In a world of such large online connectivity, dental practices that are to remain competitive, need to have an established digital marketing strategy that involves social media, online reputation management, search engine optimization amongst other.
Conventional wisdom is that health-related services need only minimal investments in marketing their practices. No amount of advertising or blogging can make anyone ‘need’ a health service. After all, as our highest priority in life, when such services are needed they are sought out by patients, aren’t they? And since health is at the essence of survival, there’s little risk in such services going out of business, right?
There is a certain logic to that thinking but, in reality, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Consider that we don’t apply that same thinking to the food industry, or to clothing or real estate. Would anyone expect a grocery store to not advertise because we all need food? Of course not
THE IMPORTANCE OF AN ONLINE PRESENCE
Let’s take a dental office as an example. Having a successful dental practice requires a good balance of traditional and digital marketing tactics but the shift to digital is here and it is real. While professional referrals will always be a major means of attracting new patients, consumers have become accustomed to seeking out information online before making most purchase decisions.
In the digital era we are particularly prone to scouring online reviews, treatment information, and more online. To not have a presence in this sphere can be a huge detriment to your practice. After all, imagine searching for a doctor online not getting not a single result. What kind of impression does that give you if no one has anything to say about this doctor, or that their only presence is a yellow pages listing? It doesn’t quite inspire confidence, does it?
“72% of online seekers said they looked online for health related information, including Doctors and Dentists as the top searches”
YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION AND CAN YOU MANAGE IT? SHOULD YOU?
For the second question, ‘YES!’ You should definitely manage your reputation online and offline. Word-of-mouth and customer testimonials are just impactful online as off, only when they are available to the world, they can influence so many more people. Encouraging patients to leave reviews on sites like ratemd.com or your Facebook company page is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your online reputation. Particularly for health-related matters that patients might be anxious about can a plethora of positive reviews give them confidence in contacting you for services.
Online reputation management however goes beyond securing good reviews. It also involves the image you portray and what you have to say. Being honest is critical here; for example, if you have pictures of a beautiful office on a well-designed website and you haven’t had any renovations in 25 years, customers will feel deceived even if your surgical skills are top-notch.
As well, being active commenting on the latest issues and developments in the field show that you are engaged and up-to-date with the best-in-care practices. If you want to learn more on how to create a digital marketing strategy, particularly on social media and your website, you can refer to our blog post on How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy.
WHAT SHOULD A DENTAL PRACTICE DO?
SEO (SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION)
Unfamiliar with SEO (Search Engine Optimization)? In short, it’s a means of getting your website(s) to rank higher in searches, i.e. to appear on the earliest pages of Google, Bing, or Yahoo. It’s pretty evident how this benefits your practice (how many of us click past two pages of Google results?), but how does one actually engage in SEO? By being active in a multitude of avenues online (websites, blogs, social media) and generating strong, relevant, and shareable content.
There are a number of proven tactics that help with maintaining a higher SEO ranking, be careful though, as these tactics are continuously evolving and it might be wiser to delegate this part to digital marketing professionals.
Some of these tactics include the following:
- Including clear on site meta-descriptions
- A continuous inflow of relevant content via blog posts, video and more (i.e: a functional content marketing plan)
- A search-friendly url link structure
- A mobile-optimized webpage
- Making sure all Alt descriptions are filled in appropriately for all images
APPLY A COHERENT SOCIAL MEDIA PLAN
Before launching your dental practice into a social media frenzy, take some time to create a plan for your social media content. Set-out some objectives, and decide which platforms are best suited to your practice’s goals. Not all social media platforms are suited for all dental practices.
Decide on your target audience, and accordingly pick the online tactics that make most sense.
MAKE USE OF PAID ADVERTISING ON BOTH INSTAGRAM & FACEBOOK
Facebook & Instagram paid advertising are affordable tools for small to medium size businesses to advertise to very specific groups of people, and to build an online presence in a relatively short period of time.
Of course there are other platforms where to advertise such as Twitter & LinkedIn, but Facebook (which owns Instagram) has some of the most sophisticated options in targeting. Don’t forget to make use of the Facebook Pixel in order to track campaign results
PUT TOGETHER A CONTENT MARKETING PLAN
A content marketing plan helps you define the tone, voice, frequency and topics to be shared, curated and created on your online channels. In essence, it is your online brand guidelines
GET YOUR ANALYTICS GOING
One of the greatest advantages of online marketing is the amount of data that we as marketers are able to collect. Make sure to have Google Analytics on your website. Use all this data to understand which tactics are working best, and adjust those that do not seem to be giving the best results.
“Take some time to plan your social media strategy. Choose carefully which platforms you will be using for your practice. You need NOT make use of all existent social media platforms out there”