How many new patients are you attracting to your dental practice per month?
If you’re reading this article, your answer is probably “not enough!”
The dental industry can be very competitive. Aside from specializing in a specific niche or cutting costs, one of the best ways to grow your practice is to engage in marketing tactics that attract new patients to your office.
In this guide, we’ll outline eight proven tips that can bring in a flood of new dental patients.
Use Social Media
Social media use is at an all-time high, with 82% of U.S. adults having at least one social media account. And, social media isn’t just for sharing selfies, food pics, and family photos. It turns out that 40% of people also make decisions about their health based on information they see on the various social media platforms.
The key to being successful on social media is to post engaging content that helps answer questions, entertains, or starts a dialogue. There’s no one-size-fits-all social media strategy that will work for every office. The best way to learn what resonates with your audience is through trial and error.
If you’re feeling stumped about what to post, these ideas can get your creative juices flowing:
- Debunk myths about the dentist
- Demonstrate a new technology
- Post video testimonials from happy patients
- Share fun facts about dentists
- Record a video discussing why you became a dentist (your staff can also make videos!)
- Promote community events or charity drives (bonus points if you host one!)
- Celebrate your staff and announce new hires
- Share any press mentions
- Highlight reviews
- Share before and after photos
- Provide educational content about oral hygiene
When it comes to a posting schedule, less is more. You don’t have to post multiple times per day. In fact, posting too frequently can fatigue your followers and lead to less engagement. Instead, consider a posting schedule of three to five times per week.
Also, don’t forget to respond to comments and answer any questions that land in your inbox. Responsiveness is important to signal the various algorithms that you’re “showing up” for your audience.
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Advertising used to be a bit of a gamble. You might place an ad in a local magazine or newspaper, or you could run a series of radio ads without getting a single qualified lead. With digital advertising platforms, you have a lot more control of how your ads perform.
In addition to choosing ad copy and creative, you can also specify targeting and even do retargeting. If you’re not familiar with retargeting, this is the practice of displaying your advertisements only to people who have already visited your website. These visitors already know about your dental practice, and it’s possible that all they needed was a gentle nudge to pick up the phone and call or fill out a form to request an appointment.
There are several online advertising platforms to choose from, but we tend to recommend Facebook and Google. Further, we also suggest advertising on both. Here’s why:
1. Google is best for an intent-based audience. These are the patients who are searching for things like “dentist near me.”
In addition to capturing the interest of patients actively seeking a dentist, you’ll also get placement on page one of Google (assuming you’ve placed a bid for page one).
Google is referred to as PPC (pay-per-click) advertising because you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Compare this to a flat-rate fee that a magazine, newspaper, or radio station charges, and you can see how Google Ads can be both effective and budget-friendly.
2. Facebook is an ideal platform for the retargeting method that we mentioned earlier. The social media channel is also an effective online advertising platform for ads such as testimonials and before and after pictures.
Another advantage to Facebook is the ability to narrowly define your target audience. In addition to specifying a geographical radius, you can also target by age, gender, interests, and other lifestyle data points. Clever advertisers will segment their campaigns based on different customer avatars. This level of customization can drastically reduce your customer acquisition costs.
Google also has several targeting options, but instead of interest-based targeting, Google allows you to deliver ads based on in-market and affinity groups, which isn’t as precise as the Facebook algorithm.
Short for search engine optimization, SEO is the science of getting your dental office’s website to show up at the top of the search engines.
In the field of dentistry, SEO is essential because you want to make sure that your website appears prominently in Google and the other search engines when someone in your area is looking for dental services. Ideally, your office should show up in the Google Map’s 3-Pack section as well as page one of Google.
To rank at the top of the search engines, your SEO strategy will require more than simply sprinkling keywords on your home page and in your blog posts. Getting to page one is more competitive than ever, and it requires a sophisticated approach that includes both on-page and off-page SEO tactics.
As you can probably guess, on-page SEO has to do with optimizing the pages that live on your website. This includes:
- Include location-specific keywords on your site, including your city, neighborhood, and zip code.
- Ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Audit how your website looks and functions on various mobile devices to ensure that mobile users have a positive experience.
- Create service pages and blog posts that highlight your services.
The SEO that you do to your website is just as important as the SEO outside of your website. Off-page SEO includes:
- Getting backlinks to your website. This is when authoritative and credible websites link back to your site.
- List your dental practice in as many relevant directories as possible. You can find a complete list here.
You may have noticed that this section focused on Google, and we didn’t discuss Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Ask, etc. The reason for this is simple: what works on Google tends to work on the other search engines, too. Therefore, focus on Google, and you should see high rankings elsewhere, too.
Establish Referral Relationships
One of the best ways to get new patients is through referrals. When one of your patients refers a friend, family member, or colleague to your practice, the bulk of the “selling” is already done.
Even better is that attracting new patients through a referral program can help you save costs because it doesn’t require advertising expenditures. Instead, you can offer free or discounted services in exchange for someone referring a new patient.
Get Online Reviews
Choosing a dentist usually entails doing at least some research, and one of the first places prospective patients turn to is online reviews. It often comes as a surprise when dentists find out that 79% of people trust reviews from strangers just as much as they trust a recommendation from a friend or family member.
There are several places to focus your online review collection efforts, including Yelp, Google, Facebook, ZocDoc, Healthgrades, and more. However, many offices find that the practice of trying to get patients to leave online reviews is awkward and time-consuming.
One potential solution is to automate the review gathering process. For example, after an appointment, you could have a text or email sent automatically to your patients. Depending on where you decide to focus your marketing efforts, you could ask patients to leave a review on a specific platform.
With Weave, you can set all of this up with the click of a few buttons. The system doesn’t stop at merely inspiring people to write positive reviews, either. Weave can also monitor your reputation and alert you to any reviews that need responses. This level of proactivity can delight patients while avoiding a potential PR crisis if a patient is unhappy and decides to lash out online.
Use Text Messaging
Did you know that for adults under 50, text messaging is the preferred form of communication? In fact, it can be considered “rude” to pick up the phone and call someone.
The implications for this finding are massive. For a dental office, it means that you should give patients the option to specify how they’d like to receive communications. You can text patients to confirm appointments, send invoices, and even wish them a happy birthday.
Not only that, but texting can also help you attract new patients. Consider the statistic that more than 60% of business calls either don’t get answered or go to voicemail. If a new patient calls your office to ask a question or schedule an appointment and you don’t pick up, they are most likely to call another office.
Instead of forfeiting a potential new patient simply because they called five minutes before you opened, what if you could send them an automated text that says you’ll get back to them ASAP. Or, what if that text could open up a dialogue where you could answer that person’s questions and schedule an appointment via text without having to play phone tag?
A dental office phone system like Weave can do all that and more!
With everyone moving to digital ads and newsletters, dental offices that send physical direct mail can stand out from the competition. A simple postcard with an irresistible offer can go a long way in attracting and converting new patients for minimal expense.
Another reason to consider direct mail is that most people need multiple touchpoints before they decide to make a buying decision. Seeing your dental practice advertised on Google or Facebook might not be enough to make someone take action. However, combining advertising, social media, and direct mail can pack a powerhouse punch.
The community will feel like you’re everywhere at once, but in reality, you’ve been smart and strategic with your marketing.
Word of Mouth is Always Best
Though advertising can be very effective, it’s often said that there’s nothing more powerful than word of mouth. By nature, many humans are skeptical, and their initial response to an advertisement is that your claims are “too good to be true.”
Word of mouth gives instant credibility because a potential patient hears about you firsthand from someone who has already had a positive experience.
Despite the power of word of mouth, it can be slow, and it’s not as predictable. We suggest that you don’t rely on it for your livelihood but definitely encourage it through referral programs and being present at community events.
Dental practices using Weave have boasted impressive results. From getting hundreds of reviews to collecting outstanding balances topping six figures, Weave’s phone system comes with a powerful set of features designed to help you grow and optimize your dental practice. See Weave in action by booking a demo with our team.