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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

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.

Social Media

How to Attract Millenials with Your Dental Marketing

Millennials consist of anyone born between the years 1976 and 2004. This generation will soon outnumber baby boomers as the most populous living generation in America. The world is changing to cater to the youngest generation, and as a result, your practice may need to start making dental marketing adjustments to reach this younger generation.

A lot of articles online about Millennials have tried to lump them all together to explain their behavior, when in fact Millennials are the most diverse generation in American history. Despite what articles may say, Millennials are real people that are not the product of a cookie-cutter. What we can look at is how they are vastly similar due to their environment and draw conclusions based on that.

The most notable similarity between all millennials is their relationship with technology. The younger generation never had to adapt to new technology because they grew up using it- digital natives. This is not to say that every Millennial is able to fix every computer problem, but they probably have a much higher chance of knowing how to effectively search Google for the solution. It’s just natural to them – they live online.

To accommodate these internet-savvy folks, your practice (and every other business) must adapt to the digital realm.

Here are top ways to adjust your dental marketing for Millennials:

1. Have an Attractive Dental Website. 75% of people judge the credibility of a dental website based on its design. A website that looks like it hasn’t been updated since the nineties will send a Millennial running faster than no free Wi-Fi. Even if your dental website is functional, if it’s just plain outdated then traffic will be deterred. Bottom line: it’s key to have a professional, up-to-date website.

2. Make Information Easily Available. Humans now have a shorter attention span than goldfish. But, they want to also do their research and shop around on their own before calling a business. Therefore your dental website must be intuitive and include the right information that prospective patients are looking for, and make it easy for them to get it. Couple great content with prominent calls to action and your contact information, and you’ll persuade your site visitors to contact you in no time.

3. Be on Social Media. To reach Millennials, you must be social. 81% of Millennials have Facebook accounts, with the median number of Facebook friends being 250. Today, people are putting their entire lives on Facebook, and expect companies to be equally as transparent. Interacting with prospective patients online is a great way to grow your network, showcase your expertise, and help you communicate your personality – all of which are important for your dental marketing strategy!

4. Get Online Reviews. Getting referrals from trusted friends and family has been a business booster since before the Internet age. Today, up to 88% of Internet users will also trust reviews from complete strangers. The more reviews, the better, and there’s no better way than just to ask! Encourage patients to write you a review on your practice’s online business listings. Be sure to respond to each review as well!

5. Optimize Your Dental Website. The age of the yellow pages is over, and its newest iteration is search engines. If a Millennial needs a dentist, they won’t be going to a newspaper, they will do a Google search or post a status on Facebook asking their friends for recommendations. The best thing to do is to make sure your practice shows up at the top of the search results. This is called search engine optimization, and we can help you with it. Find out more here!

As the owner of your dental practice, it’s important to keep up with the latest generational and dental marketing trends. As the Internet changes, your practice must keep up! ProSites created a comprehensive guide that explains best practices and pitfalls to avoid in marketing your dental practice online. Get your free copy here.

Social Media

"Do I Need a Social Media Manager?"

There are certain attributes every good social media manager should have – excellent writing skills, curiosity, timeliness, confidentiality and the ability to collaborate. You say you have all of these? Well, then you may be able to create your dental practice’s social media presence. But before you get too far, there are a few more things to consider.

Studies show it takes a midsize company about 32 hours a month to manage a single social media platform. The list of social media networks – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, Vine, LinkedIn, Tumblr – goes on and on. And the landscape is changing every day. You’re already likely to have a work week consisting of 40+ hours devoted to running the business of your practice and providing dental services to your patients. Are you ready to add even more hours to your workload? Can you afford one week per month per social media outlet?

Obviously the time you can commit to any endeavor is important to its success. Beyond the time factor, here are three questions to answer when you’re deciding to do it yourself or hire a professional.

1. Do you understand all of the networks? You probably have a personal Facebook account. You may even have Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts. But do you know how to leverage them? Don’t be a lurker. Posting once in a while and forgetting about your page isn’t going to help your practice’s growth. Do you know how posters on each platform prefer to engage? In order to reach beyond your immediate friends you have to reach your patients and potential patients on their level and on a regular basis. The more engagements you create; the more shares you’ll get; the more traffic will come to your social media pages; the more appointments will be made.

2. Can you respond to everything? Social media is a landscape of immediacy. Posters expect responses within 24 on most platforms. On some platforms, i.e. Twitter, you need to be much quicker. Facebook even added a feature that tells fans that you’re “very responsive to messages” when you consistently answer within 5 minutes or less. Failing to respond to a post in a timely manner, or at all, can have serious repercussions on your brand name. Social media offers posters a sense of anonymity and protection. So when they feel slighted you can expect negative comments and feedback.

