Online Marketing for Dentists: A Guide For Dental Professionals Looking for Growth
You would think that an independent dentist with his or her own practice that also manages many aspects of running a small to medium business and performs complex procedures on patients’ teeth wouldn’t have any trouble figuring out an efficient and cost-effective online marketing plan for dentists that, once up and running, hums along as regularly as your dental hygienists’ tooth polisher and brings in new customers as easily as the scaler removes the plague from a patient’s tooth.
So …why is locating, attracting, and retaining new patients so tedious at times?
The Truth About Online Marketing For Dentists
In some ways, a dental clinic is just like any other business, and its success depends on whether you can attract customers. If you’re a dentist, you already know that your profit margins are directly correlated with how many patients walk through your doors. Your goal should be to attract and keep good customers that keep coming back. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it?
You’re licensed and open for business, have a nice dental office (hopefully), a steady stream (or a trickle?) of mostly positive and current online reviews. You’ve likely done some paid advertising of some sort to get the word out that you are, indeed, accepting new patients! Like many in your field, you may entice new clients needing your expert services with some discounted or free service (s) – free tooth whitening, the initial consultation, x-rays – you name it. You want to get new prospects in the door and show them how awesome your practice is compared to others!
Professional Services and the Attention Economy
Dental marketing takes time.
We live in the “attention economy” where time is our most valuable resource.
Customers are bombarded by advertising. They don’t have to go anywhere and they are inundated with ads and marketing on every device. Their mail is full of your competitors (and other marketing materials) that divert their attention away from you and the special things that are going on in your office.
Sadly, many prospective patients may have never heard of your practice – or know where you are located.
The Frustrating Art of Search Engine Rankings and Visibility
It’s not rocket science, but any growth marketing online requires quite a bit of knowledge and time for application. It requires persistence and trial and error. Wouldn’t you rather use that extra time with the patients you do have, so you can keep them coming back? Most successful dentists don’t have time to sit on social media all day posting great things their practice is doing – or trying to figure out how to improve their ranking on Google.
You need to focus on your dental accreditation, your staff, your patients, and keeping your office in good order.
Ultimately, busy dental professionals have a few choices:
Spend hours learning how to do it yourself and then more time applying online marketing for dentists until you start to see results.
Pay exorbitant fees to some automated platform that blasts marketing efforts out on the internet like water from an ultrasonic scaler.
Find a professional service or marketing agency that specializes in medical marketing that can differentiate what you do from everyone else – and make your more visible on social media.
Send out expensive mailers that are hit or miss at best. What do you do with most of the unsolicited mail that arrives at your home or email inbox?
The good news is that with modern technology and innovative marketing solutions, attracting new patients has become exceptionally easy. However, you can only benefit from these opportunities if you take advantage of the best tools and techniques. So what’s the best way to approach online marketing for dentists?
Boosting Your Online Presence
Define Your Brand
The first major step of online marketing for dentists is branding. You might think that as a medical professional, you don’t really need to worry about branding. After all, you’re not selling soft drinks or candy bars – you’re selling legitimate dental services. So what’s the point of flashy logos, jingles, and slogans? Make no mistake – branding is still very important for dentists in the modern era, especially when you’re dealing with considerable competition from other dentists.
Branding helps you set yourself apart from the crowd, and that’s why it’s such an important aspect of online marketing for dentists. What makes your clinic unique? What differentiates your dental practice from others in your area? What’s your unique philosophy towards dentistry and patient health? Do you operate in a niche or have a special mission? Think about all of these questions as you begin to build your brand.
Before you even begin creating your practice website or your social media presence, you need to develop a consistent theme. A good starting point is to select a palette of colors to use across your entire online presence. To boost consistency even further, consider decorating your physical clinic with the same color scheme. You might also want to rethink your slogan and logo before you begin, as these are both important aspects of online marketing for dentists as well.
Establish Your Target Audience
Once you’ve defined your brand, it’s time to identify your target audience. It’s always a good idea to be extremely specific when approaching this step. Don’t just say that you want to target older individuals. Consider their exact age range, their income, their retirement status, and even their physical location within your area. The more specific you can be, the easier it becomes to target these individuals with effective marketing campaigns. You should be able to clearly imagine your “ideal customer.”
For example, you might want to target potential patients who need dentures. You might choose to target people between the ages of 70-80. Perhaps you’ve also identified a specific neighborhood in your local area that has a high density of older individuals that you can target. Now you need to think about how to reach these people. Where do they get their information about medical practices? What social media platforms do they use? What kind of websites do they visit?
Transforming Your Website
A website is arguably the most important aspect of online marketing for dentists. This is where people will learn all about your clinic before deciding whether to schedule their first appointment. Your website will also contain contact information, phone number, your address, patient testimonials, and a wide range of other resources and landing pages that help turn leads into customers.
If your website is outdated, it’s time to modernize it. Think about your branding strategy and try to achieve an informative and aesthetically-pleasing piece of digital real estate. The best websites are also fast and responsive. If leads have to wait for more than five seconds after clicking a button, they often exit your site in frustration. As a medical professional, your site also needs to be secure and reliable. Medical records are highly confidential in nature, and potential customers need to know you take cybersecurity seriously. In the modern era, more people are accessing websites on their phones than ever before. This means that you need your site to be as mobile-friendly as possible.
