Signage (among other trends) was once the if-you-build-it-they-will-come patient attraction strategy. But now it’s more a question of, “can new dental patients find your dental practice online?”
The online space is today’s storefront – signage and all!
And while this might sound bold – it’s true: if you’re not online you’re less likely to be found (because that’s where the search is “on”).
Consumer (and dental patient) reflex
People reflexively reach for their mobile or personal computing device to access information and services (like yours). Rapid digital innovation provides consistent solutions for how you and your patients search, interact, schedule, and more.
It’s to your advantage to maximize how you attract new dental patients around innovative online solutions. And your online platform (yes, platform) is the key.
How to position your dental practice to be found online by new and current patients
Set-up-shop on your dental practice website
Again, today’s storefront is in many ways digital. Sure, you will likely maintain a physical address for years to come. But your dental practice website is the virtual “front-door” where new and current patients “enter” your practice.
It’s essential to think of your website as a platform (there’s that word again). Platform is an important concept because it carries the idea that your online reputation and reach are fully supported there.
Keep in mind that website creativity and uniqueness are secondary to delivering value to your site visitors. A creative website is more about ease of navigation and useful content and less about “flash.”
- Build or revise your website to highlight your practice’s unique culture more than a visually overwhelming or bulky design that’s confusing to navigate.
- Attach benefits to the content that describes your services.
- Include a call-to-action on each page (e.g. contact us, schedule now, get more information, etc.).
- Use SEO (Search Engine Optimization) but do not be enslaved to a clunky, irrelevant use of keywords. Being SEO savvy means you understand that you’re writing for humans, not algorithms.
And speaking of SEO…
Use SEO to inform and influence
Online searches (Google, Bing, etc.) revolve around informative and useful content. The search algorithms recognize if you’re stuffing your webpages and content with keywords rather than putting in the hard work of publishing content that people are interested in.
A new patient’s interest in your dental practice will often revolve around specific oral health questions. Effective SEO will provide answers to those questions that a person would type into a search query.
Keywords form the search trail that lead people to the relevant content you publish on your website. The effectiveness of your influence is connected to your intuition about the information and questions new and current patients are searching for.
That brings us to content that’s created and published around your patient intuition.
Answer questions (that new and current patients are asking) via your dental blog content
Intuition helps eliminate the randomness from website and blog content. Being intuitive starts with listening to your “audience.”
- What questions are they asking online, when they contact you, during an appointment, etc.?
- Where are they confused about dental treatment, procedures, etc.? Answer their questions or assumptions about trending dental topics.
Publish around questions and trends and you’ll increase your reach and influence. The answers you provide also reveal that you’re delivering what search engines will recognize as valuable content.
- Train your team(s) to listen for patient questions and assumptions about dentistry.
- Keep a running list of the “real-time” questions your patients and online visitors are asking.
Leverage the power of dental patient reviews
Here’s the scoop on reviews:
- “40% of consumers form an opinion by reading one to three reviews, vs. 29% in 2014
- 26% of consumers say it’s important that a local business responds to its reviews
- 88% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, vs. 83% in 2014
- 23% will visit the business premises directly after reading positive reviews
- 95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see bad scores”
That’s legitimate support for leveraging reviews to enlarge your online footprint. Like other content sources, patients and site visitors seek insight about your care standards through reviews (positive and negative).
To get reviews you must ask for reviews. Give your patients a reason to provide a positive review.
Make it clear that you value their opinion about your services and their appointment. And if a patient shares a negative review be proactive, gracious, and solution-oriented in your response. Note that your responses will often accompany a review – another good source for patients to get acquainted with you.
- Make your review process simple
- Make your reviews easy to find online. Google My Business is a good resource.
- Make the most of your patient reviews by creating content around discovered themes. Case studies are a good strategy for highlighting a patient’s positive review. Obtain permission and expand on their patient experience “story.”
Build your social media “tribe”
Social media keeps your online presence relevant and conversational. Daily activity opens the doors to your dental practice, even after hours.
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok are platforms that many if not most of your patients are active on.
- Invite current patients to connect with you on social media.
- Invest time curating useful dental content. Link the content on your social media channels.
- Link your dental practice’s blog content with benefit oriented “teasers” on your social media feeds.
- Respond to comments on your feeds. Answer questions, invite further engagement, develop relationships…, and build your “tribe.”
Being found online by new and current patients is about patient engagement that leads to long term relationships
Consider a cloud-based solution and improve your practice efficiency and new patient engagement
You might find a cloud solution like Denticon to be a more seamless and low-maintenance platform. It includes:
- Built-in patient-facing modules
- Monthly subscription rate that’s predictable
- Data hosted in the cloud that’s remotely and securely accessible
- Savings compared with a “legacy” system can total an average of 40%