The term “marketing” is an ever changing term with many different pieces. Today, marketing is online as much as offline, if not more. As practices work to attract more millennials, digital marketing is key. They check businesses on Google or Yelp, research medical professionals before choosing, and they don’t think twice about it. While there are many different ways to approach marketing for your practice, there are a few non-negotiables when it comes to maintaining an online presence.
Don’t Ignore Social Media
Social media is for more than memes! Creating a robust social presence helps spread the word about your practice, is (mostly) free, and can help build relationships with your patients throughout the year, instead of just their annual visits.
While social media is a diverse topic on its own, here are the crucial elements to consider.
- Implement social media icons on your website. This shows you’re on social media, which gives patients a new place to connect with you.
- Post regularly to stay in patients’ news feeds.
- Beware the algorithm. Try to keep promotional wording to a minimum, due to Facebook’s changing algorithm minimizing your post’s reach. This is not to say never be promotional. Instead, work to minimize the “sell” aspect of posts.
- Post a variety of content, like promotional, resources (blog), local news, and outreach or patient appreciation days.
- This is where you’ll share your helpful blog posts and other news your patients are interested in.
- Social media is a very visual outlet, so make sure to post pictures. (This can be made easy by an employee with the mobile app and their phone’s camera.)
Choose your Social Outlet
While there are the big three, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, there are also Google+ and LinkedIn. What is the best option for your practice? Each outlet has its unique advantages and disadvantages. If you cater to families, Facebook could be the best option because of their demographic reach. If you cater to professionals (and your dentists have profiles), LinkedIn could be a viable option. If you cater to millennials, Twitter could be your prime option.
It’s also important to note that while you can be on as many social outlets as you would like, the time commitment increases with each outlet added. You’ll want to really utilize each outlet and make your presence great. If you can only manage Facebook, then focus on making your Facebook presence the best it can be.
Become a Resource
Develop your website into more than just a destination for contact information. Creating and building a blog gives your patients another reason to visit your website. Posts can be about maintaining a dental routine, dentist recommended at-home whitening solutions, what to expect at your next cleaning, or how to prepare children for their first appointment.
Your practice is filled with highly-trained doctors, hygienists, and technicians. Blogging establishes your expertise, which translates into trust that you’re the dentist they’re looking for.
While blogging well can be time-consuming, it helps you become a resource for your clients in between appointments. Many people don’t think of the dentist until appointment time. But what if you could create a resource that patients can visit to answer their questions and find new information?
Blogging also does not need to be a three times a week commitment. Once a week, or three times a month is still worthwhile, and it’s an easier workload for your office to commit to. This time commitment also helps your social media presence, because blog posts can easily become content for social media.
Utilize Your Google Listing
If a patient were to Google your practice, what would appear to the right of the page? Businesses can claim their Google+ account, which is also their Google Business page, and there are many reasons it’s a smart idea to do so.
- Your SEO ranking will be improved, which essentially means more exposure.
- You’ll ensure that there is correct information in Google Maps results, etc.
- Your Google Maps listing links to your website.
- Patients will be able to find your address more easily.
- Patients will be able to leave reviews, which is crucial for attracting new patients. (Assuming they’re positive, of course.)
Even if you choose to not fully utilize Google+, find the time to set up your Google Business page. The increased web traffic and ease of finding information is worth your time.
Yelp Isn’t Just for Restaurants
Is your practice on Yelp? It’s commonly a resource for finding the best new restaurant, but it’s also becoming a great resource for doctors and other healthcare professionals. Word of mouth is free marketing, and can be extremely effective. If your patients always rave about your practice and say they recommend you to friends, ask if they would mind writing a review on Yelp to share their good experience.
If you want to provide some good-natured motivation, you can create a giveaway where the entry is sharing their thoughts. Prizes could be dental-related like one free whitening treatment or an electric toothbrush, or it could be a date-night package with a gift card for dinner and a movie. Giveaways are also a way to say “thank you” for supporting your practice!
A less intrusive way to show your Yelp presence is adding the Yelp sticker to your door. It shows patients that you’re there, and can encourage them to write a review.
Community Outreach & Connecting with Businesses
Community outreach is a great way to spread word about your practice while helping others. One aspect of this is getting involved with a non-profit. Whether your work with them is dental related or a team outing to help clean up a property, you’ll be doing good in the community while sharing your passion for your practice.
If there is a medical practice nearby that shares your philosophy and passion, you could create a “health day” with an open house and activities. This not only helps you connect with potential patients, but helps you share valuable health information with those you may not have otherwise met.
Maintaining your social presence
Beginning a new digital marketing strategy can be overwhelming. So many ideas, but so little time! Marketing efforts don’t have to be done in hour or more chunks. Once your presence is established, you can maintain it by spending 15-30 minutes once or twice a week. Time commitment will vary depending on your unique situation, but it’s possible. Some posts can be scheduled before the first patient of the day. Responding to comments can be done during a lull between patients.
Digital marketing is a complex machine. While it can be intimidating to begin, taking small steps towards growing your online presence will affect your patient interaction for the better, and can attract more patients. As this generation grows older and wants to take better care of their teeth, you have an opportunity to grab their attention and help them as patients. This opportunity, though, is almost entirely online, making digital marketing one of the most important things you can do to cement your firm’s growth.
Does your practice already have a thriving online presence? If so, what would your top recommendation be?