How to effectively market your dental practice in the digital age

Dental Products ReportDental Products Report-2013-04-01
Issue 4

The Internet has changed the marketing game. From social media sites to blogging, there are so many ways to get the word out about your dental practice. Here’s why you need to be part of the digital marketing age.

The Internet has changed the marketing game. From social media sites to blogging, there are so many ways to get the word out about your dental practice. Here’s why you need to be part of the digital marketing age.

Dental practice marketing has been forever transformed.

Over the past 15-20 years, the ever-increasing influence of the Internet on how people get information and consume media has caused a sea change that has slowly but surely trickled down to the dental profession. Dental practice owners now hear buzzwords such as social media, search engine optimization, and online patient communication at every turn.

Suddenly, dentists are forced to not only familiarize themselves with a new repertoire of methods to promote their practices, but also an entirely new vocabulary of previously unheard-of terms including Likes, Tweets, blogs and online reviews. It’s a challenge for seasoned marketing experts to stay on top of the latest metrics and trends, and even more difficult for dentists to keep up with while in the midst of running and managing a busy dental practice.

But these new tactics have proven themselves to be more than just trends-they are now valuable staples of the marketing plan for any dental practice. Television advertising has given way to the rise of YouTube videos; the all-important ad in the phone book has been supplanted by the now-ubiquitous Facebook business page. Having a presence on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, revamping an outdated website, writing a blog and asking patients to post online reviews are all critical components of a marketing communication plan that can reach today’s target patient.

Professionals in general-and dental professionals in particular-are sometimes hesitant to make the leap from old school tactics to new school methods. Venturing into the unknown can be overwhelming, especially when valuable marketing dollars are on the line. However, doing so can be well worth the trouble for a few key reasons.

Ongoing patient connections

Like it or not, much of the public has a less than favorable impression of dentists. And before the popularity of online marketing and social media, dentists generally had just one, maybe two appointments a year to change that perception among their own patients, and precious few opportunities to do so with their community at large. One of the most meaningful advantages of many online and modern marketing methods is the countless opportunities to connect with both active and prospective patients every day of the year.

Posting informative articles and interacting via social media allows dentists to show a more personal and approachable side, apart from the clinical role patients see most often. Social media profiles can transform patients’ view of their dentist from just a medical provider to a trusted consultant and partner in their health.

In addition to providing continuous opportunities to engage with patients, these new marketing methods encourage patients to share their positive experiences with others. The seal of approval from a trusted family member or friend continues to be among the most powerful advertising available, even today. Patient referrals and recommendations are no longer limited to one-to-one interactions, but can now effectively be broadcast as one-to-many communications via social media.

While word of mouth marketing always has been a critical component of any dental practice’s marketing strategy, in the past, dentists had to rely on patients to remember to mention their positive experience to friends and family in the moment. Today, social media and review sites such as Facebook, Yelp, Angie’s List and Google+ Local take the word of mouth to the next level, providing “social proof” about the practice on third-party websites-which tend to have more credibility than the testimonials page of the practice website-and where the positive reviews live on in perpetuity.

Measurable results

Gone are the days of writing a check and hoping the advertising pays off later. Online tools that provide real-time tracking and accessible metrics are now available. Website tracking technology makes it painless for dentists to see how many people have visited their practice website at any given time, the amount of time each visitor stays on the site, how people arrived at the site and which pages are most viewed.

Email platforms are used to send promotional email messages and electronic newsletters to large numbers of patients simply by hitting the Send button. These systems also provide details such as the number of people who received the email, as well as any who have opened and read the message. Dentists can monitor their email lists to determine which information most appeals to their patient base, giving them priceless insight into what their patients are looking for from their dentist.

Moving forward

While new school marketing is what everyone is talking and blogging about, there is still a case to be made for traditional marketing mediums. It is important for dentists to take their patient profiles into consideration, and to use the marketing efforts that most effectively reach their target patients. For example, a dentist in a young, up and coming Midwestern suburb will likely have a very different target patient profile than a snowbird practice in a Florida retirement community-and should employ different marketing tactics as a result.

Most importantly, effectively and consistently tracking the results of all marketing methods, both old school and new school, is essential. With objective analysis of the return on investment for every marketing dollar spent, it is possible to determine what has actually been successful-whether traditional or modern.
Naomi Cooper is President & Founder of Minoa Marketing and serves as Chief Marketing Consultant for Pride Institute. She is a respected dental marketing consultant, author, speaker and industry opinion leader who co-teaches Pride’s groundbreaking marketing course, The New Rules of Dental Marketing. Naomi also works with companies within the dental industry as well as individual dental practices that are looking to develop a cohesive marketing approach and momentum for their marketing strategy. Naomi can be reached via email at, and she blogs regularly at For regular updates from Naomi, including social media and online marketing tips and tricks, follow her on Twitter (@naomi_cooper) or “Like” Minoa Marketing on Facebook at

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