on their terms can help boost the positive opinion of your practice. With online marketing tools and techniques, this can be accomplished almost automatically. More than 80% of the population would rather schedule an appointment for the next 48 hours online, so having such an option on your website can optimize appointments and relieve stress on your scheduling staff. Ensuring that all phone numbers on your website are accessible and clickable can greatly increase your ability to garner new leads. This is a simple investment, but the sheer number of smartphone users today makes this a good investment.

Am I promoting online?
Online promotion is another key aspect of digital marketing, but successfully taking on such a campaign takes strategy. If they are not compelling enough, email promotions can have an undesirable return on investment, so it’s crucial to make sure that each email is informative, exclusive, and features a call-to-action. Include a coupon for services, checkups, and referrals to drive traffic to your office, and if your website has an active blog, email marketing is a great way to showcase the blog and build credibility.

In addition to email promotions, online specials and blogs, and banner ads that promote your brand locally can reach hundreds of thousands of consumers with a relatively low investment. Because banner ad click-through rates average at .07%, these are often considered to be more effective than television or outdoor advertisements.

Am I tracking my patient interactions?
Among Fortune 500 companies, 65% say that phone calls are their top source of generating quality leads. Because of this, it’s important to track and record your inbound calls to better develop your marketing efforts. Having a well-trained team dedicated to answering calls from patients can increase the number of booked appointments and grow your practice, but without a tracking system in place, you can’t hone your techniques. Record interactions and impressions to find out which questions are well received and which areas need improvement.

By asking yourself these five questions, you can better identify where your dental practice stands from a marketing perspective, which will allow you to effectively optimize it for success in the future.

Bill Donato is the founder of Conversion Whale, a consulting company established in 2014 that is dedicated to lead generation and marketing for dental practices. He previously worked with a leading Florida-based dental equipment repair company, and served as technical editor for the book, “Micro Entrepreneurship for Dummies.” He can be reached at bill.donato@conversionwhale.com.

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