The dental world is a competitive one. There are currently over 200,000 practicing dentists in the U.S. This translates to roughly 60 dentists for every 100,000 people. In a given year, 600 more dentists start practicing than are retiring.
That means your dental practice needs to stand out from the crowd.
At Advice Media, we’ve been designing, building, and optimizing websites for hundreds of dental practices for over 20 years. We know how to do just that — make your dental practice stand out from the others. We base our efforts around your practice website, but from there a practice has many options for building a patient base.
In this first blog of summer, let’s get into a few of those, starting with some website musts.
Your practice website
Dentists realized the need for marketing long before many of the other medical specialties. Part of that rose out of necessity. As fluoride was added to more and more municipal water systems, its benefits on helping prevent tooth decay were immediately obvious. Rather than every patient having a mouthful of silver amalgam fillings, as was standard in the mouths of most of the baby boom generation, today’s children often have just a single filling or two.
Dentists had to respond by offering cosmetic improvements, rather than simply general dentistry. They had to move into areas formerly the realm of oral surgeons — root canals, gum procedures, and dental implants. Some chose to become versed in the signs and treatment of temporomandibular joint disorder. Others became experts in obstructive sleep apnea.
And they had to advertise. At Advice, we feel your dental practice marketing needs to focus on the digital world, beginning with your practice website. Our dental practice websites have these components:
- Beautiful functional design — Our designers build some of the internet’s most beautiful dental websites, but they are also intelligent. Navigation is intuitive. It’s easy for patients to get where they want, all the while being just a click away from making an appointment. For the webcrawlers, our sitemaps are easy to read. Our tags make it clear what’s on every page. Every page has more than enough information for the bots to understand and rank accordingly.
- Robust content — Patients come to your dental practice website to understand how a dental implant procedure works or to understand that staining in the dentin can’t be whitened but needs to be covered with porcelain veneers. They want information. If a blog on your site talks about how the ADA recently approved Oral B Electric Toothbrushes, that’s information your patients and potential patients can use. Content is critical for organic search, as well.
- Mobile friendly — Today the majority of search comes from smart phones and tablets. That includes dental practices. That’s why every site we build is instantly seamlessly functional on mobile. That functionality is much simpler than the full desktop site, but the look and feel are the same. A site that isn’t mobile friendly is a site that will be clicked away from within seconds.
- Multimedia — Our dental practice websites incorporate different media where appropriate. A one-minute video could be perfect for introducing your new panoramic 3D scanner or providing a tutorial for a child on how to properly brush. We use photos to break up content, including illustrations and animations where applicable.
- Testimonials — Our sites all feature testimonial sections where patients can post reviews. We also insist on before and after galleries of patients’ beautiful smiles.
OK, so that’s your base of operations, your dental practice website. Now let’s move on to some other marketing thoughts for your practice.
Be a part of the community
Because people see their dentists twice a year (or at least they’re supposed to!), they have a closer relationship than with their other health providers, who they may only see occasionally as needed. The regular visits make it a must that your patients and potential patients feel you’re a part of the community.
There are no rules here, and the opportunities are almost endless. You can offer to provide a free dental hygiene class for the elementary school. You can provide discounted mouth guards for the high school lacrosse team. You can offer to write occasional articles for the local newspaper on dental topics such as gum recession. You could offer discounted teeth whitening for patrons of the favorite local coffee shop.
These community events are generally indirect marketing. The goal is to provide something needed and create some word of mouth.
Be involved with your social media
No matter how you feel about social media personally, it is an effective resource for dental practice marketing. Again, this is because you see your patients more often. A Facebook for Business page is a must. Many of our practices also have Instagram pages.
What’s important is to be regularly active and engaged. You need to post a couple of times each week, and you need to respond when followers post on your social media pages.
When trying to come up with a post, think of what your patients would be interested in. Write posts patients would like to see. Did one of your hygienists just run the Boston Marathon? Write a post and include a bunch of pictures. Did you just add a new teeth whitening system to the office? Show a bunch of before and after pictures and discuss the attributes in a post. If Thanksgiving is coming up, make a poll of favorite side dishes. Have a caption contest for a funny photo or something taken by one of your staff. The winner could receive a free electric toothbrush or a whitening session.
Search is local
All search for services, such as dentistry, is now local. Google has gotten far better at this than it was just five years ago. After all, a person searching for “tooth replacement” in Cleveland probably isn’t interested in flying to Miami to have a dental implant placed.
We help you with this aspect of your digital marketing. We know the keywords that will help you rise to the top in local search. We ensure your information is identical across all directories, which is critical for local search. If your hours change for summer, we make sure they are changed everywhere. Our search engine optimization expertise — we’re an official Google Partner — means we often know about changes in the Google and Bing algorithms long before the public hears about them. We’ve been doing SEO for over two decades, and this is key to success in local search.
In a self-deprecating way, you could think the last thing a patient would want would be to see an email from their dental practice in their inbox. Not true. Everyone wants to have healthy teeth: they’re a necessity for full health. Email marketing can be a great way to stay in touch, provide a reminder for an upcoming appointment, provide valuable information, or as a follow-up after a procedure or treatment.
As long as your emails have value, recipients won’t hit the “Unsubscribe” link. Email can be a vehicle to send a short newsletter from your practice. If you have a large percentage of older patients, a topic such as “The Advantages of Implant-Supported Dentures” could be really valuable. It could be forwarded to friends and family members.
Once a month is all you should shoot for but make each email worth opening.
We’ll make you stand out
These are a couple of ideas for marketing your dental practice. But your best method is to simply call us at Advice Media. We can overhaul a stale, dated, poorly performing website. We can provide interesting, detailed content to fill your procedure pages. We can build a blog for your site so you’re always adding new content. We can get your practice Facebook up and running with lots of posting ideas.
In other words, we can make you stand out from that crowd of dentists out there. Call us or hit the Contact Us link above and let’s get started.