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June 2013

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Social Media

7 Ideas for Sharing Images on Social Media

If you haven’t realized the increase in visual content on social networking sites, it’s time you take notice. Recent studies prove that we process visual information 60,000 times faster than text, which is why more companies are engaging visitors by sharing images and video alongside text-based posts.  

The key to engaging users on social networks is to regularly post different visual elements. Here are seven ideas to get you started:

1. Make a collage – You can use a free online photo editor, such as Pixlr.com, to edit and arrange your photos into a collage. Collages are an easy way to share multiple images in a single post, perfect for before-and-after cases or pictures from events you have hosted or attended. 

2. Add text to images – Adding text to images allows you to visually share information, potentially engaging more followers, and is the perfect way to advertise your current promotions or new services. You can use a free web application such Addtext.com to add content to any image.  

3. Host a photo-sharing contest – If you don’t have time to take, edit, and upload photos yourself, try hosting a photo-sharing contest. These competitions allow your fans to share their own images on your social networks, enabling you to show visual content without doing it all on your own. And, don’t forget that every contest needs a prize! Consider rewarding the winning participant with an item, gift card, or free service.

4. Give followers visual tutorials – One way to share visual content with followers is to provide brief informational videos. You can demonstrate how to properly floss, explain how digital X-rays work, or even share patient testimonials. These types of videos are highly likely to engage visitors and establish you as a credible professional in your field.

5. Share inspirational quotes – A current trend within multiple social networks is sharing inspirational quotes artistically placed over a creative background. You can share some of your favorite quotations by using free services such as Quozio.com. This free web application allows you to type your quotation and display it over any one of their 37 backgrounds. Quozio even allows you to upload your creation directly to multiple social networking sites.

6. Use screenshots – Engage your fans by sharing screenshots of cool features on your website, new blog posts, or your glowing reviews on Yelp. Since the goal of social media is to improve correspondence and highlight your expertise, communicating with fans visually can improve your reputation and drive more traffic to your website.

7. Show; don’t tell – When posting on social networking sites, it’s easy to get into the habit of constantly telling your fans about your practice. But, why not show them? Use images to share your accomplishments, awards, certificates, etc. Let fans and prospective patients see just how talented you are.   

Studies show that 40% of the population responds better to visual information, which is supported by the fact that social media posts with photos get 7 times more likes and 10 times more shares than text alone. Whether you’re new to social media marketing or a seasoned veteran, try introducing visual content into your social networking strategy today.

Does your practice need help getting started on social media? Contact us at 888-932-3644 to learn more about our social media marketing services.

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Practice Marketing

10 Common Email Mistakes

Email is one of the most effective communication channels for businesses. In fact, it’s currently estimated that the average Internet user sends and receives 115 emails per day, creating a ton of opportunity to improve your patient communications; however, it is important to ensure your email is getting their attention among the hundreds of emails they interact with.  

If your practice is emailing current and prospective patients, be sure to avoid these 10 common email mistakes: 

1. Forgetting an Opt-Out – Not everyone wants to be on your email subscriber list. Give patients the opportunity to opt-out of future emails with an unsubscribe link. Not only is an opt-out required by the FTC, but it also allows patients to respectfully decline your email, rather than reporting you as SPAM, which negatively impacts your email reputation.

2. Poor Timing – Are you accidentally sending patients appointment reminders after their appointment has passed? Or, are your birthday messages unintentionally belated? Be sure the emails you send are timely and relevant to your patients.

3. Sending Spam – Only email patients or prospects who have willingly subscribed to your emails. If you’re buying email lists and sending marketing messages to users who didn’t willingly subscribe, you may end up harming your email reputation. Try asking patients how they prefer to be contacted on new patient forms, and provide an email opt-in.

4. An Awful Subject Line – When you email patients, you’re competing with every other message in their inbox. Therefore, you need to immediately establish its purpose. According to HubSpot, 64% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone. If your subject line doesn’t spark interest or curiosity, then your email may be sent straight to the trash. Also, make sure your email line is relevant to the subject of your email; you don’t want to mislead subscribers with irrelevant information in the subject line.

