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8 tips for increasing your marketing ROI

April 20, 2021
Your practice probably places a fair amount of importance on things like infection control, up-to-date equipment, and staffing, but what about marketing? As Kristie Boltz explains, a good marketing strategy can make a world of difference.
Kristie Boltz, Founder and CEO, myDentalCMO

2020 saw the dental industry rocked by changes, but it rallied swiftly. Many dental practices immediately created and implemented plans to make their offices and treatment rooms safer than ever in an effort to bolster patients’ confidence. Dentistry became the example for other industries.

Making the right physical changes allowed many practices to survive. Now it’s time to make the right marketing changes so your practice can thrive. Focus on the following:

1. Storytelling

Storytelling across different mediums is the best way to catch and hold an audience’s attention.1 Creating content should be a multipronged effort, with “microcontent” linking back to long-form content, and vice versa. Create a blog post, then a social media post that picks up on high-lights. Develop a video no longer than three minutes. Create a social story with images that spark interest and lead your viewer back to a more comprehensive take. Each piece of content should tell a story, or at least introduce it. Consider livestreaming when possible; this format can generate 10 times the amount of social interaction as regular posts on platforms such as Facebook.2 The important thing isn’t how much content you push out—it’s getting your stories in front of the right audience, in the right format, and then converting them into patients.

2. Multichannel attribution

While “last-click” data is important (the final step web users make before landing on your practice’s contact page or calling your office for an appointment), tracing the entire patient journey from first contact to first appointment can deliver insights into the funnel you are building for patient acquisition. Real-time data can show you when a prospective patient is ripe for direct outreach. Being able to recognize the same prospect across multiple channels can assist in this goal.

Multichannel attribution clarifies where attention was first attracted, how it was drawn further in, and what led the user to the site of that last click. This data can help you determine which channels are best for informational sharing, and which lend themselves to direct campaigning.3

Paying attention to how channels are used can also make you aware of how different platforms are performing and what types of content are driving audience engagement.

3. Diving deep

Not knowing, understanding, or leveraging data is one of the biggest mistakes dental practices make—especially more established practices. What are your key performance indicators (KPIs) for 2021? Don’t say “new patient volume”; that’s actually the worst indicator for long-term success. Pick no more than three metrics to focus on, and make “average production per new patient” one of them.

You’ll also want to pay close attention to where your new patients are coming from: Ideally, the bulk of new appointments would be spurred by referrals.3 The new word-of-mouth is facilitated not only in-person, but increasingly across social media platforms, and has expanded to include wider “peer” circles as people grow their personal networks. When you can track data and correctly attribute results to the correct patient flows through different channels or across channels, you can develop even better funnels.

4. Doing good in your community

This is nothing new. The majority of a dental practice’s patients come from a specific geographical radius. The smaller the town, the more tight-knit the community, but even dental practices in large cities will typically see a multitude of patients from a select area encompassing adjacent neighborhoods. This presents various opportunities to get involved in your local community, increasing your practice visibility and syncing with your practice’s PR plan.

If there are two practices that are similar in all aspects (including size, patient base, specialty, community, and clinical philosophy), but one heavily invests time in local causes and the other does not, the first will always have more positive word-of-mouth. Do good in your community whenever possible, in big ways and small, to build that all-important foundation of respect and trust.4 Don’t agonize over how to get involved, just look for opportunities and do it.

5. Choosing a lane 

With so many platforms to choose from when it comes to online engagement, it’s easy to spread yourself and your team too thin. Choose no more than two or three platforms to maintain a robust presence on, and commit to them. It’s all right to switch one out later if it underperforms, but if you split your time and budget in too many directions at the beginning, you won’t be able to ascertain what is underperforming versus what is a result of underfunding. And remember, marketing currency comes in two distinct forms—money and time!

Facebook is still the platform most dentists trust to market their practice, but Instagram provides more opportunities for visual marketing, and a variety of other platforms can be tested to determine which is the best fit for a third channel of outreach. Avoid diluting the effect you have on any given platform by focusing on just two or three, and you’ll quickly gain perspective on what works and what doesn’t.

6. Providing telehealth services

Telehealth services have been around for years, but the pandemic brought them to the forefront. Pre–COVID-19, 10% of patients had used telehealth services; today, 80%–90% are familiar with the concept or have used it themselves.5

Dental practices have begun to leverage virtual appointment options as a way to draw in prospective new patients while providing a sense of comfort and safety. Those attempting to shelter in place can still be “seen” by a dental practitioner for a consult and given one-on-one, personalized service.

The key to doing telehealth right is making it easy for people to book appointments (which may mean being flexible with scheduling), having a set format for appointments to follow, and laying the groundwork for an in-office appointment by explaining the safety protocols that are in place to protect everyone’s health. Again, it all comes back to building trust.

7. Recommiting to SEO

Despite biannual predictions that “SEO is dead,” it’s very much alive and must be considered in your dental practice market-ing strategy. Some basic SEO tips for 2021 from search engine leader and consulting firm Moz include: transcribing your videos, adding title tags and meta descriptions to your webpages, investing in long-form content, and creating clusters that turn one important topic into multiple pieces of content to disseminate information to multiple audience types.6

8. Zeroing in on patient retention

Patient acquisition can cost up to 25x as much as patient retention.7 If every patient you book comes to see you only once, that’s a lot of recurring costs you’ll incur due to your need to continually identify, engage, and acquire new patients. With retention, each patient has a much higher lifetime value (LTV), and you can build a strong referral program on the foundation of trust created by long-term relationships with your existing patient base.

That doesn’t mean you should give up on new patient acquisition through other means. Community outreach, paid advertising on social sites, SEO, and other avenues are still excellent ways to expand your reach and draw in new audiences. Just pay special attention to nurturing the patients you already have, turning them into ambassadors for your practice. These basics still matter:

  • Noting patient preference for contact (email, text, phone call)
  • Providing amenities in your office (as sterilization and health protocols permit)
  • Making scheduling and payment options as streamlined as possible (con-tactless when possible)
  • Asking for feedback and making it easy to give (immediate surveys with only one or two items)

Marketing versus advertising

Money spent on advertising has an immediate effect, but when the funds run out, the results often stop as well. Marketing is a bigger-picture approach that involves investing in tactics that pay off both in the short and long term. When you commit to a well-rounded practice marketing plan using the above tips, you’ll find your methods paying dividends for years after your initial investment.


  1. How to leverage 14 social media marketing trends in 2021. Forbes. January 25, 2021. Accessed February 1, 2021. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscoun-cil/2021/01/25/how-to-leverage-14-social-media-marketing-trends-in-2021/?sh=69afebf13dc6
  2. Marinos N. Pay attention to these dental social media marketing trends. My Social Practice. October 21, 2020. Accessed February 1, 2021. https://mysocialpractice.com/2020/10/pay-attention-to-these-dental-social-media-marketing-trends/
  3. 15 must-have items leaders should add to their 2021 marketing budget. Forbes. January 27, 2021. Accessed February 1, 2021. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2021/01/27/15-must-have-items-leaders-should-add-to-their-2021-marketing-budget/?sh=12bec4e76258
  4. Gallegos JA. 7 digital marketing trends of focus for 2021. Social Media Today. January 5, 2021. Accessed February 1, 2021. https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/7-digital-market-ing-trends-of-focus-for-2021/592857/
  5. Kim LJ. 2021 digital healthcare marketing trends to watch. Noble Studios. December 20, 2020. Accessed February 1, 2021. https://noblestudios.com/digital-healthcare-marketing-trends-2021/
  6. Shepard C. 21 smart Google SEO tips for 2021. Moz. January 8, 2021. Accessed February 1, 2021. https://moz.com/blog/21-seo-tips-2021
  7. Tools and tips for patient retention. NexHealth. September 4, 2021. Accessed February 1, 2021. https://blog.nexhealth.com/patient-retention-tips-tools/
KRISTIE BOLTZ is the founder and CEO of myDentalCMO, a marketing consulting firm that helps dentists make smarter marketing decisions and trains dental teams to execute on those decisions. As a result of her head for numbers and passion for teaching, people often say their practice marketing dollar has never been more effective. Schedule a chat with Kristie at mydentalcmo.com or call (877) 746-4410.

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