Why Your Dental Practice Needs A Dental Referral Program

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

The landscape of dental marketing is very different from what it used to be just a few years ago. Many dentists are exploring digital marketing strategies that they never imagined they would have to implement in their dental practices. As effective and essential as these digital marketing strategies are, and despite the new developments in the dental marketing industry, word-of-mouth marketing - in the form of dental referral marketing - is still a very powerful marketing strategy for dentists. 

Dental referral marketing is a marketing strategy that turns your patients into brand ambassadors for your dental practice. This form of marketing engages your patients by encouraging and empowering them to spread the word about your dental practice with their family and friends. Through a meticulously designed dental referral program, you can attract prospective patients to your dental practice by leveraging your current patients’ loyalty to your dental practice. Dental referral programs are essentially built on trust, loyalty and a promise of quality delivery of dental care services. 

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of developing a dental referral program for your dental practice. More so, we will highlight six tips you should know when running a dental referral program. As you read this article and learn how to create a dental referral program, you should spend some time thinking about how each of the benefits and tips may apply to your dental practice. 

Benefits of Having a Dentist Referral Program

Dental referral programs are not novel marketing strategies but they are often overlooked or poorly implemented. Nevertheless, there is a modern and cost-effective way of asking and engaging your patients to refer family and friends to your dental practice. This involves automated marketing tools that make it easy to interact with your patients before, during and after their patients. Through these interactions, you can engage your patients in your dental referral programs and reap the benefits. 

Here are four benefits of a dental referral program:

1. It encourages and rewards your patients’ loyalty

The notion of word-of-mouth marketing revolves around the idea that your patients are so satisfied with your dental care services that they go out of their way to tell family and friends about your dental practice. The challenge is life may get in the way and satisfied patients may forget to talk about your dentist practice even if they intended to as they were leaving your practice. 83% of consumers are willing to refer after a positive experience, yet only 29% actually do. A good dental referral program remedies this issue by providing an automated system for asking patients for referrals and rewarding them as they make these referrals. These incentives, which may be in the form of discounts or special promotions, will go a long way to strengthen your patients’ trust in and loyalty to your dental practice. 

2. It is a cost-effective marketing strategy

With so many marketing options and strategies available to dentists, it is important for them to know which strategies will help them meet their essential marketing and business goals. Dentists want to implement marketing strategies that will save them time and money. Dental referral programs are not just cost- and time-effective, they are a proven marketing strategy that result in a high ROI. 9 in 10 people trust referrals from family and friends. When well implemented, your dental referral program can bring in 9 new patients for every satisfied patient who refers others to your dental practice. 

3. It is trackable and can be fine tuned

Good dental referral programs - like the automated referral service offered by Connect the Doc - are trackable and optimizable. With Connect the Doc’s referral program, your referral links are automatically tracked so you can discover which patients at your dental practice are making the most referrals and reward them for their loyalty and support. More so, you can easily make changes to aspects of your dental referral programs that may not be effective. For example, you can make changes to your messaging or change details about promotions and discounts. The ability to track and fine tune your dental referral program makes it easier for you to measure your progress and improve your marketing process. 

4. It is easy to implement

As a dentist and business owner, you are well aware that marketing strategies evolve quickly. There is a learning curve that comes with each new development or update to your marketing tools and process. With dental referral programs, you don’t have to recreate the wheel, you can simply implement a system that remains applicable and functional for a long time. A good dental referral program makes patient’s participation and engagement easy but beyond that, it is easy to set up and work with. 

Tips for Running a Dental Referral Program at your Dental Practice

While it is important to have a dental referral program for your dental practice, it is even more important that your practice maintains a high quality of dental care service. Before you begin to set up your dental referral program, you should gather reviews from your high-value patients about the quality of your service and use the information you get as a basis for improving your dental practice. 

If your patients aren’t satisfied with your service, your dental referral program won’t give you the intended results. Connect the Doc experts can work with you to set up an automated system for gathering key reviews from patients that will be instrumental in improving the quality of your dental care service. 

Here are six tips you should know when running a dental referral program 

1. Set a goal

Your dental referral program is a marketing tool. As such, it should be able to meet your marketing and business goals. Before setting up your dental referral program, revisit your business plan and make sure you outline the metrics and results you want to achieve with a dental referral program. Depending on your business’ needs at the moment, you should create referral benchmarks that you can use to assess the progress or success of your dental referral program. 

2. Focus on your high-value patients

High-value patients are patients who are most likely to refer your dental practice and its services to their family and friends. These patients may have been enjoying your service for a long time and have a positive relationship with you and/or your dental practice. You should consider doing a test-run of your dental referral program using your high-value patients as beta participants. By doing this, you will be able to measure the effectiveness of your dental referral program. We recently shared an article on how you can attract more high-value patients to your dental practice. You can click here to read the article and implement the suggested steps so you will have more patients to include in the beta tests for your dental referral program. 

3. Include an essential dental care service in your program

Some dental referral programs encourage patient participation by offering them a discount on dental care services or products in exchange for a referral. This is a strategy that works well for several dentists. If you decide to use this strategy in your dental referral program, you should ensure you’re offering a discount on a dental care service that is worthwhile to your patients. The more value you offer your patient in exchange for a referral, the more likely they are to participate. 

4. Use clear and shareable messaging 

As you work on your dental referral program, you should make sure the content and copy of your promotional messages are clear, concise and shareable. If you are creating physical marketing collateral that your current patients can hand out to prospective patients, you should ensure the collaterals are well designed and engaging. If you share referral invitations online - via email, website or social media - make sure the messaging is clear and the instructions are easy to follow. 

5. Share your referral invitations

We know it can be difficult or awkward for dentists to ask patients for referrals. You can avoid all that awkwardness by leveraging your online presence to share your referral invitations. Through your website, email newsletters, social media pages and Live Chats, you can invite your patients to participate in your dental referral program. More so, you can run paid ads to reach a wider range of patients and let them know about your dental referral program. With Connect the Doc’s referral service, you can specifically target prospective patients within current patients’ social circle and increase your conversion rates for your referrals. 

6. Track Your Results

Using the referral benchmarks and goals you have set, you should assess your conversion rates and other essential data insights from your dental referral program. When you notice gaps in your referral process, take the necessary steps to close them and fine tune your process. Connect the Doc’s referral links are trackable so you can track your patients’ referrals and reward patients for their support and loyalty. 

Dental referral programs are a cost-effective marketing strategy that builds on your patients’ satisfaction and loyalty to spread the word about your dental practice. A good dental referral program can bring in as many as 9 new patients for every single patient referral. At Connect the Doc, we are committed to turning your patients to brand ambassadors for your dental practice. With our automated referral service, you can ask for referrals automatically as patients make appointments, share referral invitations within your patients’ existing social circle and track patients referrals over time. Contact us today to start benefiting from patient referrals for your dental practice.

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