5. You Aren’t Providing Value – Email should always provide a value to your patients and build upon your relationship. Whether you’re sending a “Happy Birthday” message or an appointment reminder, make sure your patient finds the email worth reading.

6. An Overwhelming Message – Much like you, your patients are busy and don’t want to spend hours sifting through their inbox. Be sure you send concise information that is easy to comprehend.

7. Grammatical Errors – Small errors and misspellings can ruin your credibility and cause patients to think you’re negligent and hurried. Take the time to thoroughly proof all of your emails before hitting the “send” button.

8. An Outdated Subscriber List – As you gain and lose patients, you have to remember to update your email list. You want to be sure you aren’t sending mail to old patients who are no longer interested in your services, as they’re likely to report your email as spam. Keep in mind that 30% of subscribers change their email addresses annually, so updating your list is critical.

9. An Unappealing Design – Plain text emails no longer capture readers’ attention. To stay competitive and relevant you have to add interest to your emails with images and design elements to better engage your patients. Also, before sending your email to patients, make sure your design elements render correctly in different mail applications (i.e. Yahoo! mail, Gmail, Outlook, etc.).

10. Forgetting to Include Contact Information – Emails that are intended to generate new patient appointments or confirm existing appointments must include your contact information in the body of the email. Be sure you’re providing patients with the email address you want them to respond to, your phone number, and a link to your website.

Email has become an instrumental way for practices to effectively communicate with their patients, and it is important to remember the basic elements needed to make your email perform its best. Research indicates that for every $1 spent on email marketing, the average business sees an ROI of $40, and 44% of email recipients make at least one purchase annually triggered by a promotional email.  

With statistics so promising, email marketing is surely a good investment for your practice, provided you avoid these common mistakes.

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Social Media

The Anatomy of a Perfect Tweet

Once you finally get used to hashtags, handles, and all the Twitter rules, you may be wondering how to step up your Twitter game and get more exposure on the social network. When it comes down to it, the amount of influence your tweets have can be determined upon how your tweets are composed. When writing your tweets, you have to shoot for creating or curating memorable posts that other users want to share.

To start, there are three types of tweets:

1. Original tweet – a new, original thought you created and shared
2. Link – generating a tweet based on a link to an article, website, image, etc. that you wish to share
3. Retweet – republishing someone else’s tweet to share it with your followers

Once you determine which type of tweet you wish to share, you can break down the allotted 140 characters into the following form:

• The message – 100 characters
• A link – 20 characters
• Blank space – at least 20 characters

The message is the main chunk of your 140-character tweet. It should take up about 100 characters and should provide a call-to-action, while informing readers of why your tweet is of value to them.  You can mix in facts, statistics, and hashtags to draw even more attention to the post.  Just be sure to maintain correct grammar and usage throughout, as well as uphold a professional tone.

The link should draw users to click for more information. Whether the link leads to one of your social networks, your website, or your practice blog, users should feel compelled to open the link. Be sure to use a link shortening service, such as Bitly, to conserve your characters. Also, the majority of your tweets should link to either your website or blog posts in an effort to increase website traffic.

Blank space allows other users to retweet your post without having to fuss with editing it to meet the 140-character limit. Making it easy on other users can increase the likelihood that your post will be retweeted.

After formatting your Tweet just so, you can improve the chance that your tweets will be seen and shared. Here are some additional tips to consider:

• Use “you” or “your” instead of “I” or “we” to make readers feel included in the conversation and more likely to favorite or retweet.
• Mention other users by including their handle in your tweet to influence a share, follow, or retweet.
• Limit your hashtag use to just one or two per tweet to prevent other users from thinking your tweets are spam.
• Share popular news within your industry to help attract the attention of colleagues who may decide to retweet your post.
• Avoid the use of all CAPS to make your tweet more likely to be read.

