Internet Marketing for Dentists: How to Reach More Patients Online
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Dentist Internet Marketing
The average dental practice for a solo practitioner will need 20 to 30 patients a month to succeed. However, with the growing competition, it can come as a challenge. There are more than 201,117 dental practitioners in the US alone, with more than 6000 new dentists graduating each year.
Established dental practices used to rely on traditional word-of-mouth for gaining new patients, however, as more and more people are staying at home, reliance on the internet is also rapidly becoming a way of life.
Traditional word-of-mouth can only be an effective growth trigger when you have hundreds of patients eager to recommend you to their acquaintances. Now with the online culture, you also have to take into consideration the power of local search.
Mobile devices are almost always on-hand and can easily connect to the internet allowing users to look-up information whenever they need to. This growth gave birth to a new form of word-of-mouth. These are reviews, ratings, comments, and testimonials.
Here are some statistics showing you why dentists need internet marketing now like never before:
- Google has nearly 4 billion users worldwide, that’s 93 percent of the total internet users
- Google receives more than 1 billion health questions everyday.
- On average, there are 590,000 searches for ‘dentist near me’ in the U.S. alone.
- Search drives 3x more visitors to clinics and hospitals compared to non-search. More patients prefer to use the internet first to find healthcare providers.
- At least 71% of dental patients ran a search before scheduling an appointment.
- 85% of dental patients said they made an appointment after searching online.
- 88% of healthcare appointments are scheduled through phone calls.
- 2.4 % of appointments are scheduled online.
More dentists are learning the value of marketing their dental services online. They’re overhauling their websites or creating one (if they don’t have it yet) since a website can be likened to a digital real estate where patients can go inquire, look around and reach out to you before proceeding to your physical location.
“More dentists are learning the value of marketing their dental services online”
Some are utilizing social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, while others go for paid ads instead. There are many ways, dozens of channels, hundreds of strategies, and countless tactics or tips but all the resources and efforts won’t benefit you if there’s no solid strategy behind them.
Here, you’ll get an overview of marketing for dentistry and why you need it. We’ll also provide you with easy-to-do tips to get you started. Welcome to the age of digital dental marketing.
What is Digital Marketing for Dentists
Digital marketing for dentists is an effective way of reaching potential patients and getting your practice noticed through making it easier for users to find you on the web. It should work in a way that they will easily find information such as phone numbers, address, opening hours and more. It’s a strategy to get more leads and eventually, convert them to long-term patients.
Best Dental Marketing Strategies to Start With
You want to be known as one of the best (if not the best) dentists in town so that more patients will visit you for your services. Many factors will come into play for that to happen. For the most part, being a great dentist will depend on you, however, for the visits, you can depend on internet marketing strategies listed below:
Search Engine Optimization
When it comes to online experience, 97 percent of users start with search engines. People tend to go to Google (or other search engines like Bing, Safari, and Yahoo) to look for information.
There are at least 4 billion online queries entered every day and for each question a person types, hundreds and thousands of pages appear.
What you want is to be seen first on the search engine results pages when this happens. It’s also noted that the #1 result gets 31% of all clicks, meanwhile those results on the second page only got less than 1%.
This is where SEO comes in.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of priming your website and fixing it so that search engines can crawl and index it the way you intend to. When search engines crawl and index your website, it’s also rating it and gauging how relevant and valid it is.
Google bots will stack it up with other websites that are in the same category then rank it according to its evaluation. The evaluation will depend on how well your website adhered and scored following Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
How Search Engine Works for Dentists
As of 2018, 97 percent of users go online to find local services. Local services mean establishments around the user’s area like dental clinics, restaurants, law firms, renovators, and other services that are a walking distance or at least a 10-minute drive away from where they live.
This is what makes SEO for dentists very necessary. Patients usually come from the same area where you practice. This means you want to be as renowned in the area as possible, and you don’t want to miss any opportunities. There might be a person 10 km away who’s looking for a dentist of your caliber to perform a procedure. If you have an active SEO campaign, the user can easily find you, even if they’re miles away.
Let’s take Ben as an example. He needs a root canal treatment so he does his research first and takes note of the dentists available from where he lives. He will first evaluate based on the quality of service which can be verified by checking reviews and testimonials either on the website or listings. His next moves will be to either evaluate the price or consider the locations. If he finds a reliable dental practice that’s near him and suits his price range then that will be the first place he will go to.
There are two main marketing factors that mostly influenced his decision:
- Appearing first in the business profile for GMB or number one in the listings on the first page.
Google has been actively supporting businesses and making it easy for users to find physical locations of businesses through Google My Business or GMB. It’s a tool developed for businesses and establishments so that you can manage how your business appears on Google Maps or Google Search. It’s not a website, but more of a directory listing that appears when users search for your business name or a dental clinic nearby.
