Marketing Trends For Your Dental Practice In 2020
Online marketing in dentistry is constantly in flux, and in order to know where to reach your patients now and in the future you have to vigilantly keep up with the trends. In this article, we’ll learn about what’s going to drive the online marketing conversation for dental practices in 2020 and beyond. But first, let’s explore the origins of digital marketing for local businesses and see how we got here today.
Traditional online dental marketing strategies
In the beginning, there was local search and pay-per-click (PPC) ads. After all, this is how Google became one of the most valuable and successful tech companies in the world. Before social media and streaming video, people were mostly just using the internet to look things up, and local search marketing and PPC was a great way to get your practice’s name in front of people.
Now Google, Facebook, and others have muscled their way into the review business, but there was a time when Yelp was the biggest name in the sphere. Yelp is all about people looking for local businesses, so it made sense to buy ad space on a platform where you knew you were likely to have an audience that was primed to take action. Additionally, asking clients to leave Yelp reviews was one of the earliest ways to increase visibility and build patient trust on the internet.
Email marketing has existed for a long time now, but it’s only in the last decade or so that it has gotten sophisticated enough for small businesses like local dental practices to implement it on an effective scale. Users initially thought of email as a personal and professional communication tool, and they had to come around to the fact that it was also a good way for local businesses to convey their value to prospective customers as well. Even with all of the other digital tools available to dental practices, email marketing is still incredibly popular and very effective when practiced correctly.
Referrals have been one of the core analog marketing strategies for dental practices since the profession existed because in the days before the internet personal recommendations were the most trustworthy sources for people looking for a new professional service. But the ubiquity of digital communication opened the door for dentists to engage with their current patients and regularly request referrals in an entirely new way. In short, online referrals became easier to solicit, and they became an even more reliable pipeline for generating new patients.
Remarketing involves sending new marketing materials to patients that already have an established relationship with your practice, usually urging them to take some specific action. The term ‘relationship’ is used broadly in this sense because it can mean any person who has viewed content on your website to someone who has been a regular patient for decades. As websites grew in sophistication, practices were able to use them in more diverse ways to connect with people and deliver appropriate remarketing campaigns at exactly the right time.
Recent online trends that have leaked into dentistry marketing online
Instagram and Snapchat (and other smaller social media platforms similar to them) are still known as the new residents in the marketing neighborhood, even though the platforms themselves aren’t exactly new anymore. But they still aren’t as established as Facebook and Twitter in terms of marketing tools, and that’s why there is still so much room for growth in these platforms in 2020 and beyond.
Video advertising on the web started out as a niche strategy but has grown to become one of the most important sectors for all types of businesses. For dentistry marketing, you can use videos to give your patients a behind-the-scenes look at your practice, introduce them to your staff, and educate them about innovative procedures. Video content done well is highly engaging and builds trust.
Shareable Social Posts
Social media marketing started out as a way to provide information to clients, but it’s turned into a race to see who can create informative, funny, and relevant posts that can be easily shared among peer groups.
When Facebook spun Messenger off into a separate app and opened the platform up to advertisers, it created a new opportunity for practices to find even easier ways for patients to connect. Users can now be taken directly from an ad to a Facebook message with your practice, where they can ask questions and book appointments without having to call.
Online dental directories such as ZocDoc, The Dentist Hub, and Smile Guide are starting to make waves in the dental marketing sphere, and they are hugely popular with millennials and gen Z. Some of them simply collect information about practices, while others are interactive and include appointment booking tools and insurance information; almost like an OpenTable for medical organizations.
The top dental practice marketing strategies for 2020
The 2010s will be remembered as the decade of content marketing, as companies realized that they could use their website and other platforms to provide additional value to their customers and prospective customers as a key part of the marketing journey. Content marketing is so crucial because it works consistently, and it pays dividends for every type of organization, from small local businesses and nonprofits to Fortune 100 companies. For dental practices, content marketing is especially vital because it is one of the most reliable ways to build patient trust, which is one of the defining factors in a patient’s decision to choose a practice.
Google My Business
In recent years Google has intensified their shift from being a search company to becoming an organization that aims to collect all of the knowledge of the world, and Google My Business is one of the tools that most embodies this transition. Google has given businesses the ability to control some of the information that appears when searchers look for them on the site, it’s one way for local dental practices to really stand out among the crowd. Make sure you’re giving Google users as much information about your practice upfront as possible by keeping your Google My Business page updated with your most recent data.
Reviews have been a part of online dental marketing since the early days, but in the last few years the number of review sites has exploded, and it has become more important than ever for dentist offices to consistently reach out to patients for reviews. Recent research suggests that nearly 90% of consumers trust online reviews equally as much as recommendations from friends and family when making a purchasing decision. Several years ago you probably knew that a prospective patient would be looking at Yelp for reviews, but now they could be turning to any number of sites to make their evaluation about your practice. The reality is that now you have to monitor numerous sites such as Google, Facebook, Healthgrades, and a variety of directories that catalog local dental practices including the RateMDs, ZocDoc, Rateabiz, Demandforce, Vitals and more.
Working on your website may sound like a trend from a bygone era, but it’s more crucial than ever for you to have a highly functional website that is also pleasant to look at and eases the user through relevant content towards a call-to-action (CTA). You must make sure everything is mobile-friendly as well because more patients are going to be encountering your site for the first time on a mobile device.
Facebook Demographic Targeting/Facebook Messenger
Facebook became the social media platform for marketing throughout the 2010s, and there are plenty of good reasons why. The massive user base is the most obvious one, as maintaining a presence on Facebook gives you access to the widest swath of the population no matter where in North America your business is located. But the next big advantage of Facebook is the remarkable amount of demographic data they have collected about their users, which businesses can tap into to create highly targeted ads where they will have maximum efficiency.
It’s the age of the smartphone, and studies show that approximately 62% of smartphone users use their devices specifically to investigate health information and centers. This is why click-to-call ads have become so powerful because they take advantage of the immediacy of the moment and give the prospective patient an easy way to call at the right time.
Digital newsletters are an offshoot of traditional email marketing, and in the last several years email users have transitioned from being skeptical of branded content in their email to welcoming it under the right circumstances. Dental practices can use newsletters to keep patients apprised of developments, promote giveaways, ask for reviews and referrals, and more.
How you can analyze where your online marketing currently stands
As you enter a new year and a new decade for your practice, it’s important to take stock of the various marketing strategies from the past to the future and evaluate your current investment in them and their effectiveness across a variety of metrics. Don’t abandon tried-and-true strategies just because they have been around as long as the digital age itself, and don’t throw money blindly at trends in dentistry marketing if the numbers aren’t bearing out. Test different methods and find the right combination of channels that make sense for your practice.
How you can take the next step in your online marketing and thrive in 2020 and beyond
For most small to medium-sized dental practices, this is far too much to manage alone, which is why you need the help of a dedicated partner that will help you evaluate your current marketing strategies and determine the courses you should take for your future success. At Connect the Doc, we work with you on every aspect of your online marketing campaign, from established methods such as SEO and email marketing to the trends of the future like getting patient reviews across multiple platforms and keeping up with the latest social innovations. Reach out to us today to learn more about how you can empower your practice to build trusting relationships with new patients through the power of online marketing.