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How to attract new patients (according to new patients)

April 19, 2016
Every practice needs new patients, and there's no shortage of advice about the most effective ways to attract them. 

Kevin Rach

Every practice needs new patients, and there's no shortage of advice about the most effective ways to attract them. Countless marketing experts share advice about what your practice needs most, some of it great, some not so great. But the best way to find out what patients want is simple-ask patients themselves. This study is the result of that approach. Some of the answers might not surprise you, but some answers will.

This study, a joint effort of Dental Economics magazine and Officite, went outside the pages of this publication to ask over 100 dental patients about how they find and choose a dentist, and the methods they use to conduct their searches. The branding-free survey was conducted through Facebook, e-mail, and other channels, and none of the respondents were dentists, hygienists, clinicians, or in any way affiliated with dentistry, aside from receiving care. Here's who they are, and what they had to say.]

Now that we know the respondents, let's explore how they said they find dental care. We asked:

Here's the part that shouldn't surprise anyone- word-of-mouth and insurance compatibility lead the pack in driving new patients to a practice. However, the rest of the influencing factors, which are very much under your control, contain some of the most surprising data.

The respondents indicated that search engines (89% of respondents prefer Google) and Yelp are more effective than advertising, coupons, and Yellow Pages listings combined. Furthermore, the responses show that a social media presence is just as effective as a noticeable physical presence.

This finding was interesting enough in its own right, but the situation is further complicated by responses to the following question:

Despite its power, not even word-of-mouth is ironclad. Although it is the single most important factor in driving new patients, 43% of people who receive a personal recommendation will still look online to make a judgment for themselves. They will most likely use Google and review sites to find you, and when they do, they'll see your website, which leads us to the next question:

Having a website that caters to the top three responses is crucial (as is keeping hours that fit your patients' schedules). Notice that the photos that patients want to see aren't stock images, but pictures of the people who actually run the practice. If you're using stock images, or if your website looks outdated, it's safe to assume that patients will be turned off and will look elsewhere. Less than a quarter of respondents cared about the other options. When it comes to device capability, this question was strangely at odds with another question that indicated 29% use tablets and 58% use phones in their search for a dentist. This is worth further exploration.

There you have it-how to attract new patients according to patients. Be on the lookout for more tips and studies from Officite, the expert in what brings patients to your practice. If you're interested in more information, call Officite at (866) 869-4055.

Kevin Rach is the communications manager at Officite, a leading provider of websites and online marketing in the dental industry. He and his team produce content designed to help dentists thrive in the online marketplace. For more information, visit officite.com/dental, or like Officite on Facebook.

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