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May 2013

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Practice Marketing

7 Ways to Improve Patient Satisfaction

Over the course of your workday, your focus is likely on treating patients and staying on schedule. But, how concerned are you with keeping your patients happy? Keeping your patients content is an easy notion to dismiss among the many other matters concerning your practice, but it shouldn’t be. With the average new patient acquisition costing five times more than retaining an existing client, patient satisfaction should be a primary concern for your practice.

Here are seven simple ways you can improve patient satisfaction:

1. Offer text message appointment reminders – Nearly all of your patients are mobile and enjoy the convenience of text messaging, as it allows them to respond on their own time. Studies on the matter indicate that 74% of patients would rather receive text appointment reminders than a phone call or email, and 54% state they are more likely to respond to a text message reminder.

2. Have patient feedback surveys readily available – Everyone loves to voice their opinion. Having a prominently displayed satisfaction survey will make patients feel their feedback is important. If they do have an issue or concern, they may be more likely to voice it privately on your survey instead of publically posting it online.

3. Follow up with patients after their visit – Studies show that when you conduct a follow-up phone call, patients report around 10% higher satisfaction with your services. If you performed an involved procedure, follow up with the patient within 48 hours to see how they are doing. This personal touch will make you stand out as a caring provider.

4. Keep your employees happy – Your employees can influence your practice’s reputation more than you may think. If anyone on your staff has a bad attitude, it could tarnish your image. Encourage open communication with your staff and address their irritations before they give your practice a damaging reputation.

5. Study your competition – If you have local competition, figure out what makes them tick.  Start by checking out their online reviews, and see what their patients are saying about their service. Learn from your competition, and ‘avoid having the same weaknesses within your own practice. For example, if your competition has numerous complaints about their rude front office staff, take considerable measures to ensure your office staff gives you a glowing reputation.

6. Surprise patients with a bonus – When patients visit the dentist, the standard toothbrush and floss favors no longer come as a surprise; gifts like these have become expected. Try surprising patients with added bonuses like Xylitol chewing gum or a toothpaste tube squeezer. Little extra gifts can make a big difference in patient satisfaction.

7. Have a mobile website – Just as patients prefer text message communication, they also prefer the convenience of easily accessing your website on their mobile device. Give patients a mobile version of your website with simplified navigation, so they can easily contact you or research your services on-the-go

Patients are the heart and soul of your practice. Understanding their needs, surpassing their expectations, and responding to their concerns are critical in retaining their patronage. Following these simple tips can help you maintain higher patient satisfaction rates and increase word of mouth referrals.

Are you already suffering from a negative reputation? Refer to our blog post about reputation management.

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Practice Marketing

3 Signs You’re Being Spammed

When it comes to improving your website’s optimization, choosing a trustworthy, reputable SEO provider is key. Because search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex process, some companies use this to their advantage, relaying deceitful marketing messages in an attempt to trick those less knowledgeable about SEO. One of the most common tactics is to promise first page results on Google. While this is an appealing claim, it is a feat that cannot be guaranteed and is one of the top ways to identify an unreliable SEO company.

Here are 3 additional key ways to identify whether you’re being spammed by a SEO company:

1. The email was completely unsolicited.

Disreputable companies prey upon anyone and everyone with a website. They use email to convince you that you need their services or to scare you with generalizations about your website’s performance.

Rule of Thumb: If you didn’t ask for the information, question the sender’s motives.

2. The sender doesn’t offer a business name, location, or contact number.

Legitimate businesses want you to hire their services and want to get you on the phone to hear the inflection in your voice. They want to understand how you feel about what they’re pitching.  They’ll also likely offer references and results of past clients.

Rule of Thumb: If a company makes it difficult to learn about their services and refuses to talk to you on the phone, something fishy is going on.

3. The sender uses a free email service (e.g. Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, etc.).

Any reputable company will have their own email accounts set up with their domain name (i.e. service@prosites.com). There is no reason or benefit for companies to use free email services, as they are unprofessional and more likely to be thrown in the SPAM folder.

Rule of Thumb: Make sure you’re communicating with a reputable company. Check their email address and be wary of anyone operating with a Gmail or other free email account.

When you receive emails marketing any service, be sure to pay special attention to notable traits that could suggest you’re being scammed. Before hiring any service, check the reputation of the company and be sure to ask for references.

If you are genuinely interested in SEO, we do offer Advanced Search Engine Optimization among many other search engine marketing services. Click here to learn more about our SEO services or call us at (888) 932-3644.

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Practice Marketing

How Images Impact Online Marketing

Marketing your practice on social media serves two purposes: it improves brand awareness and aims to increase traffic to your website. So, what can you do to get the most out of your social media posts? It’s simple; use engaging photos.

