Marketing for Dentists: Essentials of Digital Dental Marketing
Attracting new patients and being found online is competitive in today’s digital marketing world. It’s not about attracting any type of patient; you want to attract patients for the most profitable cases. It’s a complex task!
Successful digital marketing for dentists requires a sophisticated strategy, time and effort; most practices need more time to spare for marketing initiatives.
The digital marketing landscape changes quickly and this year we’ll see some big changes. With TikTok becoming a serious player, the launch of Local Service Ads for dentists, and the inevitability of artificial intelligence being used in marketing, there is a lot to learn.
Your team member in charge of dental marketing should understand the digital marketing landscape and how the online opportunities work together to create a cohesive dental marketing strategy.
No time to waste; let’s get started learning about ways to improve your dental marketing campaigns.
1. Get Approved for Google’s Local Service Ads Program
Google recently announced that it would offer dentists the opportunity to run Local Service Ads (LSA). These pay-per-lead ads run at the top of the search results above pay-per-click and the Google map. The dentists who jump on this opportunity will get the lion’s share of the new patient phone calls.
To get started, a dental practice must be approved for the program. Once approved, you’ll be in line to start running the ads as soon as Google opens the opportunity to your area. Don’t delay in getting approved. There is no cost to it, and if you lean on our LSA team, we can get you approved quickly through our partnership with Google.
2. Use Video in Dentist Marketing Campaigns
You can create all the photos and articles you want, but if you’re not venturing into dental video marketing, you’re only scratching the surface of what online marketing can do.
Consider this: about 68% of online consumers prefer watching a video about a new service or project over learning about it any other way. The amount of online video content that people view has almost doubled since 2018. And 92% of marketers say that video content is vital to their marketing strategy.
The type of dentist video content changes from one practice to another. There are numerous applications across your dental digital marketing strategy. Here are a few ideas to start:
- Pair the video with your email marketing. Some research shows that adding a video link to a promotional email can increase your click-through rate by up to 80%. This can be especially useful if you’re featuring a new service or sending personal holiday greetings from your team.
- Create brief informational videos. Answer frequently asked questions. Show a demonstration of dental service. Shoot a day-in-the-life video. Provide close-up views of equipment.
- Use video on your dental website or a landing page to familiarize visitors with your team. Doing so will bridge the gap between online research and that first visit to your office.
- Share fun videos on social media that help people feel like they’re in touch with your team. Check out these viral TikTok video ideas.
- Invest in professional video production to create a beautiful introduction to your practice. Utilize footage and produce full-length videos and short promos that you can use in ads on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook.
- Encourage and incentivize user-generated content. Challenge patients to submit their own content by setting up a video hub in-office. Ask your patients quick questions and encourage client testimonials.
- Feature a smile makeover. Utilize the power of visuals to illustrate your restorative and cosmetic services.
If you are nervous about being on video, you’re not alone! Even people who comfortably lecture in an auditorium full of professionals can freeze up as soon as they know a camera is on them.
Here’s the good news: It gets easier the more you do it! If you can create a habit of dental marketing video production, you’ll notice less and less resistance each time. That’s why a series can be so helpful.
If you still need help with video content in your practice? Check out our Instagram story ideas or our guide to TikTok for dentists.
3. Update to a Modern Dental Website Design
A modern, comprehensive website is the cornerstone of any dental practice’s digital marketing plan. First impressions matter tremendously; if your dental website design looks like it came from the stone age, you’ll want to upgrade it now.
Your website design creates a perception of the quality of your care. If it’s modern and well-designed with top-of-the-line functionality and aesthetics. In this case, a visitor will think the same about your dental skill. Beyond aesthetics, a dental website should be organized and function technically well, improving visitor experience and increasing rankings and conversions. Adding custom information about your practice, services, and resources increases the chance of your practice ranking higher on Google maps.
Consider the following in a new dental website design:
4. Optimize your Website for Technical SEO
Often overlooked are the technical aspects of a dental website, but not by Google.