If you haven’t yet started using Twitter to market your practice, you can download our free Ultimate Social Media Guide to Twitter, which walks you through the setup process and offers key tips and strategies on using social media to market your practice.

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Social Media

6 Tips for Optimizing Your Yelp Profile

With 102 million monthly visitors and over 39 million reviews, it’s no wonder Yelp is one of the leading sources of new patient referrals. And, each referral Yelp generates adds significant revenue to your practice over the course of one year. According to a recent study conducted by The Boston Consulting Group, Yelp generates, on average, $8,000 annually for businesses that have optimized their free account. Additionally, if implementing Yelp’s paid advertising with an annual budget of $4,500, the same study demonstrated that health and medical services bring in an average of $20,000 in increased revenue annually.  

Because claiming and optimizing your free Yelp profile has proven, positive impacts, we highly recommend you get started. Create your free account at http://biz.yelp.com and follow the simple prompts to complete your listing, and don’t forget to include a link to your website.  

Here are some tips to keep in mind that can help increase your exposure on Yelp:

1. Make your profile complete – Filling out your profile thoughtfully and thoroughly will give patients a better understanding of your services and will let them immediately know whether you can meet their needs.

2. Advertise your profile – Ask patients to submit a review on Yelp, or keep a sign displayed on your reception desk, mentioning your practice profile on Yelp. Having a positive online reputation can help you stand out as a reputable provider.

3. Monitor your profile – Regularly check your profile for new reviews, and be sure to respond with a “thank you” to those who leave a positive comment about your practice. Should you stumble upon a negative review of your services, respectfully respond to the review and try to resolve the problem. Showing concern for your existing patients’ experiences will let prospects know that you care about their satisfaction.

4. Offer exciting discounts – Yelp sends out weekly emails to local users, notifying them of nearby deals. By advertising discounts on Yelp, you can be featured in the emails that Yelp sends to nearby prospects, helping you reach a local, targeted audience. 

5. Share with prospective patients – Similar to Twitter, Yelp allows you to post 140-character status updates. Use these updates to inform prospects of events you’re attending, sponsoring, or hosting to give them an opportunity to attend the event and learn more about your services.

6. Link your Facebook and Twitter profiles – When prospects use review sites, such as Yelp, to research your services, they will likely search online to discover everything they can find about your practice. Make it easy and convenient for them to find more information by supplying links to your social networks directly within Yelp.

Business listing sites such as Yelp, Google Places, and Angie’s List are great (free) opportunities for you to reach local prospects. In following these simple tips, you can further your marketing influence on Yelp and increase new patient opportunities.

If you want to reach more local prospects, contact us at 888-932-3644 to learn more about our Local Search Marketing services. 

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Website Design

10 Myths About Dental Websites

Opinions are everywhere, and whether you’ve just begun shopping for a website or you’ve been in the market for a while, you’re bound to come across a web “expert” who will try and sell you on their services using outlandish claims. For the average person, it’s easy to get confused or mistake myth for fact.

To help you on your journey in purchasing a new website or upgrading an existing website, we have compiled – and busted – the top ten myths about websites. Want additional dental website best practice tips? Download the free guide here.

1. Myth: All websites are the same. I can just buy the cheapest one and be done.

Fact: Websites are definitely one of those important purchases where you want to know what you’re getting yourself in to. Hiring a tech-savvy relative or friend fresh out of design school isn’t always the best decision. You want your website to exude a professional image, and you want to make sure visitors can easily navigate your site to find the information they want.  You also want to be sure you have the chance to view your website before it goes live for public viewing. Quality first impressions are critical, and you want to ensure your website is giving your prospective patients the right impression.

2. Myth: Once I have a website, I will immediately get new patients.

Fact: Having a website is similar to owning a vehicle. You first have to purchase the vehicle, but you also have to be sure there is gas in the tank before it’ll go. Your website is propelled by quality content that provides a reason for search engines to find your website useful to online searchers. The more quality content you provide, the more gas your website has. And, for those in highly competitive markets and large cities, you can always consider search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing (SMM) services to add even more fuel. Additionally, your content doesn’t only help search engines; it enables patients to determine what services you offer and supplies the necessary information for them to ultimately choose you as their provider.

