Heather Frechette-Crowley
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Search Marketing

Search Marketing for Dentists: A Guide to Getting More New Patients Online

SEO, PPC, CTR, CPC, SERP, RUSERIOUS? Online marketing for dental practices can be more confusing than ordering a drink at Starbucks. The difference is that while confusing venti (large) and tall (small) might give you heart palpitations for the afternoon, misunderstanding search marketing components is much more costly. To learn the Starbucks lingo we suggest befriending a barista, but if your concerned with successfully marketing your practice online read our recent whitepaper, Search Marketing for Dentists: A Guide to Getting More New Patients Online. Not sure you can fit the full whitepaper into the time it takes to slurp down a grande cold brew? No worries. We pulled out some key highlights to get you started.

The existence of a dental website alone is not enough to attract new clientele. You need to ensure prospective patients find it. Enter search marketing. Like a Frappucinno, this sounds more complicated than it actually is. Search marketing is simply actions that drive traffic to your website by increasing your visibility in search engines (i.e., pay-per-click advertising and search engine optimization). Pay-per-click (PPC) is targeted advertising that appears at the top of a search engine results page when a user searches for specific keywords, such as “family dentistry” or “Invisalign.” You get to choose which keywords apply as well as target audience demographics and location.  Search engine optimization (SEO) also impacts your visibility in search engine results, but it is organic (i.e., unpaid). Still with us? Good – at the end of this article you’ll know how PPC and SEO work and the benefits of each. As a bonus, you might walk away knowing the correct way to place a Starbucks order.

Note – While Google is not the only search engine, it does have 90% of the search engine market[1]. Therefore, our whitepaper and this article focus on Google and its pay-per-click program, Google Ads.

Pay-per-click (PPC) is perfect for those of us who like our coffee just so (quad venti, non-fat, upside down caramel macchiato please). That’s because PPC campaigns are customized to deliver your message to people who match selected criteria at the precise time they need your services.

When creating a PPC campaign you bid on specific keywords that you’ve researched (for help getting started, see the full whitepaper for details on Google’s Keyword Planner) and when people looking for a dentist use those keywords in their search, they see your ad. You only pay when searchers click your ad and are subsequently taken to your practice website or landing page. And, unlike with traditional ads that often require a certain number of mailers or spots, Google Ads allows you to adjust your budget daily according to search volume and even gives you the ability to shut-off spend instantly. This means you’re never trapped paying for ads no one sees. How’s that for flexibility? No cup of regular here, friends.

The same customization that allows PPC to target the right patients for your dental practice at the right time also makes it easy to adjust your campaign as needed and track ROI. PPC campaign analytics allow you to track everything from how often your ad appears (# of impressions) or doesn’t appear (lost impression share) in search results to the number of times it’s clicked (click-through-rate or CTR) and what you actually paid per click (cost-per-click or CPC). Campaign results also include conversion rates and the average position your ad garnered on the results page. This level of transparency is great, but only if you stay on top of it. Remember, these indicators are in constant flux so even if your campaign has been delivering positive results, taking a break from tracking can have a negative impact.  Just like a barista who turns his back on a milk frother, failure to monitor your PPC campaign is likely to create a mess.

PPC Tips:

  • Include keywords in your Google Ad headline to make the most of your 30-character limit. Bonus – keywords that are part of a searcher’s query will appear in bold, drawing attention to your ad.
  • Ad body copy is limited to a single line of 70 characters on desktop or two lines of 35 characters on mobile phones. It doesn’t take long to run out of room, so make sure to use this space to describe your dental practice or promotion in enough detail to capture interest and build credibility.
  • Make your call-to-action strong! This is where you tell searchers what to do, so be specific (i.e., call (000) 123-4567 for info).
  • Use ad extensions to get more attention at no additional cost. Ad extensions are pieces of information that expand your advertisement to make it more useful to users. They typically include click-to-call telephone numbers, links to additional pages on your website, patient reviews, and call out text with key details such as, “Same Day Appointments” or “All Major Insurance Accepted.” You should select ad extensions that are relevant to your campaign and its goals.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is about maximizing the number of unpaid visitors to your dental website by ensuring you appear high on the list of search engine results. These are visitors who get to your site without clicking on a PPC ad. This type of traffic is known as “organic” in the search marketing sphere, and though it’s essential to reaching prospective patients online it’s a lot like switching to almond milk in that it can’t be done overnight (but it’s worth it in the long run). Why? For starters, local search. Through the power of the Internet and a little Big Brother, just adding “near me” to a Google search automatically delivers results that are, in fact, near you even when you’re on the go. Another reason is that 51% of clicks to a website come from organic listings[2]. Similar to your friend who doesn’t trust the establishment and only buys her ethically-sourced cappuccino from the local café, some people simply don’t trust paid advertising. Ranking well in organic search engine results allows you to reach potential patients who might otherwise write you off.

