Like many industries, the dental profession has been transformed by the digital revolution. Technology has moved from a small but important part of your practice to center stage. Technological change is happening faster than ever before, and consumers expect your practice to offer the same convenience and value they get from other services.
So how do you choose the right software to run your business? It seems impossible — the software has to manage patient records including integrated imaging, keep track of referrals, provide online access for patients, maintain accounting records, send invoices, track collections and more — all while meeting ever-increasing government regulations and HIPAA reporting rules.
Step by Step
Choosing the right system may seem overwhelming at first, but there are steps you can take to minimize risk. First, select the software that can manage your practice now and easily expand as you grow. Next, get the best price from the vendor of your chosen software package —make sure you have a strong support agreement in place. Finally, plan out the installation schedule and make sure your vendor is closely involved.
You want a vendor that has a good reputation for support. Work with them by describing critical software features your practice needs, as well as secondary items you’d like to include if the budget allows. Perhaps electronic prescribing takes precedence over something like extended reporting capabilities. It just depends on your needs and preferences.
Grow With You
Ask about the technology behind the software. Is it a proprietary system that no one but them can service? Will it be able to grow with you as you gain more patients over time? And finally, what support and training do they offer? You’ll never feel lonelier than the day your staff can’t figure out the system because they haven’t been trained, and the vendor suddenly doesn’t answer your support calls.
After evaluating your options, set up vendor demonstrations. But don’t let verbose vendor sales teams take over the process. Stay focused on making sure their product meets your needs. You want a vendor that communicates well, asks proper questions, and is interested in a long-term partnership. If they are long on promises and vague claims yet short on specifics and follow-up, beware.
If all this sounds daunting, don’t worry. You can manage the process yourself or bring in qualified consultants to run the show. Either way, remember that you and your staff must live with the software for years to come, so it makes sense to make a careful choice.
Internet users are a fickle bunch. If your content doesn’t capture their attention, they’ll immediately find a more interesting place to peruse various information. An inbound marketing strategy can help you retain visitors by appealing to their interests.
Placing ads and sending solicitations, either through snail mail or email, are outbound marketing techniques. Inbound marketing relies on high-quality content to bring people to your site. It can also be less costly than outbound marketing. According to the Search Engine Journal, inbound leads cost 61 percent less than outbound leads.
Steps to Take
1. Identify Your Target Demographic and your ULTIMATE GOAL
You’re a dentist providing a specialized service. You work with certain insurance providers. You want to bring in new patients. You want to recall an existing patient base and keep them engaged between visits. You need to decide what and where you want to focus and allow the content to slowly and steadily build toward that demographic. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Literally. I would urge you to focus more on quality than quantity.
2. Create Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are summaries about fictional buyers who represent your targeted demographics. Referring to these personas can help you create content that will mean something to your patient base. Personas should be as complete as possible and include details such as gender, age range, income and education level, preferred neighborhoods, type of jobs held and family status.
3. Choose Keywords
You’ll need to determine which keywords your patients use when they search for dentistry or dental subject matter. You can find out the keywords potential customers are using with a keyword-research tool such as Google Adwords Keyword Planner, Word Tracker or SEO Book.
4. Develop an Editorial Calendar
Use your editorial calendar to decide what you’re going to say and when and where you’re going to say it. If your landing page needs an overhaul to appeal to your target demographic, make rewriting that page a priority before you begin to create blog and social-media posts.
5. Write the Content
It’s time to start writing once you have a few keywords in mind. When you researched keywords, you might have discovered that many of your users are interested in cosmetic dentistry. Your strategy might include a blog post about new trends with say Invisalign. Although it’s important to include the long-tail keyword “cosmetic dental products” in the content, don’t use this keyword more than once or twice. If you do, you’ll be guilty of keyword stuffing, a practice that will result in your site being demoted on search engine results.
6. Track Results
Tracking the progress of your inbound marketing strategy will help you identify what does and doesn’t work and allow you to refine your plan. Look at how many visitors requested information by email or phone after visiting your website and how many sales were made. Keep track of how often information on your social media pages was shared.
Audiences have never craved connection more than they do today. Through social media, consumers are able to engage not only with each other, but with the companies and specialists who have a huge impact on their day to day lives. They have a voice like never before. The constant discussion and sense of community can be extremely advantageous for dental practices who learn to leverage their patient base as a marketing tool.
