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The average solo dental practice needs more than 20 new patients per month (at a minimum) in order to grow and succeed.
Here’s the problem: traditional dental marketing practices aren’t going to cut it anymore. As of 2018, 97 percent of consumers go online to find local services, 73 percent use online search engines to research dental treatments, and the first step 72 percent of patients take when searching for a new doctor or dentist is looking up online reviews.
Welcome to the age of digital dental marketing.
The Top 10 Dental Marketing Ideas Proven to Grow Your Business
Since most traditional dental marketing strategies won’t work anymore, you need new dental marketing ideas. The good news? We cracked the code on what it takes to get more patients online.
Below you’ll find the best dental marketing ideas that have been proven to snag you more new patients. You should walk away with a clear understanding of how the modern online patient behaves and what they want when seeking a new dentist, as well as concrete ideas you can implement right away.
Need more help executing your dental marketing strategy? We got you. Contact us here»
1. Update and Optimize Your Google My Business Page
We have tons of creative dental marketing ideas coming up, so let’s get the easiest, least time-consuming one out of the way. Optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) page is a small dental marketing idea that packs a HUGE punch—by optimizing your GMB page you can almost immediately attract more patients (not enough to grow your business by itself, but a few).
You know that map of local listings that pops up when someone makes a location-based search? That’s called Google’s Local Pack, and the information in it is pulled from various local Google My Business pages.
The Local Pack listing alone accounts for approximately 44 percent of clicks by users of Google, primarily with traffic to the business name and the website link.
First, if you haven’t already, claim your Google My Business page.
To optimize it, completely fill out the following:
- Your business’s categories (above, you can see it says either “dentist” or “dental clinic” right under the average review rating. That’s a feature inside GMB, and it helps searchers find specific needs)
- Your main phone number
- Your business’s description
- Your hours of operation
- Your address or service area
- Your review section (more on reviews a bit further down)
2. Doctor Up Your Website
If your operations manager tried to rent a new dentist’s office in a back alley somewhere—complete with a sketchy front entrance, dim lighting, and decade-old equipment—what would you do?
You’d probably suspect they’ve been abusing your stock of laughing gas. Why? Because first impressions matter and patients don’t want to be treated in a place that looks like it doubles as a black market surgical center for stolen organs.
Here’s the thing: Your website is frequently the first interaction a patient has with your practice and patients WILL judge you based on how it looks and functions. In fact, 48 percent of people cited a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business, and once your page loads, users form an opinion in .05 seconds.
Need some ideas to make your website not so back-alley-ish? These are the key features your website needs in order to attract more patients:
- Online scheduling
- Online bill pay
- Online prescription renewal
- Messaging capabilities so patients can communicate quickly with dental providers
- Profiles for each dentist
- A healthy supply of videos (see more about that further down)
- Content that helps patients keep their mouths—and lives—healthy
But having these features and capabilities on your website isn’t your only task. In order for your website to attract more new patients:
- You need to make it fast – Patients need to see something happen on your website within three seconds of landing there. If it takes longer, almost 50 percent will hit the “back” button.
- You need to secure it – This is a no-brainer for dental care (and healthcare in general), but if for some reason your website isn’t secure, you’ve got a problem. Learn more about website security here »
- You need to make it mobile-friendly – 62 percent of smartphone owners use their device to look up health information, and 82 percent of smartphone users use a search engine when looking for a local treatment center or health facility. Not only that, but according to Google, 77 percent of smartphone owners have used their smartphones to find local health services in the past six months, and 79 percent of them say they’re more likely to revisit and/or share a mobile site if it is easy to use.
- You need to code it for SEO – The best dental websites are coded in a way that makes it easy for the search engines’ software to find, crawl, and index them (see more about SEO below).
3. Start a Dental Blog
“Does activated charcoal work to whiten teeth?”
“What’s the best toothbrush for sensitive teeth?”
“How often do I REALLY need to go to the dentist?”
Do you have articles about these types of topics on your website? If you don’t, you’re missing out on a whole lot of website traffic that could turn into new patients. Patients are searching for the answers to everything, from how often they need to brush to what kind of toothbrush they should use—searches for “best toothbrush” have grown more than 100 percent in the past two years, and more and more patients are turning to search engines to solve their health queries.
You need to have content on your website that catches these curious patients. Starving for dental blog topics? Here are a few ideas:
- Correct a wrong assumption – When asked about the biggest barriers to going to the dentist, 40 percent of Cigna survey participants said that because they weren’t in pain, they didn’t need to go see a dentist. This is one statistic you could turn into a host of blog posts.