SEO is comprised of on-page optimization and off-page optimization. Don’t get nervous, we’re going to break these down. On-page optimization is essentially anything you can do within your website to show the search engines that you’re relevant. Not only does this include what you say, but also how you say it. Is the copy easy to understand? Does it incorporate phrases and keywords that prospective patients would use? Is the page layout conducive to skimming? Though content may be king, there are also other factors that impact on-page optimization. One of the most important things you can do to help your SEO ranking is to ensure your website is responsive. Responsive sites interpret which type of device is being used (desktop, tablet, smart phone) and scales the site accordingly. In fact, Google places so much importance on the mobile user experience, it gives precedence to mobile-friendly websites in search engine results[3]. See the complete whitepaper for more ways to improve your dental website’s on-page optimization,.

Off-page optimization includes components that go beyond your dental website. These include business directory listings, such as your Google My Business profile, Yelp, Healthgrades, etc. As well as social media profiles and reputable backlinks (links from other websites that connect back to yours).

SEO Tips:

  • Within your website copy use phrases that prospective patients would use to find your services.
  • Avoid duplicate website content! Google defines this as “substantive blocks of content” within a website or across multiple websites “that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.”[4]
  • Ensure your website is responsive (i.e., automatically scales to the device used).
  • Confirm your business contact information (name, address, phone #) is correct across all business directories.
  • Obtain qualified backlinks. These should be relevant to your website in terms of both location and industry.

We understand that there’s a big difference between knowing the basics of PPC and SEO and putting them to work for your dental practice. Just because you understand what goes into effective search marketing doesn’t mean you want to start crafting PPC campaigns and SEO-friendly content between patients. Hey, there’s a reason people spend $7 on a cup of espresso marked with caramel. There’s no shame in going to the experts, but in an age where everyone’s an “expert” how do you know who to trust?

Start by partnering with a provider who intimately understands the dental industry. This makes your life easier and expedites the ramp-up process. It’s also important to clarify how a provider measures campaign success and ensure you’re in agreement before signing. And, since the online marketing realm changes daily you can’t assume that all providers keep up-to-date. Check references and ask if they’re a certified Google Partner.

Search marketing isn’t something you should leave to chance – or your nephew who builds websites after school. For more information about pay-per-click advertising and search engine optimization download the free whitepaper, Search Marketing for Dentists: A Guide to Getting More New Patients Online. For best results, read it while enjoying the delicious beverage you can now confidently order at Starbucks.

Have specific questions regarding how to put search marketing can help your practice? Our dental marketing experts are here to help.  Reach out to an Internet Marketing Advisor today at (888) 932-3644.

Article written by Heather Frechette-Crowley, a digital marketing expert with 5+ years of experience in the dental industry.

[1] Statista: Worldwide desktop market share of leading search engines from January 2010 to January 2019

[2] Search Engine Journal: 60+ Mind-Blowing Search Engine Optimization Stats

[3] Google: Prepare for mobile-first indexing

[4] Google: Duplicate Content

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Practice Marketing

Top Anticipated Trends for Dentistry and Marketing by 2020

As we kick off the new year, everyone seems to be publishing predictions for 2019, but ProSites – we’re looking a bit further ahead. In our whitepaper, Seven Predictions and Recommendations for Dentistry and Marketing by 2020, we outline current trends to help us predict what the future of dentistry and marketing will look like by the next decade.

We’ve included snippets of three of the seven predicted trends below, but make sure to download your full copy of the whitepaper here to learn how you can stay up-to-date with the ever-evolving marketplace.

Predicted Trend: Lowered Trust of Facts Requires Building a Trustworthy Persona
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll be saying goodbye to “fake news” or the associated decrease in trust of authority anytime soon. In fact, reliance on social media seems to have increased our general skepticism. While warranted in some situations, an overall rise in distrust of experts means businesses, dental practices included, need to work harder to gain confidence from potential customers (patients).

