There are two fundamentals for growing a successful dental business. One is attracting new patients, and two is preventing them from going dark. So initially what’s more important than your staff, beautiful office, and clinical skills is having a plan to market your business well and provide a competitive advantage over the neighboring dental offices. There are two great contemporary marketing tools that allow business owners to do both. By harnessing the power of online review sites and true mobile app technology, offices can cut down the competition, effectively get those new patients, and keep them returning.
How to attract new patients
It’s common knowledge that the best sources of referrals are current patients. They have a personal testament to your practice, and they can share that with friends and family. But what about attracting new patients outside of this immediate reach?
This is where an online presence is a must. Being “findable” online is the first step in business validation. Searchers want to know what kind of medicine you practice and the standards in which you practice that medicine. Most of you already know this, but visitors want not only a website, but want to know how others have experienced your practice. This is why review sites have become such a big hit. These can either be the first impression of your business, or that second opinion after visiting your website.
Leveraging review sites for building your practice is an economical approach to marketing and outreach. Not only can the initial investment be free, but you also have the greatest opportunity to capture more business. People from the Internet are more likely to pay-it-forward for review site readers since it is how they found you.
Preventing patients from going dark
Now that you have these new patients, how can you keep them? On average, 50% of new patients do not return. Keeping a connection with them alive can be tricky, and is a major problem in many dental offices. Preventing new patients from going dark means more than sending them off with a goody bag and business card. This doesn’t necessarily mean more phone calls or emails, or sending out more postcards. But what else is there? Provide 24/7 connectivity, and stay visible. You can do this with a “true mobile app,” which is the new patient take-away of the times.
A true mobile app is a take-away unlike your business card or goody-bag — it has staying power. A March 2014 report from the app analytics provider Flurry states that consumers are spending two hours and 42 minutes daily on their mobile devices, with native app usage accounting for two hours and 19 minutes. This illustrates that mobile web usage has dropped from 20% of the U.S. consumer’s time in 2013 to just 14%, or 22 minutes per day. Consumers prefer not to search the web to get their information, but rather access it from an app. The speed and convenience factor of a true mobile app cannot be beat.
What is a true mobile app and how will help? A true or native app, also known as a mobile app, is software downloaded from the app stores (iTunes and Google Play). It is the only mobile product that automatically places an icon on the homescreen when downloaded. Its ability to save information on the phone means that once information is downloaded from the Internet, its contents are stored locally for access without connectivity. If the internet is not available, it’s no problem. This is how the mobile app is able to offer up its content immediately at anytime; it is how we are able to store pictures, contacts, conversations, and even resume gameplay.
In a dental setting, true mobile apps behave as a constant connection. This digital business card opens up to a custom all-access pass to dental help and assistance. How you develop the app to meet the needs of your practice is up to you, but if you do it right, the connection, outreach, and savings is abundant. Imagine no more stamps for mailings, patients requesting appointments without making a phone call, bills being paid without going to a post office, dental emergency information available for patients at all times, posting dental specials without worry of a bad email account, and patients never losing connection to you. The options are endless.
Taking advantage of review sites and true mobile technology speaks the language of society today. There are few new, unique, economical, and effective marketing tools available to get and retain those new patients. Pay attention to recent data and to what the general population is trending. Dentistry is no exception to the rules of engagement and business — everyone wants simplified access and great service from a fair business. You offer those things and let consumers know about it, you will build a bigger and healthier practice.
Tanya Stein, RDH, BA, BS, handles marketing for Dental Anywhere Mobile Apps.