Google wants the consumer experience to be flawless. If your website loads slowly, has broken links, needs to be more secure, or is not mobile optimized, you’ll receive lower rankings in the search engines. Grade your website to see if it’s technically proficient.
Healthy marketing for dentists’ campaigns requires that the technical aspects of a dental website are up to snuff.
- Check the speed of your dental website: In today’s fast-paced world, website visitors have zero patience. If the page loads too slowly, visitors bounce. Your bounce rate impacts search rankings positively or negatively. First impressions count; unfortunately, being sluggish is not good. You only have three seconds for a page to load before 40% of your potential patients click the back button.
- Ensure your website is secure and HIPAA compliant: Security is a no-brainer in healthcare. If your website isn’t HIPAA compliant, you expose the practice and the clients to fines from the OCR. Being fully secure is a requirement for HIPAA, especially if you have contact, request appointment forms, and payments through your website.
- Confirm your dental website is mobile optimized: More people use mobile devices to search online than searches on a desktop. A mobile-optimized website is a must. Google implemented a mobile-first index which means you’d better ensure your site is mobile-optimized; otherwise, you’ll receive lower rankings.
- Is your website coded properly for SEO? The most successful dental practice websites are correctly built and coded for SEO. SEO is a digital marketing strategy that helps Google read and rank your website for the search phrases (keywords) that are most valuable to your practice. Getting into SEO is close to opening pandora’s box. It feels like a never-ending graduate mathematics class where the basic rules of math change willy-nilly. Well, not that bad, but close. But don’t let me scare you from moving forward with an SEO strategy. SEO is one of the least expensive and most effective ways to be found by patients who are ready to schedule. To learn more about dental SEO, read SEO dental industry articles and follow SEO online publications.
5. Rank Higher on Google Maps
For local dental online marketing, a Google Business Profile (GBP) is required. A GBP listing shows up in the Google maps section of SERPs (Search Engine Ranking Page). Each GBP shows your address, business hours, phone number, website, reviews, and average review rating, making it easy for the person searching to decide on calling your office. Ninety percent of worldwide searches are on Google. An optimized Google Business Profile is a substantial new patient opportunity that most dentists need to be aware of.
How a Dentist can Rank Higher on Google Maps?
When a potential patient searches for a dentist online, they’ll get the Google Map 3-Pack in the search result. The Google Map 3-pack are the top three listings on the Google map. It’s a big deal to be listed in the Google Map 3-Pack. Our own dental marketing case studies have shown that it can double and sometimes triple your new patient phone calls.
When you optimize your GBP listing, you’ll rank higher on the Google map and at a wider radius. Patients further away will see your GBP listing. Essentially you’ll be out-ranking practices that are located closer to the person searching.
Your practice GBP is free to set up. If you’ve never accessed your GBP profile, you can learn how to with this dental SEO training video. I created a dentist marketing video explaining how to get started. Check out the marketing video here.
What Happens if you Don’t Optimize Your GBP Listing?
You’ll get your lunch eaten by the dental practice down the street.
Patients will search for a dentist near them, and even if you’re the closest practice, you won’t be on the first page of search results. It’s true. Your practice could be just down the street from a patient searching “emergency dentist near me,” and practices that are further away will show up higher on the map. It’s not that your practice listing isn’t there; it’s just buried deep in the results.
Thousands of consumer online search studies have shown that more than 90% of people choose a result on the first page of SERPs. The practices listed on the first page are the ones that get the lion’s share of new patient phone calls.
We recently recorded a dental marketing training video to help your dental marketing manager get through some of the most challenging parts of Google maps optimization. You can watch the dental marketing video here.
6. Attend the Digital Dental Marketing Conference
When you feel like you’ve exhausted all your ideas and are unsure what step to take next, it may be time to expand your skills, explore what’s possible, and cement new professional connections by attending a dental marketing conference!
You can find resources for marketing at many dental conferences. You can also attend a general small business marketing conference and translate those suggestions into action items for your practice. Conferences, seminars, and local networking events can be beneficial as you expand your community connections and resources.
