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Friday, 25 April 2014 10:34

Maneuvering the digital marketing maze: Is your dental practice making wrong turns? Featured

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post 100 picA dental practice is one of the trickiest businesses to effectively market, either by traditional methods or by utilizing our available digital technologies.

Many times, providers and practice managers are overwhelmed by the wide array of available tools and by vendors that are knocking on their doors trying to get dentists to purchase their services.

It is not surprising that when the subject of marketing a practice arises, people typically take a step backwards trying to move out of an uncomfortable subject. However, a person will never make it through a maze if they are continually taking steps backwards.

In order to have, and maintain, a competitive advantage in the dental community, an office needs to understand the options available to effectively market their practice to both existing and prospective patients.

Sesame Communications conducted a national research study in February, 2014 to examine how dental providers view digital marketing. The findings show that most dental providers valued their ranking on Healthgrades.com.

They felt that automated reminders and their website impacted practice success. Interestingly, a majority felt that print advertising did not contribute to their practice growth.

One of the challenges that dental providers encounter is that they have very infrequent opportunities to market themselves to their patients. The most impactful method has been by word-of-mouth and should be retained as a crucial part of a practice’s strategy.

However, it is rather challenging to ask for referrals after a patient has just received a difficult root canal or at their recall appointments which only occur twice a year.

The most meaningful advantage of digital marketing is that it gives a practice countless opportunities to connect with people.

It also demonstrates that the dentist is personable and interested in their patients’ health. Social media and review sites encourage people to share positive experiences and can serve as another method to deliver word-of-mouth marketing.

Utilizing Facebook, Yelp, Google+ Local, Angie’s List or one of the many other sites can be a valuable asset. Everyone is concerned about managing reputations and negative feedback online.

The good news is that there are services that can provide reputation management for you.

An effective practice website is the foremost presence in the digital world, and should only be designed by a professional that understands the dental profession.

Users will need to be visually attracted to your practice website and it should draw the person in to explore information, all within a moment in time. The website should display the best qualities of your practice and the people that patients will be working with.

Make it personable, as well as professional. The website design should be easy to navigate, provide practice demographic and contact information and inform users of services offered. When working with a website designer, verify that the website will be optimized for search engines to push your practice to the top of search results.

There are multiple online tools available to provide real-time tracking of users’ visits to your website, which pages were viewed most, how they were driven to your website and how long they remained.

Once potential patients leave your website, there is another way to get your practice information in front of them once again, and again, and again.

It is a method called “retargeting”. This utilizes cookies to show advertisements for your practice on websites that the user frequents.

This keeps your practice in the sight and minds of people that visited your website. A practice can set limits on the amount of advertising, how long it will continue and the targeted group.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is crucial in the digital marketing strategy. By effectively using SEO, your practice can appear on the first page of results when users enter keywords that are related to your practice and services.

Getting your practice verified by Google so that it appears in the Google Local section of the results page, will reach out to a user base that is close to your practice location.

Entering your practice into online directories, and maintaining your practice information will provide a digital presence that your practice is of quality and will drive more online traffic to your office.

Pay-per-click advertising can sound like a wrong turn within the digital maze, but has proved to be a valuable tool in a digital marketing plan.

By utilizing Google AdWords, you have the freedom to select how much advertising to do so that you remain within a marketing budget, and the ad will only show up in searches based on the keywords related to your practice. The fee is applied only when a user clicks on the ad and is connected to your website.

Want a way to create urgency in a patient to fill a last minute opening? Try advertising a daily special. This can be effective for both existing patients to bring them back through your office door, or to get a new patient to try out your practice. The goal of any advertising is to get the patient to schedule an appointment in the moment while your practice is fresh on their mind. Just one special offer can give your practice the opportunity to build a lasting patient relationship with numerous individuals, and families.

Email marketing and electronic newsletters can be the method to deliver promotions and educational tools to large numbers of patients with the click of a “Send” button. These lists can be monitored to determine what information appeals most to the readers, giving insight as to what patients are looking for in a dental practice and how your office can meet those needs.

By consulting with professionals and obtaining services that can best meet the needs of your practice’s digital marketing plan, your practice is sure to grow by bringing patients to your door.

Digital marketing is no longer a trend, but rather a necessity to present your practice to the community.

No longer can we take steps backwards to avoid the complexities of digital marketing, but transitioning through the digital marketing maze with confidence is a right click.

Read 7443 times Last modified on Friday, 25 April 2014 12:17

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