- Take on a trend – I have a number of events coming up, which means my smile is on my mind. In the interest of “natural” whitening, I’ve been Googling activated charcoal as a whitener. Apparently, activated charcoal is a HUGE topic of debate—I must have read six different blog posts about it on various dental websites. I am not alone in how much research I do into beauty trends, so take them on and share your expertise (and no, I did not go the activated charcoal route).
- Help to create healthy habits – Healthy living is in, so take advantage of it. People are always looking for easy ways to be healthy, and brushing and flossing are about as easy as it gets. Create blog posts around creating not just a healthy mouth, but a healthy body.
4. Optimize Your Blog Posts and Dental Website Pages for SEO
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s process of editing your website content and code so the search engines can understand it better and rank your web pages higher in the search results for related queries.
Google’s search result rankings are determined by a complex algorithm, which is carried out by “spiders.” These “spiders” crawl your web pages and look for indicators, keywords, and other factors in order to decide what it’s about and what search queries it best answers.
Here’s where SEO comes in: these spiders speak a different language that humans do—HTML. It’s like someone who speaks Russian trying to determine what a web page in English is about. The technical bits and indicators we add with SEO are like adding subtitles for the robots to help them better understand—and better categorize and rank—your web pages.
For best success, you need:
- A website speed under three seconds
- A website that’s mobile-friendly
- A website that’s secured (HTTPS vs HTTP)
- Images with completed alt-tags
- Dental schema on every website page
- Pages on pages of quality content
- A presence on social media
- Lots of backlinks from authoritative websites
5. Create Shareable Images and Post on Social Media
What do I mean by sharable? People share things for a few key reasons, as highlighted by CoSchedule:
- To bring valuable and entertaining content to others – 49 percent say sharing allows them to inform others of products they care about and potentially change opinions or encourage action.
- To define ourselves to others – 68 percent share to give people a better sense of who they are and what they care about (or, rather, who they want to be seen as).
- To grow and nourish our relationships – 78 percent share to stay connected to people they may not otherwise stay in touch with.
- Self-fulfillment – 69 percent share information because it allows them to feel more involved in the world.
- To get the word out about causes or brands – 84 percent share because it is a way to support causes or issues they care about (or to publicly state what side they’re on).
Here are a few ideas for social media dental posts:
- Remind them about the dental benefits they’re paying for but not using – More than 25 percent of people with dental insurance don’t take full advantage of their benefits. Tie it back to being money-savvy and taking advantage of the things consumers have already purchased.
- Create simple infographics – Infographics are great because they’re easy to read, enjoyable, and can sway potential patients. You can create simple, easy ones for free with Canva.
- Create videos highlighting patients and the work you do – People want a dentist they can trust, and testimonials and reviews from other people will put their mind at ease.
- Show before and afters – People always want to look like an “after,” and seeing someone with a “before” smile that looked like theirs does now could be the swift kick in the rear they need to go after that “after” for themselves.
Want more ideas? Take a look at these great dental social media pages:
- Dental Arts Studio – They make dental work into veritable art.
- ProGrin Dental – ProGrin creates the content people want to see. It’s bright, it shows the staff’s personality, and it makes the practice seem approachable and trustworthy.
- Aspen Dental – Aspen Dental does a great job of not only creating engaging, relevant posts but also responding to people in the comments. People expect you to respond to them on social media just like they would in any conversation, so don’t stonewall them.
- SugarFix Dental Loft – SugarFix Dental Loft’s Instagram account is Insta-gorgeous, and definitely brings a youthful, modern vibe to the dental world. If you venture onto the Instagram, this is a great account to take notes from.
6. Create Dental Videos and Invest in Video Marketing
If you look at those top dental social media profiles I shared above, you’ll notice they all incorporate one extremely valuable type of media: videos.
Consumers like videos. They like them so much that a video is 50 times more likely to rank organically in the search results than text pages, and by 2019, videos will account for 85 percent of online traffic in the US.
You are in a prime industry to use video because practically everything you do has a visual element to it. Creating one-hour crowns with state of the art 3-D technology? Take a time-lapse of it. Do you have patients that love your work? Get them on camera for a testimonial.
Here are a few videos your dental office should leverage:
- Website welcome videos: Nobody wants to go to a shady dentist’s office, so create a video to welcome them and introduce your facility beforehand. Dental office Coastal Dental Arts has a great welcome video that speaks to the human side and creates empathy, two incredibly important aspects.
- Physician profile videos: Having profile videos is a great way to increase confidence and trust in your dentists and dental hygienists.
- Patient review videos: In the past two years, videos with the word “review” in the title had more than 50,000 years’ worth of watch time on mobile alone. By having testimonials and reviews from previous patients, you not only build confidence in your abilities, but you also build a patient’s trust in your staff.
