Boost your dental practice’s digital presence to prepare for a rush of new patients.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused unprecedented change in the lives of Americans. Parents have new challenges, helping their children with distance learning while working from home. Small businesses have been forced to close for months and then reopen with new constraints and regulations.
What hasn’t changed is people’s unrelenting need for dentistry, which means dentistry continues to be one of the most resilient sectors in health care and the U.S. economy. “While this pandemic has been a nightmare for (dentists), dentistry is rebounding more quickly than most industries,” says Richard Madow, cofounder of The Madow Center for Dental Practice Success, a former practicing dentist, a veteran industry speaker, and a dental practice adviser.
In fact, the dental sector added 250,000 jobs in May, and by the first week of June, 77% of dental offices across the country had brought back their full staffs.1 Although dentists may be ready to get back to work, are patients ready to return? According to The New York Times, patient volumes remain half of what they were before the pandemic. A marketing plan can help allay safety fears and remind patients of the value of preventive care.
As we collectively adapt to lifestyle shifts caused by the pandemic, some dental practices will thrive, some will close, and others will sell. Because the pandemic has given many people the ability to work from anywhere, patients may relocate—and change dental care providers—at an accelerated pace. The result: lots of Americans looking for a new dental care provider in 2020 and 2021. And you can bet that they’ll be doing their research and decision-making online.
In a 2018 study, 76% of respondents aged 60 and older said they use the internet when making health care decisions. The findings also showed that 81% of patients read online reviews about a provider even after they’ve been personally referred.2
You need to ensure that your online presence is on point to stay connected with current patients and attract new patients.
Reach Out to Current Patients
Communicate electronically with your patients about the safety precautions and infection control procedures you have in place. This can easily be done via email and by posting updates on social media. It also makes for great content for your practice’s blog or YouTube channel.
Being in close proximity to others now may increase anxiety in patients, even those who never experienced dental anxiety in the past. Use your smartphone to create a video that walks patients through the in-practice experience. Highlight new check-in procedures, demonstrate temperature checks, and even show what it will be like to be in the chair. All will help address patients’ concerns and illustrate how well prepared you and the dental team are.
Online reviews have always been important, but asking patients to share their testimonials during the era of COVID-19 is even more crucial. You can share all the ways that you and your team are staying safe and keeping patients safe, but nothing resonates more than hearing it from fellow patients.
Get Seen by New Prospects
Patients looking for a new dentist often begin their search online, and the majority will start with Google. Complete your Google My Business profile, adding new hours of operation if you’re still working from a modified schedule and linking directly to the practice website. Asking patients to leave reviews on your Google profile is a great way to make a strong first impression. Search for “dentists near me” to see if your practice site comes up within the first few listings. If not, focusing on local SEO strategies should be your next step.
Your practice’s website offers another way to capture the attention of new patients. Consider adding a pop-up window or a scrolling message with updates, new infection control measures, or temporary schedule changes. Make sure all contact information is easily viewed from every page and on various types of devices. Consider upgrading your website’s options, such as allowing patients to request appointments. Even if it’s not in the budget this year, online scheduling is worth adding to your to-do list once business picks back up.
Posting practice updates, tips, and news on your social media profiles lets you engage with new and existing patients online. By answering questions, tweeting out openings in your schedule, and posting photos and videos of staff in full personal protective equipment, you can leverage social media to showcase your practice and capabilities to the local community, which may be a welcome distraction amid today’s often overwhelming events.