Enter your dental practice’s online reputation, as this is where prospective patients are likely to form their first impression of you. You must encourage current patients to share positive feedback on review sites and social media channels as both play important roles in attracting new patients.

Predicted Trend: Digital Content Consumption Will Be Constant and Led by Video
Think our dependence on digital content has reached the point of saturation? Alexa, weigh in. Given that we’re always connected, our consumption of content is ever increasing. To compete and gain valuable mindshare, your online presence must be dynamic.

A website alone is no longer enough; patients want more. Try creating a library of how-to videos that address common concerns like “how to floss with braces.” Easy-to-read articles and posts are also great ways to share content. But remember, consistency is key – as even an engaged audience is fickle and will quickly go elsewhere if you stop meeting their needs.

Predicted Trend: A Digital Front Will Be Expected
From grocery shopping to ordering lattes, your patients are doing everything online, and it’s most likely from a mobile device. Short of a real-time root canal request (crazy, we know – who would request a root canal?) what can you enable patients to do online? Probably more than you think.

Patients will soon expect to have the ability to book visits, confirm or cancel appointments, or complete forms online – dental text reminders are becoming increasing popular. Regardless of how fast your website loads, if you fall below patient expectations (which are higher than ever) your practice is sure to lag behind the competition. The answer is not to invest in more staff, but rather integrated systems that can manage dental appointment reminders, scheduling, and recall campaigns – all of which are designed to keep patients engaged while delivering the level of customer service and convenience they want.

In conclusion, technology is greatly impacting how we do business in the future. And, if you don’t soon embrace where the industry is headed, you won’t be able to make up the ground. Fill out the form below to get your free copy of the complete whitepaper, or call an Internet Marketing Advisor at (888) 932-3644 to see how we can meet you where you are today and help you get to where you want to be in the future.

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Practice Marketing

What to Look For in a Dental Web Design Company

Like most big decisions, choosing a website company for your dental practice can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time.  Your website is the foundation of your online presence, so selecting the right dental website company is key. To help you get started with the selection process, we’ve outlined three critical components to address up front.

Expertise – This is foundational. Remember, there’s a reason beauty schools offer free haircuts (let’s just say these budding professionals are still mastering their craft).  While we’re not against giving people a chance, we are strongly suggesting not to roll the dice on an unknown entity when it comes to your dental website.

Your dental website company should have deep knowledge of both marketing and the dental industry itself. Dentistry isn’t e-commerce. You’re not selling widgets. You don’t treat clients; you treat patients – and this requires a different approach.

Design Capabilities – Contrary to popular belief, there’s more to website design than aesthetics. Effective websites employ a combination of art and science to deliver an ideal user experience. For optimum performance, define the types of designs you like while also identifying the goals of your website – is it to attract new patients? Focus on educating existing patients? Appear higher in search results? Note – this should be one of the first questions a potential provider asks, as it will guide the entire process.

Once your goals are defined, what’s next? Is it ok to use a website template? Should you invest in a custom site? The answer often depends on who you talk to, but for most dental practices, the sweet spot is somewhere in between. When designing a dental website, most dentists want a degree of custom personalization (i.e. ability to use their logo, photos of the team, etc.) but don’t necessarily need a website built from the ground up. Be wary of companies that try to make it sound like a 100% custom site is the only way to go, as they may just be trying to upsell you.

Content – It’s easy to get lost in the razzle dazzle of website design – from color palettes and font libraries to layout selections, button options, and more. The key is to not get so sidetracked in choosing images and color schemes that you neglect the actual dental website content.

A dental-specific website company gives you ultimate advantage in this area. Unless you have time to write web copy (which is an art of its own), it’s helpful to choose a company that provides both design and content. In addition to custom dental content, which is written specifically for your website, companies may also offer a library of pre-written core content that can be modified to reflect your practice’s personality and align with your offerings. The main benefit of core content is that it helps you save time and money – enabling you to build your online presence in days instead of weeks.

Is core content the same as duplicate content? Technically speaking, yes. Google defines duplicate content as “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.”[1] Essentially, this means that if your site has content that matches another site, it is considered duplicate.

Will my site be penalized if it has duplicate content? Google treats duplicate content differently based on intent.[2] Yes, it’s that smart!  If duplicate content is being used to be deceptive or manipulate search engine performance, it will negatively impact your ranking. Auto-generated content is an example of such manipulation; it is comprised of paragraphs of random text that include keywords, but don’t make sense. Another example of this type of manipulation is having multiple pages dedicated to the same topic with similar copy on one website. That said, if you’re not trying to game the system you can relax. Google notes that the presence of duplicate content alone is not grounds for action on their part[3]. The takeaway is that while custom content may be necessary in certain instances, the decision should be based on your specific practice goals and not the fear of being penalized.

