Social Proof helps dental practices generate patient leads
In January 2020, the Edelman Trust Barometer reported that less than 50% of the customers trust what businesses tell them. This statistic continues a decade-long decline in customer’s trust in businesses but it points towards an important marketing trend: more than anytime before, customers are paying more attention to what fellow customers say about a product, service or business. This trend is an indication that, even amongst dental practices, social proof matters.
Introduced by Robert Cialdini, in his 1984 book, Influence, social proof refers to the phenomenon that people make decisions and take actions based on the decisions and actions of others. For dentists, this happens when your prospective patients choose to book an appointment with your dental practice after seeing or reading your current patients’ reviews or remarks about your dental care service.
In this article, we will discuss the importance of having social proof as a dentist. You will learn how you can leverage dental practice’s social proof to generate more patient leads and boost your dental practice’s reputation.
Why Your Dental Practice Needs Social Proof?
- Patients value the remarks of fellow patients and people they know
It is human nature to seek the knowledge of others whenever we are at a crossroads. We educate ourselves so we can make informed decisions. The same thing applies to dental marketing. Prospective patients actively seek the opinions of others—family, friends or fellow patients—when deciding on their choice of a dental healthcare provider. With the rise of Google search and social media, it has never been easier for prospective patients to learn what people think about your dental practice.
Your dental practice’s marketing strategy has to put this into consideration and make it easier for prospective patients to learn about the good things people are saying about your dental practice. Your current patients’ reviews and remarks about your dental practice is usually the first point of contact between your dental practice and your prospective patients. These reviews and remarks should be highlighted and showcased in places where your prospective patients can easily find them.
- There is safety in numbers
Social proof shows your prospective patients that people use and approve of your dental practice. When it comes to dental marketing and online brand reputation management, there is safety in numbers. The more often your dental practice is recommended, the more patient leads you’re likely to go.
Your dental practice’s social proof is your opportunity to highlight how many patients have benefited from your expertise. It is much better to show prospective patients proof of the value you provide than to tell them. Hence, the importance of showcasing reviews, remarks, comments and other patient actions that validate the service you provide.
- Social proof can build patients’ trust in your dental practice
The dentist-patient relationship is built on trust. Patients need to have confidence in their dentist. As such, when deciding on a dental healthcare service provider, patients take their time to weigh their options. Social proof helps convince them of the value of your service. With social proof, your dental practice will have a competitive advantage and attract more patients.
More so, with social proof, patients can virtually access and engage with your dental practice. Through online engagement, patients can learn more about your dental practice over time. This accessibility—and a sense of transparency—is key to building patients’ trust in your dental practice.
Types of Social Proof
- Online Reviews
Online reviews are the 21st century’s equivalent of word-of-mouth marketing. 7 in 10 patients are influenced by online reviews of dental practices. This statistic isn’t just true for millennials but generation X (35-49) is increasingly relying on online reviews when making purchasing decisions or booking dental appointments. As a result, more people with purchasing powers are basing their choice of a dentist on the online reviews they read.
The key advantage of online reviews, as social proof for your dental practice, is that it encourages your prospective patients to take quick action. Wherever patients read a dental practice’s online reviews—whether it’s on an industry-specific review website or Google search engine result pages (SERP)—there is always a link or direction for patients to access the website or contact information of the dental practice in question. This speeds up patients’ decision-making process and increases the chance of the dental practice, in question, getting patient leads.
- Online Referrals
Referrals occur when your current patients recommend your dental practice to people in their social circles. Today, referrals can be made online through emails, text messages, social media and many other means of digital communication. The more referrals are made for our dental practice, the better your chances of booking more patients.
Online referrals are one of the most effective marketing strategies you can employ as a dentist. Given that referrals are usually shared within social circles, patients are likely to pay more attention to them than other forms of advertisements. Most importantly, they are more likely to take swift action based on the referral and book an appointment with your dental practice.
