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It’s been a tough year for dentistry. The latest figures from the American Dental Association show that the majority of dental practices are operating below 75 percent of their current maximum capacity. But the proverbial tide is shifting, and as offices slowly reopen their doors, many face the need to explore new ways to leverage services quickly to attract a broader audience while minimizing costs. The answer is online marketing.

Pew Research found that 97 percent of Americans own a cellphone. And 85 percent of those surveyed own a smartphone. That means customers can research anything at any time—including dentists. It’s more important than ever to create an easy-to-find, user-friendly online experience on your website, social media, and online review sites.

If you are new to the digital space, here are four strategies that will set the stage for an effective and impactful online marketing strategy that relies on a patient-centered approach to care and a platform to promote it.

Promote patient-centered care

In this competitive market, building a practice around a positive patient experience is essential.

“With 83 percent of patients ready and willing to see a dentist, going the extra mile to reassure them that your practice is a safe and healthy environment is one critical way you can strengthen your practice in the coming months,” explains Vicki Cheeseman.

Offering services that patients often desire, such as flexible office hours, finance plans for self-pay patients, scheduling same-day appointments, or conducting comprehensive screenings for early signs of disease and discussing risks, sends a strong message that you care about your patients.

 

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Expand your online brand

The challenges many of our practices faced over this past year emphasized creating and updating trustworthy online sources of information for our patients. Now more than ever, consumers want access to information to help them make wellness decisions in addition to selecting healthcare providers. Your online brand is the gateway for connecting with consumers. “Use social media to help patients feel more comfortable before they even visit your office,” explains Rebekah Carter. “Showcase your authority, track record and industry experience by letting clients know they’re in safe hands.”

Social and website content adds a human touch to what is often an anxious experience for patients. “Remember that you’re not just selling toothpaste and root canals–you’re selling comfort, good health, confidence, trust and, above all, a good experience,” added Carter. “Social media gives you the platform you need to connect with your patients. Remind them that you’re all about people, not just teeth.”

Engage In Regular Outreach

How can you build a lasting relationship with patients that extends beyond their two checkups per year? Share general wellness information with them every month. “A quarterly or monthly eNewsletter with tips and tricks on how to minimize grinding, teeth stains, and how to keep healthy gums is a great way to build long-term relationships with patients,” suggests Melissa Mickelson.

Studies show that an email campaign with a contact list of approximately 1000 people garners a 21.72% average open rate. When paired with an active website with regular blogs and social media posts covering general wellness topics, your practice is staying top-of-mind with patients while sharing the latest on new services, office hours, specials, staff member highlights, patient appreciation, and more.

 

Medic working on a PC

Showcase Your Specialty

Establishing a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) encourages a patient to choose your practice over others. “A unique selling proposition is a statement you choose to embody that differentiates your products and your brand from your competitors,” says Braveen Kumar.

To determine what truly sets your practice apart, identify your target audience, then study your competition. What services do they offer? Are those services specific to the community? Do they resonate with what your customers value? What unique solutions can your practice offer patients? Your specialized qualifications, boosted with the right message, can help your practice stand out.

During this time of rebuilding, a commitment to provide patient-centered care, reinforced by a trustworthy and informational online brand, will help your practice rebound and connect with new customers while reinforcing trust with existing ones.