Digital marketing or internet marketing for dentists is of utmost importance today than it has ever been in the past. Over 4 billion people are connected to the internet at any given point of time. In North America, Europe and Australia, the smartphone and social media penetration is over 80 percent.
So, if fishing to build up patients for a dental clinic, one must take digital marketing seriously. There are two critical aspects of digital marketing — a fully functional and user-friendly website and a very efficient search engine optimization (SEO).
There are other essential elements of digital marketing as well, such as social media marketing, Pay-Per-Click advertising, video marketing, branding, online review & testimonials and blogging — to name a few. Through digital marketing, you should focus on creating a high level of customer satisfaction for your audience, establishing long-term relationships with your patients and building your brand.
1) Is the Website Mobile Friendly?
One of the most frustrating things for patients searching for a dental practice online is visiting a website that has not been properly optimized for the smartphone; i.e., it takes too long to load and delivers a disappointing user experience.
Considering the high percentage of people that use smartphones to browse online, it is imperative to make a website mobile friendly, with a responsive design. It needs to be ensured that the website is updated on a regular basis with high-quality content.
Google introduced the Mobile-Friendly update on April 21, 2015, which made the mobile friendliness of a website or its compatibility with various mobile platforms one of the important ranking factors on Google. So, any website that is not optimized for smartphones will get banished to the lower visibility of Google’s SERPs.
What exactly is a mobile friendly site? A website is stated to be mobile friendly if it loads quickly and is readily available on any mobile device. There is now a growing trend of internet users accessing web services through smartphones, tablets and wearable devices such as Apple Watch. A mobile friendly and responsive website is one that is compatible with all of these devices.
Back in the past, web designers got it all wrong. They used to design two separate versions of a website, one for the desktop computer and another for the mobile. This highly inefficient strategy led to a clunky web design that was completely disorganized and unattractive.
Today, responsive web design is utilized by most web designers. This ensures that the website is SEO friendly and ranks high on Google’s SERPs.
How to know whether your website passes Google’s mobile-friendly test? There is a way to do it – check your website of interest at this link provided by Google: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/.
2) How User-Friendly is the Web Design?
Google has a particular set of rules when it comes to web design and SEO; which ought to be strictly followed while developing your website. You may read Google’s Webmaster Guidelines for this.
As a dentist, you must design the website keeping the patient in mind at all times. According to a study published in 2015, by Sesame Communications, 55 percent of the time spent by most people on the internet is through mobile devices.
97 percent of dental patients would prefer to click on a dental website to look for information rather than call the dentist. A majority of patients tend to get frustrated with websites with poor navigation or user experience (UX) and immediately leave the site often in a short span of time.
UX is critical to how your patients relate to your website. If you have not worked on it hard enough, this could lead to several missed opportunities at landing the coveted points.
You should incorporate user-friendly elements in a quickly accessible form on the website, such as making it easy for patients to get all the information they need, whether it is the location of the dentist’s office, contact details, directions to the office and access to patient testimonials and online reviews.
The goal should be to give the patient a pleasant online experience, so that they can get what they want fast enough, without having to waste any time on it.
Branding is one of the most important aspects of establishing a web presence as a dentist. It is as critical to your dental practice as a reputation is to an individual. Your brand sends a message to the local community about who you are and why you should be trusted as a dentist.
The branding should consist of logo design and suitable graphics, and this job should be outsourced to a graphic designer with rich experience in original branding and logo designing. Just make sure that the logo, tagline and color schemes match the name of the practice. Ensure that there is a perfect consistency in what appears on the brochures, business cards and on the website.
4) Video Marketing
Patients dread visiting a dental clinic. Your website is the first impression you get to make on patients, so make sure it is an excellent one. One of the ways to achieve this is to include videos in the website, introducing yourself and your staff to the patients, so that they familiarize themselves with you before their first appointment.
Videos are always very useful marketing tools. A well made 30-second video is far more valuable than thousand text words. Consider starting a YouTube channel where you can talk about your practice and the various aspects of dentistry. Utilize this opportunity to present a friendly and kind face for the patients benefit so that they feel reassured about visiting you.
Videos are also useful for the website’s SEO. They provide the search engines with valuable content, which is unique, original, relevant and engaging. You should certainly make video marketing a part of your digital marketing efforts.
Search engine optimization for dentists will be dealt later in detail, but the crux is that SEO helps your website get noticed by Google. It is about ensuring that your website appears on the top of Google’s SERPs when someone searches for a dentist in your city.
SEO is the most affordable form of marketing but is also arguably the most efficient way to showcase your business and build your brand. Ranking on top of Google’s SERPs can transform your practice and bless you with a constant flow of patients. Keeping this objective in mind, hire an SEO professional to handle the search engine optimization for your dental website.
Blogging is essential for your website. A blog allows you to produce a constant stream of content, such as the latest news and information related to dentistry. You should blog at least once or twice a week, or as often as you can.
Blogging is good for SEO as it pulls visitors to your site that type the relevant keywords in the search. It gives you a chance to engage in fruitful discussions with the patients and stay in touch with them.
7) Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing or marketing on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter allows you to stay in touch with your patients on a constant basis. It is an excellent way to build loyalty among current patients while engaging new potential patients and informing them about the practice.
Social media posts are also good for SEO as they bring traffic to your website. Your social media profiles always rank high for Google search results for your name. They indicate that your practice is genuine and authentic. Your social media activities, if done well, can help boost your credibility as a dentist.
8) Online Reviews and Testimonials
Online reviews or testimonials are deciding factors for many people for selecting the dentist. An effective online marketing strategy places great significance on online reviews as they are the most effective means of advertising. This builds patient’s confidence and trust in your dental practice.
It is one thing to feature high on Google’s SERPs. You should encourage your customers to leave positive online reviews about your practice and monitor your online reputation consistently.
9) Online Review Sites
Online review sites are an effective way of boosting a dentist’s online presence. Some of the popular online review sites include Yelp, Foursquare, Health grades and Google Places.
It is an excellent way to develop third-party validation for your business concerning Google and Bing. This is paramount for search engines. Reviews posted on external sites or third-party sites are more authentic than the testimonials on your website as they are considered to be organic, authentic and unmanipulated.
Include the links to dental practice on various social media profiles and review sites to validate your practice, not just for your patients, but also for Google.