In many of the campaigns I run I get very high open rates, often between 80 and 100% – this leads to excellent engagement rates and new patients at the practice.
E-mail is still one of the very best ways of building relationships with patients, but ONLY if those patients want to receive the e-mails!
In this video I go through 8 top tips to:
✔Keep your open rates high ✔keep your engagement rate high ✔Get more people to respond and take action ✔Sequence your e-mails so that they are not spam ✔Automating your e-mails so that they work 24/7/365 ✔Keeping your e-mails GDPR compliant
If you are seeing this before Thursday 13th December 2018 at 1pm UK time then you’ll see a planned premiere video, please do visit this page again when I’m live. If you’re visiting after that date then you’ll see the video in all it’s glory… enjoy.
[WARNING: This is a long post with a lot of actionable content]
We all hate being sold to, that’s a given, the problem is that marketing can often seem like just a selling avenue. It’s not, and it shouldn’t be.
If your advertising campaigns simply say ” Come and see us, we are brilliant and can help” then it’s just annoying, boring, lazy and actually pretty ineffective.
Having a marketing system which works magnetically to attract people at a time that is right for them, without being annoying, aggressive or shouting about it is far more powerful… And that style of marketing is backwards marketing, also known as pull marketing or inbound marketing.
In this video I walk you through the principle of backwards marketing, why it is so effective, how to use it and how you can set it up for as little as $19 per month using Aweber.
Using this system, in conjunction with good Search Engine Optimisation, I’m regularly seeing some clients attract 50 -75 new patients per month and collect 16 Facebook reviews. All automated!
You will probably want to have pen and paper ready so you can make notes…
An overview of how backwards dental marketing works
The basic principle is that we need to understand where a person is in their purchasing decision, not everyone that visits your website will be ready to request an appointment… They may be in information gathering mode:
Patients in information gathering mode
These patients may want to know more about their problem such as replacing missing teeth or straightening crooked teeth or they indeed may want to know more about specific treatments such as dental implants or Invisalign.. The principle behind backwards marketing is that the patient has already identified that they have an issue which they wish to have resolved, what we have to do is to stand out, be noticed and provide a useful and relevant informatonn that the patient requires.
We do this using a free download from the website, simply ask for the patient’s name and e-mail address so that you can e-mail them a detailed report helping them understand more about either their problem and/or the various treatment options.
How to set this up
Do this by creating a list within Aweber and call it ‘free guides’, set your automated e-mail responses to go out at ever increasing intervals (I use the Fibonacci series of numbers with e-mails going out at increasing number of days as 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 etc), these e-mails should answer those patients queries and should address topics such as:
How much does this treatment cost?
How will I know if I’m suitable for this treatment?
How comfortable is this treatment?
Where can I go to find out more information about treatment?
What are the links between this treatment and overall dental health?
What type of benefits could I get from this treatment?
In these automated e-mail responses we are not trying to sell any treatment, we are simply handing out useful, free and relevant dental health advice to that patient.
However, within each e-mail we should gently guide the patient towards the next stage in their buying process…
Patients wanting to take the next small and simple step
Once patients have found out all of the information they need about either their problem, treatment or indeed a service provider they may then be ready to move onto the next step which is to come in and see you. HOWEVER at the early stages but may need some incentive or motivation from you to do this.
A discount voucher works equally well
This is where free consultations coming, this may or may not be clinical (that is a whole other blog post) I’m simply looking at this from a marketing perspective, free consultations or even a voucher for a refund of the initial assessment fee has the effect of lowering risk and increasing trust for the patient.
When we lower risk patients that are wavering in their decision are more likely to take action and request an appointment.
The discount voucher works equally well in this regards, in this instance, notice how we are using five-star reviews to increase social proof at the point the patient is looking to make a decision.
How to set this up
Create another list in aweber And call it ‘free consultation’ or ‘refund of initial assessment’. Your automated e-mail responses can simply be thanking the patient for requesting an appointment and sending them a voucher entitling them to this free consultation or refund of initial assessment… At this stage it’s important to note but the primary motivation for doing this is to collect the patient’s details whilst they are online, thereby ensuring that we have the ability to continue to engage with that patient (if they wish to) over an extended period of time.
