Did you know that a third of Americans haven't received a dental checkup since before the pandemic? That's a significant market of people who need dental care; however, do you know how to attract more patients to your dental practice?
The key to successful patient acquisition is to create a system that works for your practice and stick with it. By constantly being on the lookout for new patients and following up with those who express interest, you’ll eventually build a steady stream of new business.
The question is, how to do that? Keep reading to learn more about marketing dental practices and getting patients to your receptionist desk.
Understand the Patient's Journey
The patient journey is the process that a dental patient goes through from the time they first realize they need dental work done until the time they finish their treatment. There are several steps in the patient journey, and each one presents an opportunity for dental practices to provide excellent care and customer service.
Understanding the patient journey also helps you understand where your opportunities are. Because of this, when you understand the patient journey, your dental practice can be more effective in marketing itself and attracting new patients.
We're going to break the patient journey down into five stages for you:
- Scheduling an appointment
- The visit
- Follow-up care
The first step in the patient journey is awareness. The patient must be aware that they need dental work done before they can begin looking for a dentist.
There are many ways patients can become aware of their need for dental work, such as seeing an advertisement, hearing about a friend or family member's positive experience with a particular dentist, or experiencing pain or other symptoms themselves. Once the patient is aware that they need dental work, most will begin to search for a dentist who can meet their needs.
Here you also need to understand your target market. Many Americans don't seek dental care due to the cost or fear. Understanding why your patients aren't looking for you will help you know how to reach them. Years ago, before opening our first practice, we hired a third-party research firm to survey our market. We asked, "When searching for a dentist or orthodontist in your area, what was your biggest fear or frustration?" The most common answers in our market were, finding a provider they could trust, convenience and cost.
You could and should ask all of your new patients the same question. When you become aware of the fears and frustrations in your target demogrphic, you can listen and stay closer to the consumer than the competition by resolving their fears and frustrations about finding a dentist or orthodontist in your city or town.
The second step in the patient journey is research. The patient will research different dentists in their area to find one that is a good fit for them.
They may look at reviews online, ask friends and family for recommendations, or visit the websites of different dentists to learn more about their services. During this step, it is important for dental practices to provide accurate and up-to-date information about their services so that potential patients can make informed decisions about which dentist to choose.
Scheduling an Appointment
The third step in the patient journey is scheduling an appointment. Once the patient has chosen a dentist, they will need to contact the office and schedule an appointment.
During this step, it is important for dental practices to offer convenient and accessible scheduling options so that patients can easily make appointments that fit into their busy lives.
Our partners at Greyfinch Software demonstrate a significant uptick in new patient appointments scheduled when they turn on the live appointment scheduling feature directly from your website, allowing patients to book live into your database. Over 50% of these online requests come after hours and on the weekends. Food for thought: make it much easier for new patients to schedule and you'll schedule more new patients.
The fourth step in the patient journey is the actual visit. This is when the patient goes to their appointment and receives care from the dentist.
During this step, it is important for dentists to provide excellent patient care and ensure that each patient feels comfortable and at ease throughout the visit. Remember word of mouth marketing is one of the most effective forms of marketing. As I wrote about in my book, The Truth About Referrals, two of the top five reasons why patients don't refer is that they aren't welcomed to the practice in a big way and the customer service is fine but not exceptional.
If you want to take your customer service to the next level, reach out to one of our training specialists at Burleson Seminars. We can help find a course for you in our own library of resources or we might recommend a course to you at the Disney Institute, Deliver Service Now, the Scheduling Institute, the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Development Center or many others, depending on your goals, objectives and timeline.
Finally, after the visit, it is important for dental practices to provide follow-up care by sending reminders about appointments or providing helpful information about oral health topics. This helps build trust between dentists and their patients and ensures that patients receive long-term care from a dentist they trust.
Consider automating many of these touchpoints and processes. If you have educational videos or resources for a patient to watch or consume following an oral surgery procedure, for example, that entire process from email to text message and outbound follow-up call from the doctor can all be automated for consistency and optimal patient experience.
We've always used Keap (formerly known as Infusionsoft) but there are many CRM tools and software options out there. Our trainers can help you find one that will work best for your particular situation.
How to Get More New Patients by Marketing for Your Dental Practice
Once you understand the patient journey, you can begin to develop a marketing strategy. There are many avenues to explore when it comes to marketing dental practices.
The right path for you will be dependent on many factors, including your target audience and your budget.
Dental SEO and PPC
Dental SEO and PPC are two of the most effective marketing strategies for attracting new patients. But which one is right for you?
