By Glenn Lombardi
When it comes to the Internet, is your practice an early adopter of digital technologies, or are you hesitant to embrace the latest trends and shifts in marketing? Today, every business, from the local dentist to the bicycle repair shop, has an opportunity that they did not have before in establishing an online presence. But do dentists see it that way?
The Internet is a vital marketing tool that cannot be ignored. According to Nielsen, 274 million Americans have Internet access — more than double the number with Internet access in 2000. With evidence clearly pointing to monumental growth in the number of people using the Web to find information, dentists cannot afford to sit back and miss out on new patients who are searching for their services.
What’s holding you back?
There are many reasons dentists hesitate to initiate an Internet marketing plan for their practices. If they start by addressing these roadblocks, they will see just how beneficial a robust presence on the Internet can be for a practice.
— It’s confusing
These days you do not have to understand the Internet to enjoy the benefits of an online presence. The technology available to help you build and manage an Internet marketing strategy is no more challenging than opening an email or creating a document in Microsoft Word. In fact, this technology will actually make your marketing efforts easier and your practice stronger.
Find a trusted partner in online marketing for dentists who can help you create an online presence suited to your practice needs, goals, and expectations. This partner can handle the technical details while you focus on your patients and reap the advantages of enhanced visibility in your marketplace.
— It’s too expensive
Compared to traditional advertising, Internet marketing is a highly cost-effective and far more efficient solution for promoting your services and attracting new patients. With phone books becoming obsolete and more patients spending time online, marketing dollars spent on traditional advertising are becoming less influential.
A basic display advertisement in the phone book, for instance, can cost thousands of dollars per year and yet offer no way to target potential patients or track its performance. But you can launch an entire professional website for less than $1,000.
Space limitations don’t exist on the Web, and you have the flexibility to provide and update information as needed to best target your future patients. Detailed Web analytics including email, phone, and appointment tracking allow you to know what is working and what is not working in real-time for continual improvement.
— I don’t have time
Finding time in the day between appointments and other office responsibilities can be a real challenge. How can a dentist possibly manage his or her practice’s entire Internet presence — and do it effectively?
There’s no denying that maintaining a successful online presence takes time. But fortunately, your online marketing strategy is something that can be easily outsourced so you can focus on patients while your Web presence does its job of securing new patient appointments.
From a practice website and search marketing campaign, to reputation management, mobile marketing and social media, your entire online marketing strategy can be integrated for easy maintenance and tracking that requires little effort by the dentist.
Whatever your reason for abstaining from an online presence, it is important that dentists become proactive and not allow their fears of the Web to stifle opportunities for growth. Practices that continue to dismiss online marketing as a critical tool for marketing a practice risk being left behind by competitors who have already discovered that leveraging the benefits of an online presence is the most profitable and rewarding move.
Glenn Lombardi is president of Officite, LLC, a provider of dental websites and Internet marketing strategies, such as social media, search marketing, reputation management, and mobile websites. Officite has built thousands of websites that have generated more than half a million new patient appointment requests since 2002. For more, visit www. officite.com or call (800) 908-2483.
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