The goal is to appear first or be included in the top 10 GMB listings. You’ll get better results if you manage to land in the top three because users usually don’t look any further than what’s in front of them. Being listed in the top 3 will put your establishment in a box that will appear front and center with the name of your dental practice, location, phone number, ratings, a map marker that identifies your specific location and more.
[add image of GMB listing as seen in the first page result pages- sample]
Meanwhile, landing a on the first page of Google’s search results organically gets an average of 90% clicks, while the other 10% go to paid advertisements.
- Favorable Reviews
Google evaluates and tracks the ratings in order to boost the business to the top. The idea is, the more ratings and reviews you have on your website or Google My Business page then the more tried and tested the business is. Reviews and ratings are likened to word of mouth. With online reviews, more than 90 percent of users will hesitate to go any further if there are no reviews, while 75 percent tend to trust an establishment after seeing positive reviews.
For search engine optimization to be effective, you need to understand the technicalities that go behind website optimization, at the same time, you also need that marketing edge that will allow you to target the right people at the right time, and with the right content.
Here are a few tips on how you can optimize your website for Google:
- Add Relevant Keywords
To attract the right visitors and drive quality traffic to your website you have to identify the right keywords first. Think of Google as the helper that matches you with the right customer. How do you help Google link you to the right user? It’s by pinpointing the right keywords that the users are typing into their Google search and strategically sprinkling it all over the contents of your website.
Keywords are useful in:
- Driving traffic to your website
- Converting traffic into customers
- Target the different stages of your buyer’s journey to lead them down the sales funnel
- Designing and optimizing content based on customer behavior
There’s a more technical process that SEO experts use, although the fundamentals remain the same:
- Produce High Quality and Optimized Content
Content is what will drive customers to your website. Now that people have more time on their hands to look through various content online, you need to make sure that your content is engaging enough and optimized for search engines. This includes creation and optimization of content for landing pages, blog posts, and other elements that require texts on your website.
- Prepare you website for Local Search
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your website for local search. Local searches are searches that are conducted in relation to your local area. This plays a big part in marketing your dental practice because you’re aiming for people who live nearby and are looking for local dentists.
Simply put, if you don’t have local SEO in your strategy, you have to get it now because you will be missing these potential patients who are already looking for your services.
Backlinks are links that are connected to your website and they have a huge impact on your search ranks. There are many ways you can earn backlinks. One of the most effective methods is through guest blogging. This is the process of creating or writing blogs for other websites in exchange for inserting a link in that blog that links back to your website. If you’re consistent in guest blogging, it will compound and help to boost your rankings. Your name also gets to be exposed on these websites elevating your status as a thought leader in the field of dentistry.
Paid Advertising for Dental Services
Paid advertising or paid media is a digital marketing model where ads are placed anywhere the advertiser chooses to place their ads. Unlike SEO where you rank higher through producing high quality content that meets the criteria and guidelines of search engines, paid ads have a certain fee that’s charged every time a user clicks on the ad. In SEO, you rank organically which means you won’t have to pay every time someone clicks on your website.
One of the most popular forms of paid advertising or paid media is search engine advertising. These are ads which you see along the sides of search pages whether it’s Google, Bing or Yahoo. Advertisers are able to bid for ad placements on sponsored links. This is great for securing website visits as your page or website will appear whenever a user enters a relevant keyword.
Paid ads is a quicker way of getting traffic. If you’re new in the field or have recently moved, then this is a great addition because the results are instantaneous. However, you have to intelligently know who to target and how to target them.
There are many paid ads or paid media services available and you have to choose wisely. Avoid jumping into trends just because your competitors are doing it as you don’t want to waste resources on avoidable mistakes.
Although the length of the ad visibility depends on the amount of budget allocated, Google charges less per click if it evaluates that your ads and landing pages are valuable to searchers.
For optimum results, you can also choose to combine both SEO and paid ads. However if you’re still thinking about the better option for you and you’re looking to outsource the tasks, then consulting with a provider that offers both paid ads services and SEO services might be the best option for you.
Social media marketing (SMM) is another internet marketing strategy that’s about creating content on social media platforms (ex. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) to achieve your marketing goals. This will lean more towards branding and showcasing the procedures you have done on past patients. It’s also a great way to engage both new and existing patients.
The goal of Social Media Marketing
Before you jump into putting energy into social media campaigns your goals must be clear. Social media is huge now because people like engaging with the content creators produce or content that their acquaintances have posted, so you have to plan your approach beforehand. Otherwise, you’ll just end up floating around the platform and wasting resources.
Some questions you can ask when defining the purpose and goals of your social media campaign:
- What’s the goal that you want to reach using social media marketing?
- Are your patients in social media?
- How do patients usually do on social media and how would they use social media?
- Will patients typically look for medical services in social media platforms?