Here’s a closer look at dental SEO and PPC so you can decide which approach is best for your needs:
Dental SEO is the process of optimizing your website for Google searches with the goal of appearing higher in search results. When people search for dental services online, they typically use Google. And if you want them to find your practice, you need to make sure your website appears as high up in the search results as possible.
SEO is a long-term marketing strategy that focuses on improving your website’s organic search results. This means creating content that is relevant and keyword-rich, as well as ensuring your site is easy to navigate and loads quickly. SEO can take some time to see results, but it is a relatively low-cost way to market your practice.
Dental PPC is a paid form of advertising where you pay for your ads to appear in search results. PPC stands for “pay per click”, which means you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. This makes it a great option if you have a limited budget and need to get the most bang for your buck.
Using PPC can help drive more traffic to your website, which can lead to more leads and new patients. PPC is a more immediate way to generate leads than SEO. However, PPC can be more expensive than SEO over time, as you need to continuously pay for your ads.
Should You Choose to Invest in SEO or PPC?
Ultimately, the decision of whether to invest in SEO or PPC depends on your budget, goals, and timeline. If you’re looking for quick results with a limited budget, PPC may be the better option. If you have more time and money to invest, then SEO can provide long-term benefits for your dental practice.
Social Media for Dentists
Social media can be a powerful marketing tool for dentists. When used correctly, social media can help you connect with potential and current patients, build relationships, and increase brand awareness.
When it comes to social media for dentists, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, make sure you’re present on the platforms your target audience is using.
Second, focus on creating quality content that educates, informs, or entertains your audience. And finally, be consistent with your posts and engagement.
If you’re new to social media or just getting started with your dental practice’s social media presence, start by creating profiles on the major platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and populate them with quality content. As you build up your followers and engage with your audience, you can start experimenting with other platforms and strategies.
Remember that social media is about building relationships. The more genuine connections you make with patients and potential patients, the more successful your social media strategy will be.
Referral programs can be a great way to get more patients as well. If you want existing patients to spread the word about your business, make sure you have something worth referring. I hate to break it to you but it's simply not enough to say "Dr. Smith is really nice and treats us well." Consumers expect their dentist to be nice and treat them well. Word of mouth is much easier when a patient can say things like, "Her office made it really easy for us to finance the entire family's braces," or "They are the only option within 30 minutes drive that is open on the evenings and weekends. We love them because we don't have to miss work or school."
Jay Baer calls these "talking triggers" and he uses the example that almost everyone on the planet can tell you three things about The Cheesecake Factory, which allows the firm to spend 25-40% less per dollar earned than competing restaurants.
There are a few things to keep in mind when creating a referral program for your dental practice:
- Make sure your talking triggers are strong enough to motivate patients to refer others to your practice.
- Be clear about how to encourage referrals and have simply tools, like referral cards and invitations to community events, available for your patients to pass along to their friends and family
- Promote your referral program through marketing channels such as social media, your website, and email campaigns. Never assume readership. Be omnipresent in tersm of marketing channels when it comes to your referral program
There are many ways to market your dental practice, but one tried-and-true method is advertising. Traditional advertising can be a great way to reach new patients and remind current patients of your services.
Before you start spending money on advertising, it's important to have a clear understanding of your goals and target audience. Once you know who you're trying to reach, you can choose the right marketing channels and craft messages that will resonate with them.
Some common channels for traditional dental marketing include print ads, radio commercials, and TV spots. There are also digital options like online directories, pay-per-click ads, and social media ads. The key is to find the right mix of channels that will reach your target audience most effectively.
When it comes to creating your ad content, make sure it's clear, concise, and easy to understand. Use strong visuals and calls to action to grab attention and get your message across quickly. And don't forget to include your practice's contact information so potential patients know how to reach you.
Testing, Tracking, and Iterating
Implementing your marketing efforts isn't enough. You also need to test, track, and iterate.
By constantly testing different marketing strategies and tracking the results, you can quickly identify what’s working and what’s not. Then, you can adjust your strategy accordingly and keep testing new ideas until you find a formula that works for your dental practice.
Find Your Potential Dental Patients
Taking the time to invest in your dental practice's marketing strategy can pay off big! Developing tried and true patient acquisition methods is key, but it doesn't have to be daunting. This article has outlined a few effective methods for doing so. Utilizing these tips will help you build a successful dental practice that attracts new patients month after month
Are you ready to take your dental practice to the next level? Sign up for a membership today, and let us help you achieve your goals.