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July 2015

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Search Marketing

Free White Paper: Get New Patients with PPC

If you’re looking for more patients, you already realize you have a large number of advertising options – most of which are expensive and impossible to monitor for return-on-investment.

This white paper looks at a relatively new method of advertising that’s much more effective, less expensive, with easy to gauge results.

See how your practice can use this new form of advertising to get the exact types of patients you’re looking for in your area. Get your free copy of this white paper today for the full details. 

                                                                  Get Your Free Guide

 
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Search Marketing

Help Patients Find Your Practice in 1 Step

There’s one simple way to automatically increase your practice’s online visibility: verify your business to show up in Google’s local search results.

Why is local search so important?

In order to understand why it’s important, you have to first understand the real way to win the online search game.

In short, the more chances you give someone to see your practice as a result in search, the better. If a Google results page is a piece of real estate, you want to increase your share of that real estate.

Previously, we discussed ways to improve your organic result with SEO, and most recently, how you can use Google’s PPC platform to reach your ideal patient. Getting verified as a local business is just one more tool for getting there.

That’s not the only reason local search is important though.

There’s a very tangible benefit of appearing in local search.

If someone is Googling your practice or looking for a dentist in your area, odds are good they want to know your location. They want to find your practice, either because they’re coming in for an appointment and they forget how to get to your location, or they’re thinking of coming in as a new patient and they’ve never been to your practice before.

They could go to your website and click around until they find your address and then Google it to get directions, but that’s adding a few extra unnecessary steps. Google recognized this inconvenience and knows people want quick and easy directions to local businesses, so they’ve placed emphasis on local results.

Ideally, when someone Googles your practice, or “dentist in [your town]”, you want to show up front and center, in what’s called the “local pack.”

You’ve probably seen the local pack before when you do a search. It appears directly below pay-per-click ads, and is accompanied by a map pinned with the local results for the relevant search terms.

In order to show up in the local pack, you need to first verify your practice as a local business through Google.

Google has a help page that can walk you through the process, but the first step is to register a Google + page for your practice.

After registering, you choose how to verify your practice’s name, address, phone number and any other relevant information like business hours and other contact details.

Unless you’re already using Google’s web tools, you’ll probably need to verify your practice through their post card option.

There’s another option to get your practice verified:

ProSites offers local search verification for Google (as well as Bing and Yahoo) as a part of its SEO services. If you’re not interested in spending time digging through Google’s requirements for verification, we can take care of it for you.

Click here to take a look at our SEO services and how we can help you increase the likelihood of being found on all the major search engines.

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Practice Marketing

Improve Your Accounts Receivable in 1 Step

How can you improve your accounts receivable so that they’re a minor annoyance instead of a financial burden?

It’s an unfortunate fact of the profession that dentists don’t always get paid on time, in full or at all, in some cases. People don’t pay their bills after the service is rendered, or they skip out on the appointment altogether – costing you time and money.

Luckily, there’s one simple step you can take to improve your collection and to even cut down on “no-show” appointments in the process.

The key is to get ahead of the game and improve your accounts receivable before they’re in arrears.

You can do so by requiring a deposit to secure an appointment. If that sounds bold or strange, consider how most businesses (even service-based businesses) make money.

First, they get paid, in part or in full.

Then, they deliver the product or service.

Notice how that process differs from how practices get paid. In a dental practice, a person makes an appointment, shows up (or not), is billed AFTER they receive service, and then they or their insurance company pays the bill (or not).

So some dental practices are changing things up, especially for new patients, or patients that need time-intensive, expensive procedures.

These practices are asking for a deposit to secure the appointment. That deposit can be anywhere from 10%-50% of the cost of the procedure.

Requiring a deposit has 3 big, immediate effects on your accounts receivable:

1) You incentivize patients to show up. They have skin in the game, so they’re more likely to make sure they don’t miss their appointments.

2) You always get paid a certain percentage of the services you bill for. That raises your billing significantly.

3) You get paid even if someone doesn’t show up – so every hour you’re booked in the office is cash-flow positive.

This idea might seem extreme, but you don’t need to implement it for all patients, all the time. You can look for problem areas where your accounts receivable are really suffering – like for new patients, or for certain patients who have missed appointments in the past, or even for certain high-cost procedures.

Implement this strategy where you need it most, and you can fix your biggest billing problems almost overnight.

Further reading: Previously, we’ve talked about having a clear billing policy and a way to remind patients about upcoming appointments.

These tips can help you reduce no-shows and improve accounts receivable, and combined with requiring a deposit, they can dramatically increase your practice’s profitability.

 

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Practice Marketing

3 Email Tips to Connect with Patients

Email can be one of the most powerful ways to get your patients to take action. The trick is to write the kind of “Goldilocks” content that’s just right for your audience. Do a good job, and you can improve engagement with your patients, which is known to reduce appointment no-shows and increase patient retention.

One of the easiest and most natural times to write an email to your patients is over the holidays. Your patients are usually home, relaxed and receptive to a timely, relevant note from their doctor.

All you need to do is to follow some simple rules of email etiquette, and you can make this 4th of July weekend a time to market your practice in a fun, natural way.

1. Make the subject line about them.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of talking about yourself in marketing. You want to tell your patients all about what you offer, how you can help them, and what you think.

The secret to effectively marketing your practice is to talk to your patients about their favorite topic: themselves. Your subject line should have a benefit and mention something meaningful to them. For example: “Tips to Keep Your Teeth Healthy on the 4th of July.”

2. Keep it short.

A holiday message is a great way to reach out to patients, but even the most tuned-in patient wants you to cut to the chase. As a rule of thumb, your email should be less than 100 words.

Something like:

Dear __________, (Make sure your email is personalized.)

Introduction: Reference the holiday. You don’t need to say much more than, “Hope you’re having a great 4th of July.”

Body: Jump into the meat of your message. What’s the special offer? Why are you writing to them?  It shouldn’t take more than a few sentences to get your point across.

Call-to-Action: Once you make your point, it’s vital to ask your reader to take an action. Whether it’s to call your office, email you back, or even to check out your practice’s Facebook page for more information, you should always include a strong call-to-action.

Signature/Contact information: Be sure your readers know how to contact you if they have questions. Include your name, address, and phone number.

3. Include a postscript.

People love a postscript, or P.S. at the end of a message. Even if they read nothing else, odds are, they’ll read the P.S.

Why? The P.S. is typically short, and usually interesting or useful.

Try something like:

P.S. Overdue for an appointment? We don’t judge. Call up my assistant, Jennifer, now and she’ll get you in the office as soon as you’re able. Don’t put off your dental health another minute!

Using email might seem a little awkward if you’re not accustomed to it, but if you use it every now and then, it can be a powerful communication tool for reaching your patients.

P.S. Always spell-check your email! There’s no excuse for typos or errors. People notice mistakes, and they distract from your message.

Further reading: Want some more ideas for how to use email effectively? Read this article for 10 common email mistakes.

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