Questions to Ask When Hiring a Dental Website Company:

Hiring a new website company is a big decision; and one that can cost a lot of time and money. Make the right choice and ask the questions below to help suss out a legitimate dental website company:

  1. What services do you offer?
    1. Today, simply having a website is not enough. In addition to having a website, your practice will likely need a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy and/or PPC and social media services. Depending on your needs, ask them what other services they provide so you can cut-down on third party companies.
  2. Can you provide examples and testimonials of your clients?
    1. Whether you’re getting a template website design or fully custom design, you’ll want to see examples of the company’s work. Testimonials and case studies are also helpful, as they allow you to see how their services have impacted other practices.
  3. Can I make updates to the website on my own?
    1. The ability to make minor edits and updates to your site is helpful, as it allows you to make changes on your own timeframe. Closed for an upcoming holiday? If you have access to an easy-to-use content management system, you can update your website in a few minutes. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a queue of other client requests. The importance of this feature really depends on your technological aptitude and how much control you want. Ask a potential provider to see their CMS and ensure it is easy-to-use.
  4. Is there a contract?
    1. Be wary of providers that require a lengthy website contract. Technology and online trends change at the speed of light, and if your provider can’t keep up, you don’t want to find yourself stuck in a contract.
  5. How can you ensure that I will stay up-to-date? Will I need to pay more for updates?
    1. Your website reflects your practice and ensuring it stays current comes down to more than convenience. A website that’s outdated in terms of appearance and/or functionality sends a message to visitors that your practice could be too.
    2. It’s also a good idea to discuss what keeping your website updated could potentially cost. Will future features be included or are they generally available for an additional fee?
  6. Will my website be mobile-friendly?
    1. Having a website that provides the same level of functionality across devices is essential because most patients will visit your site from their mobile phones. In the United States, over 70% of time spent online is done so from a mobile device[4]. If you’re website isn’t mobile-friendly, it’s likely that your turning prospective patients away every day.
  7. What is included with my monthly hosting/software and support fees?
    1. Knowing what is and is not included in your monthly fees is important. Does it include access to tech support? If so, are you limited to the number of times you can reach out each month? How about domain management (i.e. ensuring your domain registration doesn’t lapse)? Digging into the details upfront will help avoid being caught off guard later.
  8. What design options are available?
    1. The right website company should be able to fit your needs, whether through a customizable template or a completely custom website. Steer clear of any provider that approaches web design with a one size fits all attitude.
  9. Is there a way I can track results from my website?
    1. There are many ways to measure your website ROI. From visits to time-on-page, to call tracking and conversion rates, make sure you understand the tools available to ultimately track your website’s success.

 Selecting a website company is an important decision that shouldn’t be rushed. Overall, you need to be confident in a provider’s abilities and comfortable working with them. Remember, you’re not just looking for a vendor – you’re searching for a partner that can bring your dental practice to the next level.

Questions? Reach out to a ProSites Internet Marketing Advisor at (888) 932-3644 to discuss the right website and online marketing options to help you meet your practice goals.

[1] https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66359?hl=en
[2] https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2721306
[3] https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66359?hl=en
[4] https://www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobile-marketing-analytics/mobile-marketing-statistics/
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Practice Marketing

How to Choose the Right SEO Provider for Your Dental Practice

Looking for a dental search engine optimization (SEO) provider can be painful. With everyone from local agencies to online marketing behemoths offering SEO, the process can be as unclear as online dating. Compound this with the added pressure of having your dental practice’s reputation on the line, and it might seem tempting to skip the hassle. Since that’s definitely not in your best interest, we’ve compiled a list of red flags and questions to make selecting the right dental SEO provider easier for your practice.