This gives your website very valuable ‘longevity’.
Important. You should now go into the list settings in Aweber and click on automation. Create a new rule which automates unsubscribing from the free guides list when a patient requests a free consultation or refund of initial assessment.
Creating this automation rule will stop the patient from receiving the prospecting e-mails that they had when they were simply looking for more information, this ensures the e-mails the patient receives relevant to their particular point in their new patient journey.
Patients that have been in to see you
Create a third list in Aweber and call it ‘patients’. as new patients come to the practice collect the e-mail address and name and ask them for permission to send them the very occasional dental health informational update, ensure you keep their details safe and secure.
Upload those e-mail addresses into Aweber using the import function. When Aweber asks, type into the box that you have permission to send these patients the occasional e-mail.
Now create a new automation rule as before, this time removing patients from the free consultation/voucher list AND the free guide list. This will ensure that as patients come into the practice they stop receiving any prospecting e-mails from you.
Create your auto follow up… This is the real genius!
When the patients have been in to see you you should create auto follow up message which simply says we would like to ask you a quick question, would you recommend us to your friends and family… Yes or no.
Create two new pages in your website:
YES – If patients click the yes button from the reviews e-mail direct them to this page. This page should thank them for being willing to give you a review and create links to your Facebook page and Google plus page
NO – If patients clicked the no button from the reviews e-mail, direct them to this page. This page should be an apology page and should have a feedback form enabling patients to give you feedback on why they are not happy to give you a review.
if YES is clicked – the social media icons link to the relevant site
if NO is clicked
Summary of backwards dental marketing
If you set this up as I have suggested you will now have an automated e-mail system which will gently help the patient find out more information, provide them with information, offer them an incentive to request an appointment and then when they’ve been to see you gently ask for a review and guide them to the most appropriate place in order to leave that review.
The system works 24 hours a day.
The system never sleeps.
You can now go back to doing what you do best…
If you’d like an audit of your own dental website marketing, please visit my website audit page.
The link to Aweber in this post is an affiliate link from which I make a small commission. I used Aweber for years before I became an affiliate partner.
Potential new dental patients visiting your website (and indeed any of your online marketing activity) need to find it usable, in fact Google uses usability as part of its search algorithm… The more user-friendly your website is, the higher it may rank.
If you want to know how to make your dental practice website (and other online marketing channels) more usable from a patient’s perspective, read on…
Imagine you are a patient visiting your website, it’s important you put yourself in the shoes of a patient… Not wearing your own shoes as a dental professional!
Think about the mindset of the patient, think about how they would have ended up on your website, think about what they might want from your website.
The stages of buying
When someone visits one of your online marketing channels they will certainly be in one of these stages of buying:
Let’s look at each of these stages of buying and what you could do to assist your potential new patient in each stage.
A person that lands on your website in this stage of the buying process will have just realised that they have a problem. They may have had someone comment on their crooked teeth, they may have just been out for a meal and got food stuck between missing teeth or may have now decided that today is the day they are going to start doing something about their dental health.
Once someone has identified that they have a problem that they will begin searching for a solution, patients in this stage of the process may be searching on Google for phrases such as:
How to straighten crooked teeth
Ways to replace missing teeth
How to stop my gums bleeding
A person at this stage of their problem-solving/buying process may not be thinking about treatments, they may not be thinking about Invisalign, Inman aligner, dental implants or dental hygiene… they probably are not even ready to research and gather information about these alternatives, they are simply looking for a solution to their problem… So what could you do on your website?
Image by Salvatore Vuono freedigitalphotos.net
This is where a dental blog comes in exceptionally handy. You can title blog posts around their search phrases “how to straighten crooked teeth”, within these blog posts we are simply helping the patient identify that they have a problem and that it can be solved. You may find that a patient in this stage of the buying process immediately moves into the information search phase.
We can help patients in this problem recognition stage by providing them with useful and relevant information and content, your blog is an excellent way to attract these people to the website and you can help them move into the information search phrase by offering them a free information pack.
