Sesame Communications uses social media and interactive websites to help you communicate with patients and grow your practice.
Maintaining consistent and clear communication with patients is a vital aspect of boosting a dental practice’s marketability and digital presence. Sesame Communications is a patient communications platform that streamlines online reviews, search engine optimization (SEO) best practices, and customizes websites to bolster a dental practice’s digital presence.
Jeremy Salaz is a senior communications adviser at Sesame Communications, which is a Henry Schein One company. Salaz notes that a key part of marketing your dental practice is having a solid digital presence and making that fit your practice’s specific needs. This digital presence may begin with person-to-person patient referrals, but those referrals need to be bolstered by an arsenal of strong digital tools.
“Referrals are the low-hanging fruit. They’re the ones [from] friends and family saying, ‘You’re the best!’ And how are you getting these referrals?” Salaz says. “Do you have channels set up to incorporate those referrals and convert them to your office? You want to have digital tools in place and reward programs for those referring patients, as well as for the patients who are referring them to you—those are going to help bring in those referrals to your practice.”
Digital Tools at Your Disposal
But knowing which digital tools will best serve your practice is an important part of the process.
“Even if my aunt had told me that Dr Demers is the best doctor this side of the Mississippi, I’m still going to go to their website, to their social media posts, to their online marketing and presence to see who they are, what they are, whether they resonate with me,” Salaz says.
The first step of the journey is something that every patient carries with them in their pocket—their cell phone, Salaz says, and having a strong digital presence helps patients at any step in their journey. With cell phones, patients can use search engines such as Google to look up which dental practices are near them.
“Google is the No. 1 way to convert patients, and they know that they are getting the bulk of all searches with 5.6 billion [searches] daily and 228 million [searchers] per hour,” Salaz says. “Google has become synonymous with the word ‘search,’ and if you want to be visible, if you want to bring in new patients, you must have visibility within Google, point blank.”
Leveraging search engines can boost a dental practice’s marketability. Tools such as Google’s “My Business” are a great help, according to Salaz.
“Photos are really important because this is your first impression that you’ll make to the patients. That’s the first thing that they’re going to see, and it’s going to determine if they continue on to learn more about you. And it’s important to note that you want to keep this content updated,” Salaz says. “And [it’s important] that the branding within Google and across the Internet matches your website and your online presence. Now you can also put a virtual tour on your Google ‘My Business’ of the inside of your office and add features like online appointment booking or requesting appointments directly through the listing. All of these will help those viewers move on to your website.”
Patients appreciate the ability to book appointments on their own time through a mobile platform.
“So the new school of thinking is that we’re going to engage those patients and give them an easy way to contact you through those technologies,” Salaz says. “One of the No. 1 ways to do this is online booking. Because what that does is it allows your patients to sync up their schedule with yours and book that appointment directly with you.”
Combining that with a variety of communication platforms such as a phone call, email, or text, patients are more empowered and practices can feel confident they will never overbook.
As part of its patient communication system, Sesame offers a virtual waiting room for patients.
“Patients show up, they text you from their car, and Sesame lets you know that they’re ready for their appointment, and you can text them directly back from the office, they can fill out forms on their phone or on their computer at home,” Salaz says. “The virtual waiting room is a great way to keep that interaction, especially with COVID-19 being prevalent, and keeping that human interaction to a minimum while still interacting with the patients and giving them a way to contact you.”
Combining these patient communication and SEO practices can help bolster a dental practice’s digital presence, which is key to attracting and maintaining patients. Staying updated is just as important, if not more important, in drawing those patients in, according to Salaz.
“All of this keeps you ready for the future and keeps you up-to-date with what’s current and what will be down the road. Allowing patients to book online and do virtual consultation and texts from your website, that’s all fairly new within the past 3 to 5 years and has been accelerated because of COVID-19,” Salaz says. “So staying on track, staying up-to-date is going to be really important as your patients are coming into the office.”
Salaz argues that the best way to stay up-to-date with the practice’s digital presence is to have a strong social media presence to go with it.
“Despite having pictures of you and your staff on your website, having a social media presence is going to be really important to be able to show them who you are,” he says.
This social media presence is whatever is the best fit for a specific practice, from a Facebook page to keep connected in a small town community practice to a TikTok channel for a dental practice with a lot of younger patients.
“You want to make sure that it’s engaging for your patient, that they are finding little dances or funny faces, something welcoming and warm somewhere that they can bring their kids and feel comfortable leaving their kids with you while you work on their mouth,” Salaz says. “That fun and engaging content is everything from videos to boomerang stories on your timeline, and how you’re going to represent who you are, what your branding is, and what those patients need to make that decision.”
A dental practice that takes advantage of digital tools can demonstrate its cutting-edge technologies to prospective patients.
“Everybody’s online now, that’s the thing,” Salaz says. “It’s become second nature, and that’s exactly what we’re talking about here.”