3. Are you missing opportunities? Do you run a patient referral program? How about special promotions for dental procedures? One of the fastest and most successful ways to spread the word among your existing patients is through social media. If you forget to spread the word this way, you may also miss out on six degrees of connections begin exposed to your practice. Your social media posts should never be an afterthought. Social media marketing is just like any other outlet – you need to begin with a strategic plan that covers your communications for months in advance. This will help ensure you don’t miss opportunities to engage with patients, potential patients and more.

Now that you’ve answered some important questions, and weighed the time and money aspects of social media marketing, what do you think? Are you going to try doing it yourself or would you like to investigate hiring someone to handle your practice’s social media responsibilities? Qualified Internet marketing companies should be able to create a social media plan to meet your practice’s goals. If you have concerns, look at how they handle their own social media. How often do they blog? How many channels do they use and how much engagement do they get? If a company isn’t using social media well for themselves, they probably won’t help you use it well either. Still have questions? Call ProSites today for a personal consultation at 888-932-3644.

Search Marketing

3 Keys to Increased Dental Practice Search Engine Visibility

The internet is a very crowded marketplace of ideas, information, conversations and business. Getting your dental practice noticed by potential patients is difficult to say the least. Too often searches for your dental practice don’t lead to your website. Sometimes the top listings have similar names, but sometimes they’re simply unrelated. How would you like to know three ways to upgrade the online visibility of your dental practice’s website?

Bigger Is Better. Believe it or not, search engines tend to rank sites with more pages higher in search results. Is there a magic number? No, but any expansion helps. Begin with basic pages – about, contact, services, insurance, bios, etc. Then follow a strategy to add more – blog, links, testimonials and so on. The deeper page structure of your site should help increase your search engine ranking. It’s important to make sure your site maintains a well-planned hierarchy and clear navigation. Each new page should have unique titles and meta descriptions as well. If search engines get confused while cataloging your site your search results will suffer.  Finally, create useful, interesting and relevant content on your new pages. You want to give your visitors a reason to click through to each of them. The stickier your website the better it will reflect on searches.

Blog is a Verb. Having a blog doesn’t do you any good if you don’t blog on a regular basis. Do not use a separate domain to host your blog. Put it on your dental practice’s domain. This will help you easily increase your website’s page count. It’s not necessary to blog every day to get noticed. A couple new, original posts per month will work – more will work better. Google’s search engine algorithm measures frequency of updates as well as how recently you last updated your blog.

Blog about things your patients and potential patients find interesting. While you may be an expert on crowns, your patients may be bored by an article on the different processes for fitting a crown. However, articles such as Types of Smiles and How to Read Their Meanings, When It’s Time to Consider Braces for your Preteen, or the Best Toothpastes and Brushes for your Money might get some shares and likes. Don’t be afraid to turn comments on. Patient engagement is very important. Plus, you can delete a comment if you get trolled.

Make it easy for your patients and potential patients to share your articles. Cross-promote your posts on all of your dental practice’s social media platforms. You want shares, likes and links. The shares and likes will boost your social media presence and the links will boost your site’s search ranking.

Reviews Matter. The importance of review sites for your home page’s search engine optimization (SEO) is gaining attention. These sites increase your online footprint. The more reviews you have on a site the higher it may rank during an online search. Review sites offer an opportunity to create synergy between your onsite and offsite SEO efforts with reciprocal links. Be sure to ask visitors to your website to follow the link and leave a comment about their experience on the review site. Search engines will not rate these links as highly as natural link building through editorial, but they will take notice so long as you don’t duplicate the reviews on your practice’s website. Search engines don’t like duplicated content.

Yelp and Google+ are popular review sites which often perform well in searches. They also happen to be free. Claim your listing and set up your practice’s profile.  With that step finished you’re ready to have patients leave reviews. Yelp and Google+ have policies prohibiting the solicitation of reviews and use algorithms to limit how many reviews can post over given time periods. However, there are ways to encourage your patients to leave reviews. These two are usually effective:

• Place a notice on the backside of your patient’s appointment cards requesting that they leave feedback about our service.

• Send follow-up emails to patients shortly after their appointments asking that they rate their experience.

Many small businesses find it difficult to keep up with website management, SEO and online marketing. After all, time is limited and boosting your online presence is a process that takes time. The steps above are just three of many possible ways to make your dental practice more visible. Based on case studies and experience a qualified digital marketing firm can tailor an online strategy to your dental practice’s goals and expectations. To learn how ProSites can help you boost your online presence, contact us for a personal consultation at 888-932-3644.

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