- Procedure and treatment overviews: If you perform dental surgeries, create videos of the procedure overview and the after-effects.
- Educational videos on commonly asked questions or dental conditions: “Should I use activated charcoal to whiten my teeth?” “How long does Invisalign take?” “How do I know if I have a cavity?” These types of questions are ones that can be easily answered in the form of videos. Building out your YouTube page with these types of videos will not only make you the go-to authority but also clear up any confusion about your services.
7. Get Yourself Listed in Relevant Dental Directories
There’s one thing EVERYBODY wants to remove from their daily lives: bad decisions. Well, thanks to search engines and a consumer-powered internet, they can. Research from Google found that today’s consumer is researched-obsessed, largely so they can feel more confident in their decisions. For 90 percent of consumers, that includes looking up ratings and reviews online—88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Aside from the traditional directories like Yelp and your Google My Business page, you should update or claim your listing on the following websites:
- ADA – American Dental Association
- The Dentist Hub
- Every Dentist
- Smile Guide
- Super Dentists
- Dentist Directory
8. Take Out Pay Per Click Ads for Your Highest-Converting Dental Keywords
Approximately 44 percent of people say they don’t go to the dentist because it’s too expensive. A way around this is to take out pay per click search ads and advertise specials and prices.
Here’s an extremely simplified description of how pay per click ads work:
- You pick keywords you want your ads to show up for
- Someone searches for your keywords
- Your ad pops up at the top of the search engine results page
- When someone clicks on your ad, you pay a certain amount of money
Here’s what they look like in action:
By advertising your price upfront and labeling it a special, you’re addressing one of the biggest pain points consumers have.
If you choose to take out PPC ads, get the advice of a professional. Google makes it seem easy. It’s not. That’s why we pay our experienced PPC team the big bucks to manage our clients’ campaigns.
9. Ask Dental Patients for Reviews. Then Ask for More.
You need reviews, and you need them consistently. As of 2018, the first step 72 percent of patients take when searching for a new doctor is looking up reviews. Not only that, but 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends or relatives. As if that’s not evidence enough, 48 percent of patients would go out of their insurance network for a doctor with great reviews.
Here are the places you need reviews:
- Relevant dentist directories mentioned above
There are a few ways you can get reviews from patients:
- Have them give a quick video testimonial after an appointment
- Ask them
- Ask them while they’re on laughing gas (I jest, you probably shouldn’t do this)
- Ask them on Facebook
- Ask them via email
- In short, ask for them all the time
- Sign up for a review aggregation software like Review Us Now
10. Use Email Marketing to Stay Top-of-Mind with Patients
Chances are you use dental marketing postcards. While you shouldn’t nix these, you should consider adding a corresponding email element. Checking email is the very first thing 66 percent of people do after they wake up. Greet them by reminding them of upcoming appointments, tips to keep their teeth white and healthy, and motivation to keep up with their dental health. Over 90 percent of adults want better email communication from their doctor, and a dentist is no different.
There are a few types of emails your dental practice should definitely be taking advantage of:
- Appointment reminders
- “It’s Time For…” reminders that inform patients when they are due for a cleaning or x-rays
- Request a friend referral
- Latest dental news and expert commentary
- Announcements about the latest technology in your office and how it helps
- Seasonal beverage tip sheets on how to avoid teeth stains
- Dental health product reviews
It’s Time to Execute Your Dental Marketing Strategy. Or, You Could Hire One of the Best Dental Marketing Companies to Do It for You
Executing your marketing strategy isn’t a walk in the park. It takes impeccable timing, lots of dedication, and hyper-consistency. Many dentists make the mistake of arming themselves with creative dental marketing ideas, but then don’t take into account that those ideas actually need to be executed flawlessly.
If you don’t have a significant amount of time to dedicate to your marketing, you need to designate someone to do it or hire a professional. You can only DIY so much before you start to look unprofessional, and looks are everything. Another caveat is the marketing regulations in your industry. If you’re not well-versed in what you can and can’t say and data you can and can’t use, you at least need to seek out help for compliance.
The best dental marketing companies—like Blue Corona—will wrap all the above together with a nice, neat bow and deliver it to your doorstep. If you’re with a dental marketing company that’s lacking, switching now will be less of a headache than doing it in six months. If you need any guidance, give me a call and I’ll help you get your dental marketing strategy rolling.
About The Author: Betsy is the social media lead and a digital marketing expert with Blue Corona. When she’s not managing Blue Corona's digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring, hiking with her dog, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
View more blogs by Betsy McLeod