Marketing for a dental support organization (DSO) can be vastly different than marketing for an individual dental practice. Responsible for marketing multiple dental practices, often in different markets, in-house DSO marketers and DSO marketing companies must navigate an increasingly complex landscape to drive brand awareness, generate new patient appointments, and keep current patients engaged. In this blog post, we’ll cover five “make-or-break” strategies for successful DSO marketing.
Dental support organizations may have a regional or even national footprint, but their dental offices serve specific and unique communities. It’s essential that DSO marketing strategies lean heavily on local SEO. Local SEO, or, search engine optimization focused on improving local search rankings, should be implemented for every individual dental practice within a DSO network. The primary goal of local SEO for DSOs should be to rank each practice within Google’s local “map pack” — a prioritized listing of 3-5 practices alongside a map and accompanied by a website link, click-to-call button, and directions. Why is getting your DSO practices in the local map pack so important? One study found that 42% of local searches result in clicks on map pack listings.
In order to improve DSO practices’ local search rankings, DSOs (or their marketing agencies) must routinely monitor and optimize their on and off-page SEO, including but not limited to:
- Optimizing their Google Business Profiles (GBP)
- Building citations (essentially local directory listings including the practice’s name, address, phone number, and website)
- Building links from relevant websites (links from location-specific community organizations are especially important in local SEO for DSOs)
- Optimizing their website for local search terms
We often say that SEO is like a wood-burning fire. It’s slow to build and slow to get going, but once it’s started, it can burn hot for a very long time with regular maintenance. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, on the other hand, is like pouring gas on a fire. The fire burns hot instantly and stays hot as long as you keep adding gasoline. In this case, the “fire” represents lead generation for a DSO.
Especially in the initial weeks and months after acquiring a dental practice, DSOs should invest in PPC for dental practices to immediately generate qualified leads and book new patient appointments to keep their dentists’ schedules full. An effective PPC campaign should be viewed as a supplement to, and not a replacement of, a comprehensive SEO effort. While the cost-per-lead and cost per new patient appointment will be higher than those associated with organic search (at least in the long-term), PPC is an excellent way for DSOs to ensure that growth in new patient volume isn’t interrupted after a practice transition. Depending on budget and performance, DSOs may find it worthwhile to continue a PPC campaign even after the SEO work begins to pay long-term dividends.
Social Media Advertising
Social media is effectively a “pay-to-play” marketing channel for DSOs — organic reach is practically non-existent, and increasing impressions requires “boosting” posts or running ads. Nevertheless, DSOs need to meet potential patients where they are — and that means advertising on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms.
Remember, social media advertising isn’t “high-intent” like Google PPC — potential patients aren’t actively searching for dental services, so it’s important to strike the right balance with your ad creative and copy. At DentalScapes, we recommend that DSOs run ads that highlight their individual practices’ unique personalities. Social media is all about authenticity and potential patients want to learn about the providers and staff that will be caring for them.
In general, it’s best to follow the “90-10” rule, in which 90% of the content you share on social media is informative, educational, or entertaining. Limit promotional content to just 10% of your posts.
Particularly in the weeks after acquisition of a new practice, it’s important that a DSO take steps to ensure that current patients stay engaged. An email or, ideally, text-based re-engagement campaign is a great way to keep the practice top-of-mind and even promote a special offer. With a list segmented by patient history, DSOs can launch hyper-targeted re-engagement campaigns. For example, a DSO might generate a list of all patients who have not had teeth whitening in the last 12 months and provide a special offer via SMS text message. Not only do re-engagement campaigns help remind patients of the importance of regular oral health care, but they can also help generate additional revenue.
Review Request Automation
No longer simply important for demonstrating authority and trustworthiness to potential patients, Google reviews are a critical ranking factor that helps determine where dental practices are positioned in local search results. To gain a competitive advantage, DSOs should implement automated tools and processes designed to boost their Google review ratings. DSOs can use technology to consistently generate more 5-star Google reviews by sending out automated review requests after each patient visit. These automated requests can be tailored based on the patient’s experience sent via email or, ideally, text message with a link to the practice’s Google Business Profile.
Looking to Turbocharge Your DSO Marketing?
At DentalScapes, we partner with regional dental support organizations to implement high-impact DSO marketing campaigns designed to raise awareness, generate new patient appointments, and improve practice profitability. From SEO to PPC, social media to review management, and everything in between, our full-service DSO marketing company is ready to help. Book a FREE strategy call today and let’s see how we can help!