Dentists must embrace power of the web in an increasingly digital age

Nov. 1, 2011
While local phone books are still delivered door-to-door, spending dollars from a marketing budget to place a costly ad may not be as effective for dentists today.

Glenn Lombardi

For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: Glenn Lombardi.

While local phone books are still delivered door-to-door, spending dollars from a marketing budget to place a costly ad may not be as effective for dentists today. Consumers now rely on instant Internet access via their personal computers and smartphones to locate everything from local restaurants to hair salons and plumbers, whenever and wherever.

For the dental professional, it has become increasingly important to embrace these emerging online trends in order to capture the attention of patients who benefit from the expediency and expansiveness of the Internet. Phone books may not be diminishing completely, but there are significant advantages to shifting focus from traditional print advertising to online marketing.

Building the foundation

Like building a house, creating a strong online presence requires the creation of a strong foundation. A website should function as the base of a practice’s Internet strategy, the core from which all other marketing initiatives and communications extend. Working with an experienced website and online marketing professional, dentists can create a customized website that works for their practices 24 hours a day, seven days a week to engage existing patients, increase treatment awareness, and generate new patient appointments.

A website is the first impression a patient often has of a dentist, and a critical influencer of whether he or she contacts the office. It is a practice’s storefront to online users. A great-looking website with the right words and features can positively affect a potential patient’s perception of your practice. It’s about shaping and molding your reputation in the online world to convince potential patients that your practice has the upper hand in the local marketplace. You create your story with your website — the options are boundless!

Reaching your target market

A sizeable advantage of online marketing compared to traditional print marketing is the ability to measure results in real time. It can be difficult to assess the direct sales impact from a print ad, but with search marketing, dentists can easily track the effectiveness of campaigns, and concentrate efforts on those that provide the highest return on investment through advanced analytics and performance tracking.

A potential patient may glance only once at a dentist’s ad in the phone book. But with a strong search engine optimization strategy, a dentist’s website can gain long-term exposure and continuously appear front and center on a prospect’s screen every time a search for a dentist is performed in the dentist’s area. Additionally, dentists do not have to wait weeks to see a significant boost in appointments. With an online paid advertising campaign, dentists can experience real-time results and instant conversion ability.

"Always on" marketing for your practice

The Internet has made it possible for dentists to promote their services in a manner that is "always on," meaning a practice can be available to patients at the exact moment they look for it, even when your office is closed. Apart from word-of-mouth and leveraging personal relationships with existing patients, a website is the most important marketing tool a practice can have.

Getting started

If you already have a website, now is the time to review its effectiveness. If your design is outdated, upgrade to a fresh look that clearly conveys your goals and professionalism. You should also update your existing content and messaging to ensure office information, service details, and staff bios are current.

It’s also important to perform searches periodically on Google and other major search engines. Who shows up on the first page when you search for a dentist locally? Is your practice listed at the top? Are you even on the first page? Achieving a prominent position on search engines is key to attracting new patients through your website. A professional website and online marketing company can assist you in launching a Web presence with a focused search marketing plan for optimal performance and online exposure.

With extensive tracking options, long-term targeted exposure, flexible messaging, and results in real time, dismissing a website is not only a missed opportunity for your practice, it can actually hurt your business in the long run. Patients are and will continue to search online for dental services. It’s the wave of the future, and the best way to grow and expand new patient growth today.

Glenn Lombardi is president of Officite, LLC, a provider of websites and Internet presence management strategies for the dental community. Officite has built more than 6,000 websites that have generated more than a quarter of a million appointment requests since 2002. For more, visit www.officite.com or call (800) 908-2483.

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