By Dr. Greg Grillo
A successful brand presents a consistent message and experience across every platform and customer interaction. That’s not a haphazard process–it happens over time with a unified strategy. When built right, a brand develops a first-class reputation and enjoys consistent growth. In dentistry, controlling our practice message separates the entrepreneurs from the average business owners. Effective digital marketing tells an authentic story about what we do for patients, what patients can expect, and why we’re the best choice. Incoherent campaigns can be confusing and work against our intentions. You want to build a brand, a healthcare practice, that people love.
Online Marketing For Dentists In 12 Steps
An online dental marketing plan starts with a little offline groundwork. Managing a multi-platform strategy integrates components that maximize our budget and produce long-term results. Consider a dozen steps to pave the way to enhanced growth and top-shelf authority in your community.
Step 1: Define Your Vision
The best businesses clarify the reason they exist and why they show up every day. Digital marketing for dentists becomes disjointed if we don’t define what our brand stands for in our community. ACTION: Make time to write out a vivid vision for your practice. A vision that’s not written down is just a dream that no one knows except you. Once you’ve set the parameters for your practice, the other components properly align.
Step 2: Build A Strategy
Our dental brands are really a story that’s told across multiple channels. Everything we publish, say, and do perpetuates a story that consumers accept or reject. A careful blend of words, design, tone, frequency, and dozens of other subtle psychological factors produce a story that engages patients, leverages our budget, and grows our practice. ACTION: Build your vision-driven marketing strategy around a single-platform solution to execute a cohesive message to the market. Everything works together on the same page, and you avoid confusion in the minds of consumers.
Step 3: Design The Right Visual Elements
Our brand visuals matter, but the most impactful logos, colors, and graphics flow from a laser-sharp vision. When an author writes a book, they don’t design the cover first. But this critical representation of your practice deserves professional attention. For example, colors evoke certain emotions, and signature colors increase brand recognition by 80% . ACTION: Choose graphic designers who understand color, layout, and everything in-between, especially for dentistry. Using creative talent to get this piece right is vital–you and your patients will be looking at it everywhere for a long time.
Step 4: Elevate Your Website
Most of us have a website, but does it shine? With over 200,000 dentists in the U.S., consumers can jump from site to site within a few seconds. And they’re not interested in hanging around for more than 15 seconds if they’re less than impressed. A solid website reflects your vision, delivers your strategy, and engages patients at every stage of their experience. ACTION: Conduct a website audit by asking friends from different age groups to share their critique of your pages. Engage with a vendor that specializes in dental website design and mobile-optimization. Websites display differently on mobile devices than desktops, and 38% of website visitors will click away if they have a poor user experience on any device.
Step 5: Turn On Dental Social Media Marketing
Social media continues to draw us in, and 74% of consumers use social media to help them decide where to take their business. Over 80% of small and medium businesses use social media, too. Unfortunately, most of them miss the full benefits. Practices can use dental social media marketing techniques to build awareness, but it takes more effort than most teams can muster. ACTION: Choose a cohesive delivery system to automate social media for steady drip exposure. Automate posting with material designed for dentistry by professionals, and add some of your own in-office celebrations. And consider adding video; social video generates 1200% more shares than traditional posts, and viewers watch live video on Facebook three times longer than other videos.
Step 6: Use Paid Ads
A recent survey revealed that 35% of dental practices planned to increase their marketing budgets in 2020. Some will choose antiquated techniques, but savvy practices will leverage their budget and enjoy more growth. ACTION: Allocate 70% of your marketing budget to intent-based advertising with Google Ads. Allow the remaining 30% to drive awareness campaigns, such as Facebook and Instagram Ads. Work with professionals who understand dentistry and the unique targeting required to drive results.
Step 7: Prioritize Local SEO
“Near me” searches continue a steady upward trend, and many of them lead to immediate action. Google changes its SEO formula almost daily, but professionals understand the major determinants. We must show up in results when potential patients search for us within a few miles of our offices. ACTION: With a 900% increase in “near me” searches over a recent two-year period, we can’t afford to ignore local SEO. Rely on reputable healthcare SEO experts to bring together local business listings, website traffic, Google Maps listings, and more to maximize the attention you receive.
Step 8: Add Convenience Tools
Consumers, including you and I, love the convenience of online tools. Hungry? Order Uber Eats. Utility bill due tomorrow? Pay online at midnight. Dental patients expect to find the same options from us, and we can give them. Nearly half of patients indicate they prefer to book their medical appointments online, and that option could be the difference to a new patient. ACTION: Evaluate your website for more than education and information. Offer secure patient portals that allow patients to manage online forms, pay bills, and schedule appointments. Stand-alone online booking modules can help patients overcome hesitancy to make their first appointment. Plus, you may add virtual visits as an option for some visit types, including initial consults.
Step 9: Encourage Feedback
When’s the last time you ordered a product from Amazon without checking reviews? A recent survey showed that 70% of people consider reviews critical when choosing a healthcare provider. Social proof matters in retail, travel, healthcare, and everything in-between. ACTION: When patients step out of your office, make sure they get a text and email that asks them for their feedback. Automated requests make it simple, and patients love to give their opinion.
Step 10: Nurture Referrals
When someone tells their friend to visit us, and they make the call, we enjoy a home-field advantage. The average new patient costs up to $300 to acquire, and they’re often determining how much they trust us. But referrals are organic, low-cost, and ready to see us. ACTION: Make internal marketing that builds relationships and generates referrals part of your strategy. Automate requests with emails or postcards, and send gift cards to thank your patients for sending family and friends.
Step 11: Campaign To Connect
We’re not the only ones looking for attention with our patients, and the average person may see up to 10,000 ads per day . Still, 63% of people say they’ll report one doctor over another based on a robust online presence. But consumers are more likely to notice useful information from brands they trust, and we can meet that need. ACTION: Add email workflows for existing patients that provide information on topics relevant to them. Use assessments, quizzes, and eBook downloads on your website in exchange for contact information from site visitors. Multiple strategies with targeted campaigns allow us to stand out and stay relevant with patients before and after their visits.
Step 12: Track And Adjust
We can’t stop with writing out a vision, launching an award-winning website, and putting up an occasional ad or Facebook post. Dental marketing encompasses the patient journey and moves in a perpetual cycle. One study showed that brand cohesiveness could increase revenues by up to 23% . ACTION: In a multi-platform marketing environment, we need an entire department to track analytics, feedback, and campaign effectiveness, if we don’t have the right tools. But the task becomes simple if we use a centralized dashboard to manage our marketing tools and measure their effectiveness. Metrics tied to patient feedback, reviews, clicks, ad responses, and more help us adjust our strategies and budgets.
A Different Kind of Dental Marketing Company
A commitment to marketing connects us to our target audience and supports them through their journey. When people trust our brand, they become life-long patients who send referrals. A cycle develops with steps that move in a perpetual motion. By intention or default, each of us already has a brand. But what’s the storyline, and who’s telling it? Download our free eBook, Come Up Smiling: The Legwork Guide To Your Online Brand , and give your healthcare practice the branding makeover it needs to thrive!