The preferred technique is to allow them to download a free guide relating to their specific problem “All of Your Options to Replace Missing Teeth” in exchange for an e-mail address. Collecting e-mail addresses allows us to gently build a relationship with these people in the long-term as they move through the various buying stages. Information about creating an e-mail marketing campaign.
A patient in this stage of the buying process may have already identified specific treatments to help with their problem. They may be searching for:
Invisalign braces in << geographical location>>
Dental implants in << geographical location>>
Dental hygienists in << geographical location>>
In the information search phase a patient is gathering detailed information about all of their options from both a treatment prospective and possibly a specific dentist perspective. When a patient lands on your website in the information search phase we need to offer them:
Relevant dental information, specific to their information search
An incentive to request an appointment which will help move them to the next buying phase
Relevant dental information can be provided by way of the free guide mentioned previously, always in exchange for an e-mail address. An incentive to request an appointment seems to work best if this is offered as a refund of the patient’s initial assessment. Again, offering this on the website as a download in exchange for an e-mail address works best, it allows the person to feel as though they have partially solved the problem whilst on the site as they now have a voucher entitling them to a refund of their initial assessment.
Evaluation of alternatives
At this stage of the buying process the patient will have decided that they want to straighten their crooked teeth or replace missing teeth, they may even have decided on the specific treatment they desire (clearly only a clinical assessment can verify this for sure). To allow a patient to evaluate alternative dental practices we need to:
These are the two key deciding factors which allow a patient to decide which dentist to you attend. you can reduce risk and increase trust by demonstrating that you care for the patient above and beyond any monetary transaction, offering them a free download as already mentioned goes some way to doing this. Your active social media stream can also demonstrate that you are low risk and trustworthy alternative.
Patient testimonials on your website, especially video testimonials (as these are hardest to fake) will go some considerable way to reducing risk and increase in trust. Showing photographs of the team including your GDC registration numbers also demonstrates that you are trustworthy practice (As well as being compliant).
Offering a refund of initial assessment also reduces risk for the patient, you then have their e-mail address and can then continue to build relationships with them gently and slowly.
Once the patient is in purchase mode you need to ensure that your website has the relevant calls to action in place. If you have followed this process from the beginning and allowed the patient to download some information when they were in the earlier information searching modes then we can begin to send e-mails talking about how you can help.
My recommendations to ensure patients that are ready to purchase take action are:
Have a request an appointment facility on the website (this does not necessarily need to be booking an appointment)
Having a website which is responsive with a ‘click to call’ phone number in case this person is visiting from a mobile phone
Having an ability for a patient to make a general enquiry to the website if they have any further questions
Understanding the buying process and ensuring that you have the possibility for a patient to engage with you at each stage is critical if your marketing is to be effective. You can’t assume that everyone that lands on your website is ready to book an appointment, if they are not, what have you done to help them?
More help and advice on making your website more useable
How useable is your website and could it be improved? This comprehensive website audit will give each of the five key areas of performance a rank so that you can take action.
What’s included in the audit?
46 individual elements of a successful website will be assessed and ranked in the following key performance areas:
Within each of these Key Performance Areas I will rank 46 Individual Elements, each element will be given a score.
These 46 individual elements will then come together to give you an overall score for each of the key performance areas.
You can then see which area of your website needs the most attention to ensure you get the maximum return on anything you spend.
What do you do with the audit?
Once the audit has been completed you can either make the changes yourself, send them to your web designer for their opinion or contact me and I can make the changes for you as part of my Light Package – I’ll then refund your £35 audit fee.
The audit forms the basis of the overall Light service. When you ensure these five key performance areas are performing to the maximum and you have an active, engaging and effective social media stream you will find that your marketing efforts begin to work 24/7/365.
Image courtesy of tiramisustudio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
It’s funny how these things turn out sometimes, I was at a dentistry shown last year having a very interesting discussion with a colleague that runs a dental consultancy. We were talking about what I specifically did for dental practices with their communications.
Out of nowhere I simply replied “Well I, Create, Curate, Syndicate and Aggregate”
And that has now become my golden rule of online marketing… It should become yours also!
Modern search engine optimisation focuses much less on keywords we want to be found for, where we rank in Google search results or how many people visited the website. These may be important metrics but the real focus is on how many people we can help. Period!
The more people we help, the more people will talk about us. This works in real life as well as online. If more people talk about you online and share your information then more people will visit your website, Google will notice those people talking about you and give you a boost up the search results.
Let’s look at each of the Create, Curate, Syndicate and Aggregate areas individually.
This is where you use your experience as a dentist to create unique and individual content. It’s an opportunity to talk about what is important to you and what you value most. It’s the time where you can show what you are interested in and what you believe in and how you believe you can help people solve their dental problems.
You could consider creating content for a free download on your website (check out my free guide also), you could create blog posts (such as this one) or do micro-updates on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google plus, all designed to hand out useful, free and relevant dental health advice.
Creating your own unique content sets you up as a person that genuinely cares in the local area, if people like what you say they will share it which results in more people visiting your website.
Curating content is about understanding what problems your patients are trying to solve and then directing them to other people’s uniquely created content. You may see articles written on news websites, columns written in online magazines or other non-competing dental practice websites.
Sharing other people’s content again shows that you genuinely care about the people in the local area. It builds trust as it demonstrates that you want to help solve their problems and that making money is not your primary concern!
Yes, dare to share content that you did not create! (That means sharing with full attribution, NOT copying to your website and claiming as your own!)
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Syndication means taking one piece of original digital content and syndicating it across various media. This is where online marketing really comes into its own. Consider this blog post, this blog post is going to be shared on:
The more people you reach, the more likelihood there is of them sharing your unique content which drives more traffic to your website.
This is the process by which we pull in multiple streams of information into one easy to read place. Take a look at the bottom of my website and you will see Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all if aggregated into one place.
Using software allows us to aggregate multiple streams into one, for example, you could take your original content that you have created, and aggregate it with your content that you have curated, placing all of it onto twitter.
Aggregating content from multiple places, particularly if you automate the process, allows you to keep a very active presence on the Internet.
People often comment that I always seem to be online on Facebook and Twitter… I do spend a lot of time online to be honest, but I use software to aggregate content from around the Internet, I then use software to syndicate that content which has been curated by others or created by me.
Taking time to create your own content, curate content from others, aggregate all of that content into a single stream and then syndicate it and round the Internet has become the hallmark of a successful Internet marketer, it’s also the hallmark of many of my dental practice clients.
I was recently approached by a prospective new client who said something along the lines of:
“Mark, I’m running a course for dentists in three months time… Can you help with your marketing to fill it for me?”
Now equally, this could have been any one of the many dental services on offer, or even something completely different.
I asked what they had in mind for the marketing? They responded with ‘a series of e-mails, Facebook messages, Twitter tweets and the like.’
Okay, so essentially they want to sell their course using online marketing.
Who do we send those e-mails to?
Who is going to see those social media messages on Facebook or Twitter?
Aha, now we get to the nitty-gritty of the problem. We either have to use an existing e-mail database or buy one, and we have to pay for messages on Facebook or Twitter as we don’t have a particularly good Facebook following.
And if we suddenly start bombarding people that have never heard of us before with marketing messages trying to sell a new course, what does that do to the amount of trust they have in us?
Marketing in this style is what gives social media and e-mail a bad name. People say they’re bombarded with messages they hate and perceive as spam… And to be honest, that’s exactly what many messages are!
An alternative way of marketing – Switching from hate to love
Switching the style of marketing we use can have an enormous impact, but it’s not a quick fix and you can’t suddenly think “Hey, I want to sell a course how can we fill it?”
The secret starts months possibly years earlier than the course/service you want to ‘sell’.
Marketing isn’t something you do… It’s something you are!
Here is a simple step-by-step list of how you can go about selling a course/service with no spam and without upsetting people:
Identify the problem your target audience is trying to solve. DO NOT MISS THIS OUT! What is their problem? Is it that they want more confidence? Are they looking for more time? Are they looking for more money? Are they looking for a new partner? People go about solving these problems in a huge variety of ways, from looking for a new dance class to having teeth whitening… All to solve the same problem! Once you have identified the problem that people are trying to solve you can move on.
