How does a prospective patient find your dental practice online? To answer this question, let’s investigate the buying cycle of the average dental patient prospect to see how they might use the internet in their decision making process.
There are 7 ways a prospective patient becomes aware of your practice:
Search engine optimization
Usually there is an event or change that initiates the need to visit a dentist. It might begin with a painful tooth, a move to a new neighborhood or city, or a change in dental insurance.
Any of these situations may provoke an inquiry to family members, friends or coworkers asking “who is your dentist” and “are you happy with them”?
And the investigation process begins…
There is a high probability they will go to the internet to find out more about the dental practice they were referred to. However, they may call directly, if the situation is more urgent or painful and immediate relief is needed. If the prospect is older, a directory may be used to look up a phone number and call for an appointment.
If they question the referral, they may go to an online directory to find someone closer to their home or office. Also, they could dig through old mail to find a recent postcard sent from a nearby office promoting a service or discount.
Needless to say, there are many ways a prospective patient will research your dental practice online to build like and trust before they are comfortable with your practice.
What you want to avoid is a patient who makes a quick decision on the advice of an acquaintance or ad. Or even worse, utilize a discount offer and never return as a patient. You may even lose money, when you take into consideration the time your front office team spends retrieving records, processing medical forms and records and setting up insurance for a one-time patient.
When a dental patient prospect goes online to find out more about a referred dental office, they may search by name or city, unless they were handed a business card or a brochure with your practice’s contact information. This can be a problem. What if they can’t remember your name? Or spell it incorrectly? Or your listing doesn’t come up right away in the search engines? It may actually open the door for other practices to attract them and get their business.
Step One… is to have a referral system in place to minimize this situation from happening.
Let’s say they go to the internet and get to your website… ask yourself, does your website engage your prospect? Or does it just give them basic information? Again this can be a huge problem. If the website is unkempt and dated with an old format, no blog post and a few feeble attempts of social media posts when the site was launched back in 2010, your practice can look dated – regardless of the new technology and equipment you are using.
Step Two… is to have a current online presence that is inviting and informative.
Patients expect more from your website in this day and age and if you don’t provide them the correct information in an up-to-date fashion, they will go to someone who does. A dated website can mean a dated practice, with older equipment and a dentist who isn’t advancing his craft with modern techniques and treatments.
Besides being easy to find, your website should be engaging. You need fresh content, videos, active social media posts and downloadable items of value (e.g., whitening shade charts, how to avoid expensive dentistry, explanation of treatments you offer, just to name a few). You need to send emails to give prospects updated information, and blog posts to keep them engaged and help convince them that you’re a thought leader and expert in your field. You need to make sure all of the local directories, trade directories and review site profiles are updated with current details, comments and information.
What if they don’t have a practice name, but search the internet for a specific treatment you may offer and you don’t come up on the first few pages (because the local directories are not current)? You better bet that another dental practice is going to gain a new client.
The thing to keep in mind is patients rarely go from awareness to patient activation. And when they do, it is generally a short-term relationship for both of you.
Once a patient becomes aware of “who you are”, you need to start the process of an excellent “Patient Experience”… which is Step Three. Otherwise, they may only visit you one time and never return. This process begins with liking what they learn about you and your practice, developing trust that you will do a good job while making them as comfortable as possible and charge them a fair price.
All this can be acheived by following the above internet dental marketing tips. To learn more about creating a total online presence for your practice download our free white paper at:http://www.redstarmarketing.com/online-dental-marketing/