SEO or “Search Engine Optimization” is another extremely important aspect of online marketing for dentists. Essentially, SEO helps customers find you on the web. Without a solid SEO strategy, you’ll be buried beneath pages and pages of search results, and no one is ever going to know you exist. SEO pushes you to the top of Google search results, allowing you to connect with your target audience.
Because dentists provide in-person services, you need to prioritize local SEO. This is a more specialized form of SEO that targets people in your geographic area. This strategy relies heavily on optimization for Google Maps, and it allows you to capture all those leads in your neighborhood who are searching for a “dentist near me.”
Social Media Marketing
For nearly all businesses today, a robust social media presence is a key to attracting customers, building your brand, and growing your practice. Younger generations are especially likely to check out your social media presence before booking their first appointment. One of the best things about social media marketing is that it’s completely free, which is why it’s an obvious choice to boost online marketing for dentists.
However, it’s important to get the most out of your social media presence with a number of paid services, as organic posts won’t get you very far. This means that paid ads and professional social media management are essential if you’re prioritizing social media. With all that said, remember to consider your target audience and choose platforms that you know your target customers are using.
Email marketing is one of the most underrated online marketing tools, and it boasts some of the highest conversion rates around for healthcare practices. The process is pretty straightforward, and it involves sending emails to your customers to generate interest in existing or new products and services. For example, Dr. Michael Alvarez is a dental professional who has spent 40 years studying various subjects, including sleep disturbances. He was able to use his experience to create a product called the CustMbite Snoring System that helps reduce snoring. Laser dentistry is another major emerging trend.
You can advertise these additional products and services in your email newsletters, helping you generate more profit and upsell existing customers. As a side note, expanding with new products like anti-snoring mouthguards allows you to target customers around the entire globe – not just those within your local area. This is yet another reason why online marketing for dentists can be so rewarding.
Content Marketing vs. PPC
Online marketing professionals often argue about whether PPC (pay-per-click) or content marketing is more effective. These represent two very different philosophies towards digital marketing strategies, and they both come with their own set of pros and cons. Content marketing helps you generate organic traffic, which is generally preferable to inorganic traffic. However, content marketing can take a while to implement, and it requires a more long-term, strategic approach. One of the most common forms of content marketing is a blog. While blogs can be effective, you might have to wait months or even years before your blogs start generating new leads.
In contrast, PPC is a much faster approach that delivers almost instantaneous results. Otherwise known as “pay per click,” this involves paying for Google ads that generate leads right away. Just be aware that this traffic is generally inorganic in nature, which means you might end up targeting people who don’t actually need a dentist. Classic examples of PPC marketing include Facebook Ads and Google Adwords. So which one is better?
The truth is that each dental marketing strategy has its uses. If you’re not prepared to devote tons of time and energy to a content marketing strategy, PPC might be the better option. On the other hand, content marketing is the clear winner if you’re willing to commit to a long-term strategy.
What About Offline Marketing Methods?
Before we get into specific marketing tools you can use today, let’s examine a few offline methods that could be effective. After all, online marketing for dentists isn’t the only available option. Offline methods include flyers, door-to-door sales, radio advertisements, and much more. Print ads and direct mail advertising can also be very worthwhile. Word-of-mouth advertising certainly falls into this category as well, and this can actually be one of the most effective marketing tools available – especially if you live in a relatively small community where everyone seems to know each other.
One of the best traditional marketing strategies is a referral program. The concept is simple: if an existing customer brings in someone new to your clinic, they are rewarded with some kind of benefit. For example, a customer might receive 20% off their next treatment if they convince their friend to become a new patient. Or perhaps they’ll receive a free whitening service, a complimentary cleaning, or some other kind of benefit. These rewards are often worth the effort, as they encourage your customers to become your most motivated salespeople. In other words, they do all the heavy lifting for you. The cost of a free service is nothing compared to decades of repeat business provided by a new customer.
Remember to think about your target audience when considering these traditional marketing strategies. If you’re targeting older individuals, these offline methods may actually be more effective compared to online strategies – especially if older dental patients rarely access the internet.
What Marketing Tools Should I Be Using?
Although some of these steps can get a little complicated, the good news is that you’re not alone. DearDoc provides plenty of exceptional marketing tools and support, and this company is specifically geared towards medical professionals. If you’re trying to revamp your dental website, check out DearDoc’s website builder for an effective solution. Not only can DearDoc help you transform your website, but they can also boost lead generation, ensuring that more visitors hit that crucial “schedule an appointment” button. Your website should be a central part of your online marketing strategy, and it makes sense to give it the attention it deserves.
In addition, DearDoc provides exceptional SEO optimization services for dentists who need to find more patients. SEO can be incredibly complicated, but it’s important not to get discouraged. Get in touch with DearDoc’s highly-qualified SEO team, and we’ll push your site to the top of Google’s search results. We can also help you with local SEO to make sure you’re targeting the right people with your digital marketing campaigns.
DearDoc also offers a range of other tools and services, such as AI automation, 5-star review generators, text-to-pay, and much more. If you’d like to explore any of these services, check out DearDoc today to learn more. Our goal is to drive practice growth for doctors like you, helping you provide better care to more people.