Here are the red flags and areas to keep in mind when choosing an SEO provider:

  1. Get to know them. First things first – look the company up online, visit their website and check out their social media pages. How do they come across? Do they appear professional? Trustworthy? Caution, this one is tricky because, as anyone who has ever dabbled in online dating can tell you, things are not always as they appear on the Internet. An appealing online presence is a huge component, but it can be subjective, so don’t base your selection on looks alone. It’s also important to consider how providers interact with current and prospective clients. When responding to client feedback online are they professional and courteous, or do they respond to any less-than-stellar reviews with hasty, defensive comments? If you feel uncomfortable observing how a provider communicates with people online, imagine what it would be like to be on the receiving end.
  1. What’s their MO? You’ve done some cyber-stalking, but that’s not enough. Now’s the time to dig a little deeper and, unlike the second date, playing coy isn’t advised. When considering a dental SEO provider, it’s important to know how they operate because your practice’s reputation is on the line.

In recent years search engine ranking methodologies have become more stringent, but not all SEO providers have updated their practices accordingly. Black-hat SEO techniques, such as keyword stuffing and link farming, target search engines rather than a human audience, which results in a poor user experience. At first you may see a jump in your website’s ranking but, like a short-lived romance, you’ll soon learn it wasn’t worth the effort. That’s because search engines base rankings primarily on user experience, and your site will be blacklisted faster than you can say “au revoir.”

  1. Some things are too good to be true. We’ve all been there – blinded by love at first sight (or something like that) – our general discernment momentarily disabled. Don’t worry, we’re not judging! There’s an entire genre of reality TV based on the premise. Sure, it’s easy to raise an eyebrow when this season’s bachelorette, a former-model-turned-pediatric-neurosurgeon, says she’s looking for a soulmate who shares her dream of creating a haven for abandon three-legged dogs. But, potential red flags in the realm of SEO can be a bit more subtle.

Some red flags to look for include promising you Page 1 results or claiming to be Google SEO Certified.  Spoiler alert – Google does not offer certification in SEO (though companies can be Google Premier Partners) and the sheer number of algorithm changes alone (500-600 times a year) make it impossible to guarantee a first page ranking. Plus, when you consider the amount of revenue tied to Google’s algorithm, sharing how to crack the code would be the equivalent of Colonel Sanders handing out his fried chicken recipe. So remember, sometimes when things look too good to be true, it’s because they are.

Questions to Ask When Hiring a Dental SEO Provider:

Knowing what to avoid is important, but so is knowing what to move towards. The questions below can help suss out a legitimate provider from the fly by night variety.

  1. What strategies will you implement to improve our rankings?
    1. Make sure the company is able to go into great detail about their plan on how they will work to get you better rankings. SEO strategies are very involved and a transparent company will have no problem explaining what they plan to do both on and off your website to improve your rankings.
  2. How do you plan to create backlinks?
    1. Backlinks are big parts of search engine rankings, but they’re difficult to obtain. Low-quality or spammy backlinks can actually hurt you in the end. Make sure their backlinks are coming from reputable companies.
  3. How often will you report on my progress, and what will that report look like?
    1. SEO companies should provide some type of benchmark data and reporting each month. You also want to see how often they share these reports with you, and how often you will have a call to check-in with them to go over results and adjustments to strategies.
  4. Can you share experience of other clients?
    1. Look for companies who can provide reviews, testimonials, and case studies from their clients to show success.
  5. Can you guarantee that we will rank #1 for a major search term?
    1. If a company says “yes” – run. No one can guarantee page 1 placement for a SEO search term.
  6. Is there a contract and what happens if we cancel early?
    1. It isn’t uncommon for SEO companies to require a contract for at least a few months, as SEO does take a lot of work before results and search ranking improvements are shown – however, it is important to go into the agreement understanding all of the rules around it to protect your dental practice.
  7. Why should we choose your company as a dental SEO provider?
    1. This is open-ended and there isn’t a “right” answer – but you do want to listen to their answer carefully. Do they intentionally make false claims or outright bash competitors? This may be a defensive signal and potential red flag. Ideally when someone answers this question, they’ll simply explain the success of their clients and how they can help your practice.

With thousands of websites launching daily, SEO has moved from the nice-to-have column to the must-have side of the board. But, that doesn’t mean you should jump into the proverbial bed with the first dental SEO provider you come across. There’s a lot on the line, and a bad judgement call up front could mean the difference between growing your practice and burying it somewhere in the black hole of search results. When looking for a dental SEO provider, take your time and keep the red flags we’ve outlined in mind. Don’t be shy about using the suggested questions above and let the answers guide your decision.

Questions? Reach out to a ProSites Internet Marketing Advisor at (888) 932-3644 to discuss how SEO can help you meet your practice goals.

