Dental Practice Marketing
Recently, I attended a panel discussion on dental practice marketing where dental consultants, social media and website company reps and specialist vendors answered questions and shared recommendations. Here are the highlights:
- There are 46,656 ways to market your practice. Yes, apparently someone counted.
- What makes you different is the why behind your practice. Focus on the intangibles when marketing your practice.
- Think in terms of marketing campaigns. Then use marketing tactics like direct mail, events, etc. to fulfill the campaign. Compare marketing to muffins: it takes ingredients to make the campaign!
- According to a Google survey, 77% of patients use search prior to booking an appointment. And 41% said social media would affect their choice of healthcare provider.
- A comprehensive online presence is more important to remain relevant as patients rely on search to select a dentist for their family. Consider relationships, relevance and reputation as the three-legged stool of marketing your practice.
- Google made 5000 changes just last year alone. They’re most recent major change is to show only the top 3 local search websites that match your search term – it used to show 7. So – what do you think the 4 companies that are no longer showing up on local search will do? Invest in more online marketing?
- The future of online marketing is for patients to discover your practice through an online conversation. A 2014 report, Path to Purchase by CareCredit, shows that 3 of 5 steps on this path involve research. I found it interesting that the path generally takes 1-5 months.
How can you tell if a marketing program is working?
This was an interesting discussion. The key question is: What is the end result you want to achieve? It can be easy to say, “I need new patients, of course!” – but you may really want increased production. Look at your internal systems first. You need to track your existing marketing and your case acceptance as well to know what is working for you.
One idea I thought was really helpful is to ask a follow up question to people who say I found you online. Ask them, “What led you to our website?” The reason to ask is that often patients find out about a dental practice from a personal referral – and once they have the recommendation, they go online to check you out. When you ask how they found out about your practice, they may focus on their website research stage – but really, the reason they visited your website was the personal referral! If you don’t ask this more detailed question, you won’t know the real reason for the new patient to reach out to you.
Methods for Tracking
A dentist in the audience shared that he is paying a marketing company and receiving plenty of new patients. Although he was pleased with the results, he was wondering how much he should be paying for that marketing. One recommendation from the panel was to look at the Google Analytics for the practice’s website. The dentist said he had never seen any reports from Google Analytics. The panel said this is a great way to see the visitors to the site and many details about where they come from, how long they stay on each page and what their actions are.
For Dentrix users, I like to use the Referred by Doctor/Other report to measure the total production from each type of referral. However, to make this report worthwhile, you have to enter the referral source on every new patient. Make sure you’re asking for the referral on your health history/patient registration – and if the patient leaves it blank, then train your administrative team to ask the patient “Who may we thank for referring you?” I’ve written a New Patient Referral Tracking Report with instructions on how to make sure new patients don’t slip between the cracks when gathering referrals.
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Tracking your marketing is just one way to run a successful dental practice. If you’re interested in new ideas on running a dental practice, please subscribe to my weekly blog. One of the biggest challenges to managing a dental practice is managing dental insurance. With dental insurance handled, then dental marketing for new patients becomes a primary focus. In today’s day of online reviews, handling patient complaints well is essential. As your practice grows, hiring dental staff becomes more important. With 18+ years of dental practice management experience, I’m open to your questions to help you run a successful dental office.