Like almost any business nowadays, dental practices without an online practice may feel a negative impact to their bottom line. Roughly 75 percent of consumers check out a business’s website and social media pages before considering patronage – and dentists aren’t excluded.
Dentists who have been in practice for a long time have found a need to “get with the times” when it comes to marketing and maintaining their practices. It can be a simple process, and it is better to jump on this bandwagon instead of just letting younger dentists have the upper hand. Word of mouth no longer cuts it on its own. Having an up-to-date website and active social media accounts is crucial to the success of a practice because even if someone recommends your practice to a friend, that friend is still likely to check you out online.
Regardless of practice size, today’s digital landscape is changing the way dentists attract, approach and engage with clients – as well as stand out from their competition. A solid online presence can help attract new clients, showcase expertise, establish and grow relationships. Without an online presence, patient numbers may start to significantly drop for practices.
While online advertising might not be in your budget right now, there are other ways to get in front of – and stay in front of – patients.
Patients Have To Be Able To Find You
Every interaction between you (and your staff) and an existing or potential patient is an opportunity to shape the perception of your practice. This is the same for online engagement. If somebody can’t find information about your practice online, they will likely go elsewhere – probably to a practice with a current website, excellent Yelp reviews and or an active Facebook account.
You Have To Engage
Once you have a patient, you want to maintain and grow that relationship (and garner referrals). The nice thing is, what you do online for your patients can also be seen by potential patients, so that is double the impact.
Patients want more than just a dentist to fix a tooth or fill a cavity; they want to establish a relationship with you and your office before they even step through your door. They want to believe you and trust you – and they expect you to work to maintain this relationship.
Some ideas for establishing an engaging social media presence: share pictures of your office, staff and happy clients (with permission); link to blog posts and news articles (yours or not); provide updates about your practice or industry; ask clients for input; run promotions; present dental tips; post testimonials, etc.
Your website can include handy tips, videos and articles in addition to information about your practice and staff. Start a blog with regular informative content. Be sure your site is secure – especially if you have any online forms on your site.
It doesn’t stop there. Consider email. E-newsletters are a solid way to connect to your current and potential patients. Have problems with patients missing appointments? You could send reminders via email (or even text). Also, link back to your blog posts.
People pay attention to ratings on sites such as Google, Yelp, Facebook and HealthGrades. Practices with better ratings tend to be more successful practices. Elicit reviews from your patients. You can ask in person as they check out, via a link on social media or your website, through email or as part of a follow-up survey. If possible, be sure to include links and instructions to make the process easy for them. Keep in mind that you can’t offer incentives for reviews. You can offer discounts or hold a contest where anyone who writes a review is entered. This could land you in hot water with not only sites like Yelp but with the Federal Trade Commission.
The best way to garner positive reviews is to provide stellar service. Satisfied clients are more apt to tell others, leave good reviews and engage with your practice on social media.
Make this a team effort. You can’t do it all alone. Enlist the help of your office manager, staff or third parties to make your online endeavors successful.
Technology continues to advance at a rapid pace. Make sure your dental practice isn’t left behind. For more tips to help you secure a successful future in dentistry, contact PMA Practice Transitions. We are committed to building relationships as well.