- What message do you want to create and post in your social media accounts? Are they informational or commercial? Will these messages resonate with your audience? Will these messages produce the results you want to achieve your goal?
Since you’re in the field of dentistry, you have to carefully pick which social media platforms are suited to your current status.
For example, if you have been in the field for decades and have patients who are actively showcasing your procedures (braces, before & after photos of teeth whitening or teeth restoration, etc.) then you can repost their posts since it’s a testament to your expertise and tenure. If you’re new in the field then Facebook might be a better option since it will allow you to to connect with your family, friends and their network. You have to ask yourself if the platform is somewhere where people usually go and look for medical services. Make sure that you live in an area where it’s a common behavior for people to use Facebook to look for health services.
Content marketing is a strategy that involves creation and distribution of relevant and high quality content materials. Content marketing revolves around research, data accuracy and strategic planning. All these come on top of creating quality content that resonates well with your audience.
Some examples of content you can produce are blog posts, ebooks, newsletters, whitepapers and case studies.
An effective marketing strategy all follows a meticulous planning process. From the types of content you will produce, the voice that you’re going to use, and the messaging or the way it should be delivered.
Planning how every piece of content will connect and how your potential patients will land on each content is important before you start with the creation process. Avoid being random or shooting blindly hoping for the best.
Always start with defining why you want to use content marketing. Whether it’s for brand awareness or to drive patients to your website or boost conversions. This will make it easier for you to identify what kind of content you need for your brand and how to incorporate them into your digital marketing initiative.
Content and storytelling have the power to persuade. By using a story of a successful patient as an example of what your dentistry practice can do, it is a method of telling others that your patients were able to achieve the results they want because of your process.
Great Dentist Web Design
Websites are a healthcare professional’s online hospital lobby or waiting room. As a dentist, you’re in an industry that revolves around building trust with patients. Your goal is to help people and you want your website to reflect that.
A great visual design is essential in creating a great first impression. You want your professionalism and the quality of your services to be translated on your site.
One way or another, people will want to check your website whether they’re coming from a social media platform or somewhere else. One thing to note is that it takes just a 20th of a second for people to make up their minds about the quality of a website, if they like it, they will stay, if they don’t then, they’ll click away and go to the next one in their list.
What makes a great dentist web design?
Different industries require different functions and designs. For example website for lawyers and legal services will look and feel different compared to a website for an ecommerce store. Same for dentists. You will need different sections, different pages and different elements that will showcase your services and work.
For dentists, less is more. It’s important to look neat and professional. Give your patients what they need in the most user-friendly manner. Working with an agency that offers web design services for healthcare professionals will be very advantageous as they will recommend the best options that will attract and engage the users that you want.
Here are some of the elements to consider:
1. A Responsive Web Design.
Make sure that your website is accessible to both desktop and mobile users. Since more people are using their phones to conduct searches, it’s important to seize this opportunity to reach people on mobile and tablets. Who knows, some of them may be on the go or just a walking distance from your place.
2. Theme and Color Blocking
You want to have a design that reflects your profession and the quality of your services. It’s important to have a color coordinated website with pages that complement each other. This will allow patients to sort through information quicker and to see buttons that will lead them to the next action.
3. A Homepage Where Patients Have Access to Everything
It’s important to know what patients are looking for and arrange them in an organized layout that showcases elements according to importance. Patients will allocate the time to browse if they have found the information they’re looking for, however, they won’t spend time learning how to navigate a website or searching for information they can easily find when they perform another search.
4. Optimized for Local SEO
Local SEO is a search engine optimization method that healthcare professionals can use to be more visible and rank higher in their location through local search results. Dentists cater more to patients who live around the area of their clinic or dentistry practice. In this case, local SEO is a necessity as the opportunity that it offers is just too good to miss.
For example, a person who lives in Washington simply types in ‘dentist’. The main results that will appear will contain information about dentists located in Washington. This is because Google’s algorithm is designed to show that users all the dentists detected in the Washington-area. So whether the query is ‘dentist’ or ‘dentists near me’, Google will automatically detect the word ‘dentist’ and categorize it as a service. Based on the other aspects of search engine algorithms like GPS location, keyword match and content quality, Google will present the results according to its ranking system.
It’s important to optimize your site for local SEO to make it clearer and easier for Google to understand how to rank it.
Benefits of Internet Marketing for Dentists
Users search online for information about health, health care providers and treatment options. They also do their research, read blogs and look at reviews. It’s become a practice for potential patients to use search to dive deeper into what ails them or, in many cases, conduct some research because they just learned about a particular term. They do all these things before looking for dentists to perform the procedure they need.
Digital marketing for dentists is an effective way to build your online presence, enhance branding and promote your dental practice. There are a lot more benefits and below are some of them:
- Improves the spread of dental services you provide to more audiences.
