As a dentist, you have the unique skills and knowledge that you learned in dental school. Now you have the opportunity of transforming smiles, improving health, and the livelihood of others. But, there’s one thing you never learned in dental school —how to find, reach, and attract potential patients. In this article, I share with you the dental marketing ideas so you can expand your patient reach, change more lives, and raise your revenue as well.
#1. Claim your listings on local directories
Claiming your local listings as part of your marketing efforts to your dental practice is very important. Local listings give you more exposure to potential patients.
Local directories are website services that allow you to submit your practice information so that people searching for services similar to yours can find you.
Listings are a simple way to find and attract patients with high intent. That means if you haven’t claimed your local listings, you are leaving many opportunities for your competitors to grab.
The most important information to submit is your name, address, and phone (NAP). Besides, you can also list your website and practice pictures.
#2. Manage your online reviews
New patients trust reviews. 71% of patients use online reviews to find new doctors. This means online reviews influence the reputation of your practice and its ability to attract new patients. Strive to attract positive reviews from current patients.
Start by googling your name, then your practice name. Note the review sites that pop up in results and examine your reviews.
If you don’t find any, set up your listings profile on popular review sites like Google My Business, Yelp, ZocDoc, and HealthGrades. If you already have some reviews, make sure you have claimed all your profiles and updated them with accurate information.
Read your reviews and appreciate those who left positive feedback and respond to negative ones as well. Addressing negative reviews publicly reduces impact by up to 70%. Also, reach out politely to those who left negative feedback, learn why they were dissatisfied, and improve.
#3. Local video marketing
Video is a great dental office marketing idea as there’s no better way to reach and engage people than with videos. The reason, people are much obsessed with watching and sharing videos than reading articles. Especially the millennials.
Create unique and informative videos that highlight the personality of your practice. Film live events, staff interviews, dental procedures, and “behind-the-scenes” videos that provide an inside look of how it feels like to visit your practice.
Videos can help you boost brand awareness, connect with new patients, educate, earn trust, recommendations, and appointments.
#4. Film patient testimonials
People love hearing other peoples’ opinions. Especially about products and services they intend to purchase.
Ask your current patients to film a short video using their phone about their experience. Then embed them on your website. Video testimonials are a great way to show social proof.
Also, you can interview patients and upload videos on YouTube or social media. Because of consent issues, you might want to inform them that the videos will be shared online, and have them sign a consent form.
#5. Stimulate patient referrals with gifts and bonuses
Experts say, 93% of people trust the recommendations from their friends. You can encourage referrals and recommendations by giving out bonuses and gifts. This can help you expand your practice by retaining current patients and attracting new ones as well.
When it comes to referrals, there are some limitations. Giving discounts or credit to patients in direct response for referring others is powerful, but it might be considered fee-splitting by ADA.
Encourage patient referrals without violating the code of professional conduct by:
- Entering patients who refer others into a large drawing.
- Asking patients to take pictures with you so they can share on social media (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp status, etc.)
- Giving out referral cards or pieces of marketing collaterals to your patients at checkout and asking them to share with their friends.
SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
#6. Setup/optimize social media pages
Be active on social media. Start with a Facebook page and Instagram, then move to other networks that make sense to your practice.
Be consistent across profiles and update them to reflect your brand. Provide a clear description, use emojis, and include a call to action. Also, remember to link your profiles to your website.
#7. Social media sweepstakes and contests
Giveaways, sweepstakes, and contests have become an important part of the social media marketing strategy. contests provide you the perfect opportunity to attract the attention of potential patients.
As you may know, getting attention on social media is half the battle and engagement is everything. Because of the prizes and incentives, contests increase engagement (likes, shares, and comments)
If you want to collect leads, ask participants to fill out a form on your website or send them to a dedicated landing page
Here are some social media contest ideas for you:
- Voting-based contest: something like “Show Us Your Smile Photo Contest”. The contest entrants submit a photo of their smile and solicit votes from their friends, followers, and family to like to win a free dental service like whitening or alignment.
- Interaction-based contest: For every major interaction (sharing a post/Facebook page) you may offer a prize or enter participants into a drawing where the winners get exclusive prizes like small branded merchandise or free dental service.
- Guessing-based contest: It’s the easiest to host, and it provides the opportunity to engage with a broader audience than just your patients. Fill a larger clear container to the brim with a given amount of the same small items like pennies, etc. Post a photo of it on social media and ask people to guess the number of items in the container. To conclude the contest, set a specific date to announce the closet guess. Or keep it running until someone guess the exact number.
8. Jump on social media trends
When done right, viral trends can propel your practice into the spotlight and spark memorable conversations. Trendjacking is a powerful strategy to grow your brand awareness. This could be trending topics, events, hashtags, memes, or dance challenges like Jerusalema Dance.
This could be trending topics, events, hashtags, memes, or dance challenges like the Jerusalema dance challenge above.
