When it comes to dental practice marketing, you want to have a specific goal in mind. The type of marketing method you choose will depend on what you want to achieve. For example, dental practices lose more than 15% of their patients each year. How do you go about addressing this issue with your marketing strategies?
Many dentists are putting the effort into retaining their patients. But there are instances where their patients end up choosing another dentist and not following up with their appointments. If this is the case, then you need to develop a sound marketing strategy to avoid no-shows and reduce your patient attrition rate.
In this article, we’ll discuss the top dental practice marketing ideas that you can use to acquire new prospects and combat patient attrition.
Ramp up your digital marketing efforts
Thanks to the power of the internet, dental practice marketing is easier and more accessible than before. In the past, dental practices relied on traditional marketing tactics to reach their target audience. But now, digital marketing has taken over and is proven to be an effective medium at reaching the right people at the right time.
The best part about digital marketing is that you can explore a multitude of marketing methods at the same time. If you find that you’re struggling to draw in new patients, then perhaps you need to step up your digital marketing game. Here’s how:
1. Implement search engine optimization (SEO) tactics
Search engine optimization refers to the process of improving your website’s visibility across Google and the internet. SEO is a vital tool in every marketing strategy because it helps drive organic traffic to your site. When you achieve a high ranking in the search engine results pages, people are more likely to visit your website than your competitor’s.
But how do you rank on top of the Google search results? You can achieve this by setting up your Google MyBusiness account. Google MyBusiness is a free tool that helps you manage your online presence. Patients will see the important details of your business like the name, contact number, and address once they search Google.
For example, if your dental practice is based in California and your patient searches for “dentists in California”, your business will pop up in the search results. It’s a great tool that helps direct patients to your practice and enables them to contact you in an instant.
If you have zero experience in search engine optimization, we recommend hiring a digital marketing agency to help simplify the process. The world of SEO is very complex, but when implemented correctly, you can attract new patients and encourage your patient base to schedule a visit to your practice.
2. Take advantage of digital advertising
In this day and age of social media, many entrepreneurs use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to advertise their dental practices. It makes sense because people spend a lot of time on social media, and being able to connect with them can make a huge difference to your dental practice.
Social media platforms offer plenty of tools that allow businesses to target specific demographics and geographical areas with their advertisements. This tailor-made approach means your advertising dollars are spent wisely. You’re targeting the right audience that’s interested in your services.
One example is pay-per-click advertising (PPC). The way PPC works is that you pay each time your ad is clicked. It’s based on relevant search terms for your dental practice so that when they search on Google, your ad will appear on the results page. Keywords are an important part of PPC which is why you want to use the right search terms that your patients use when searching Google.
3. Use direct mail marketing
Emailing your patients may sound like an old-school method, but it’s actually an effective marketing strategy that you can use to reduce patient attrition. What’s great about email marketing is that you can find plenty of free tools that will allow you to automate the emailing process. Dentists who email their patients regularly are more likely to hear from them because not everyone is responsive on social media.
Automated emails help you stay in touch with your patients and build a better relationship with them. You can send a post-mailing thank you card or a promotional email to get them to schedule an appointment with you. The reason why direct mail marketing works is because triggers a more robust response from your patients. Emails tend to get noticed more than social media messages, making your patients feel more connected with your dental practice.
Minimize appointment cancellations through reminder systems
One of the main challenges that a dental practice can face is appointment cancellations. Estimates reveal that 10-15% of patients cancel their appointments each year, which equates to thousands of dollars of lost revenue. The question now is what can you do to ensure your patients follow through with their appointments?
The answer is reminder systems. You can greatly reduce your no-shows by simply reminding your patients of their scheduled visits. There are three ways you can do this:
1. Phone calls
Phone calls are a quick way of getting your patient’s attention. When you get them on the phone, you can remind them of their appointment in a matter of seconds. The problem with phone calls is that it’s time-consuming when you have a large patient base.
Secondly, phone calls can appear intrusive to some people. Not everyone wants to pick up a random call from their dentist, so that leaves you to explore other effective options.
2. Email and SMS reminders
Email and SMS reminders enable you to create a personalized message when reaching out to your patients. The best part is that you can easily automate your messages using email and SMS automation tools, thus helping you save time and energy.
This type of reminder system is commonly used across the dental industry and is considered by dentists as the most effective one. It’s non-intrusive, and it’s nearly impossible for a patient to miss your message on their inbox.
3. Digital postcards
Digital postcards have an extended shelf life compared to email and SMS reminders. They’re also likely to have the biggest impact on your patients because of their unique delivery. Postcards are visually engaging, and this will have your patients reading your message.
It’s not about choosing between these reminder systems. It’s about understanding your patient base and knowing which reminder system to use. A combination of all three will help reduce patient no-shows and have your prospects visiting your dental practice.
Introduce referral systems
The average attrition rate for a dental practice is around 17%. This means that a practice with a patient base of around 2,000 will lose around 340 patients each year. Think about the potential revenue that you lose when you simply let patients walk away.
The goal here is to draw in new prospects and reduce your attrition rate below the national average. To achieve this, you’ll need to implement a formal referral system. You may have already gotten referrals from your previous clients, but informing them of your referral system will encourage them to bring more patients into your practice.
Say a patient of yours checks out and leaves positive feedback. From there, you offer them a referral request where they fill up the necessary information. Once they’re done with the form and their referral arrives at your practice, you offer them a discount for their next appointment.
Think of referral systems as a way of incentivizing your loyal patients. Both you and the patient benefit from the referral, and you greatly reduce the number of patients that are walking out the door. The key here is to communicate your referral system throughout your whole patient base so each one has an opportunity to draw in new clients.
The backbone of a great referral program starts with excellent customer service. Your main goal is to make sure your patients are satisfied with their work. That way, they can confidently refer your practice to their friends and family and help you to attract new patients. To further strengthen the effectiveness of your referral system, make sure to mention it on the footnotes on your email and post it on social media for your patients to see.
Patient attrition is a major concern for many dental practices. Whenever a patient decides not to come back, you’re losing revenue for your business. The same thing applies to appointment cancellations. No-shows can greatly affect your practice’s performance and prove costly in the long run.
You want to tackle these issues by implementing the right dental practice marketing strategies. Doing so will allow you to maintain a healthy patient base and stay in touch with your target audience.
Dental practice marketing is about implementing the correct methods with proven results. When you combine these marketing ideas together, you’ll benefit from the increased patient acquisition, better brand recognition, and improved visibility across the internet.
How do you know if the marketing is working and revenue and profits are going? By having good dental practice bookkeeping! If this is something you need or aren’t getting the results you want, let us know and we can help: