You have an exciting dental practice, and your patients agree. There's excitement in the air and your staff members love what they do. Then why is your practice website not able to reflect that excitement?
Is your website a dynamic portal for your practice, or is it a static, online brochure? For too many dental practices, creating a website is the equivalent of checking an item off a list. You hire a designer, you approve the final draft, you put it online, and then you forget about it.
You might include your web address in marketing materials. You might start a Facebook page and link your site from the “About us” section. But for the most part, your website only changes if your address or hours change. This means that there is literally no reason for established patients to visit your site, and the only purpose it serves for new patients is to give them a map to your office and your phone number. Unfortunately, a static website is barely better than no website at all.
Today’s patients Google dental offices before they call your office for a consultation. Your website has taken the place of an interview. People check it out to see who you are, what your practice is like, and whether they’d like to be your patient. A static website isn’t just a neutral placeholder; it actually hurts your reputation among potential patients.
Make this the year that you ditch your static website and replace it with a dynamic hub that provides real value to your practice, your staff, and your current and future patients.
What is a dynamic website?
Dynamic means changing, energetic, and interesting. There’s a good chance that your practice is very dynamic. Your staff members are energetic and engaging. The air crackles with purpose and joy. Patients are glad to see you, have excellent experiences, and want to recommend you to family and friends. A dynamic website captures the mood and energy of day-to-day life in your practice.
Dynamic websites include:
•Blogs that are updated weekly or monthly. According to Social Media Today, 77% of active web users read blogs. Blogs let prospective patients know what your practice is like, and let your most dedicated patients keep up with your office between appointments. Blogs are also an easy way to attract search traffic. Google gives preferences to sites that provide current information and are updated regularly. A blog lets you do this with fairly little effort.
•Photos and video that give an authentic feel for your practice. Patients want to know who they’ll meet when they arrive at your office. Video walk-throughs, 360-degree views, and photos and video of you and your staff give them a sense of what your practice is like. These sorts of features are especially important for attracting young adults. Recent studies show that millennials value authenticity in web design, and avoid places that feel inauthentic.
•Engagement with social media platforms. Social media is a great way to connect with your patients, but your content needs a home base that’s under your control. A dynamic website includes buttons and links that make it easy for you and your patients to share your content to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+. When you engage with patients on social media, you build a community centered on your practice. This, in turn, leads to more content and more energy for the site.
•A combination of educational, uplifting, and humanizing content that promotes your brand. To keep your website fresh and interesting, you’ll need to develop a variety of content. If your site feels formulaic and dull, patients will assume that you are formulaic and dull. To develop the right blend of content, develop a sense of your brand. Make sure your website reflects your total brand, not just one aspect of it.
First steps to a more dynamic site
The first step to a more dynamic site is creating a better blog. Blogs provide an easy way to constantly update content. Too many practices blog only when they feel like it, or when they notice the content is getting stale. Commit to a schedule and blog regularly. One easy way to create a more dynamic blog is to create a content calendar. Look at your month, and block out types of posts. Which days will be fun days? When will you highlight staff members? Do you want to have a Testimonial Tuesday? Maybe a regular “Ask the Dentist” feature. Planning ahead will help you develop more varied and engaging content.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of blogging and content development, you can start refurbishing other parts of your site. For instance, you can have your front page feature a different podcast or video each week. You can rotate your testimonials so that patients don’t see the same content every time they visit your site. You may want to update your “About us” page to highlight how you engage with community groups.
Make sure that each new piece of content relates directly to the atmosphere and goals of your practice. Keep the content patient-centered. Take the time to ask patients what sort of content they enjoy. Remember to keep it balanced. One patient might want to see information on dental caries. Another might prefer pictures of the baby shower you threw for her favorite hygienist. Your patients are diverse and your content should be too.
Once you’ve made the transition to a dynamic site, you’ll have something you can be proud of: an online portal that reflects the energy and spirit of your practice. As the site draws in new patients and helps you interact more with existing patients, you will find that it doesn’t simply reflect the energy in your practice. A website that succeeds in creating community and engagement for your patients will also inspire your staff to make your entire practice more dynamic.
For the most current practice management headlines, click here.
For the most current dental headlines, click here.