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April 2017

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Search Marketing

Patient Loyalty and Retention – How Does Your Garden Grow?

As a dentist, it’s clear that you spend a lot of time and resources trying to bring new patients into your practice, which is important, but don’t let it come at the expense of keeping your current patients. In today’s fast-paced market where trying to keep up with the next big thing will give you whiplash, patient loyalty is worth its weight in gold.

First, it’s cheaper to maintain an existing patient; it costs 6 times more to attract a new patient than retain a current one. Second, it’s easier to keep an existing patient on the books; you’re 14 times more likely to book a repeat appointment than convince a non-patient to book their first appointment. And third, keeping patients longer increases your overall profit per patient.

As your grandmother said, “Grass grows greenest where it’s tended.” So read on for a gardener’s guide to increasing patient loyalty.

1. Create the right environment – Throwing seeds over the bank and hoping for rain isn’t likely to produce plump tomatoes or crisp cucumbers. Abundant crops aren’t the result of happenstance – they require the right environment. The same is true for cultivating loyal patients. As patients increasingly demonstrate consumer choice, it’s important for you and your team to create an inviting atmosphere. Aside from being generally friendly, there are three key factors that make a dental practice sunny from a patient’s point of view – cost, convenience and consistency.

While cost has always been a factor, in today’s era of medical consumerism it’s important to address it head-on. In fact, 91% of patients are more likely to continue seeing a dentist who is honest and upfront about costs and treatment plans. And, to soften the soil a bit more, it helps to provide financing options and expand the number of insurance plans accepted.

People buy blooming plants over seeds for the same reason the Starbucks mobile app is so popular – they hate to wait. Whether it’s for a latte or a dental cleaning, convenience can be a deciding factor. To increase your availability and appeal to busy patients try offering early morning or evening hours, and/or add Saturdays to your schedule. A professional website also ups the convenience quotient by providing information on your patients’ schedule 24 hours a day.

Expanded hours and financing options are great, but don’t forget to let your patients know! Use your website and social media to highlight what your practice offers patients.

Even with the best soil, inconsistent watering can wreak havoc on a garden. Patient relationships are no different. To create patient loyalty, your team needs to deliver consistent service at every touch point. From your web presence to front desk staff and hygienists, patients want to know what to expect. Strengthen your brand by ensuring it spans across your website, social media, patient communications and printed materials.

2. Listen to the experts (your patients). If you want a blooming garden, ask someone who knows what they’re doing (even if that’s Siri). If you want to know how to increase loyalty among patients, ask them. While the conversation may be slightly trickier than asking the greenhouse guy about fertilizer, successful dentists ask for patient feedback and create spaces for conversation to happen. Making it easy for patients to leave feedback on your website (and asking them to do so) is a great way to boost online reviews. And, since 88% of consumers say they consider online reviews with the same weight as a personal recommendation, it’s a way for loyalists to influence prospective patients.

In addition to patient reviews, social listening helps you keep your thumb on the pulse of your patient base. Watch your social media pages for common themes and search Facebook and Twitter for #dentist to identify general patient trends. But, a gardener’s work doesn’t end with selecting plants. Address popular topics in your blog and/or social media posts to show patients that you’re in touch with their needs.

3. Automate, automate, automate. Would you rather till soil with a tractor or a hoe? Sure, it might depend on how large your garden is, but for those who have better things to do, automation is the answer. Essentially, it allows you to cover more ground in less time. Automating patient communication works the same way. By automating patient recall and reminders your office staff is freed up to focus on more important things – like the patients in your waiting room. Not only does automating the manual task reduce no-shows and increase appointments, it allows you to stay in front of patients year round, which increases loyalty.

Just like a garden, several elements go into growing patient loyalty. For more suggestions, download our free whitepaper, How to Increase Retention and Lifetime Value of Dental Patients. You may not have been born with a green thumb, but don’t let that stop you from building a successful dental practice. Reach out to a ProSites’ Internet Marketing Advisor today at 888-932-3644 to discuss how our solutions can help you increase patient loyalty and achieve measurable practice growth.

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Website Design

How Dentists Should Respond to Online Patient Reviews

You already know the importance of generating online reviews for your practice. In today’s world, simply hiding from online review sites is not an option. (Check out our previous article on how to garner more online reviews for your practice.)