However, we highly suggest looking into a conference that is specifically tailored to digital marketing for dentists. Dental practices occupy a unique business position, necessitating small business know-how and professional medical expertise. As such, your marketing needs, techniques, and considerations aren’t the same as other small businesses. A dental-focused marketing conference will zero in specifically on your concerns and maximize your ability to make the most of every hour.
Benefits of attending a dental marketing conference:
- Meet other marketing managers and swap practice tips and tricks.
- Seminars offer hands-on experience from photography to dental Instagram marketing, smoothing the hurdles of figuring things out for yourself the first time.
- Get inspiration from other practices, so you can return to work with fresh eyes and new enthusiasm.
- Stay up to date on the trending strategies. Digital marketing moves fast, and investing your time in outdated approaches won’t get you the desired results.
- Meet dental marketing experts who will advise on trending marketing tips and strategies.
Where can you learn about upcoming dental marketing conferences? We host the dental digital marketing conference each year.
7. Take Advantage of Dental Social Media Platforms
All digital dental marketing campaigns should include setting up and maintaining active social media accounts. Social media helps your practice stay in ongoing contact with current and potential patients in your community.
When you learn how to produce good content that gets lots of engagement, you’ll find social media to be one of the most valuable strategies in dental marketing.
Leveraging social media tools doesn’t require big budgets like traditional advertising or online paid advertising. However, it does require some time and training to understand how to create compelling and engaging content.
The best place for social media ideas is to subscribe to My Social Practice’s blog. We are constantly coming up with super-cool ideas that you and your team can easily do. We also provide case studies that show dental practices succeeding at social media marketing.
Which Social Media Tools Should A Dental Practice Use?
After helping thousands of practices run effective social media campaigns, we’ve learned that using the right tools is essential.
Instagram: Instagram is owned by Facebook and was built as a mobile photo-sharing app. Over the years, it has added functionality to the point that it’s one of the best ways to advertise and market a dental practice.
The average age demographic of Instagram is younger than Facebook. So if you’re trying to reach mothers with small children, Instagram fits that demographic.
Instagram has a unique marketing opportunity with influencers. Instagram influencers are people who have followers that trust their opinion about brands and products. We’re not talking about influencers with millions of followers. We’re talking about micro-influencers.
Micro-influencers are people on Instagram with less than 10,000 followers. The followers of a micro-influencer are likely located in the influencer’s geographical area, making them a great dental marketing opportunity.
The first place to look for a micro-influencer is among your current patients.
TikTok: TikTok has taken the social media world by storm. It’s grown faster than any other social media application and doesn’t look to be slowing down.
If you have yet to be on TikTok, I’m encouraging you to do so. But before you get started, make sure to get an accountability coach. A person who will take your phone away when you’ve crossed the way-too-much-TikTok-for-today-line.
Once you’re on TikTok, follow some of the trending TikTok dentists. When you see how other dentists are using TikTok to grow their practices, you’ll get ideas about implementing it into your digital marketing campaign.
Facebook: Although it seems ancient in social media, it isn’t going away. If anything, it’s evolving.
You must remember that Facebook has more people using the software than any other social media platform. Facebook needs to be part of your marketing plan if you’re trying to reach your local audience.
One of the benefits of Facebook is the direct messaging function. Someone on your team should manage the direct messages from Facebook. Direct messaging is nearly as important as your practice telephone. If you don’t have a team member to do this, consider hiring someone to do it for you.
Humanizing your practice with Facebook will create feelings of trustworthiness. It’s like being part of a family. And isn’t the ultimate goal to have a large dental family?
8. Start a Dental Blog
I just heard the air leave the room.
I know that you’ve probably heard this over and over again from dental marketing experts. Blogging is more valuable than you can image as a digital marketing strategy. No one, I mean no one wants to write blog posts. Actually there is one guy up in Minnesota, but he’s the only one.
For those of you who hate writing or simply don’t have the time, you should invest in a copywriter. New custom articles are one of the most important content marketing strategies. That goes for everyone, not just dentists.
