Chris Barrow, MD of BKH, coined the original “7 Ps” that became the pillars of creating a successful private dental practice website to attract high end consumers: Profile, People, Premises, Prices, Promises, Proof and Products.
At Dental Focus Web Design, we still believe it all applies but it’s now important to build beyond these foundation blocks because the Internet has changed and so has our web marketing strategies of attracting new patients.
Reflecting on our experience in working with 500+ dentists over 10+ years, this article seeks to expose the biggest mistakes dental practices make with their website and, in doing so, we emphasize the importance of the original “7 Ps” as well as suggest an additional “3 New Ps” to consider.
Dental practice websites are usually too busy catering for everyone that they do not stand for anything and do not stand out. The home page needs to be fast to download but also quickly understood. The look, the feel, the brand all need to convince your specific target patient that this is the right place. Your USPs should be clear and the targeted visitor must feel compelled to stay and click in less than 5 seconds.
Dental practice websites usually forget customer service is visually represented through people that appear professional. You need to show the personality of a happy and approachable team with great smiles. You need to look and read as the experts with the best level of customer service.
Dental practice websites need to stop showing scary dental surgeries, sharp tools and boring technology that mean nothing to the patient. Virtual tours using professional photography or corporate video need to focus on the feeling of luxury and comfort, showing patients what they actually care to look at, such as impressive patient lounges, classy receptions and boutique wash rooms.
Dental practices generally attempt to show their fees online but are confused on the benefit that brings. It is important to appear either reassuringly expensive and/or great value for money to attract your correct target patient otherwise you will not stand out.
Dental practices commonly forget that customer service has to be promised and the brand standards need to be stated. Patients need to know what to expect. This is all usually hidden and difficult to find or lengthy to read. Video and/or photography should be used to explain the patient journey.
Dental practices that think written letters and text testimonials are still going to attract patients are living in the dark ages. Nobody is going to convert into an enquiry after reading scanned-in thank you cards. You need before and after ‘smile photos’ to show clinical expertise and this means no blood, no gore, no metal, no tools and no retractors. You need full face ‘smile photos’ to show gratitude in your patient’s eyes. You need video testimonials to put ‘word-of-mouth’ on your website and deliver emotional encouragement.
Dental practices are forgetting to differentiate their treatments. Websites tend to advertise the exact same services as others dentists so patients believe price comparison is the only difference. Personalising treatments and creating ‘branded experience’ packages are required to make you incomparable.
New P#8. Places
Many dental practices are still not aware of the importance of registering their website on Google Places to obtain a free local business listing. Google Places is becoming more and more essential for top Google Page 1 rankings and targeting local patients. You will not need to pay-per-click for your own practice name if Google Places has you listed at the top for free already. You also need to make sure you control your Places on social media sites such as Facebook and FourSquare as patients want to ‘check in’ virtually, which in turn is free advertising for you to all their friends.
New P#9. Phones
Dental practice websites are still containing Flash animation that does not work on the popular iPhone. Old design standards also mean your website does not view well on a smart phone. More and more Internet surfing is done on the go and in the palm of your patients’ hands. This cannot be ignored and should mobile phone compatibility should be a priority.
New P#10. Publicity
Dentists mistakenly believe that simply stating their website address on letters and stationery will attract patients to visit their website. Dentists need to understand that visual and conversational recommendation is remembered. You need to spend 10 seconds with each patient, turning towards your computer screen to ask them “Have you seen my website? If you’re happy with the treatment today, please visit our website, share us on Facebook, like us on Facebook”. These days, word-of-mouth happens online on a ratio of 1:100. Get your patients to talk about you online. That’s free publicity on steroids.
Krishan Joshi is “the Master” at Dental Focus Web Design.
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