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Patient Relationship

The Value of Online Reviews for Dentists

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a patient review is worth its word count in gold – or platinum – or whatever is today’s trending precious metal. Still not sure? Let’s put it this way, 70% of dental patients said that online ratings and reviews influenced their choice of dentist.

And, in case you thought you were safe from Google, remember that online ratings and reviews also factor into your practice’s search engine rankings.  Search engines consistently tweak their ranking algorithms to return the best results possible, and this means delivering highly recommended doctors.

Further, online reviews create the perception of trustworthiness and transparency. 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 by its absence. Trust us, if prospective patients can’t find any reviews on your practice they aren’t going to think, “Wow – that dental practice is so good that not one patient felt the need to share their experience.” More likely, the train of thought will go something like this, “Why hasn’t anyone left a review on that dentist? What are they hiding?”

Understanding the power of online reviews is only half the battle; getting patients to leave them is the other half. So, how do you make that happen amidst the daily juggling required to keep your practice running? First, don’t under estimate the obvious…make the ask!

Send patients a follow-up text or email reiterating the importance of their satisfaction and asking them to share their positive experience online. Bonus points if you save the front desk staff time by using an automated patient communication system (FYI – this method also ensures consistent outreach).

Training your team to gently suggest satisfied patients share their experience is another great way to make the ask. Perhaps while booking a patient’s next appointment, your front desk staff mentions that the practice has profiles on certain online review sites, or hygienists politely close their appointments by asking patients to share their feedback online.

Strategically placed signage in your lobby is another way to plant the online review. Invite patients to share their experience, and ensure the review site URLs are listed clearly. You might be surprised at the number of loyal patients that use their time in the waiting room to post a positive review before they even sit in the chair.

Right up there with making the ask of patients, is making it easy for them. No matter how happy or loyal a patient is, if sharing feedback is a challenge they’re not going to do it. So make the process simple – incorporate review site links in follow-up texts and emails, include preferred review sites on appointment cards, and don’t overlook your own website.

Your website’s reviews page is one of the most convenient places for patients to share their experience – no membership or email account required. Just make sure to stay abreast of what’s posted on your website. ProSites’ reputation marketing feature allows you to determine which comments appear on your practice website. Patients can submit reviews, but nothing goes live on your site until you hit ‘publish’. Plus, when patients rank their experience 4+ stars, they’re automatically prompted to share their review on popular review networks such as Google+, Yelp, and Bing, which also makes you more visible to prospective patients.

In summary, online reviews influence patients’ choice of provider, lend credibility to your practice, and play a key role in determining your search engine rankings. For more information on how you can increase positive reviews, download our complimentary whitepaper How To Get Frequent Positive Reviews For Your Dental Practice: Climb to 5 Starts on Yelp, Google Maps, Facebook and More.

Have specific questions regarding how to put reviews to work for your practice? Our dental marketing experts are here to help.  Reach out to an Internet Marketing Advisor today at (888) 932-3644

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Search Marketing

Dental Marketing Trends: Checking In

It seems like just a few weeks ago we were penning our New Year’s resolutions and vowing to eat less processed food, but here we are soaking up the last of summer – hot dog in hand. Before year-end lists dominate the headlines, we thought we would take a moment to dust off our Magic 8 Ball and check-in to see how some of the Top Trends and Recommendations for Dentistry & Marketing in 2017 are tracking.

1. Trust of authority and experts is decreasing. When we asked our Magic 8 Ball if this was still a thing, “Signs point to yes” quickly appeared in its foggy little window. While the prevalence of unsubstantiated news stories is disturbing on its own, it also results in a decrease in general trust of authority and experts which has a different set of ramifications. A great example of this is how the Associated Press article titled, Medical Benefits of Dental Floss Unproven quickly transformed into an anti-floss movement promulgated by headlines such as, Dentists Forgot to Study Flossing For a Century, Recommended It Anyway (published by website, Ars Technica). Now, if that were actually true, we would be all for a full-on dental floss boycott. Of course, that’s not exactly accurate but in the frenzy of Shares and Likes who can be bothered to fact check?

What does this mean for you? While we don’t recommend burning your dental school letters to show the masses you’re not one of those out-of-touch experts, we do suggest demonstrating that you care what patients think. Aside from requesting feedback through satisfaction surveys, try social listening on your practice’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Once you understand what’s on patients’ minds you’ll be able to address concerns and focus on topics of interest – both of which will help to carve out your niche as an expert who can be trusted.

