Plan and budget now for new patients in 2012

Dec. 1, 2011
When preparing next year's marketing strategy, don't forget your practice website and Internet presence — your most cost-effective marketing channel.

Glenn Lombardi

For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: marketing strategy, website and Internet presence, new patients, Glenn Lombardi.

When preparing next year's marketing strategy, don't forget your practice website and Internet presence — your most cost-effective marketing channel.

2012 is right around the corner. This means budget-planning season has arrived. Sit down to evaluate your marketing results from 2011, and decide where to allocate marketing dollars for next year's initiatives. How much of your budget should go to which marketing strategies for the upcoming year? What strategies are delivering new patients, and what methods have failed to yield a return on your investment?

If you have already finalized a budget for 2012, hopefully you included creating or enhancing your online presence. With the marketing focus shifting toward the Internet, there's no better investment for your practice today than a new or improved website that actually delivers new patients!

Money invested into a practice website can provide substantial return on investment compared to other traditional marketing methods, creating long-term benefits and a competitive advantage in your local market space.

There are countless marketing opportunities that can be employed with an online presence, including social networking, search marketing, and patient reviews that can help attract a steady pipeline of new patients to your office through the most cost-effective and efficient channel available.

So what elements make up a successful website? You may be tempted to skimp on essentials when it comes to building a website, but saving a few hundred dollars upfront may lose you thousands of dollars in revenue in the future. Your website is a true reflection of your practice, and cutting corners to save a few bucks may leave you with just what you paid for: an unattractive design, a lack of functionality, poor search ranking, and zero traffic.

A website built with interactive elements — such as search optimized content, mobile compatibility, and high quality design — will deliver your biggest return. Trust your website to a professional website company that specializes in Web design for dentists. This is to ensure you are creating the most successful site for your practice's needs and goals.

While the actual value of a new patient can vary from one practice to another, determining how much of your marketing dollars can be profitably spent in attracting new patients will help garner a better understanding of your website ROI.

For instance, suppose the average value of one new patient to your practice is $700 per year. A new dental website can cost less than $1,000 to set up with a nominal monthly maintenance fee. This means that during the course of the year, if your website generates just two to four new patients per month, or 24 to 48 new patients annually, your website will have already realized a substantial $16,800 to $33,600 return on your initial investment.

Through the years, I have witnessed dentists across the country who have generated hundreds of new patients from their practice websites. It's an investment that continually works to market a practice 24 hours a day, seven days a week to attract new patients to the office.

All dental online marketing starts and ends with a full-featured practice website, the hub of your multichannel marketing efforts. Targeted local search marketing strategies, coupled with a properly executed social marketing plan that includes a Facebook page, can improve new patient flow and increase the number of referrals coming from current patients.

With detailed Web analytics integrated with a site, you will have the ability to identify any weak areas in your website that are challenging conversion rates so that you can always refine and make improvements on your website ROI.

Make your New Year's resolution to get new patients in 2012 by launching your online presence today. Whether you are just getting started with a brand new site or need to redesign your existing one, a website and online marketing company that understands the best practices in dental online marketing can help you get the most from a website investment.

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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