How Patient Referrals Can Attract More Local Patients to Your Dental Practice

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The Connect the Doc Team
June 14, 2023
min. read

Regardless of your dental practice’s size, you can’t deny the importance of having a dental patient acquisition strategy in place. This strategy isn’t a one-time process. Instead, it’s a cycle that starts with building awareness about your brand and ends with securing patient referrals. 

If you play your cards right, you can attract and acquire more local patients to your dental practices by effectively completing your dental patient acquisition cycle. 

In this article, we’ll describe the dental patient acquisition cycle and highlight the key stages of the cycle. However, we’ll focus mostly on the final stage—which is patient referrals. As such, we’ll share tips on how you can leverage patient referrals to attract more local patients to your practice. We’ll also discuss steps you can take to source, ask, and encourage more patients to refer your dental services to their family, friends, and neighbors. 

But first, let’s establish what a dental patient acquisition cycle is. 

What is the Dental Patient Acquisition Cycle?

The dental patient acquisition cycle is a model for attracting, educating, acquiring, and upselling patients. The cycle involves four key stages of patient acquisition, and collectively, these stages help dentists reach more patients and encourage them to spread the word about their dental practice. 

The four stages of the dental patient acquisition cycle are:

  1. Awareness: This stage involves showcasing the dental practice’s brand and unique value proposition. Patients want to know the quality of care they can expect from you or your practice. Using visual cues and targeted, intentional messaging, an effective branding strategy highlights the value and benefits you offer patients.  
  2. Education: This stage of the dental patient acquisition cycle is about sharing valuable resources and information with prospective patients. The way you go about this stage could set you apart from your competition. Using content marketing channels like email marketing, blog, social media, paid ads, or other thought leadership media, you can engage prospective patients, showcase your expertise and boost your dental practice’s credibility. If you’re targeting local patients, you should consider using this stage to share resources about problems or questions patients in your local community tend to have. 
  3. Acquisition: This is the all-too-familiar stage that involves actively promoting your dental practice and services. From SEO marketing, reputation management strategy (including patients’ reviews and referrals), live chat tools or chatbots, and PPC marketing, there are several dental marketing channels you can explore to champion your cause and convince prospective patients to book an appointment. 
  4. Referrals: This stage involves converting your current patients to brand ambassadors. It leverages the relationship you have with your patients, based on the quality of interactions you’ve had with them and services you’ve provided them, to inspire them to spread the word about your dental practice. It is one of the most effective ways to attract more local patients, and in the next section, we’ll discuss exactly how this happens. 

3 Ways Patient Referrals Attract Local Patients

Local patients are patients living near your dental practice. These patients are most likely to visit dentists who work within their neighborhood or community. As such, they are an excellent target for your dental marketing strategies and campaigns. 

By encouraging your existing patients to spread the word about your dental practice, you can engage with and attract more local patients. 

1. Online Patient Reviews

Patient reviews are comments, opinions, and feedbacks by your dental practice’s patients. These reviews may be shared online or in person. 

Online patient reviews can be shared on dental review sites or directories such as your practice’s Google My Business (GMB) profile. Online patient reviews need to be authentic because fake reviews can lead to poor reputation amongst prospective patients or being banned from the review sites or directories. 

Directories such as Google My Business are great for attracting local patients because the reviews published there are searchable on Google’s search engine. In other words, if your existing patients share reviews on Google My Business, especially one that includes the name of your community or geographical area, Google can show that review to patients who are looking for dental practices in your area. 

To attract more patients using online patient reviews, you should prioritize getting existing patients who live in your local area to share their reviews. With Connect the Doc’s review tool, you can automatically get authentic reviews from your existing local patients and publish them on searchable, top dental review sites. 

2. Word of Mouth Marketing and Referrals

Word of mouth marketing remains one of the best ways of creating brand awareness about dental practices. While it is essential for patients to spread the word about your dental services in a way that seems organic, you can develop a strategy that actively encourages them to do so.

With the digitization of networking and many human interactions, word-of-mouth marketing includes sharing information via digital platforms such as social media. As your existing patients refer their family and friends, via social media or email communication, to your dental practice, you may see more local patients walking through your doors. 

To leverage word of mouth marketing to attract local patients to your dental practice, you should consider using Connect the Doc’s referral tool to ask your existing local patients for referrals automatically. Connect the Doc can also tap into your existing local patients’ social network profiles so it can suggest the right individuals your patients need to refer to your practice. 

More so, with Connect the Doc, you can monitor and track the performance of your word of mouth referrals. This way, you can determine what social media platforms and networks give you the best outcomes and use that information to make better decisions about your dental marketing strategies. 

3. Local Partnership or Sponsorship Deals

Although everything is being digitized, don’t neglect physical interaction or in-person networking. If your goal is to attract more local patients to your dental practice, why not go out and actually engage with individuals and organizations in your local community? 

Chances are there are community programs or local nonprofits you can partner with or sponsor to spread the word about your dental practice. Consider working with local organizations that can refer their members to your practice as part of a mutually beneficial partnership or sponsorship deal.  

For an optimal outcome, you should integrate these three forms of patient referrals into your dental practice’s branding and reputation management strategy. Having online patient reviews is crucial to improve your local SEO; leveraging your patients’ social media networks gets your practice right in front of those who need to know about it, and local partnership or sponsorship opportunities can turn your practice into a household name in your community. 

How to Increase Patient Referrals and Attract More Local Patients to Your Dental Practice

We’ve established the importance of gathering patient referrals, and you’re now aware of three effective strategies for leveraging patient referrals to attract more local patients. Now, we’re going to discuss three steps you need to take to get more patient referrals. 

1. Set a Goal

Gathering patient referrals may seem like a quick and easy way to boost your dental practice’s brand awareness. In reality, you don’t need thousands of referrals to meet your dental marketing goals. Take a moment to set a target of how many referrals you want to get via each of your ideal platforms in a given period. Be clear and specific with your goals. 

2. Automate the Asking Process. 

Asking for referrals may seem daunting because you don’t want patients to feel uncomfortable in the process. The truth is there’s no other way around it. If you want more referrals, ask for them. 

The good news is some tools can make the asking process much easier for you. Connect the Doc’s referral tool can automate the asking process by automatically asking the ideal patients for feedback, comments, or referrals right after an appointment. This way, you can ask for referrals from the right patients at the right time without lifting a finger. 

3. Leverage Multichannel Marketing

Finally, you should consider using other forms of dental marketing to encourage patients to tell their family and friends about your dental services. From content marketing to email communication or newsletters to offering discounts, there’s more than one way to get patients to become ambassadors of your dental practice. 

Remember, patient referrals are an essential part of your dental patient acquisition cycle. The success of your patient referral strategy depends on the quality of interactions you have with your patients. So, you should make sure that you and your team prioritize your patient support services. Your dental practice should be a welcoming and patient-centric space; this will go a long way as you gather more patient referrals. 
Patient referrals can help you attract more high-value, local prospective patients to your dental practice. You must take the proper steps to gather and maximize them. Connect the Doc’s tools, and experts can streamline the process of gathering and leveraging patient referrals so you can meet your business and marketing goals. Contact us today to get started.

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