#9. Build an email list
Email is an essential marketing tool to grow your practice. It allows you to send patient bills, communicate with current patients, and attract new ones. By keeping your list engaged, you can retain profitable patients and raise your revenue. Use email to:
- Educate people on oral health.
- Request patient testimonials and reviews.
- Send appointment reminders (make sure patients show up)
- Promote your products, services, and events.
Email marketing is cost-effective and it’s the most preferred method of communication by over 60% of healthcare providers. Healthcare emails yield unique open rates as high as 60%.
APP, WEBSITE, AND BLOGGING
#10. Develop an app for your practice
Developing your practice app can help you attract and retain new patients by keeping them engaged. An app makes it easy for patients to book appointments. Also, it can help avoid the annoyance of missed appointments and check-ups by sending push notifications.
Inside the app, provide added value to keep patients using it. Including helpful oral health content, offers, and loyalty schemes.
#11. Develop/update your website
Your website is your first impression. It should reflect your brand, be up-to-date, and be optimized to capture leads. A well-designed website earns you trust and credibility because it gives the first impression of your practice.
Here are a few things to consider when developing/updating your website:
- Responsiveness: Is it mobile-friendly? Most searches happen on mobile. And Google gives an extra boost to responsive websites because of a good user experience.
- Call to action: What action do you want visitors to take? Book an appointment? Embed online scheduling forms integrated with Google calendar to send reminders.
- Persuasive content: Do you have useful content? Create professional and informative content that persuades visitors to take action.
- Professional staff photos: Do you have a professional photo of you and your team? The photo of you and your team earns you credibility.
- Unique value proposition: It is clear why new patients should choose you over competitors? In other words, how do you differentiate yourself from the rest?
- Chat capability: some people prefer chatting to making phone calls. Adding live chat support can help increase conversions.
- Ideal patients: Is your website designed to appeal to your dream patients? Who are your ideal patients (families, emergency cases, seniors)
#12. Start a dental blog
Google loves informative, unique, quality, and engaging content. Start a blog around dental-related topics. People are already searching for information on Google with phrases like, “does activated charcoal actually work to whiten teeth?”
Blogging shows your prospects that you are an authority in the field and care about providing the information they need.
Use your dental blog to:
- Correct dental myths and misconceptions like “I don’t need to visit a dentist unless my tooth is aching”
- Help people form healthy habits. Create content around why people should not just focus on body health but oral health as well.
#13. Optimize your website and blog for SEO
Optimize your website for search engines. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of maximizing the number of visitors by appearing high on the list of search results. Google rank websites based on over 200 SEO factors like:
- Page speed
- Security (SSL certificates)
#14. Optimize your website for voice search
The use of voice-search is rapidly rising in popularity. With the current increase in the use of phone assistants like Google smart assistant and Siri, more and more households have started adding smart speakers to their homes.
With devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home, people can now access information through their voices. Tweak your SEO strategy to cater to the rising voice searches. Incorporate long-tail phrases that someone may audibly speak like, “find a dentist in Nairobi West.”
#15. Participate in local events
Engaging with your community is a great marketing strategy. It shows you care about them. Sponsor recreational sports, take charity initiatives like “free dental day” and other activities.
During these events, print T-shirts emblazoned with your practice logo. You can as well give out free toothpaste and some small postcards about oral health and your practice.
Offline events are great because they allow you to interact with potential patients face-to-face.
FACEBOOK ADS, AND INSTAGRAM MARKETING
#16. Local awareness Facebook ads
Local awareness ads are a quick way to attract new patients in your area. Local awareness ads are shown to people who are near, were recently near your practice, and those who live nearby.
They are great for reaching a specific audience in a given radius. You can use the map cards to share locally relevant details like your address, hours of operation, distance, and a call to action such as “Get direction” or ‘book appointment”
Local awareness Facebook ads are cost-effective for putting the word out about your practice. For awareness ads, reach is far more valuable than engagement (comments, shares, likes, and clicks)
#17. Feature real photos in Facebook ads
People relate to other people, and this is just human nature. Showing off your face or your team is a great way to connect directly with people. It builds trust and familiarity and makes new patients comfortable. Your real photo can drive more engagement with Facebook ads than with stock photos.
#18. Facebook demographic ad targeting
Facebook gives you an insane amount of demographic targeting options. Use Facebook ads to reach potential patients in your area and get a high ROI. Facebook provides you with over 1000 targeting options.
Here are the basic targeting options include:
- Relationship status
- Life events
Research shows that women drive over 90% of all dental and healthcare buying decisions. For example, target a group of women with early school-age children or recently bought children’s clothes and live in your area.
#19. Facebook messenger ads
Reach potential patients inside the messenger inbox, drive engagement, and results at the lowest cost possible. With messenger ads, people see your ad in the chats tab. When they tap on it, they will receive detailed information with a call to action.
You can also use Facebook messaging ad type with “send message” as the call-to-action. The send message ad takes people to the messenger so that they can communicate with you. This ad type takes privacy into account.