Listen. Your patients are being honest.
Social media isn’t just for keeping up with family and friends. Referrals have been and always will be a driving force in consumer’s buying decisions. Before the internet age, a bad customer experience only reached as far as the ten to twelve people (on average) that the upset customer could reach and would tell of their negative experience. Now, any and everything can go viral. Reviews matter. You know this. And strangers now can blast their experiences out into digital space for the masses to read and take into account before they choose to spend. Social media has made it so companies have to focus on standard of care. Quality. Service. Companies that do this effectively quickly gain an edge over those who do not. This is particularly true for small businesses and specialty service providers like yourself.
Social media has turned the internet into a giant focus group. Take advantage of that! By observing what your dental patients are saying on their own social media channels, you can gain valuable insight. Generally, folks on the internet are proclaiming unprompted opinions, so what they’re saying is usually a knee-jerk reaction to your service. People almost never write reviews for services or products they deem adequate; much more frequently, consumers will sing the praises of an exceptional experience or seek solidarity in times of disappointment. The point remains, the choice to proclaim a belief is deliberate. Don’t miss the opportunity to observe this kind of honest feedback.
Respond when feedback is good.
Very often, dental offices miss the opportunity for some free goodwill by responding to a satisfied patient. The simple act of acknowledging a positive tweet or a happy Facebook comment can leave your patients with a “warm fuzzy” feeling that helps secure their loyalty.
You must provide… the warm fuzzy.
You know the feeling. When you get amazing service or you’re completely happy with a purchase decision you made. All is well. Life is good. Enter the warm fuzzy. Always strive for the warm fuzzy. Discuss it in your morning meetings. How can you give the day’s patients this feeling? Have your staff remember it from the moment the patient enters your practice, to chair-side, to their exit. People want the warm fuzzy. People buy the warm fuzzy. People want to be valued and taken care of. All dentists provide similar solutions. Most patients don’t care about the latest and greatest tech or how well-appointed your waiting room is. Yes, these factors matter, but they need to culminate into the warm fuzzy for your end user. Your patients. Give patients that feeling and you’ve got a life-long practice champion.
Respond when feedback is bad.
Unfortunately, people won’t always sing your practice’s praises. A disgruntled patient bashing you to all of their friends and family can cause irreconcilable damage, potentially turning people off to your practice before they’ve even had a chance to experience it for themselves. You can’t stop people from expressing their discontent. However, attempting to remedy the problem is more than just a gesture of goodwill; it’s a necessity for your online reputation. You definitely don’t want to relinquish any of the influence you have over your practice presence on the web, so it’s extremely important to monitor this activity closely and to have a response plan in place. The good news… most consumers don’t weigh older reviews as heavily as newer ones. Typically, after 90 days, a review loses a lot of weight with the average consumer. Do you read old reviews? Probably not. If you do get a bad review, be proactive. Reach out to the patient. Try to get them on the phone to discuss the issue. You can ask them to take the review down, and typically if you’ve solved the issue they had with your practice, they will likely take it down on their own. Not always, but sometimes.
By understanding what folks really want from your dental practice, you can pivot your strategy and satisfy the needs of all your current and potential patient base. Your audiences are your focus groups, your PR firms and your marketing teams; you just need to frame them as such.
Do you need help with your marketing strategy? Feel free to reach out to me with your questions and concerns regarding your dental practice marketing. Everything from marketing and original content to social media and mailing campaigns… we have solutions to take your marketing to the next level.
As you’re scrolling down your news feed, what’s more likely to catch your attention—more of the same black-and-white text, or a striking high-quality image? Social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have long been hubs for image sharing, but photos are now uploaded to almost every social media site, including the big three: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It’s time to utilize the basics of posting practices to ensure your content reaches the audience it deserves.
Facebook has always been the premier site for multimedia sharing. The wide interface is great for individual photos and albums, so people are naturally inclined to add pictures to their Facebook accounts. But what you may not know is that posting with pictures actually earns you a wider audience. A study by eMarket showed that photos make up 87 percent of re-shares on Facebook! That’s huge—especially considering that re-shares are the most valuable type of interaction on Facebook. Re-shares make your posts visible to a broader audience than your own following, and thus Facebook’s algorithm gives re-shares more weight than likes or comments. This means adding images will boost your visibility on other Facebook feeds.
