Marketing to a Modern Audience
How important is digital marketing to running a healthcare practice like a dentist's office in the modern era? In a word: "very." Consider the fact that according to one study, 62% of smartphone owners admitted to using their device to look up information about a health condition at some point during the past year. Of the prospective patients who were able to find private practices to meet their needs on mobile devices, 44% of them scheduled an appointment right then and there.
But digital marketing success for modern day dentists offices must go beyond simply having an attractive-looking website through which to capture leads. Healthcare is about nothing if not intimacy and trust - dentistry relies on these two qualities in particular, as what is more intimate than oral care?
For true success in the modern era, dental practices need to begin focusing on one thing above all others: their ability to take the reputation they've already worked so hard to build up to this point and transplant it onto the Internet for all to see. In many ways, marketing for dental practices in particular is no longer about saying "we have this type of specialized equipment" or "we're capable of doing those types of specialized procedures." You're marketing your reputation as your most valuable asset, plain and simple.
Thankfully, the right digital marketing techniques can be an incredibly effective way to accomplish exactly that.
Reputation and the Art of the First Impression
There's an old saying that says "you can only make one first impression, so you'd better work as hard as you can to make it a good one." For dental practices, this first impression may be the single most valuable resource they have in terms of connecting with new patients and continuing to cultivate the relationships that have been established with existing ones.
Consider the following statistics:
- According to one study, 94% of prospective patients said that reputation is an essential factor in terms of selecting their healthcare providers.
- 62% of patients who responded to a survey said that they actively use online reviews as a first step in their quest to find a new dentist or doctor.
- 51% of consumers said that they had actively searched for dentists via search engines in the past.
- 26% of insured patients even went as far as to say that they would be willing to visit a doctor or dentist that was outside of their insurance network if the reviews they find were higher than those of an in-network practice.
All of these statistics point to the fact that the online reputation of a dental practice matters a lot more than most people think. But it isn't just important to make sure that a dental practice can be found via search engines using techniques like SEO - what those people find must also pass the ever-important "reputation test." Remember, someone might not initially find your website at all - they may find a review of your practice or of a particular dentist on another site. If that review is a negative one, the first impression will be as well - and at that point, that potential patient is gone forever.
The modern day dental practice must be actively cultivating reviews and testimonials from patients, not only for their own website but also for services like Google, Yelp and others. The more positive online reviews you're able to attain, the less those occasional negative reviews will actually matter.
In the End
Perhaps the most important thing of all to understand is that running a healthcare practice like a dental office in the digital era is a proactive process, at least as far as marketing is concerned. Marketing and factors like reputation management aren't something you can "do once and forget about." The Internet is incredibly fluid - it's changing right before our very eyes, all day every day. More than that, the Internet isn't written in pencil - it's written in ink. The information about your practice that makes its way online lives there forever, whether you like it or not.
So the key is to take that message and that impression into your own hands, shaping it in precisely the way you need to more emotionally connect with the active audience you want. Digital marketing in all of its various forms are the best ways for dental practices to do exactly that.