- Online/Web Presence
While online reviews and referrals are effective types of social proof, they work better for dental practices that have an active and engaging online presence. Online presence refers to the ways people interact with your brand on the internet. When well managed, your dental practice’s online presence contributes to the success of your patient lead generation and online reputation management strategies.
Your dental practice’s website is the key to establishing an active online presence. Your website’s design and content must showcase the value you provide for patients. More so, your website should be optimized for search engines so prospective patients can easily find information about your dental practice and learn more about the value you provide. With Connect the Doc’s website development and SEO manager, you can improve your dental practice’s online presence and set yourself up for more patient leads.
- Social Media Engagement
Social media platforms are great for engaging with your current and potential patients. Although there are more effective dental marketing strategies than social media, the benefit of social media is that it humanizes your dental practice. By sharing updates about your dental practice, services and team on social media, you showcase a side of your dental practice that patients aren’t usually privy to. This makes your dental practice more relatable and likeable for patients.
Along with learning more about your dental practice’s brand, your patients can leave comments and reviews on your social media posts. Positive comments and reviews on social media about your dental practice are social proof that can promote you to your prospective patients.
How to Leverage Social Proof for your Dental Practice
- Encourage your patients to share online reviews
With every happy patient that walks through the doors of your dental practice, you have an opportunity to get more online reviews. You and your team members should make it a habit to ask patients, as they round up each appointment, to leave a review for your dental practice. Most patients are usually happy to leave reviews but even those who agree to leave reviews may not follow through.
This is why Connect the Doc supports dentists by helping them get authentic reviews from patients automatically. With Connect the Doc’s review tool, dentists can automatically ask patients for reviews right after their visit. We also ensure these reviews appear on the review boards and websites that matter to prospective patients.
- Promote your online reviews
As you gather more online reviews for your dental practice, you should find creative ways to showcase these reviews to current and prospective patients. You can share patient’s reviews on your website, email newsletters, social media or through paid advertisements. The key here is to get more eyes on your social proof.
Connect the Doc’s review tool promotes your patient’s reviews on Google and other top sites. The location, frequency, volume and ratings of your patient’s reviews can positively impact your ranking on Google’s SERPs and increase your patient leads.
- Develop a response strategy for online reviews
It is not enough to get more online reviews. Dentists and their team members have to manage those reviews by monitoring and responding to them. Regardless of the nature of the reviews—positive or negative—, you should implement a strategy for responding to them. Patients pay attention to how dental practices respond to online reviews and that informs their decision for choosing dentists. As you develop and implement your response strategy for reviews, make sure you comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
- Introduce a dental referral program
The goal of dental referral programs is to incentivize your patients to spread the word about your dental practice. These incentives can be in the form of discounts or special promotions. A good dental referral program should be easy to implement, track and fine-tune. By introducing a dental referral program in your dental practice, you encourage and reward patients for their loyalty.
- Take advantage of User Generated Content
User-generated content (UGC) refers to comments, reviews or images patients share about your dental practice on social media. It is an important part of a successful content marketing strategy. You can encourage or incentivize patients, as they are wrapping up an appointment, to like your dental practice’s Facebook page, leave comments on your Instagram post or share a picture about your dental practice on twitter as a show of support for your dental practice. You can also run contests or promotions to encourage patients to share their UGCs.
This type of social proof is effective because social media algorithms are set up to showcase comments, images or actions of users to those in their social circles. As a result, when a patient likes your dental practice’s Facebook page, Facebook will recommend and highlight your page to that patient’s Facebook friends.
The power of social proof lies in our tendency to take action based on what others are doing. When your current patients rave about your business, prospective patients notice and will be encouraged to book an appointment with you. With Connect the Doc’s array of dental marketing tools—for gathering reviews, encouraging referrals, building high-converting dental websites and developing your dental SEO—you can successfully leverage social proof to generate more patient leads for your dental practice. Contact us today to start reaping the benefits of your dental practice’s social proof.