Six Dental Marketing Trends to Boost Your Digital Strategy
The dental industry – like all of healthcare – has seen a lot of technological changes, from paperless offices to digital impressions and 3D printing. And let’s not forget the overall impact of the Internet on consumer behavior. More than ever, people rely on the Internet for information, education, and reviews before making buying decisions, especially in healthcare. This trend is only going to rise, which means you have to stay competitive in the digital space to build brand awareness and attract new patients. You could just throw money at digital ads, add content to your website and post more often on Facebook, but smart dental practices are realizing how six key trends can contribute to a much more effective approach.
1. Capitalize on Local Search Engines
The “near me” phenomenon has driven huge growth in location-based searches year over year, and the search for “dentist near me” was at the top of the list. But even if you’re technically closest to the address of any given searcher, a few extra steps can give you an advantage.
Most important, make sure your practice is accurately listed on all search engines consumers might use. Google searches rely heavily on NAP (name, address and phone number) information, so be sure that it is up-to-date (if you’ve ever changed your office location, it might not be). Otherwise, your practice will be less visible and your search rankings will suffer.
2. Manage Your Online Reputation (it’s way more than Yelp)
Your online reputation is as important as your real-world reputation and is largely shaped by what comes up when someone searches your practice on the Internet. Research shows that 85% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Google, Yelp, and Facebook are only the most popular of the many platforms where customers will rate their experience with your practice. Reviews play a role in where you appear in search results, too. The 10 most recent reviews can move a business from the second page of search results to the first page. And if you have 50 reviews or more, that alone can yield more than a 250% increase in click-through rates, according to Reputation.com.
The rise of smart speakers like the Amazon Echo (“Alexa”) and Google Home adds an additional challenge to your online reputation. And this is different from using an intelligent personal assistant like Siri, where the results are visibly shown. Smart speakers simply announce the top result – and if your online reputation is negative or not optimized, you may never be mentioned. Worse, if a negative review is the first thing that consumers hear, they’re unlikely to dig deeper to learn more. When creating any digital content, work to include phrases that your potential patients might use to search for your practice. Beyond that, keep an eye on your online reviews and do what you can to promptly resolve patient misperceptions.
3. Master the Art of Social Media
Social media is now a critical marketing tactic that can help all businesses – including dental practices:
- Increase brand awareness
- Drive traffic to your website
- Generate qualified leads
- Boost patient engagement
- Build credibility
- Grow revenue
All social media platforms have characteristics that set them apart from each other, which is why it’s important to engage on multiple platforms to effectively reach your target audience.
Source: TechCrunch, June 2017
With over 2 billion active monthly users (as of January 2018), Facebook is the largest social media platform and it continues to grow at an exponential rate. Using Facebook can help you improve patient retention, boost referrals and better your online reputation.
Twitter’s microblogging platform makes it great for quickly sharing information, establishing your practice as an expert in the dental field, and increasing traffic to your website. The challenge, of course, is that your tweet must be seen as one of 500 million tweets per day. Twitter users search for topics using hashtags – so, you should use them, too. This enables your posts to target anyone seeking information on specific topics and reach a wide audience beyond your direct followers.
Instagram is a visually-driven platform, which is perfect for dentists with a wealth of imagery and videos. The catch is making sure your content is engaging to your audience. You may be fascinated by a clinical process diagram, but your consumers will be more interested in before and after pictures, as well as videos of successful procedures and happy patients.
4. Don’t Forget About Email Marketing
Email is still one of the best ways to attract new patients and improve patient retention. In fact, it’s still 40 times more effective than social media for acquiring new customers, which makes it the online marketing channel that generates the highest ROI.
Big surprise: most patients don’t like going to the dentist, and it’s likely that they will forget to schedule appointments for their six-month checkups. Making an appearance in their inbox is a simple and effective way to stay top of mind. Start by asking your patients for their email addresses to send appointment reminders. Once they’re added to your subscriber list, you can also keep them aware of your practice with promotional offers, surveys, holiday emails, targeted campaigns and other messages.
5. Make Sure Your Ads are Geo-Targeted
We’ve already mentioned optimizing your website for local search engines, but if you intend on implementing a paid marketing strategy (e.g, Facebook Ads, Google Ad Words, promoted posts, etc.), you’ll also want geo-targeted advertising. Geo-targeting allows you to deliver specific content to a particular geographic area. Again, any new dental patients who don’t find you via referral will do what most people do, search online. And they’ll probably be searching for a dentist close to their home or their job. Bonus: Geo-targeted ads can cost less than broadcast advertising, which is designed to appear anywhere and everywhere.
6. Invest in Video Marketing
85% of Internet users in the U.S. watch videos online, and video continues to be an important medium for companies looking to engage their audience, grow brand awareness and build trust with customers. Just look at the numbers:
- Almost 50% of Internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store (think with Google)
- 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week (Wordstream)
- Marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users (Vidyard)
Dental practices can supercharge their video strategy by creating videos and sharing them on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Your videos can showcase the culture of your team and office environment, cover popular topics in dentistry, or simply offer a little fun entertainment around birthdays and holidays – the possibilities are endless. Just be sure to keep the content relevant to your current and potential patients. Likewise, follow the same guidelines above for hashtags to tag your videos with helpful keywords (like your city and state) so that search engines can connect them to relevant searches.
Clearly, there are many components of a successful digital marketing strategy to attract patients and reinforce your practice’s brand. And it isn’t a “one size fits all” situation, even within your specific field. The good news is that you don’t have to do everything all at once. Start with tactics that are manageable for your current resources, then build on as you grow. Likewise, you can avoid making mistakes by taking advantage of a digital marketing and branding consultant’s expertise. Either way, the time to wait and see if digital advances will impact your practice is over, and the time to drive your online brand forward is here.
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