#20. Be active on Instagram
Instagram is a visual platform, and with the right content, you stand to benefit the most. Instagram can help you grow your brand awareness and promote your services. The platform allows you to promote your practice in a friendly, authentic way without hard selling your followers.
Here are five quick tips for Instagram marketing:
- Switch to the business account: It allows you to add a contact button as well as to publish ads without needing Facebook’s advertising tool.
- Use Instagram stories: This is like your reality TV. Post behind the scenes, short educational videos, your team, and personal photos.
- Post at the right time: Use scheduling tools to stay consistent and don’t over-post as it will overwhelm the news feed of your followers and some may end up unfollowing you.
- Optimize your account: Optimize your profile picture to reflect your brand and observe consistent across networks
- Utilize hashtags: Treat hashtags as keywords. Hashtags can help your content to receive more impressions. Also, come up with interactive, branded hashtags to increase engagement.
TRY PPC MARKETING
#21. Target emergency keywords
Think about the keywords that someone would search to find a dentist at 3 AM. I tried googling “emergency tooth extraction near me” and the screenshot below shows the results that popped up.
Bidding on emergency keywords is the easiest way to get new patients with the immediate need and high intent. With a helpful call-to-action like “call now.” The ad can yield a very high return on investment. However, make sure that your practice operates 24/7, and it can take emergency cases. Otherwise, you may end up getting negative reviews.
#22. Remarketing ads
Remarketing ads are the most effective ads. They help you reach people who have already visited your website or practice. And are focused on recapturing potential patients. First, install Google remarketing code or Facebook pixel on your website. This will allow you to target them with a personalized message.
#23. Mobile call-only ads
Click-to-call ads are available through Facebook and Google. According to Google, one in 20 searches is for health-related information. Click-only campaign ads are designed to encourage users to call your business, rather than click to a website or landing page.
This ad format aims to remove any barrier between you and the prospect. With mobile call-only ads, you capture 100% of the call leads, and you’re able to connect with them at the precise moment when they are actively searching and ready to buy.
#24. Google Maps ads
Google maps ad can easily lead a potential patient to your practice. When someone searches for the keyword like “dentist” or “dentist near me,” the results appear on the map and the results page. When on mobile, these ads include call and direction CTAs.
Here is how to get your ads on the Google maps:
- Enable the location extension for your Google ads account
- Set up/update your Google My Business listing
- Use location targeting and bid by location
- Optimize for relevant keywords
#25. Waze ads
Like Google maps, you can also advertise your practice on Waze to reach nearby people. Waze is a community-based interactive application that allows motorists to access accurate and real-time information based on crowdsourced data from other road users.
When it comes to Waze, ads are a little different. Potential customers near your business see a “digital billboard” on the map as well as in the search results. They can tap the billboard to save the location or navigate to your practice.
#26. YouTube ads
YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. And it is also owned by Google. Each day, people watch about 5 billion videos and 80% of viewers aged between 18-49 years old.
Like other platforms, YouTube ads allow you to target the exact audience you want to reach by demographic, interest, custom intent, life events, and remarketing ads as well.
MARKETING FUNNELS AND TACTICS
#27. Build a sales funnel for your practice
A funnel increases the interaction between you and potential patients. First, understand where your prospective patients are in the customer journey (awareness, interest, desire, and action)
Between the awareness stage and the action, prospects are reading blogs and reviews, clicking ads, asking friends for advice, etc.
Craft marketing messages that help potential patients to move smoothly from one stage to another toward conversion. Use ClickFunnels to build high-converting funnels.
#28. Partner with local businesses
Based on your potential patient profile, find non-competitive partners in your area. These are businesses that might be already targeting your potential clients. They could be school fundraisers, realtors, etc.
#29. Direct mail
Direct mail marketing is not dead. Direct mail is interactive, memorable, and provides you a lot of ways to get creative. It also provides you with unlimited opportunities to show off your specialty as well as competitive price points.
Postcards work well, especially for the baby boomers. And when done the right way, direct mail marketing can yield a great return on investments.
#30. Try guerrilla marketing tactics
Be creative and do something to pick up some local press. Guerrilla marketing is a powerful advertisement strategy to boost brand awareness and sales. It uses surprise and unconventional tactics to drive results.
See some guerrilla marketing examples in the video below.
Guerrilla marketing tactics aim to spark conversations and creating publicity.
Find more creative guerrilla marketing examples.
Dental marketing ideas [conclusion]
The main goal of dental marketing is to find, attract, and retain profitable patients. Try different dental marketing ideas to see which one works for you and scale your practice. For more ideas and dental marketing strategies book a free call with me.
Here is the summary of the ideas for dental marketing:
- Claim local listings
- Manage online reviews
- Use online videos
- Encourage patient referrals
- Be active on social media
- Run social media ads
- Build an email list
- Develop an app
- Build a website/start a blog
- Participate in local events
- Try PPC marketing
- Build sales funnels
- Try guerrilla marketing tactics
What’s your biggest takeaway? Let me know in the comments.