New content will feed your website, help your blog to be found by search engines, be the basis for all your email marketing, improve your dental SEO exponentially, and helps you to refine your practice mission and purpose.
One of the best ways to start a blog for a dental practice is to write posts that answer your patients most frequently asked questions. Second in line to that idea is to write posts that highlight your team members and your most valuable patients, especially patients with great stories.
But before you begin randomly blogging, you’ll want to do proper research. Marketing for dentists with a blog includes identifying your target audience, which includes geographical and service related items. Once identified you’ll want to include these in your posts to help optimize the blog posts for search engines.
If you don’t have the time, get some help with blogging. A dental marketing agency will have the expertise and experience to speed up blog content creation for an effective campaign. It’s typical for a dental marketing team to have at least one professional copywriter on staff. Here at My Social Practice we currently have 3 professional copywriters.
When making a decision on hiring a copywriter make sure that you get a sample of their work. You’ll want to make sure that the tone and quality of their writing fits within your dental practice brand.
9. Get More Google Reviews than your Competition
If there were only one dental digital marketing strategy that you could do, you’d want to start here. Google reviews have become increasingly important to a dental marketing campaign because the reviews are attached to your practice Google Business Profile (GBP). Your GBP shows up in search and is likely being viewed by more than 2/3rds of the patients before they schedule with you.
Your GBP reviews can destroy your entire marketing campaign. For example:
A dentist spends $20,000 on a print mail campaign, a billboard, a television ad, professional photography, or a website. It doesn’t really matter what marketing initiative it is. A potential patient sees the marketing, and where’s the first place that patient goes to validate your marketing and see if you are who you say you are?
To Google, where the patient checks out the practice’s Google review profile. If the review profile is not great, there is a fairly high chance that the review profile will undermine the $20,000 marketing campaign.
For those practices out there that have not been working on acquiring 5-star Google reviews, your review profile is likely destroying all your marketing initiatives, including referral programs. If you’re going to do one thing, start by getting more Google reviews.
10. Do Good with Charity Dental Marketing
One of the best ways to generate buzz and get your whole team involved in a new marketing initiative is to do good. Everyone wants to join in on an effort to build up a good cause. Humanitarian drives can be surprisingly easy and create digital marketing opportunities for your dental practice. These can include:
- Positive brand image. Patients and potential clients perceive you as generous, community-minded, and proactive. It makes you the type of business they feel good about being a part of.
- Increased team unity. It’s easy to get members of your team on board with charitable efforts, even those who feel hesitant about marketing. Setting a goal together can strengthen bonds.
- Patient referrals. Patients will join in on your awareness efforts by sharing your message with their friends, exposing you to a new pool of potential patients.
- Attract local media attention. Everyone loves a feel-good human interest story, and it can give you opportunities for press exposure you wouldn’t have otherwise.
So how do you start with a humanitarian initiative? We have some pre-packaged campaign ideas and materials that you can try out. For example, a charity whitening day can introduce new and existing patients to an exciting service from your team while raising money for a great cause.
You may also consider sponsoring a smile makeover, running a Toys for Tots campaign, fundraising for a dental-focused organization, or building awareness about causes close to your heart.
Ultimately, it’s not just about how your practice could benefit. It’s an opportunity to remind everyone that your work is about much more. Charitable giving infuses our days with purpose.
Implementing Digital Marketing Strategies into a Comprehensive Marketing Campaign
When it comes to promoting, advertising, and building a brand, social media, excellent website development, digital marketing for dentists strategies, and SEO are life changers. Digital marketing for dentists is inexpensive compared to traditional marketing and far more effective at building your dental practice.
So, the benefits are enormous for your practice to invest energy in social media, SEO, and content web marketing for dentists. Google Maps SEO helps you move up to the first search engine page on the Google map. Beyond that, there are several other benefits:
Greater Brand Awareness: You’ll stand apart from the competition when you have all four digital marketing strategies for dentists running on six cylinders. There are upwards of 150,000 practicing dentists in the U.S. alone. Branding your practice and establishing a name is essential to capturing an audience and attracting attention.