Create a social media channel focused around solving this problem.
Create a free guide focused around solving this problem and put it on your website in exchange for an e-mail address.
Begin handing out useful, free and relevant advice helping these people solve this unique problem. Put that advice on your social media channel and write blog posts about it.
Do this consistently and continuously all of the time. It should be your raison d’être. Hand out useful, free and relevant advice which helps that person go some way to solving their problem.
Doing this increases trust and reduces risk which means that when you have a specific service to sell, such as a course, you have an engaged audience which trusts you (after all, you’ve been giving them free information for ages now) and sees you as a low risk option (after all, you been giving them free advice and asked for nothing back).
With this engaged audience, whose problems you understand and have demonstrated you are an expert in it’s a logical and simple step to suggest that they take action to solve their problem with you.
And that’s how you use e-mail and social media to sell your course or service. It takes time to build and grow, but once it does it becomes an unstoppable machine which works 24/7, the best time to start is always now…
As I work closely with these practices I’m able to see the conversion rates from the websites and have drawn up my top tips for ensuring that your website converts and actually does what it’s supposed to do.
You can either watch the video below or read the text in this blog post.
Don’t bother with that fancy scrolling image thing that so many practices do on the home page
I see so many dental practice websites with this scrolling image thing, what is it all about? From a user point of view the chances of anyone sitting there and waiting for the image to scroll is highly unlikely, and from a search engine optimisation point of view sometimes these images look to Google as though they are lots of images stacked on top of one another. Google could then question why are you trying to hide images?
My advice is to go with a small, relevant image all your practice logo and be done with it.
Ensure your contact us tab is top right
This seems to be where our eye is drawn to look for the contact details. A look at some of the bigger sites and you will notice the contact us type is always top right. Whilst standing out and doing things different is great, sometimes it’s good to stick with what people are expecting. So in this instance don’t try to be clever, just put your contact us type top right.
Make your telephone number selectable text so that you can click to call from mobile phones
I’ve recently been looking at statistics on websites and many of them have about 30% of the visitors viewing the site from a mobile device. The recent ” 2013 UK future in focus” ComScore report shows that it is mainly between the hours of 10 AM and 5 PM that we are using computers, outside of this time mobile devices dominate the share of page traffic on a workday.
If you want to take advantage of the commuters on the train or bus on their mobile phone then having your website mobile compatible is a good idea.
Of course the best solution is a fully mobile site or at least one that has an adaptive design to different device formats. And if you want to really be making use of the mobile browsers then having a click to call friendly number on the homepage will be vital.
Use an engaging video to keep visitors on the site longer and engage with them
Having a video on your homepage is a great way to interact and engage with visitors, it also has a tendency to keep people on the page longer which will have an impact on your Google ranking, as it is an indicator that people like your site if they stay on the page for a while before bouncing back to Google for another search
Have a call to action with a signup box on the right-hand side of the page which is viewable without scrolling
By incorporating some form of direct call to action where the visitor feels as though they have achieved something and got something from your site will greatly increase conversions. If you offer a free consultation, then do this in exchange for an e-mail address.
You will of course need an e-mail marketing software to manage this and my recommendation is Aweber.
Create the content of your page around the four elements of why, what, how and what if
As a dentist or technical person within dentistry the chances are that you think very analytically and are interested in the detail. Not everyone thinks this way and if your webpage launches into the precise way that you deliver your service many people may not engage with it.
By starting off with ‘why’ they need to listen to what you have to say you will engage a wider range of people.
Finishing off with ‘what if’ allows your website visitor to ‘try on’ emotionally the results of solving their dental problem.
Of course this list is not totally exhaustive and there is a huge amount of scope for any designer to be able to create a fantastic looking and functioning website around these parameters. If you follow the basic six steps above you will find that your website converts better and that you end up with more patients, of course, assuming that the actual design of the site is great too.