The fact is, whether people are insanely happy or displeased with the services that you provide, it is likely that they will take to the Internet to express their satisfaction or lack thereof. Regardless if the feedback is positive or negative, it is always in your best interest to respond, as more than half of customers expect to hear back from businesses within 7 days of writing an online review. Plus, 78% of consumers say that seeing a business respond to an online review makes them believe that the business cares about their clients.

When responding to online reviews, utilize these best practices to ensure you don’t dig yourself into a hole:

1. Say “thank you!” Many people think that they should only respond to criticism or negative reviews. However, quite the contrary is true. If someone leaves you a positive note, be sure to express your gratitude and let them know how happy you are to have them as a patient.

2. Even if it’s a negative review, thank them for their input. Whether you agree or disagree with the negative feedback, thank them for sharing their thoughts and expressing their concerns. Be sure to keep you tone civil to avoid any negative follow-up comments that could escalate the situation.

3. Take it offline quickly. When you get a negative review, the last thing you want to do is respond with a comment that sparks an even nastier reply for everyone to see. Thank them for their feedback and let them know you are sorry for their experience and want to learn more. Ask them how you can best get in touch with them via phone or email, to avoid a back-and-forth directly on your public reviews pages.

4. Give it 24 hours. If you receive a negative review, take some time to write a response, sit on it and see how you feel about your response after 24 hours. It’s easy to become defensive, especially if you don’t agree with the review. However, with your online reputation on the line, make sure that you always communicate in a calm, professional manner.

5. Highlight your practice’s values. Emotions run high when it comes to dental work, and people can become very opinionated. There will always be people who are convinced that dentists are trying to upsell them and don’t really care about their overall oral health. When you get a negative opinion like this, help them understand your practice’s values and that you truly do care.

Remember, negative reviews aren’t the end of the world – especially when they’re countered by multiple positive reviews. People are able to form their own judgements and can tell when an online review is a one-time rant or if there seems to be an overall trend of poor service. The most important thing is to show potential new clients that you do care about patient feedback and are dedicated to providing great service and care.

Fill out the form below to learn more about how ProSites helps you manage your online reputation,

See how our Reputation Marketing feature enables you to showcase your positive patient reviews. To talk with an Internet Marketing Advisor, call us at (88) 932-3644.

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Website Design

The M Word- Part 3

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” – Management guru, Peter Drucker

You don’t have to be a guru to know that something left unmanaged rarely achieves the intended results – and nowhere is this truer than the ever-expanding world of Internet marketing. The previous articles in this series have covered the importance of defining your practice goals and patient lifetime value (if this doesn’t sound familiar, check out part 1), and the critical role website analytics play in measuring campaign performance (for a refresher, review part 2).  But settle in, because we’re not done yet.

While your goal will determine the marketing methods used, your ability to measure performance and adapt your strategy accordingly will drive results and allow you to replicate success. It’s often easier to focus on short-term results (maybe it’s society’s lacking attention span or the fact that you have a million other things on your to-do list), but that doesn’t negate the need to track the results of longer-term strategies. Two important online marketing methods that take longer to cultivate results are search engine optimization (SEO) and social media outreach. Read on for ways to effectively measure the performance these essential pieces of the marketing pie.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Where do you rank for key search terms? If a prospective patient searches for Your City and Dentist, is your practice at the top of page 1? How about Your City and Invisalign (or other key service)? Search engine optimization isn’t just about ranking, it’s about ranking for the right services. If you’re looking to bring in more families, it’s going to be important that your practice appear for the search terms parents are most likely to use when looking for a dentist. While page ranking may be the most visible, there are several SEO performance indicators that should be taken into consideration. These include growth in organic website traffic, bounce rate per keyword (this can help you understand how content is perceived by different segments), increase in organic conversions, and increase in click-thru-rate among others. For most doctors, SEO can be more complicated than the DAT. The good news is that outsourcing is now completely acceptable, unlike when you were trying to get into dental school. ProSites has a number of free SEO resources, including whitepapers such as Local Search and How It’s Affecting Your Practice, and on-demand webinars like How to Get More Patients from Your Website.