2. Belief in crowds and social networking is increasing. Is this trend still going strong? The Magic 8 Ball says “Without a doubt”. Despite the influx of documented “fake news,” we just can’t stop ourselves from passing along salacious headlines. After all, who has the time to read an entire article? It’s much easier to take your Facebook friend’s word for it – besides, they probably verified it anyway.

What does this mean to you? As belief in crowds and social networking continues to increase, it’s more important than ever for dental practices to find a way to insert themselves into the conversation. This means that having a social media presence isn’t enough; you need to participate. Don’t worry, this isn’t as daunting as it might sound. Simply responding to comments on your practice’s social media pages helps to set you apart and makes users feel like you’re one of their social network friends, and not just another dental clinic.

A great way to expand your social footprint is to provide incentives for your patients to share information online about your practice. Depending on your patient base, this might include raffles or giveaways for Liking your page or referring a friend. Whichever method you choose, the first step is to make sure patients know you’re there. Use your patient newsletter, waiting room signage, and website to announce your social media presence and encourage patients to connect online.

3. Everything is going mobile. Do we even need to consult our trusty Magic 8 Ball for this one? The fact that a Magic 8 Ball app exists should be a good indicator (insert winking emoji here). This trend is one that shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, 80% of adult Internet users own a smartphone, and 25% of them can’t remember the last time it wasn’t next to them.

What does this mean for you? This is one trend that’s pretty cut and dry. You need a mobile website – full stop. Without it, you run the risk of alienating over 50% of the prospective patients that visit your website from a mobile device. We don’t think you need to consult the Magic 8 Ball to see if that’s a risk you should take.

4. Video content is becoming necessary to engage your audience. The Magic 8 Ball’s take on this trend? Outlook good. The move towards video content is indisputable; we’ll let you decide if our insatiable appetite for the screen (4x as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it) is rooted in Netflix or the Disney Junior app.

What does this mean for you? Just as having a Facebook page is no longer enough (remember, participation is key), having a website alone doesn’t guarantee visitor engagement. Video is a great way to raise the bar. Try creating a library of how-to videos that address common concerns (i.e. the fruit of your social listening labor), such as “How to help my child manage braces”. Plus, video has been shown to keep visitors on your site longer, with the average time spent on a website jumping from 42 seconds to 350 seconds when video was present.

Even though Labor Day is on the horizon, you still have time to catch-up with these trends. For help on how to get started, contact ProSites at (888) 932-3644 because before you know it you’ll be revising those New Year’s resolutions for 2018.

Have you read about the other top trends that we predicted? Download the whitepaper using the form below.

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Website Design

Patient Experience: A New Competitive Battleground for Dentists

In today’s consumer-driven environment, it seems that everyone expects an “experience” and not just of the find-yourself variety (a.k.a. that gap year trip across Europe).  Perhaps it’s because busy schedules make time more valuable than ever, or that younger generations have simply become conditioned to expect more – the jury is still out on if realty TV or helicopter parents are to blame – either way the bar has been raised and patient experience is the new competitive battleground.

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Company News

Making Your Dental Website Accessible

Over the past year, inquires have surfaced about the need for dental practice websites to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (AwDA).

In fact, in the fall of 2016 numerous dental and medical practices received letters from attorneys threatening legal action if the practice did not update their website to be AwDA compliant. Earlier this year, the American Dental Association issued a write-up about how to ensure your practice’s website meets the requirements of Accessibility for disabled persons.

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act provides that “[n]o individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any private entity who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.”

A dental practice is considered a place of public accommodation, as is the access to information about the practice via its website. The World Wide Web Consortium provides guidelines for making a website accessible to those with disabilities, which include considerations such as:

  • The website should provide alternate descriptions of graphical elements
  • The website should properly format forms that require user input so fields can be identified by screen readers
  • Tables that contain data should include column and row headers
  • The website should embed closed captioning or another means to ensure deaf or hearing-impaired users can understand a website’s audio content
  • The website should have high-contrast between background and text colors

At ProSites, we recently launched a new Accessibility option for all of our dentists. This new feature is included with every website at no additional charge. It is optional to implement and designed to meet the requirements of Website Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.

When the feature is enabled, an Accessibility tab is visible on all web pages. If a user selects this tab, they will be taken to an accessible version of the website.  They also note that enabling the Accessibility Mode will not impact the standard operation or appearance of the website.

To learn how to implement this new feature on your website, click here. If you have additional questions about this feature, please contact ProSites at (888) 932-3644. 

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