3. Myth: I can’t pay the cost of a new dental website design.

Fact: A good website doesn’t need to cost $25,000 to work well for your practice. Dental website design costs range depending on the complexity of your requests. A professional, branded website is within reach and costs 62% less per prospect than traditional marketing tactics.  Just be sure to understand what the cost of your custom website includes.  You’ll want to look for a designer that provides as many conveniences as possible, such as content, a CMS (content management system), and several rounds of revisions, to name a few.

4. Myth: My website will look the same on any device.

Fact: Are you sure of that? As more Internet users have transitioned from using their desktop computers to using tablets and smartphones, how your website displays on these devices is critical. Simply having a shrunken version of your website to fit a smaller screen will frustrate users on tablets and smartphones. If you think your website is fine regardless of where it’s displayed, you may want to reconsider – check out our blog article explaining why mobile matters.

5. Myth: Cheap hosting is the same as expensive hosting. The expensive hosts just want more money.

Fact: Hosting is definitely something that falls under the “You Get What You Pay For” category. Sure, cheap hosting is appealing and $10 per month sounds a lot better than $60 per month, but what does that $60 buy you? Often, more expensive hosting has built-in complexities to prevent you from dealing with spam or having to suffer the setback of your website being down. This doesn’t mean hosting should cost you upwards of $100 per month, but you should expect to pay around $50 each month for secure hosting. Additionally, some hosts charge based on the number of pages your website can have and how many email accounts you will be given. Check to see what your hosting fee includes.

6. Myth: I can reach just as many prospects by spending my money on marketing methods other than a website.

Fact: 78.6% of Americans use the Internet and use it multiple times per day. This means a website can potentially reach 246 million people per day.  No alternative marketing method has that reach. Additionally, a website is one of the least expensive forms of marketing, second only to free social networking sites and business listings, and websites yield an impressive ROI.

7. Myth: I don’t know anything about computers, so I shouldn’t have a website.

Fact: Depending on the type of website you purchase, you may not need to know anything.  There are numerous website providers that take care of everything for you, from renewing your domain name annually to providing the content for your website.  The only thing you have to know is how to call and purchase the website.  Some providers even have a customer support team that can assist you with any questions you may have regarding your website or webmail.

You can also find website providers that give you the ability to edit your website within their own CMS (content management system).  A CMS will give you the ability to control nearly every aspect of your website without any web design know-how, including adding images, video, and editing content.  Navigating these content management systems is extremely simple too, as most function similar to popular word processors.

8. Myth: My site needs to be Flash because I want my visitors to view video.

Fact: Flash is tricky. While flash is pretty impressive and was a hot topic for a while, Internet trends are now shifting towards jQuery and HTML5, which can display video equally as well. Additionally, jQuery and HTML5 will allow your videos to render on devices that don’t support Flash, such as the iPad or iPhone. That being said, if you want all of your visitors to view video, you definitely want to stick with HTML5.

9. Myth: A good website takes months to build.

Fact: An experienced designer can build a website efficiently, especially if they’re working at a larger, reputable company. The larger the team is working on your website, the quicker they can develop a working model of your website and provide you with mock-ups to approve. Some companies even have pre-designed website options which can be live within 24 hours.

10. Myth: I don’t have enough time to update a website.

Fact: Time is the one thing you can’t buy; however, you can purchase a website solution that takes care of updates and upgrades for you. Some website providers offer turnkey solutions complete with written content, videos, and contact forms. All you need to do is select which pages you want to display on your website. Many of these providers even have customer support teams that will assist you with making edits to your website. And just like that, your schedule is suddenly free.

Purchasing a website shouldn’t be scary or intimidating, and if you get stuck or confused, use these ten busted myths to guide your purchase decision.

For additional tips, download the free guide 10 Best Practices for Creating Great Dental Websites by filling out the form below.

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