Diana Friedman discusses ways to keep online marketing strategies fresh
As a successful dentist, you understand that the processes and procedures used to treat your patients are under a constant state of evolution. You realize that many of the treatment approaches that worked so well just a few years ago are no longer considered state of the art. As a result, you routinely evaluate the latest advancements in your field to find new and innovative ways to offer superior treatment.
Have you ever considered this same line of reasoning holds true for your digital marketing strategy? In a study conducted by Sesame Communications, 93% of patients stated it was more convenient to find answers online compared to calling the office.1 Given this preference and the rapidly evolving Internet technologies (e.g., smartphone and tablet adoption) and options for finding orthodontists outside Google searches, it’s likely that the online marketing strategies your practice deployed even 12 months ago may be outdated. Here are three reasons it’s time to re-evaluate your digital marketing strategy:
1. Mobile is taking over
A recent study by Pew Internet showed smartphone adoption increased an astounding 21% from May 2011 to 2013.2 Another study found 90% of mobile phone searches result in a purchase or a visit.3 All you have to do is look in your practice reception area to see this trend in action. With this pattern of mobile adoption, re-evaluating your website, patient communications, and social media channels to ensure they are optimized for mobile viewing is more important than ever. There are really two ways to accomplish this.
In terms of website, it is imperative that your website render optimally on any mobile device. This can be accomplished by building a separate mobile site that identifies the device and presents an alternate website that will work with a limited set of devices. However, the optimal way to accomplish this is to update your website to what’s known as “responsive design.” In this scenario, your website is built on a state-of-the-art platform that automatically adapts the design and content to screens of any size to ensure an optimal patient experience on virtually any device.
In terms of patient communications, it is imperative your patient engagement platform (often referred to as a patient portal) is mobile optimized. This means your patients would be able to view their accounts, pay bills, confirm appointments, and access their records from any device. If you consider 57% of users won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site, making sure your patients have a great mobile experience with your patient portal should be a top priority on your list of digital marketing initiatives.
2. We live in a “social” world
Just last year 72% of Internet users ages 30 to 49 were active on social media — and by all accounts that number continues to rise. Even more interesting, 47% of Americans say Facebook is their number one influencer of purchases (up from 24% in 2011).5 Social media, when done correctly, will drive new patients to your practice from referrals and foster loyalty with your existing patient community. However, as consumers rely more on social media to make decisions and refer friends to your practice, they also expect more from the online relationship. The days of adding a Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ account and expecting it to act like a billboard for your practice are over. To ensure your social media efforts pay dividends, your practice needs to plan to keep all its sites up-to-date, providing relevant and patient-directed content of interest, or to invest in a service that specializes in social engagement for dental care providers.
3. Topical search sites are on the rise
Google is no doubt what comes to mind when the word “search” is mentioned. However, due to the immense amount of content on the larger search engines, there has been a rise in what’s known as vertical search or topical sites. Basically, these are websites that cater to a specific topic or area of interest. In the last half of 2012, topical sites had an 8% increase in search traffic while major search engine traffic decreased by 3% over the same period.6 Examples for successful topical sites in the consumer world include websites such as WebMD, Amazon, and eBay.
In the world of dental care, the best example for this is healthgrades.com. Today more than 20 million prospective patients search healthgrades.com for a new dental care provider in their local area, and more than half will schedule an appointment when a “click-to-request an appointment” feature is present.7 Topical search sites like healthgrades.com can help your orthodontic practice in a couple of important ways. First, it will provide increased practice exposure to highly qualified prospective patients and drive more of them to your practice. Second, it will also provide additional exposure on the more traditional search engines. A listing on a well-trafficked vertical search site in many cases will appear above your practice website on the regular search results. This obviously increases the opportunity for prospective patients to engage with you online.
Focus your attention on those topical sites that have an area dedicated to dental care providers. Given the impact this can have on new case starts, you would do well to capitalize on the evolution in this particular area of digital marketing.
Technology is in a constant state of change; you realize this when it comes to caring for your patients. You want to ensure that you’re always looking for the latest advancements to improve outcomes. You understand this approach improves not only the experience your patient has with your practice, but also the results of the treatment. If you adopt this same approach for your digital marketing strategy, you will fortify the engagement with your patients, drive new case starts, improve production, and ensure sustained growth and profitability for your practice. A complete review of your current digital marketing strategy and its relevance, given ongoing technology advancements, is a great way to start. Make sure you consider the evolution of mobile, patient portal, social, and topical searches as you plan your go-forward strategy.
- Sesame Communications Member Survey, 2010
- Pew Internet & American Life Project. Smartphone ownership 2013.https://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Smartphone-Ownership-2013/Findings.aspx. Verified February 11, 2014.
- Social Media Today. 10 Mobile Search Statistics: Showing the Past and Predicting the Future. https://socialmediatoday.com/stuartwainstock/2031461/10-mobile-search-statistics-showing-past-and-predicting-future. Accessed February 11, 2014.
- Vizibility. 13 Mobile Stats Your Competitors Already Know. https://vizibility.net/blog/13-mobile-stats-your-competitors-already-know-infographic/. Accessed February 11, 2014.
- Bullas J. 22 Social Media Facts and Statistics You Should Know in 2014. Jeff Bullas blog. https://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/01/17/20-social-media-facts-and-statistics-you-should-know-in-2014/. Accessed February 11, 2014.
- ComScore, 2013 U.S. Digital Future in Focus. https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/2/ Accessed Februrary 11, 2014.
- Healthgrades Use Study, 2013, https://articles.healthgrades.com/about/healthgrades-solutions-for-advertisers.