Digital Marketing for Healthcare Providers
Dentistry is changing. It is not just the technology that is evolving in the practice of dentistry; it is also the way practices are enticing new patients into the chair. Advertising is no longer taboo for medical professionals and traditional media (print, radio and TV) are not always the best option. Digital marketing can help you get new patients in the door at a fraction of the cost. If you are not online, you are missing out on an opportunity to strengthen your practice.
Elizabeth Haydu is the marketing director of Semtner Dental in Roanoke, Virginia. The practice has been using digital marketing techniques to keep current clients happy and bring new ones in the door. Haydu reached out to Chris West of Soapbox Marketing, also in Roanoke, for help in developing a digital marketing plan.
“For dentists, a lot of what I end up doing is reputation management, making sure any positive or negative reviews are responded to online whether it’s on Facebook, Google, Health Grade or Wellness, even Yelp,” explained West. “I also use techniques to get their real patients to deliver them reviews online as well; trying to use their positive patient experience to influence new patients who see those reviews on third party sites.”
Haydu says the review process has worked for their practice both in patient retention and bringing in new patients.
“Chris put in new directory system and a review system software,” explained Haydu. “We say to a patient, ‘We would love a review. Can we send you an email with a link?’”
When the patient says yes, the first email goes out asking for the review. If the patient does not do the review, a second email goes out with a gentle reminder. If needed, a third email goes out saying something, like we won’t bug you anymore, but we would really appreciate your review, Haydu said.
“It’s been really nice because we’ve gotten good reviews,” added Haydu. “That’s good because people go online, read good reviews and they want to come to your office. It also helps to get a sense of what our patients really like about our practice, so we can keep doing those things and then other things we can work on.”
Soapbox Marketing is web based and works with clients all over the United States. The initial consultation is free. “That’s when they learn what we do at Soapbox and when we are learning about the practice, what patient management system they are using, their focus and goals,” said West.
Reaching your target market
In addition to review monitoring, Soapbox does digital and social advertising for new patient acquisition. This includes content generation, in the form of writing blogs or creating newsletters.
“In some cases, we manage a practice’s social postings on Facebook and Twitter for example, with the idea of engaging existing patients and acquiring new ones,” said West. “And when it comes to blogs, we write that content to show up in long tail searches. Often people are looking for specific services like fillings or teeth whitening. We write content around those subjects to post in their blogs to try to show up in those searches.”
The goal is to have the potential new patients conducting their research on the dentist’s site not on some third-party site, West said.
Digital marketing enables you to reach a specific audience, the people who are most likely to use your services, it is also transparent. West can track how well an ad, web page or post is performing and provide that information to you.
Haydu offers this advice to practices that do not have a marketing person: keep your Facebook page and website “alive and present” as well as buy ads on Facebook and Google; there are marketers that will also work periodically on a consulting basis.
“Give your marketing plan six months’ time to work and always consider new options for reaching out to patients,” added Haydu. “When you get a new patient ask them how they heard about you and if it was a referral do something nice for the existing patient that gave the referral.”