The digital dental practice: Practice websites

October 28, 2014

In the digital age of dentistry, the Internet is the place where patients seek information on dental procedures and providers, select a practice, and then engage and transact with that practice. 

In the digital age of dentistry, the Internet is the place where patients seek information on dental procedures and providers, select a practice, and then engage and transact with that practice. 

Part one of the survey: The digital dental practice: Patient engagement platforms

A 2014 US Census Bureau study revealed 81% of consumers in North America are online. The same study also found users spend 5.2 hours per day accessing the Internet via their desktop or laptop computers and an additional 2.4 hours on either a tablet or smartphone. Practices that want to reach more consumers need to leverage the immense power of the Internet.

The cornerstone of any effective web presence is a well-branded, mobile-optimized practice website. In an increasingly crowded world wide web, a successful practice must be managed proactively with an effective search engine optimization strategy to keep it visible in search results and include relevant, timely and patient-engaging content. Dental practice websites are all about acquiring new patients.

The dental industry has embraced this new technology with 78% of study participants noting they have an active website. The growing dental market has attracted an ever-increasing number of web development companies. At times, it can be overwhelming to identify who the reputable industry experts are. The current research queried brand awareness of website developers and Sesame Communications ranked highest, with 92.61% recognition.

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An additional critical consideration in determining who to collaborate with on your website has to do with identifying a provider who specializes in dentistry. As you clearly recognize, dental practices are extremely unique small enterprises. Their distinctive profile is largely impacted by the dentist(s) leading the practice, their vision, clinical philosophy, community engagement and brand identity. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to website design does not allow you to effectively showcase the unique features of your practice and stand out from the crowd in your local community.

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A positive finding of the research study is the confirmation that dental professionals and the dental marketing industry have advanced significantly in their understanding of the digital marketing world. Research studies such as the breakthrough analysis by Sesame Communications of consumer and dental professional website preferences, grounded in the Patient Appeal Rating  principles, have helped dentists become more informed and expert consumers of websites.

As a result, 78% of dentists stated they have a practice website. They now tend to be more engaged in the website development process and bring a clearer vision of their preferred outcome. In turn, the industry has delivered more sophisticated and better websites to address this growing need. This trend is evidenced by the fact that, overall, dental professionals have a positive perception of their websites. A significant 85.06% of surveyed dental professionals noted a degree of satisfaction with their practice website.

With the proliferation of web content and the ever-increasing complexity of search crawling algorithms, it is imperative that a practice have a website that is up to the latest standards in terms of navigation, code, responsiveness to mobile devices and SEO properties. This generally means a practice needs to update its website every 3-4 years to remain competitive in its local market.

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An interesting finding of the study is that most dentists do not feel strongly bound to the developer and host of their present website. While traditionally dentists tend to be brand loyal, this may not be the case when it comes to their website developer. As shown in the chart above, while there is a slight preference by dentists to develop a new generation website using their existing web provider (38.57%), a significant segment of practices (42.15%) are agnostic as to who to use, and 19.28% state interest in considering a new provider.

Final thoughts

Dentists have become more educated and sophisticated purchasers of website services. In order to make the optimal choice for your practice, it is important you chose a website provider who has a high retention rate of its clients. In an era when dentists ‘vote with their feet’ and walk to find new providers, a company with a retention rate of more than 90%  is the gold standard.

 

2014 US Census Bureau, InternetWorldStats, CNNIC

Get Found Get Chosen Study, Sesame Communications, 2009

Sesame Communications has a retention rate of 94% on all its website members.

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