5 Ways to Attract More Dental Patients While You’re at Starbucks (or Almost Anywhere Else)
Most practices want to know how to get new dental patients, as a quick look at the forums on Dentaltown demonstrates. And there’s certainly no shortage of marketing ideas today to increase your patient volume.
But since research shows that most people
Actively read (and place trust in) online reviews of businesses
Use a smartphone for getting local business information
then it makes sense to focus attention on digital marketing; in particular, on moving up the ranks in search engine results.
Let’s take a quick look at 5 easy things you can do online to get visibility for your dental practice while you’re enjoying your coffee.
Join a local organization.
Networking with other business owners certainly has plenty of benefits, but sometimes just joining the organization (even if you aren’t able to attend meetings) can drive traffic to your website and raise your rankings.
For example, local Chamber of Commerce organizations – many of which you can join online in a matter of minutes – allow you to link to your website from theirs, providing a valuable “backlink” that builds trust in the eyes of search engines. The cost of joining the Chamber varies depending on the size of your practice and your location. You can call the toll-free number of the US Chamber of Commerce to find your local chapter.
Other local organizations may provide similar online linking opportunities for members.
Make the most of your professional memberships.
The American Dental Association allows its members to create a profile for its Find-a-Dentist tool. It only takes a few minutes to fill out the profile, and including your practice’s web address gives you another trusted backlink. Be sure to add a photo, since that increases the likelihood potential dental patients will click through to your practice’s info.
You may belong to other professional organizations as well; check out their sites to see if they allow you to enter your dental practice’s web address.
And don’t forget colleges and universities you’ve attended. Some, like Penn Dental Medicine, have directories for alumni to enter info that can help potential patients find local practices.
Engage with your social media audience.
Post something on your Facebook page, fire off a tweet, or put a fresh image up on Instagram. (Suggestions for places to get high quality, relevant images are listed in this dental blog guide.)
Don’t have anything handy that’s related to your dental practice? Visit dental news aggregators like MedicalNewsToday or ScienceDaily and choose an article you think would interest your current patients. Then share it on Facebook with a short note of why you think it’s interesting.
Or if you want to share it with Twitter but the link is too long, use a free service like Bit.ly that will take a long link and give you a custom short, more clickable one to use instead.
One of the best ways to get reader engagement for your posts or tweets is to ask questions: ask one after a link to an article, or even as an image caption.
While you may not see any measurable movement in your search engine rankings as a result of your social media efforts, having people respond and engage with your business is a form of “social proof” to others who may be researching you.
Respond to someone who has posted a review.
Take a minute to thank a patient who’s taken the time to post a review of your dental practice on a site like Yelp or AngiesList (you might have to set up a business user account if you haven’t already), or even on sites like Facebook or Twitter.
Since so many people are depending upon online reviews, you can be sure that people looking for a local dental practice will see your response when they read the posted reviews.
Social engagement generally builds goodwill, which is good for business.
What if it wasn’t such a great review? Author Shama Kabani says,
“People are not looking for perfection online. What they’re really looking for is humanity and a genuine response, so a negative review can be a great opportunity to respond in a positive and transparent manner. And that has a good impact on all your customers.”
Other great advice to handle negative reviews can be found in this Forbes article.
One important caveat: be sure your replies are HIPAA compliant. You must word your response in a way that doesn’t even confirm the reviewer received any healthcare services from your practice. Healthcare privacy expert Dr. Danika E. Brinda provides some great examples of compliant and non-compliant responses in her article for Yelp.
Few or no reviews? Ask a few of your regular clients to write a review. Research shows 7 of 10 people will leave a review if asked to, so just asking a small number of patients to do so should result in new reviews for your dental practice.
Do a quick check to see how your website is performing.
Pull it up on your device and see how it looks and how fast it loads. Nearly half of people surveyed say they expect a website to load in 2 seconds, and they often leave a site that doesn’t load in 3 seconds.
And besides causing people to bounce from your dental website, a slow load-time will hurt your ranking in search engine results.
For a closer look at why your website might not be ranking as well as you’d like, try using a free website check-up tool like DDSRank’s Site Audit Tool.
Using the tool will provide you with details that can highlight trouble spots – things that may be keeping your site from ranking higher. Then you can go into your site and fix any broken links, add alt tags to your images, or take care of other problems.
With the Site Audit Tool, you even have an option to enter a competing dental practice to see how their site compares to yours. And after looking over the information you receive from the audit, if you decide that you want more help with your practice’s website, you can contact DDSRank for a more in-depth audit.
So start using these tips today to get more dental patients. One latte at a time.