Tweets are meant to be short and pithy, and what’s more succinct than a picture? While a picture may be worth a thousand words, photos attached to Tweets don’t drain your character count. According to Buffer, tweets with images get an average of 18 percent more clicks than those without. Even better, tweets with images earn 89 percent more favorites and 150 percent more retweets. There’s no reason not to post more images on Twitter.
If you’re using LinkedIn, photos can help you in two ways. First, like any good profile, a high-quality profile picture attracts more interest than a picture-less profile. Forbes says profiles with pictures are seven times more likely to be viewed. Once you’ve done this, you can also post photos along with your LinkedIn updates, which creates more clickthroughs for your posts in the same manner it does on Facebook and Twitter.
Whatever site you’re using, make sure your photos are of good quality–there are so many cool filter options as well to enhance photos as needed. Be sure you re-size images or crop them to fit each site so nothing important gets cut off. If you don’t know how to do this, websites such as Canva offer free graphic design software that makes this a snap! These practices illustrate your attention to detail, and eye-catching images draw attention to what’s really important: your content. In the end, a good picture may be worth a thousand likes.
Once upon a time, there was a dental practice, and it was very successful. This dental practice knew that the secret to winning more business and growing their brand was to produce quality content for their patient base and their families — content with the power to engage, persuade and gain trust. The dental practice thrived, and they all lived happily ever after. The end.
If only it really was like that in the real world. Unfortunately, when it comes to content, so many marketing agencies and dental professionals focus on metrics, measurements and monthly results rather than quality. It’s true that clicks, likes, follows and traffic referrals are important, but if you really want to experience optimal conversion rates, quality is where it is at. That’s right. Content is king!
The Hallmarks and Benefits of Good Quality Content
Search engines are getting better and better at sniffing out poor quality content. Algorithm updates, such as Google Penguin, are designed to give users a better search experience. If your content isn’t up to snuff, you may drop off of Google’s radar completely. It’s difficult to curate and generate your own content. You may not be a proficient writer, you may not understand where to start, you may be blogging but not effectively using keyword structure, etc. Truth be told… creating content is hard. Creating consistent dental content is harder. Creating dental content to engage, inform and inspire current and future patients is hardest. Fortunately, there are many ways you can keep Google and your target audience happy. Here are some ways to deliver consistently good quality content across your marketing platforms:
Keywords Are Important, but Use Them Only When Necessary
Not only will too many keywords make your content seem like spam, but you could get penalized by the search engines or even removed from search engine rankings altogether. Use keywords when relevant, and research the most effective keywords so that you get the best returns from your content. Also, try to develop content that isn’t self-serving. Bring value to your end user. Give them something that enriches and improves their life. This develops trust and begins to solidify you and your dental practice as an “authority” to not only the Google algorithms, but to the public.
Write Social Content
By creating content that is attractive to social media users, you create a buzz and have a better chance of your content getting shared far and wide. Make your dental content fun. Don’t make a blog post that reads like a textbooks and delves into every scientific, multi-syllable word you can remember from dental school. Keep it short, simple and easy to read. Throw in a sense of humor and give the reader some insight into your personality. There may be thousands of dentists out there, but there is only one dentist like you. Find out what about you, your practice, your treatment options, etc. makes you different. Better. What gives you an edge? Once you find it… BLAST IT! Start building your dental marketing strategy and content strategy around your uniqueness. People want something that resonates instead of repeats.
Create Useful Content
By creating content that is of great use and interest to your target audience, you generate trust and give your visitors a reason to return. Content that solves a problem or gives away useful information for free will make your website irresistible to search engines and visitors alike. Quality dental content doesn’t have to be boring. Make it fun! Everyone needs a dentist in their life. Thanks to technology, you have the opportunity to engage and interact with your patient base all-day, every-day. Keep your patients informed and making healthy dental choices. Show them you care. That you want to provide them quality care from a genuine motivation of concern for their health. People want that connection and care. Give them that. Use your content to convey that and watch what happens in your practice.