Social Media – What started as a fun way to stay in touch with your college friends and stealthily look up and old flame has morphed into one of today’s most powerful marketing tools. According to Smart Insights , Facebook increased its market penetration in 2016 to 89% of US Internet users. Oh, and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) came in second with 32% penetration. While other social media platforms exist (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) Facebook is by far the most widely used. Since you like the odds in your favor, your practice has a Facebook page, but how do you know if it’s working? Insert redundant reference to the importance of defining practice goals. If your goal is to increase awareness, track reach and exposure (the number of people who follow your Facebook page and see your posts). On the other hand, if your focus is on increasing follower engagement the number of comments, likes, and shares are good indicators that your messages are resonating. And finally, if your goal is simply to direct visitors to your practice website, it makes sense to track the number of visitors coming directly from Facebook, as well as clicks and conversions. Now that you have a sense of social media’s potential, you may be second guessing your decision to have your nephew handle the page in his spare time. Don’t worry – just like chewing gum while wearing a retainer – under estimating the value of social media is common mistake. For guidance on how to harness the power of social media, download our free whitepaper, Running a Dental Practice in the Age of Social Media.

There’s no doubt about it, measurement can be bear – especially if you don’t have the aptitude for it. Nevertheless, it’s critical to ensuring your valuable time and resources are used wisely. Whether you’re looking for help in creating a strategy to achieve your goal, or are still in the process of determining what your goal is, ProSites is here to help.

Call an Internet Marketing Advisor today at (888) 932-3644 to see how we can help you achieve measurable practice growth. Life is complicated, but marketing your dental practice online doesn’t have to be.

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Website Design

How Dentists Can Actually Get More Online Reviews from Patients

When it comes to online reviews, dentists have mixed opinions. Some truly understand their importance and want to get more, while others are a bit more hesitant. They view online profiles and reviews as just another channel they need to monitor, while fearing it opens the door for someone to complain publicly.

The truth is, online reviews are only growing in importance. And, simply not having an online profile to avoid getting reviews is no longer an option. Today, 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. If your practice doesn’t have online reviews, it will seem a bit suspicious, and could make potential patients think “what do they have to hide?”

The good news is there’s a lot of opportunity to generate positive reviews. Below are the top ways to encourage positive reviews online with your patients:

1. In office, after their appointment. Once a patient is out of the chair and is checking out, train your front staff to ask them how their appointment went before they leave. This way, if anything was disappointing, you may have the opportunity to address and fix it right then and there, and avoid seeing a negative comment online later. Conversely, if the patient said everything went great at the appointment, this is an opportunity for your front staff to say “I’m so glad you had a good experience. Would you be willing to take a few minutes to leave us a review online?” Most patients will happily oblige.

Tip: You want to make it as easy as possible for patients to leave a review. So, if there’s a specific website or business page where you want a patient to leave their review, make that URL known and easy to locate. If it’s a lengthy URL, we recommend shortening it with bitly.com.

2. Follow-up via email after a patient appointment. Sometimes when a patient is leaving your practice, they’re in a rush to get back to work or cross off the next item on their to-do list. Follow-up with your patient via email (within 24 hours of their appointment) to see how they’re feeling and if they have any questions after their appointment. This is a perfect time to also ask them to leave you a review with something like “Thanks so much for visiting us. We want to provide you with the best service possible. Would you be willing to leave us a review online to help other people see what it’s like to work with us?” As noted above, make sure to include links to the website pages where you prefer the review left.

3. Post signage in your waiting room. Post signage in your waiting room that invites patients to leave a review online, with the URLs listed clearly on the sign. Doing so may encourage long-time, loyal patients to use their time in the waiting room to post a positive review before they even have their appointment.

When requesting an online review in your communications, there are a few golden rules that will increase your response rate:

  • Let your patient know that you’re asking for a “favor”
  • Help your patient understand how you benefit from this favor (i.e. your review will help new patients see what it’s like to come to our practice)
  • Make it easy for the patient to get to leave a review

Subscribe to our blog and receive our upcoming blog post this month which will also cover how to respond to positive and negative online reviews. And, if you haven’t already, take advantage of the ProSites Reputation Marketing feature which helps you showcase your positive reviews directly from your website.

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