Numerous studies have analyzed the effectiveness of sharing images on social networking sites. These studies have shown:

• Facebook posts with images attract over 50% more “Likes” than text-only posts.
• 93% of the most shared posts on Facebook are images.
• Pinterest (a network primarily comprised of images) generates more website referrals than Twitter.

If those facts don’t convince you of the importance of sharing images, consider that photo sharing was the main motivator behind the redesign of Facebook’s News Feed; and the Facebook algorithms rank posts with images higher than posts with links. So, if you really want to accomplish brand awareness and direct prospective patients to your website, it’s easy to see how sharing images is one of the most effective ways to do so.

The Science Behind Why People Prefer Pictures

The fact of the matter is – we are all visual beings. The human brain can inherently process images over 60,000 times faster than plain text. Meaning, you respond faster to visual stimulation.

You are also hard-wired to retain visual information better than text. The Pictorial Superiority Effect (proven through experimentation and testing) indicates humans are much more likely to remember things presented visually, than those presented as descriptive text.

How to Use Images in Your Social Networks

If you’re already active on social networking sites, great! If not, refer to our Ultimate Social Media Guide Series to get started. During the process of creating your profile(s), you will be prompted to upload a profile image. It’s always important to use a high-quality photo that helps you convey a professional image to current and prospective patients.

When posting images to your social networks, here are some general guidelines to follow:

• Image Dimensions: Social networks all have different size requirements for each type of image, such as profile, cover, and banner photos. If you want to crop an image to the exact dimensions of a specific social network, there are free online services that will walk you through the process, such as Autre Planete.

• Name Your Images Appropriately: Because Google indexes images, the images you share have the potential to show up in search results. When saving images to your computer, don’t settle for the default name your camera gives the image, such as “IMG_0012”. Rename the image using keywords that describe what it depicts, such as “Family-Dental-Practice-Piedmont-North-Dakota”. Using keywords and geolocators separated with hyphens lets search engines know that each of those individual words help describe the image.

• Use Captions: After adding an image to your website or posting it to your social profile, give it a caption that uses the same keywords you named the image with. It’s also important to write captions with a personal and friendly tone. Using the previous example, a caption may be “Come visit Family Dental Practice in Piedmont, North Dakota!”

• Quality Matters: Viewers are much more likely to engage with an image that is framed well and has good lighting. Make sure the focus of the image is clearly visible. That being said, use high-quality photos when possible, but don’t be afraid to post a quick snapshot taken with your smartphone either.

• Share, Share, Share!: Don’t be afraid to share the same photo on multiple mediums (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) to increase its exposure.

Ironing out the Legal Details

Before you begin posting images on your social networks, be sure to consider the legalities of posting stock photos or photos of patients. Here are a few guidelines regarding photo sharing:

• Photos of patients should never be used for commercial purposes (i.e. sold for profit).
• All photos should be free of negative or controversial topics.
• Only share photos that you have been given permission to use (by a patient) or photos you have purchased the rights to (stock image).
• If you are sharing an image that a patient took, be sure to credit them as the original photographer.
• Immediately remove any photo that the subject or original author asks you to delete.
• If posting photos of real patients, never include their full names.

Studies indicate that users engage 44% more with brands who regularly share images rather than text-based posts. A study conducted by Harvard Business School even determined that 70% of all activity on Facebook relates to photos, whether it’s sharing, liking, or commenting on them. Images are undoubtedly one of the easiest ways to get the attention of your current and prospective patients, so start sharing your photos now!

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Social Media

10 Ways to Get More Followers on Twitter

Whether you’re an avid tweeter or are just getting started on the social platform, acquiring followers always seems to be a huge concern for most users.  When a practice obtains more followers, they increase their credibility, extend their marketing reach, and have the potential to acquire more new patients.  Once you start tweeting, keep the following tips in mind to build your audience:
 
1. Interact with your neighbors.

As a local business, your practice should be interacting with other neighboring businesses.  By connecting with and following nearby businesses (not competitors of course), you can comment on each other’s involvement in the community, and increase your exposure among their followers and patrons.  This sort of interaction can help both their business and yours reach new prospects.

2. Get to know your target audience.

Understanding your patient base will allow you to tailor your tweets to appeal to your audience.  When trying to determine your target audience, consider questions such as: why would “X” type of patient interact with me on Twitter (what is the incentive); how do these patients communicate with others on Twitter; what times are they most active on Twitter?  Each of these considerations can help you formulate your strategy, such as the tone you should take, the time you should post, and the type of content your audience will find interesting.

