How does your dental practice attract most of its new patients? Do you typically rely on traditional methods such as advertising in the yellow pages or on the radio? If you haven’t embraced digital marketing yet, the future growth of your dental practice — perhaps even its continued health as a business — will suffer as a result.
Has your practice stopped attracting new patients at the rate it once did? That’s because the old methods of advertising aren’t as effective as they used to be. Today, at least 85 percent of consumers use the Internet to find local businesses. Those people aren’t seeing your advertisements in the phone book because they’re looking for dentists online. They aren’t hearing your radio advertisements because they’re streaming music from their smartphones to their cars’ stereo systems.
Digital marketing for dentists isn’t just about reaching a larger audience — it’s also about delivering the right message for each person. No other method of marketing gives you the ability to target specific clients and client segments; and if you know who you’re reaching, you can deliver a more effective message.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of digital marketing for dentists and learn more about why it’s necessary for the continued success of your dental practice.
Digital Marketing Brings Quicker Returns Than Traditional Marketing
If your dental practice has a healthy marketing budget, it’s wise to reach prospective patients over as many channels as possible. Traditional advertising channels such as radio, television and local newspapers increase awareness of your practice among people in your community. The problem with offline advertising, though, is that it may not have an immediate positive effect on the revenue of your dental practice. You’ll pay to reach thousands of people, but only a few of those people are actually searching for a dentist right now. Your investment goes primarily toward increasing brand awareness rather than earning new patients.
In the most common form of digital marketing — search engine advertising — you pay to reach just one person at a time. You bid on specific search phrases — “dentist in Chicago,” for example — that you know a person looking for a practice like yours would use. Not only are you targeting people highly likely to become new patients, but you only pay when someone clicks your advertisement. Compared to traditional offline advertising, digital marketing has a much more immediate effect on your practice’s revenue generation.
Digital Marketing Reaches Patients When It Matters
Offline Advertising: No Targeting, Little Relevance
A significant drawback of traditional advertising is that you can’t customize the message for the audience. When you advertise on radio, for example, you’ll reach all of the following:
- People who aren’t patients and aren’t currently looking for dentists
- People who aren’t patients yet but are looking for dentists
- People who are already regular patients of yours
- People who are regular patients of other dentists
- Former patients who haven’t visited your practice in a while
Different types of clients have different needs, but offline advertising doesn’t give you the ability to alter your message based on the person hearing or seeing it. With offline advertising, every member of the audience receives the same message; and for some, the message won’t be relevant.
Digital Marketing: Pinpoint Targeting, Maximum Relevance
A well orchestrated digital marketing campaign allows you to target a potential, current or former patient with the perfect message, at the perfect time and over the ideal channel. These are just a few examples of what you can do over the most common digital marketing channels:
- You can use pay-per-click advertising on search engines and business directories to reach prospective patients actively searching for dentists in your area
- You can use display advertising to increase awareness of your practice among people who visit local news websites
- You can use social media marketing to share useful tips about dental health and stay at the forefront of patients’ minds
- You can use social media and email marketing to tell patients about your new services and remind them to come in for regular checkups
- You can use marketing automation to generate reminder messages for patients who haven’t visited your practice in a long time
Since digital marketing gives you the ability to target different messages to different people, your messages will usually be relevant to the people who see them — and relevance helps to ensure the best possible response rate.
Digital Marketing Helps You Capture and Nurture Leads
Returning to our hypothetical radio advertisement above, there’s another audience segment that we haven’t discussed: people who are interested in receiving dental services but haven’t started looking for dentists yet.
Right now, there are people in your local area who are thinking about having their teeth whitened or straightened. There are people who wear dentures but might like to receive permanent implants. There are people who want to know if they should be concerned about their occasional toothaches. Many of those people are searching online for the answers to their questions, but they’re only researching right now. They aren’t ready to schedule appointments yet.
You can use targeted website content to reach people searching online for general information about dentistry. A guide that explains how your practice’s tooth whitening service works, for example, could receive traffic from people looking for information about how tooth whitening works or how much it costs. You could also reach those people with search engine advertising. The problem, though, is that it makes little sense to pay for a website visitor who is very unlikely to schedule an appointment immediately — unless you can capture that person’s contact information and use it in your future marketing efforts.
How Online Lead Generation Works
Suppose that you publish an article about tooth whitening on your website. A person searches online for information about what tooth whitening services typically cost in your city and ends up on your website. Your article answers the visitor’s question, so he is happy about his visit and has a positive first impression of your practice — but he isn’t ready to schedule an appointment yet.
Now, suppose that your article has a form offering a significant discount on the first tooth whitening session for a new patient. Alternatively, you might offer a 25-page e-book that outlines the benefits and drawbacks of the most popular types of tooth whitening treatments. Since your article answered the visitor’s questions, he’d probably like to receive additional information or a discount. Your form can deliver the reward instantly in exchange for the visitor’s email address — and when you capture an email address, you generate a new lead.
Basic Email Marketing
Once you have a website visitor’s email address, you have an open line of communication that you can use to keep that person interested in receiving dental services — and ensure that your practice is the one he calls when he’s ready to schedule an appointment. Basic email marketing is a highly effective way of accomplishing those goals.
With basic email marketing, you store all of your leads’ email addresses in a single mailing list. When you send a message, every member of your list receives it. Since you’re sending the same message to every subscriber, basic email marketing works best if you limit your content to messages containing general dental advice and information about your practice’s services and promotions. Your leads will opt to remain on your list as long as they find your messages useful.
Automated Email Marketing
Earlier in the article, we discussed the fact that traditional marketing is weak compared to digital marketing for dentists because offline advertising doesn’t give you the ability to customize the message for the audience. Basic email marketing has the same weakness — but automated marketing doesn’t.
With marketing automation, you write a series of messages — for a specific audience — in advance. Your marketing automation platform sends the messages automatically — at intervals you specify — when a website visitor fulfills a condition such as completing a form.
Suppose you wanted to create an automated marketing campaign that would begin when a website visitor downloads your e-book about tooth whitening. The campaign might work something like this:
- The day after the visitor downloads the e-book, the campaign can send a message containing some testimonials and before-and-after photos from your previous tooth whitening clients.
- One week later, the campaign can send a message that alleviates the lead’s anxiety by explaining that tooth whitening is fast and painless. The message can further explain that residual tooth sensitivity tends to resolve itself quickly.
- After another week, the campaign can send a message describing the technology that you use to whiten teeth and explaining why it is the most advanced system available in any local dental practice.
- After another week, the campaign can send a message offering the lead a 50 percent discount if he schedules an appointment immediately.
- If the patient still hasn’t taken action after two months, the campaign can send a message offering the lead a single free tooth whitening session.
- If the patient hasn’t responded at the end of the campaign, the marketing automation platform can move his email address to your main mailing list for further nurturing attempts.
At each step in the campaign, you could include a link to your website and a call to action asking the lead to fill out a form and schedule an appointment. You can also configure the campaign to stop sending messages to a person once he has completed the form.
The best part about marketing automation is that once you’ve set up a marketing funnel, you don’t have to interact with it again. Your website creates new leads, and your marketing automation platform nurtures the leads for you. You’ll only need to take action when a lead submits a form to schedule an appointment.
Ready to Get Started?
Digital marketing for dentists can lead to rapid business growth at a surprisingly affordable cost. You are very busy, however, and building an omnichannel marketing funnel requires time that you probably don’t have. We can help. Crystal Clear Digital Marketing is the leading digital services provider for dentists. Contact us now to learn more about what we can do to help your practice grow.