How to Stand Out in Today’s Competitive Dental Market
It’s 2020, and if your dental practice doesn’t have a strategy to stand out in today’s competitive market, you need to put down that cup of coffee immediately. We’re generally not ones for scare tactics, but since the market isn’t getting any less competitive, you can either retire early or rise above the noise. The good news is that there are more resources than ever at your disposal, so read on and your dental practice will soon be soaring above the crowd.
Patient experience is the defining factor in building a successful dental practice.
In today’s consumer-driven environment, current and prospective patients have more choices than ever, which means your dental practice needs to stand out. So, aside from therapeutic hand wraps and aromatherapy (not bad ideas overall) what makes a dental practice stand out? Patient experience. While it’s common to think that your patient’s experience begins when they first step through your door, that’s no longer the case. For most patients, their first interaction isn’t with your friendly, front-desk staff but rather it’s online, via social media and your dental practice website, so ensure you convey the right message. But before you start yelling from the proverbial rooftop, ensure you know who you’re talking to.
Define your target audience and get in front of them.
Standing out is only beneficial if you’re in front of the right audience. And, before you can get in front of the right audience you need to define it. Who are your ideal patients? Knowing this will not only direct your brand’s overall tone and messaging, but it will allow you to make the best use of your resources. For example, if your practice is in mid-town Manhattan and caters to busy professionals, it doesn’t make sense to waste your marketing budget targeting families miles away.
Understanding your target audience allows you to effectively use tools, like Facebook Ads for dentists and local search engine optimization (SEO). With local SEO you can specifically target your practice location so when those busy professionals search online for a dentist within walking distance your practice appears.
What if your practice isn’t in a city center and you want to reach prospective patients in surrounding areas? Then you need pay-per-click (PPC) advertising in your marketing mix. PPC advertising allows you to expand the reach of your advertising to specific locations and cities near your practice, where you may not show up organically in local results. Another benefit of PPC is that you only pay when a prospective patient clicks on your ad. Search marketing is eerily accurate, but it only works if you’re targeting the right audience.
Know who your ideal patients are? Check. Got the message you want to convey? Check. But do you have a professional dental website the converts visitors to patients? Keep reading.
Ensure you have a professional website that is easy to use.
Your dental website is the foundation of your practice’s online presence. It’s essentially your virtual office. To stand out, use your dental practice website to showcase what makes your practice unique. Include photos of your friendly staff or inviting waiting room. Your website should convey how you want patients to feel when they walk through your door. But inviting images alone aren’t enough; usability is just as essential. If a patient opened your door only to see a wall it wouldn’t take long for them to turnaround and leave. The same is true for your website. If it’s not obvious where visitors should go for the information they need, they won’t take the time to look around. Make it intuitive – ensure key information (e.g. location, hours of operation, contact information, areas of expertise and insurance plans accepted) is front and center on your homepage or clearly identified in the primary navigation bar.
Feeling confident because you already have a great practice website? Make sure what you think is cutting edge, actually is (wink, wink). If you haven’t changed your website design in more than three years or it’s not mobile responsive, it’s likely now outdated. Internet browsers and design trends constantly change, which can result in a less than optimal viewing experience if your website design hasn’t kept pace. (Hint – this is where a reputable dental website designer comes in.) Depending on your starting point, this doesn’t have to be an enormous undertaking. Ask your website provider if they have any new website styles available that can be easily swapped out without a fee.
Your website is a critical component in your dental practice’s online presence, but it’s not enough. You need a robust online presence. In short, your online presence is the culmination of all of the places patients can – or can’t – find you on the internet. Before you crumple in a ball of overwhelm, read on because we’ve broken the online presence pie into bite-sized pieces that are easy to digest.
Be visible on social media.
Your presence, or absence, on social media is a key part of your dental practice’s online presence. There’s no lack of social media options. From Facebook, which still holds the market share of users, to Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest, there are platforms for every type of content and target market. You get it, but what do you post and where? Effective use of social media creates an ongoing conversation with current and prospective patients, so use the same tactics you that create a great in-person conversation. Ask questions, share interesting information, and maintain the flow with responses. Is this time consuming? It can be, but there are resources for social media posts for dentists and dental Facebook post ideas, and you always have the option to outsource to a marketing services provider.
Cultivate and highlight positive online reviews.
Like it or not, online reviews make a difference. In fact, 70% of dental patients said that online ratings and reviews influenced their choice of dentist.[i] The prevalence of social media and the increasing number of review sites available (Yelp, Angie’s List, Rate MDs, etc.), mean that your practice is conspicuous if it’s absent. Trust us, if prospective patients can’t find any reviews about your practice, they are not going to think, “Wow – that dental practice is so good that not one patient felt the need to share their experience.” The more likely scenario is that their train of thought will go something like, “Why hasn’t anyone left a review on that dentist? What are they hiding?”
When patients search “dental practice”, positive reviews make a difference.
Beyond building trust, positive online reviews factor into your practice’s search engine rankings. Search engines consistently tweak their ranking algorithms to return the best results possible, which means highly recommended doctors are more likely to rank above those with lower ratings. How does one go about gathering positive reviews? At the risk of being too obvious, we’re going to suggest you ask your patients. You would be surprised at the number of patients who simply need to be asked. Train your front staff to ask patients to leave an online review as part of the standard checkout process. Most patients will happily oblige. You can also post signage in your waiting room inviting patients to leave a review online (be sure to include the appropriate URLs). Additionally, post-visit emails are a great way to check-in on patients and politely ask for a review. Make it easy for them by including links to where you’d like the review to appear.
Since virtual dentistry isn’t quite a thing just yet, you can’t ignore the value of in-office interactions.
Deliver the best patient experience possible.
Ok, so you’ve got patients in your waiting room, now all you must do is wow them with your cavity-filling acumen, right? Not exactly. Gone are the days when patients automatically agreed with your recommended treatment plan. Chalk it up to the internet, commoditization of healthcare, or the tangled insurance industry, but patients today need information before committing to a treatment plan.
Wondering how you’re going to find the time to present individualized treatment proposals in your already jam packed day? Enter ProSites Showcase. This easy-to-use interface allows your team to input exam results and select a recommended treatment. Showcase then creates an interactive slideshow to help you present the prescribed treatment right in the office. You can also print the presentation for patients to keep for their records, or upload to their patient portal for easy at-home access. With Showcase, your team can easily explain each patient’s treatment plan, risks of not completing the plan, proposed timing of services, and costs. Plus, by providing patients with necessary information in an understandable way, you’re exponentially improving their patient experience – what a great way to differentiate your practice.
Online, in-office, anything else? Actually, we do have a few more tips to elevate your practice.
Pay attention to the little things.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in page likes and web analytics that we forget how important the little things are to patient experience. For starters, look at the list below:
- Is the street sign for your practice clearly visible by foot and/or car traffic? Does it say you are a dentist?
- Do you offer appointments before and/or after standard business hours to make it more convenient for patients to schedule visits?
- Is everyone on your staff friendly to patients or does it make sense to move someone into a non-patient facing role?
Feeling overwhelmed at the length of your newfound to-do list? We are here to help. ProSites dental marketing experts are here to help. Reach out to an Internet Marketing Advisor today at (888) 932-3644 or click to request a demo.
[i] Henry, Kevin. “Convenience, Honesty, and Online Reviews … Some of the Things Your Dental Patients Want.” Dentistry IQ, Dentistry IQ, 2 May 2013,