The health industry is competitive. What you want to do is have a healthy flow of patients and in order to do that you must spread awareness of your establishment along with the different services you have. There’s a strategy to every stage of patient acquisition. These strategies will drive a regular user, who’s just doing research about a dental problem, to becoming a regular patient.
- Patients can easily access you and vice versa. Digital marketing for dental institutions and practices not only helps you promote your services, but it’s a convenient way for patients to find you. You’re helping patients save time and if what they see in your website or social media pages are relevant enough, you’re also giving them a positive experience.
- You can showcase your services to a wider audience.
With digital marketing, you have a platform that allows you to present and showcase your dental services in a neat and professional way. You patients can easily find, access and learn more about you with just a few clicks.
- It allows you to accurately manage your online reputation.
The internet is a notorious platform to access information. There will be information about your practice or you as a dentist that will be circulating and popping up on searches. Whether it’s about you, connected to you or even a similar name. What you want is for the right information to pop up and spread since this can affect your reputation and influence decisions of your potential patients.
- You’re able to build loyalty and a solid referral base.
Let’s say you’re doing an excellent job and patients love you. It’s a good practice to have satisfied patients rave about their experience with you and your services by providing a space where they can write reviews. You can subtly ask them to leave testimonials on your website, listings or social media profile. You can tap into reputation management services to help you manage those positive reviews and use them to attract more patients.
- Accurate monitoring of digital marketing investments and satisfaction of patients.
Internet marketing is more transparent and data friendly than traditional markets. We can now use online tools and software to monitor activities, track expenses, and extract data for a more accurate campaign.
- User engagement
The value of internet marketing soared with the whole concept of user engagement. You can now learn about a user or a potential patient based on the activities they did on your website. They can leave comments, interact with chatbots, message you directly, share your website or your post, and more.
- Improve conversion rates.
Conversion rates are an advantage in digital marketing. You are closer to your audience now and you have the ability to track their behavior. This is very helpful in modifying and tweaking your strategies (after a thorough data analysis). A/B testing cant scientifically test the effectiveness of your website, for example,heat maps allow you to see what section of your website interests your visitors the most. You can learn if there are more users interested in having dental braces or root canals. You can see if you have users who are looking at more invasive dental procedures. Then find the reason they didn’t contact you and then make the necessary changes.
- Better targeting (SEO and Paid Ads)
One of the greatest benefits of SEO and paid advertising is that you can place your message or ad in front of users who matter. These people are potential patients who are actively searching for your services.
Internet Marketing Lead Generation for Dental Practices
So how do you get patients for your dental practice? The answer can be seen in lead generation online. People are populating the internet and you want to be seen where people are highly active. Online lead generation although effective, will also be highly competitive. Your company needs a customized strategy to stand out. A customized strategy works by combining methods that will connect with potential patients or leads, driving them down into the conversion stage of the journey. Ultimately converting them into patients.
In lead generation for dentistry, a lead is a person who shows an interest in your practice. You know they’re interested when they click your website, interact with an ad, follow you on social media, join your newsletters, leave you a message and have executed other forms of engagement. In order to capture a lead, there must be a smart digital marketing strategy behind your online efforts.
Reach More Patients Effectively
Make it easy for patients to find you and hard for competitors to beat you. It’s quite easy to understand the value of internet marketing, however, implementation is a bit different. As a dentist, you want to focus on your patients and your craft instead of spending hours and days developing a digital marketing strategy or implementing tasks daily. Consultants exist to help you reach the goals you have in mind at the same time letting you focus on your trade. They will also guide you in choosing the best digital marketing services you can apply to your business.
Digital marketing is a long term campaign. As long as search engines exist, it will continue to be relevant and your practice will benefit from it more.
Dental Marketing FAQs
Why internet marketing is important for dentists?
More people today use the internet for information and to do research before they place an order or choose a service. This includes people who are looking for a new dentist or a dentist near them. They start by opening their web browser, may it be mobile or desktop, and search for ‘dentists nearby’ or they’ll enter their location. They’ll scroll through the results and review them one by one until they find one that they think is suitable for them. Internet marketing for dentists will make sure that you get found by these consumers and be the one they reach out to.
Can digital marketing help find dental leads?
Yes. Getting more dental patients for your practice is one of the main goals of your digital marketing campaign. You can use paid media or paid ads to quickly enhance brand awareness, you can optimize your website for Local SEO to make sure the dentist leads looking for your services can easily find your contact information and direction to your clinic, and then there’s also enhancing your website by getting great web design made for dentists. The people in your area are your target audience so it’s advisable to design your strategy based on their behavior.
How much does digital marketing for dentists cost?
Several factors will determine the cost of your campaign. SEO, paid ads, web design, social media marketing, content marketing and other initiatives all differ in prices and they all offer different packages. It can cost $150 to more than $15000 per initiative depending on factors like business size, marketing objectives and timeline.
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