It used to be that dentist practices survived on word-of-mouth and traditional advertising. The platform that most dental offices spent their advertising budgets on was the Yellow Pages. While the results of this decision varied, typically the return on investment for dental practices was lacking. Yet, it’s not like there were a lot of options before the internet. Dentists could advertise their office on television, but that was very expensive. Another choice was print through billboards or direct mailing, but the effectiveness of these marketing strategies was also limited.
Everything changed with the introduction of the internet. Information was accessible to more people, and on a grander scale than had ever been possible before. This access to information grew as the internet developed, however, the next real chance came with social media. From MySpace to Facebook and Twitter, these platforms became an opportunity for dentists to speak directly to their target audience.
Today, digital marketing is quickly overtaking traditional marketing as the most effective form of building your dental practice. While there are a number of reasons that digital marketing is so successful, the main reason is that it puts your business in the same space where potential clients are spending their time. Whether that means being present on LinkedIn or sharing pins on Pinterest, there are countless ways to interact with clients, both new and recurring.
To help explain why your dental office needs to be using digital marketing, we’ve put together a brief list explaining the benefits for your business. We already talked about the top 3 ways dental practices can increase their search engine optimization (SEO) ranking, so we won’t spend too much time addressing that aspect of digital marketing. Yet, SEO is a key component of digital marketing and you should read this post to learn more about it.
The following list doesn’t capture every reason you should be using digital marketing, but we feel the points below present a strong enough case to get you seriously thinking about how it can benefit your practice. Also, while this article is written for dentist offices, the reasons we provide can benefit nearly any established business or industry.
Here are our top 4 reasons dental offices need to be using digital marketing to promote and build their business into a successful practice:
1) Unique Branding
Instead of being just another dentist office, digital marketing gives you an opportunity to tell your story on multiple platforms. Whether through the design of your website or how you interact with people on social media, there are no limits to the ways you can present your practice to your target audience. The following are just some branding opportunities you can use to create a unique identity for potential patients to remember your office by:
These are just a few ways that you take advantage of your online presence to create a specific for your dentist office and stand out from the other practices that operate in the same area.
2) Customer Support
Before the internet, customer support used to involve following up with patients by phone or mail. This process took longer and could be less efficient if a proper system wasn’t set up for the staff to follow. While having guidelines is still important, office staff can now respond to patient complaints or inquiries much sooner. It’s also easier to interact with patients on a one-on-one basis because of platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
The second part of customer support that digital marketing makes better, is providing your target audience with useful information that they can use in their daily lives. This could include brushing tips, lessons on how to floss, or a short video about how important regular dental cleanings are. Using a blog or social media, you can create and share content that helps your patients, while making you stand out from other practices.
3) Modern Advertising
As we already explained, traditional advertising just doesn’t compare to the digital alternative. Promoting your practice’s services through Google AdWords or social media advertising gives you a larger reach to a targeted audience. By using digital advertising, you have greater control over what your ad looks like, when it goes out, who sees it, and how much you spend on it.
While the results will vary depending on a number of important factors, advertising online will cost you less than any other form of advertising. Another benefit to advertising online is that you can create promotions and contests that run for a specific amount of time, creating buzz around your practice while building your digital presence and brand.
4) Business Visibility
If you don’t have a website, your dental office may as well be invisible. And, a website is the minimal you need to be doing online to attract new business. You need to take advantage of social media to interact with your community and target audience to get your name out there. As we already mentioned, using a blog and contests is another great way to stay relevant between appointments. You should be using digital marketing to be a constant presence in your patient’s lives when they aren’t in your chair.
The second part of visibility is making sure that your practice’s website is visible on the Google search results page. This means following SEO guidelines such as having a responsive website, updated content, an easy-to-navigate layout for your site, and proper keywords.
It’s clear that marketing is evolving. From how people consumer information to purchase products and services, the internet is a landscape your office needs to be present on. If you aren’t already active online, you need to start seriously considering it. The potential benefits speak for themselves if you approach digital marketing in a smart way that strengthens your practice.
David Sahly has spent his entire career working with organizations of all sizes to come up with practical digital media strategies that work. Before founding Above the Fold Media, he worked at Search Engine People as the Senior Manager of Business Development. He has his hands in every part of the marketing development strategy and is passionate about watching businesses thrive.