NTERNET MARKETING CAN BE A POWERFUL TOOL FOR ATTRACTING NEW PATIENTS, BUT ONLY IF CONDUCTED ACCORDING TO A CAREFULLY PREPARED PLAN.
No, internet marketing is not only for tech companies. Actually, online access to a large number of new clients means the most to smaller businesses that cater to individuals rather than corporate clients. Dental practitioners certainly fit this description and, in fact, can be well served by this medium if they play their cards right. Creating a viable dental marketing plan is by all means a serious matter and success can never be guaranteed, but it has been decisively proven in the marketplace that it is possible to take advantage of the new media to grow a dental business. Here are a few strategic directions that can help dental professionals understand the possibilities in this amazing new field:
GOOGLE PAGE RANKING MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD
Many patients go online to compare different service providers in their area and will usually examine several before making a decision. Entries located near the top of the search results will be favored to win each and every time. If your webpage appears on the fifth page, chances are you will see very little hits on your website originating from search engines.
That’s where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes into play. Put simply, SEO is a cluster of techniques used to boost ranking of a webpage on major search engines like Google or Bing. This is a broad area that includes many different activities, ranging from addition of keywords and tags to content indexing and inclusion of multimedia, so it’s not surprising that many dentists are struggling to understand why this is such a crucial edge for them. In reality, all it takes is simple manipulation of content and metadata to fit search algorithms patterns for the selected keywords, so that service providers can be located by the web surfers most likely to use the offered services.
While it is difficult to achieve top rank status for general search terms such as “dentist” on a global level, it is feasible to claim primacy for better defined keywords, often by specifying specialized types of services, location, or other pointers that could differentiate the website from competitors. Search engines are based on the principle of content relevance, so the main goal of SEO activities is to target searches that stand the best chance of leading to an actual sale. This is an especially suitable way for establishing new leads, giving the dental personnel a chance to shine.
Pat Crawford has been able to follow these steps ranking for #1 for keywords like “Kenosha Dentist” and “Dentists in Kenosha WI”.
SOCIAL NETWORKS ARE A YOUR WINDOW INTO THE CUSTOMERS’ WORLD
The power of the social media can’t be ignored, so every good dental marketing plan must encompass presence on major networks such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, in addition to any local networks and/or industry-specific platforms catering to the target group. This is an affordable way to stay in daily contact with the patients and monitor their attitudes and needs while also promoting the brand at the same time.
Think about the network as an information era manifestation of the age-tested “word-of-mouth” promotion. By publically announcing their association with the existing clients, service providers can gain exposure to other potential patients who are already connected through the network. That way, every satisfied customer can become an active advocate for a business, which is not all that different from the way top dentists operate anyway. The only true innovation is the scale – it’s possible to reach huge audiences in a very short time when social platforms are used properly.
Advanced-level application of such platforms can include online customer service or special offer promotions, but the key will always remain to include as many potential customers into the network of contacts and to keep them activated at all times. Social networking alone is rarely an adequate strategy for stimulation of sales – it works best when integrated with other online promotion methods into a comprehensive campaign.
TARGETING NEW CUSTOMERS WITH WELL-PLACED CONTEXTUAL ADS
Small businesses are always cost-aware and this is where online dental marketing offers some unique possibilities, namely to pay only for the ads that actually work. That’s exactly what Pay-Per-Click (PPC) networks such as Google Adwords are all about, empowering a wide range of service providers to conduct far more aggressive promo drives without too much concern about the finances. Money spent on attracting new business is money well spent.
These online ads are smart enough to automatically target people who are interested in the type of service listed in the ad. The software analyzes actions of online users and displays the ad only to those who have a record of accessing related contents, greatly increasing probability that the advertisement will be clicked on. With good wording of the ad and a solid business offer to back up the claims, it is possible to acquire plenty of new leads while paying only a fraction of what a dentist would have to give up for similar traction in the traditional media.
Knowing this, it isn’t too hard to understand why contextual advertising platforms often form the core of any smart dental marketing plan. Being proactive matters in the grand scheme, Google Adwords and similar tools allow for cost-effective use of company resources to consistently drive up the revenues.
MAINTAINING SPOTLESS ONLINE REPUTATION IS ANYTHING BUT EASY
There are plenty of other ways to interact with the world through an online interface and not all of these interactions will be positive. Dentists must find a way to manage their public image, responding to patient’s expectations and demands in real time. In many instances it even makes sense for dental companies to hire professional help from community managers and online marketing specialists in order to maximize their chances for sustained profitability and growth. The competition is already using this channel to gain an edge, so it is extremely dangerous to ignore new prospects made possible by the advent of online marketing for dental services.