There are now so many consultants talking about marketing for a dental practice, using software, technology, paid advertising, websites etc. So where do you start? How do you know what needs to be done to attract more patients using the Internet?
What I’ve written here is a very basic overview of everything I believe you should be doing, which essentially falls into two categories… Traffic optimisation and conversion optimisation… Let’s delve a little deeper.
Traffic optimisation to a dental practice website
This typically includes:
- search engine optimisation
- paid advertising (PPC)
- social media marketing
- e-mail marketing via permission-based list building on your own website
The list above forms the basic building blocks of increasing traffic to your website, yet even if you have 10,000 visitors per month and none of them convert into patients this is useless, so we also need conversion optimisation.
Conversion optimisation to get more of those website visitors converting into patients
This typically includes:
- Calls to action and wording on the website
- Things for prospects to do, typically these are downloadable guides which are handed out in exchange for an e-mail address
- Permission-based e-mail marketing
- Social media campaigns
I get so many phone calls about optimising websites on Google for more traffic and yet so many people completely miss the point. Being number one on Google has absolutely no benefit whatsoever if none of those patients convert, one absolutely has to have conversion optimisation running in tandem with traffic optimisation.
This is how I believe the conversion optimisation should work
Patients that visit your website may not all be ready to book an appointment straightaway, they will almost certainly be in one of these 3 key stages of their decision-making process.
- Be simply looking for information on how to solve a problem e.g. replacing missing teeth or looking for information about a specific treatment to resolve that problem e.g. dental implants, bridges or dentures
- Have done their research about their problem and treatment and are searching for the right service provider, needing a little bit of convincing to take the next step.
- Have researched the service provider and decided that you are the one they wish to go for.
We therefore need to provide things for each of these people to do, in order that they can feel as though they have taken action whilst on your site (at the same time we get to collect their information!)
So in order to convert a website visitor into a patient we need to have something for them to do at each of the key stages in this decision-making process, not everyone is ready to request an appointment immediately.
For the respective categories this should be:
- Free guides and downloads for patients wishing to solve a dental problem. Having a free guide for them to download demonstrate you genuinely care about them and have written this guide for them. You should hand the guide out in exchange for an e-mail address, using an e-mail marketing system such as Aweber.
- An incentive to request an appointment, this could be a free consultation, refund of initial assessment or explicit promotion of your new patient health check. This will help to convince patients if they are wavering about requesting an appointment.
- Request an appointment facility.
And now comes a rather long bullet list of what should happen
- The ‘Request an appointment form’ needs to drop into an automated e-mail campaign where patients are followed up if they don’t come in to see you. Don’t just use a form which has no automated follow-up procedure.
- Any patient that does come in to see you should be fed into an automated campaign asking for a review on either Google or Facebook (more reviews = more social proof, more social proof = higher rankings on Google)
- All treatment pages should have the facility for a patient to download free information, they should then be automatically dropped into an e-mail follow-up series which informs, educates and drives them towards booking a consultation, this should be fully automated.
- at each ‘touch point’ we should drive people towards your social media channel i.e. If someone downloads something, request an appointment or consultation they should be taken to a thank you page… On this thank you page should be a specific call to action to join you on social media
- a regular newsletter should be sent to all e-mail contacts (collected via the website as above and from any that you already have at the practice)
- calls to action to request an appointment or download a guide should be added around the site
- All of these website conversions (downloadable guides, e-mail follow-ups, free consultations etc) should be tracked in Google analytics, we can then see where traffic comes from and focus more on that traffic source and/or conversion page.
Using free information downloads & free consultations/refunds and incorporating these into an automated e-mail system allows us to send relevant e-mails at the correct time for each patient. Once they book an appointment these prospecting e-mails should automatically stop and they should be asked for a review. This then sets up a fully automated and robust follow-up system which works 24/7/365…Never sleeping, always working… Just the way it should be.
What would you add to this list?
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