By Diana P. Friedman
We live in a connected world where the vast majority of your future patients depend on the Internet and keep it close at hand at all times. One study from Morgan Stanley found that more than 90% of smartphone users have their phones within reach 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Reaching this audience in your local area can be difficult since there is a tremendous volume of content being created to engage the time and attention of prospective patients. According to business intelligence firm Domo, every minute there are 571 new websites created, more than 100,000 tweets are sent, and Facebook users share 684,478 pieces of content.
Even with the incredible volume of competitive content, there are three ways to make your practice website rise above the noise and get found by prospective patients.
1. Make Sure Your Website is Patient-Friendly
Your practice website is the cornerstone of your online brand. In the connected world, prospective patients will form an immediate opinion of you and your services based on what they see and experience online. To ensure your website will drive new patients to choose your practice, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I have a functional website? If your practice has not made the investment in a website or has a website with out-of-date technology or content, you are invisible in the connected world.
- Does my website appeal to patients? Make sure your website comes from a vendor who has taken a research-based approach to designing for prospective dental patients.
- Is my website optimized for mobile devices? As of January 2014, 58% of adult Americans owned a smartphone and 87% of smartphone users accessed the Internet using their phones. If your website is not optimized for use on mobile devices, these prospective patients are most likely headed to a competitor's practice.
- Does my website properly represent my brand? Your website is a reflection of your unique practice. If that is not readily apparent, it's time to make a change.
One last piece of advice. Dental practices are unique businesses. If you decide it's time to get or refresh your website, use a reputable vendor with deep roots in designing websites specifically for the dental industry.
2. Don't Forget SEO
Once you have a responsive dental-optimized website, you need to make sure prospective patients can find it. Eighty percent of traffic to a website begins with a search query, and 61% of searchers consider local results to be more relevant than standard search results. Search engine optimization, or SEO, gives search engines the context and relevance they need to connect the right practice to the search query. For optimal results, build a long-term strategy with a firm well-versed in local SEO strategies within the dental industry to achieve lasting results.
3. Step Up Social Media Efforts
According to a recent study, Internet users spend more time on social media than any other Internet activity. Embracing your social media presence allows you to spend time effectively forging genuine relationships with prospective patients.
When it comes to where to invest in social media, there are three sites that should be on your radar:
- Facebook -- 71% of American adults are now Facebook users. Facebook users are active, and their recommendations hold weight with their friends and families.
- YouTube -- Video has become the leading rich content consumers use in researching service providers.
- LinkedIn -- There are 84 million Americans and 79% of them are 35 or older. This is your ideal demographic.
If your practice wants to attract more new patients, it is important that you be active and engaged on these three social media channels.
It's important that you examine your practice's marketing strategy and ensure you provide sufficient focus and attention to these three areas. While some of these areas require investment, they offer measurable ROI that will positively impact your practice growth and profitability. As most practices do not have the expertise or time to do this in-house, I recommend you enlist a reputable company to assist you.
As noted, make sure any provider you select has an in-depth understanding of digital marketing within dentistry. The Internet is your best source for reaching prospective patients. Focusing on these areas will help your practice convert them into new patients.
For more information, please search for "Diana Friedman" on www.dentistryiq.com.
More by Diana P. Friedman, MA, MBA:
- Strategies to energize your social media presence and drive practice growth
- 3 reasons your practice needs an online marketing "recare plan"
- 3 ways to ensure online reviews drive new patient appointments
Diana P. Friedman, MA, MBA, is president and chief executive officer of Sesame Communications. She has a 20-year success track record in leading dental innovation and marketing. Contact Diana at Diana@sesamecommunications.com.
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