3. Focus on interacting.

Social networking is really meant to be an online conversation.  Your current and prospective patients don’t want to talk about how great you are at placing cosmetic veneers, they want to be engaged and entertained.  The occasional sales pitch is okay, but try to keep your tweets educational, interesting, and valuable.

4. Join in the conversation.

Twitter users aren’t sitting around wondering what you’re going to post next.  To get noticed, you have to interact with other people’s tweets! For example, comment on popular posts and ask questions to spark conversation.  Interaction makes others want to socialize with (and follow) you.

5. Don’t be afraid to retweet.

Sometimes users feel that a retweet is “taking the easy way out,” but this couldn’t be more untrue.  Tweeting is all about sharing valuable or entertaining information with others.  If you find someone else’s tweet of value, retweet it.  Your followers may also enjoy the tweet, and the user who composed the original tweet may acknowledge your retweet, giving you added exposure among their followers.

6. Be interesting.

People like interacting with people, not just businesses.  Don’t forget to share the people behind your practice – dental assistants, hygienists, office staff.  Post pictures of your staff dressed up for Halloween.  Share “Happy Birthday” announcements.  Let your followers know there are real people working for you.

7. Observe Twitter Search.

Twitter users will often pose questions and hashtag them with related keywords.  For example, we used Twitter Search to look up the term “dentist” and found a user who tweeted “This may be a really dumb question but can a cavity go away on its own or do I need to go to the dentist? #dentist #inpain”.  That certainly isn’t a “dumb” question, and it needs a credible user to answer it, which is where you come in.  Search for industry-related terms and help other users by answering their questions or concerns.  Responding to comments like these can help you grow your network of followers.

8. Use promoted tweets.

Promoted tweets are tweets you pay to have strategically placed in front of your prospects.  You can target users by their location, and Twitter will feature your tweet in these users’ newsfeeds, regardless of whether they currently follow you or not.  Promoting a special or new service could definitely get you noticed among your local prospects.

9. Be flexible.

When you’re tweeting, don’t feel obligated to stick to a set plan.  Trending topics, like local news and events, tend to get more attention than other tweets.  If something happens in your vicinity, tweet about it and get active in others’ conversations, regardless of whether it fits into “the plan”.  

10. Add your Twitter @handle to everything.

And we mean everything.  Stick it on your business cards, practice signage, your email signature line, blog posts, etc.  If you don’t spread the word that you’re present on Twitter, your patients will never know.

Don’t forget to be patient in the process of marketing your practice on social networks; acquiring a solid group of followers takes time but is worth the investment.  Studies show that small businesses who have 51 or more followers have at least 106% more traffic to their website than those with less followers.  Start implementing these strategies to begin acquiring new followers today! 

To learn more about marketing your practice on today’s most popular social networks, contact us at (888) 932-3644.

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Social Media

Why Your Facebook Fans Are Annoyed

You’ve worked hard to build up your social media presence but what some businesses do not realize, is that they could be losing fans due to simple, yet common mistakes! If you find that your number of “Likes” have started to dwindle, it may be time to ask yourself, “Why?”

One study, conducted by Lab42 (a marketing research firm), indicated the following:

• 87% of Facebook users “Like” at least one brand.
• 75% of Facebook users feel more connected to a brand when they have a Facebook page.

Being so, the problem isn’t that users don’t want to “Like” company Facebook Pages, so where is the disconnect? Here are the most common reasons why Facebook Fans may decide to “un-like” your page:

You’re posting too frequently – Studies indicate the preferred number of posts from a company is one to three, daily. Any more than this may be considered excessive and cause annoyance among your fans

Bad patient experiences – If your patients stop visiting your practice because of a bad experience, you can bet they will also stop “Liking” your Facebook page. Ensuring that you always provide excellent customer service will eliminate this problem and may even help you gain more “Likes” as a result!

You’re invading personal space – Some Facebook users find it an invasion of privacy when a brand comments on their actual page. Whether your follower posted a new photo or status update, try to remember the general rule of thumb that brands should only “speak” to Followers when “spoken” to.

Not engaging your audience – If you only post updates about services you want to promote, you’re forgetting about the “social” element that fuels social media. Try to interact with your followers in ways beyond self-promotion, such as asking questions or posting interesting facts.

Asking for “Likes” – Nothing bothers Facebook users more than a business pleading for “Likes”. Let your service do the talking and you will generate plenty of “Likes” organically.

Take a moment to analyze your Facebook posts. Do you need to make a few of these simple adjustments to sustain your “Likes”?

For information about generating “Likes”, refer to our blog post that details the top 15 ways to acquire more “Likes” on Facebook.

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