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The truth about online marketing that all dentists need to know.
As a dentist, you want to care for as many patients as you can. As a business owner, you need a plan for attracting new patients and maintaining your existing patient base.
Any dentist in 2017 will have a difficult time succeeding in all of the above without a strong online presence. Consider these facts from Sesame Communications:1
97 percent of patients would rather click than call the practice for more information
61 percent of patients will leave a dentist’s website if it’s not mobile friendly
80 percent of adults in the U.S. actively use social media
Online marketing has become an inescapable reality for dentists today, and it’s not without challenges-after all, dentists are trained as practitioners, not marketers. But it doesn’t have to be a constant struggle. To help simplify and streamline the process, here are four key secrets for managing a less stressful, more successful online marketing strategy.
Secret #1: Focus on your audience
One of the major benefits of marketing a dental practice online is the wide range of marketing opportunities out there-and one of the greatest downfalls is also the wide range of marketing opportunities out there! The ways in which dentists can cultivate an online presence is nearly limitless, and that reality can be extremely overwhelming.
Whether you’re new to online marketing, or are simply trying to develop a more focused strategy than in years past, it helps to keep one thing in mind: your new and existing patients. Make it easy for new patients to find your office online by keeping the website user-friendly and having positive testimonials on both the website, as well as third-party sites. Post and interact on the social media sites your existing patients use the most, and keep the posts focused on information that will actually be interesting to them.
Secret #2: Automate your processes
Automation tools are a terrific resource for busy dental offices because they streamline many of the online marketing processes. While this doesn’t mean that dentists can take an entirely hands-off approach, automating various tasks can help to save your incredibly valuable time, money and energy.
Most practice management software on the market today comes with some level of automated patient communication capabilities. There are also many options for enhanced patient communication software from companies like Weave Communications, Rhinogram, Lighthouse 360, SolutionReach and Sesame Communications that sync with most popular practice management software.
Whatever your practice is looking for-from the ability to enable one-to-one real-time texting from your practice desktop directly to your patient’s mobile devices, to the option to execute automated patient appointment reminders, birthday greetings or post-appointment surveys to generate positive online reviews-remember to utilize these companies in the dental industry who are experts at enabling dentists to better communicate with their patients electronically.
When it comes to social media, consider using an aggregator like Hootsuite or Buffer. Sites like these act as a dashboard for all of a dentist’s social media accounts, making it easy and fast to update all profiles at one time, and allow for scheduling posts in the future to ensure all social media accounts are updated on an ongoing basis.
Secret #3: Be adaptable
While automation tools help dentists to promote their practices more efficiently than ever, having a set-it-and-forget-it mentality simply won’t produce the results dentists want or need.
A modern online strategy requires ongoing attention. Google changes its search algorithm 500-600 times a year2 and Facebook continually rolls out new updates. In order for a dentist to stay current, it helps to have a flexible mindset. Recognize that the practice website will need to be updated regularly or that there may be sudden modifications to the SEO (search engine optimization) plan. The key is to accept ahead of time that changes will occur and to have trustworthy vendors in place who will guide you through the process throughout the life of your practice.
Secret #4: Ask for help
No dentist should ever expect to tackle all online marketing on his or her own. It’s not realistic, and it’s not good business practice. You hire an accountant to handle your finances, and don’t hesitate to outsource your lab work. Online marketing should be thought of in the same manner, and SEO and website design are two areas that should always be outsourced to professionals. Look for website companies like Prosites and Sesame Communications that stay current on the latest, best practices in dental practice website design, as well as search engine optimization and search engine marketing for dentists.
There should also be someone on staff-not the dentist-who is responsible for weekly monitoring of the website, online profiles and social media engagement. If you are a dentist who has someone on the team who is willing and able to fulfill this duty, then be sure to appreciate your good fortune. For the majority of dentists out there who lack a capable, qualified in-house marketing coordinator, again, look to your vendors to support your marketing efforts and outsource, outsource, outsource.
1. All 3 statistics accessed at http://www.sesamecommunications.com