A strong marketing strategy is imperative for dental offices to remain competitive. Marketing maintains connections with existing patients and generates new ones. Making a dental practice stand out in the digital age is even more challenging today in the face of ever-increasing competition. This competition comes from multiple sources that want to capture the attention of people browsing the internet, including your current and prospective patients.
The digital landscape is constantly changing amid this online clamor. For instance, search engine algorithms may be tweaked, new digital platforms may emerge, and the behavior of internet users may become different. Online marketing must evolve with these changes. Following dental marketing best practices is crucial to maintain a robust online presence.
Key areas that need attention are:
- Your dental website
- Your social media presence
- Online advertising
- Search engine optimization
- Reputation management
- Video. marketing
Your website is the core of your digital marketing strategy
People looking for dental services tend to have little patience if your website is slow to load or difficult to navigate. Check whether your online platform is doing its job effectively in turning prospects into patients. On the technical side, you need to make sure your site is mobile-friendly and fulfills basics such as giving users a positive experience with a design that’s visually appealing and with logical navigation.
The content of your website is as important as ever, and the vital role of a blog might be overlooked.1 Many people search the web for guidance on oral health and dental problems. In the long term, quality blog content can help your office connect with new patients and keep current patients engaged while confirming your reputation as a dental expert. Unique blog articles with valuable information can also boost your website’s ranking in search engine results.
Dental social media marketing
Social media is now an integral part of life and an established part of many people’s routines. It will continue to be an excellent way for dentists to make personal connections with patients. However, competition for the attention of online communities on Facebook and Instagram will stay strong. This calls for a social media strategy that enables you to break through the content overload noise.
For instance, dental practice Facebook pages that get a high level of engagement share information about what’s going on in their practices, what the dentists and team members are doing in their communities, and what patients are saying about them. Interactive content such as polls—for example, “What makes you smile?”—is also important to keep followers engaged.
Content formats such asare popular and gaining traction. This attention-grabbing, ephemeral content—concise, engaging, and available for a limited time—can drive home your message in an environment where people’s attention spans are notoriously short, with less focus than a goldfish!2 Location-based targeting is a crucial factor in social media marketing, allowing you to reach current and potential patients living near your practice.
Paid search marketing, aka search engine marketing (SEM), produces results faster than organic search engine optimization (SEO) and is usually done on a pay-per-click (PPC) basis. PPC with Google AdWords provides a key marketing tool for small businesses like dental practices, especially those with limited resources, and can drive a huge volume of traffic to your website.
While free SEO can take weeks to see results, AdWords takes effect immediately if you have the resources to outbid the competition. Your ads will appear at the top of Google search engine results pages (SERPs) instantaneously. An effective AdWords campaign entails more than just a financial investment; it needs careful keyword selection and constant fine tuning.
Automation and machine learning were a key PPC trend in 2020, according to digital marketing experts, some of whom believe manual bidding may be replaced entirely by an automated system.3 Although AdWords achieves fast results, organic SEO is essential for steady growth of your practice.4
Search engine optimization
Organic on-page SEO using location-specific keywords backed by quality content will achieve prominent positioning for dental websites in free search engine listings. Also, extensive keyword research to determine which terms people are using to search for dental services is crucial to dental marketing best practices.
One mistake to avoid is black-hat tactics such as keyword-stuffing, which is widely condemned by search engines. Your keywords need to occur naturally and in context, which leads to a better reader experience while keeping search engines happy.
What your current patients are saying about your office will influence the way prospective patients view you. Online reviews can reach many more potential patients than word of mouth, and can play a major role in building trust, so it’s essential to have an effective online review strategy that provides an overview of how patients perceive you.
Occasional negative reviews are unavoidable but being aware of the online dialogue enables you to become a part of it and rectify any misconceptions and minimize any potentially damaging criticism. One way to counter adverse reviews is to get more positive comments from patients on the testimonials page of your own website and on review sites like Facebook, Google, and Yelp.
Dental video marketing can strengthen the trustworthiness of your practice by making it easy for audiences to absorb information while appealing to patients on an emotional level. Concise, memorable, customized video gives patients a real feel of what sets your practice apart and lets you introduce yourself to new patients.
Video has become a compelling part of dental marketing best practices. Photos of current patients showing off their new smiles enables potential patients to connect with real people who have benefited from your services. One video marketing trend this year is an emphasis on optimization for different social media platforms to enhance viewer experience.5
Combining dental marketing best practices into an integrated strategy
Video marketing, social media campaigns, PPC, SEO, reputation management, and a website optimized for maximum conversion of prospects are dental marketing best practices. These can be combined to produce an integrated strategy to ensure growth of your practice this year and beyond.
Monitoring short-term objectives across all these areas will lead to informed decisions about where to increase or reduce investment to create the best long-term solution to establish and maintain trust with patients.
Editor's note: This article appeared in the August 2021 print edition of Dental Economics.
1. Rampton J. Why you can't afford to ignore blogging as part of your online strategy. Forbes. September 2016. Accessed December 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnrampton/2016/09/21/why-you-cant-afford-to-ignore-blogging-as-part-of-your-online-strategy/#6d31f2042ab7
2. McSpadden K. You now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. Time. May 2015. Accessed December 2019. https://time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish/
3. Goodwin D. 10 important PPC trends to watch in 2020. Search Engine Journal. November 2019. Accessed December 2019. https://www.searchenginejournal.com/ppc-trends-in-2020/333465/#close
4. Froelings L. SEO vs. AdWords: which works better for your business? Huffington Post. Updated December 2017. Accessed December 2019. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/seo-vs-adwords-which-work_b_12485860
5. Dowdall E. How to optimize video for social media marketing. Marketing Technology Insights. October 2019. Accessed December 2019. https://martechseries.com/mts-insights/guest-authors/how-to-optimize-video-for-social-media-marketing/
SCOTT McMEEN is a marketing account manager for DentalROI, a digital dental marketing company with more than 20 years’ experience in creating custom dental websites. He is always learning and staying on top of the latest digital marketing strategies and trends. For more information, contact him at [email protected] or visit dentalroi.com.