The ancient saying ‘all roads lead to Rome’ was the legacy of an empire that knew that conquest advanced with fast communication and travel. Some two thousand years later, the principle still applies, but to online dental marketing. Just as the saying says ‘all roads lead to Rome’, a simple online search is now the quickest way for potential patients to find a dental practice. The question then, is how do you approach the task of attracting these potential new patients – theses leads – and how do you then convert them so they phone or email you and arrange a consultation?
First and foremost, a practice website is an absolute necessity, and it needs to be well designed, professional and informative with fresh content that fully reflects your practice identity. The financial success of your dental practice depends on your patient base, and a website serves as an online hub where you can generate leads and convert these leads into phone calls and email enquiries. This central point needs good infrastructure so that people know that it is there. This can be achieve through a number of means, not least of all by investing in good SEO, and taking advantage of the influencing power of social media.
It is estimated that over 2.5 million websites now have integrated Facebook ‘Like’ buttons. Social networking sites show a culture shift that sees an emerging relationship economy where consumers are still interested in great experiences and products – but want to be able to share the experience with others. Investing energy into digital marketing then means your patients will be encouraged to engage their social networks on your practice’s behalf – for who is more likely to share and influence potential new patients than their friends!
Building an online brand for your practice that is consistent between your website and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn creates a positive chain reaction effect. These forms of online society are absolutely crucial to building a brand where the key word in social media is ‘social’ and your practice brand needs to create tactics that focus on the relationships between patients and prospective patients and how their exchange means that ‘word of mouth’ marketing is more important than ever.
The innate human desire to socialise is the key factor when it comes to digital marketing. All these platforms allow patients to engage with your brand quickly and simply, and gives you a powerful tool that is far more effective than traditional advertising that talks at patients with predictable content and clever slogans. In effect, if you can get patients to talk about your practice and trust your treatments, they will become ambassadors for your brand.
So how do you get patients to talk about your practice?
Social marketing is about conversations and building genuine relationships, as online communities are real people connecting in a living space and the art of conversation means that authentic and natural flowing dialogue will build accord and trust. Both your practice website and your social networking sites should be updated regularly with new content that is fresh and appealing – that patients may find they want to share. In the context of dentistry, it could be sharing an interesting fact, a new technique or some dentistry-related news. You could also consider writing a practice blog, to keep patients up to date with the latest goings on in the practice, and to keep your content fresh.
You can also encourage your current patients to share links to your website and your social media pages with their friends. If a patient is happy with the work that you have done for them, then the best way they can thank you is to provide a testimonial, ‘Like’ your Facebook page, and share your website with friends. It’s all well and good you telling people about the quality of your work, but it’s even better if your patients do it for you. This adds an extra level of credibility to your practice, and makes your practice seem more ‘real’ in patients’ eyes.
Once you have built a loyal group of followers, they will stay with you and this can be the most powerful and most cost-effective form of marketing available to you. But remember: an excellent social media marketing strategy can crumble without a good practice website to back it up. The secret then is to adopt an integrated approach. It starts with your website: your website also needs to impress patients; it is key to establishing a strong online presence. A website will add depth and integrity to your whole online marketing campaign since it involves purchasing a domain name and putting together unique content that gives your business brand a real and tangible identity. From here you can build your social media presence to foster relationships with patients, and stimulate conversation.
To help you make the most of your online marketing efforts, companies such as Dental Focus ® ‘Websites for your profit’ have all the skills and expertise to really put your practice on the Google map. By trusting an award-winning, experienced team such as Dental Focus ® you can rest assured your practice’s online marketing is in the very best hands.
For more information call 020 7183 8388, or visit www.dental-focus.com