Improved Patient and Community Relationships: Consistent blog posts, news articles, social media, and content marketing will create a powerful dental marketing campaign. Potential patients will have confidence in your practice because you create content that answers their questions. You can reply to questions and concerns through social media, which humanizes your practice and brand even more. It is an excellent opportunity to show your expertise in your field, giving you more credibility and increasing your chances of being chosen.
New Ways to Grow Your Practice: Digital marketing for dentists can open many doors for your practice and create new growth opportunities. If you regularly post original, insightful content, you will quickly become recognized as an expert in your field.
Need Help? We’ve Got Marketing For Dental Professionals Covered
If you are ready to take the next step to attract new dental patients but don’t know where to begin or simply don’t have the time to get going, My Social Practice is here to help. Fill out a form to get a personalized no-obligation dental SEO summary and quote. An SEO and marketing strategy can be one of the best investments you’ll make for your dental practice. We can’t wait to get you started.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can a dentist get more customers?
Attracting new customers can be done with traditional advertising and/or digital marketing.
Examples of traditional advertising would be print mail, post cards, brochures, letters, trade shows, local events, television ads, referral programs, radio advertising, and billboards.
Examples of digital marketing are website development, Search Engine Optimization, reputation management, Google maps optimization, social media management and online paid advertising.
Both traditional and digital marketing strategies will work to find new customers.
Do dentists need marketing?
Marketing has become essential if you want your practice to thrive and grow. The marketplace is highly competitive and patients are able to research multiple options within seconds.
Dental marketing strategies will ensure that your practice can be found via search engines, social media platforms, and in paid advertising.
It’s important to remember that being found is only half of the battle when it comes to growing a dental practice, you also need to be chosen.
How much does the average dentist spend on marketing?
In a recent survey more than 50% of dentists reported spending a minimum of $1,000 a month on marketing. Just over 20% reported spending more than $5,000 per month. 5% of those surveyed reported spending zero.
As a general rule dentists should try to maintain at least a 40% profit margin and of expenses marketing should not exceed 7% of total costs.
How do you do dental digital marketing?
Dental digital marketing involves a four phase process known to expert marketers. The four phases are; Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action and the acronym that most marketers use is RICE.
First, you must reach your audience. Reaching your audience an be done with several strategies including, social media marketing, email marketing, paid advertising, SEO, and blogging.
Second, you interact with the audience. Interaction includes a well designed website, live chat support, internal website and social media channel linking, calls to action, and custom photography and video content creation.
Third, you convert your audience. Conversion involves exclusive offers, landing pages with calls to action, schedule now buttons and options, and copywriting focused on conversion.
Fourth, you engage with your audience. Engagement involves some of the action items listed above but are repeated with a focus on nurturing. These tactics include email marketing, organic social media posts that allow for personal interaction, and remarketing strategies.
Once a digital marketing campaign is created ask yourself the following questions:
- Are we reaching the correct audience?
- Are my patients interacting with my practice through the platforms in my campaign?
- Are potential patients converting to scheduled patients?
- Are we seeing any repeat business from previous patients?
What marketing tools are used in dentistry?
Some of the most used marketing tools in dentistry are:
- Automated email systems
- Lead generation website tools like OptinMonster
- Web chat
- Text reminders
- Paid advertising
- Paid social advertising
- Display advertising
- Retargeted advertising
- Directory submission tools
- Lead pages
- Buyer persona tools like Hubspot
- Google analytics
- SEO tools like SEMRush
About the Author: Adrian Lefler is a dental marketing expert and a key member of the dental marketing team at My Social Practice. My Social Practice is located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Adrian is passionate about helping dental practices grow. If you’d like to book one of the members of My Social Practice’s speaking team, you can do that HERE. Interested in learning more about the benefits of dentist SEO or our dental SEO service, please schedule a complimentary consultation. And, don’t forget to read our Google reviews.