The 7 Deadly Sins of Online Practice Marketing

Year after year, the Web continues to provide new marketing opportunities for dentists. But as time goes by and more practices compete for online success ...

By Glenn Lombardi

Year after year, the Web continues to provide new marketing opportunities for dentists. But as time goes by and more practices compete for online success, building a competitive Web presence is becoming more difficult. It's still possible to do. In fact, it's altogether necessary. So if you are looking to improve your Web presence this year, here are seven pitfalls you will want to avoid.

1. Assuming a Website is Sufficient

It's 2014, and all of us are far more Internet-savvy than we were even five years ago. Nevertheless, a surprising number of dentists still seem to think that a website is the end-all-be-all to online success. Once upon a time, this was true. But those days are long gone. The Web is now so enormous that any site, no matter how good it is, will get lost in a crowd if it is not part of a comprehensive and carefully maintained Web presence. To ensure success, your online footprint will need to be much, much larger.

2. Being Unprepared for Mobile Traffic

Mobile websites were a novelty back in 2007. Then again, so was the iPhone. Seven years later, it's time to catch up. Ninety-one percent of all people on the planet have access to a mobile device, and 56% of these people have a smart device. That makes a mobile website a basic necessity. Without one, half of your potential mobile customers will see someone else's website before yours.

3. Avoiding Social Media

Facebook is not just for kids anymore. Like it or not, it's now prevalent enough that it's a big part of modern culture. This can be good or bad, depending on who you ask. But the facts speak for themselves. Every day 728 million people log into Facebook. Each user has an average of 303 friends. This means Facebook alone, not to mention other successful platforms such as Twitter and blogging, is the biggest, most immediate referral network at your disposal. It's a powerful tool, and your practice needs to use it.

4. Giving up on Online Reviews

Reviews on Yelp and Google can be both frustrating and fantastic. But regardless of which side of the fence your practice falls on, you need to keep up with them. This is because 85% of consumers say they read online reviews for local businesses before patronizing them. Seventy-nine percent say they trust reviews as much as personal recommendations. This means your online reviews are your reputation. They need to be monitored, tracked, and acted upon.

5. Leaving Google up to Luck

Google rules the Internet. "Google it" is a universally understood command. So what happens when your practice does not show up on a Google search for dentists in your area? Nothing. No new patients and stymied growth. Search engine optimization helps you appear prominently where people look for your services most often.

6. Making your Patients Go to WebMD for Information

Your patients have questions. Make sure the answers come from you. You might not be available 24/7, but a patient education section on your website will be. It builds trust and keeps information-hungry patients on your site. That means that when they seek treatment as a follow-up action, they will already have your information at their fingertips.

7. Waiting Around, Hoping for Improvement

How many of your patients delay basic treatment, only to return later on when the problem is much worse? Neglecting a weak Web presence is just like leaving a new cavity untreated. It's only going to get worse with time. If your problem can be fixed (and it can be), find a good company, find a good price, and get started.

All of these, in one way or another, can be prevented by following one golden rule: Stay current. Don't fall behind. You do not need to ride the very cutting edge of technology. You do not necessarily need to blaze new paths. Nor do you need to do anything so complicated that a smart person like you cannot understand it. But you do need to be up to snuff with the most basic online marketing competencies. If you have not already started, now is the time to get rolling before that cavity gets any bigger.

Glenn Lombardi is president of Officite, a leading provider of dental websites and Internet marketing strategies, including social media, search marketing, reputation management, and mobile websites. Officite has built thousands of websites that have generated more than a half million new patient appointment requests since 2002. For more information, visit www.officite.com or call (800) 908-2483.

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