Dental Marketing Ideas to Grow Your Practice
If you’re seeking to bring in more patients or simply searching for novel strategies to remain ahead of the competition, dental marketing is essential in today’s crowded environment. In this blog post, we’ll provide guidance that can change your approach to dental marketing — and keep your chairs full! This includes combining both digital and offline tactics so as to make your practice stand out from the crowd. It’s time for you to discover the dental marketing ideas that work best when it comes to gaining new patients and growing a thriving dental practice!
- Develop an effective dental marketing strategy by assessing current efforts, setting measurable goals, and allocating budget for online & offline tactics.
- Leverage digital tools such as your practice website, local SEO, content marketing, online advertising, and social media to build a strong online presence and elevate your local search rankings.
- Complement online marketing with traditional “offline” dental marketing ideas
- Analyze KPIs with analytics tools and adjust strategies based on data to maximize ROI
Developing a Comprehensive Dental Marketing Strategy
Creating a comprehensive dental marketing plan is the key to building an effective promotional campaign. This type of strategy should combine both online and offline techniques in order to bring new patients into your practice, as well as retain (and re-engage) current ones.
Research shows that up to 90% of patients would consider changing dentists based purely upon better web presence — so it’s essential for practices like yours to focus time and energy towards building an all-encompassing marketing strategy. Doing this will help your dental practice stay ahead when compared with other practices while also ensuring greater success with new patient acquisition and retention.
Define Your Target Audience
When creating a marketing strategy for your dental office, having an accurate picture of who the target audience is should be paramount. Developing a patient profile or “persona” that covers details such as age range, income bracket, and occupation can help you create content tailored to their needs. Location, of course, also plays a role in narrowing in on your desired demographic. If you want your practice to appeal to younger people, for instance, then leveraging platforms like Instagram and TikTok could prove especially useful. Understanding patient personas allows dental practices and marketing partners to generate the best possible results and maximize return on investment (ROI).
Set Measurable Goals
Creating definitive objectives is the first step to devising a successful marketing plan. For instance, a dental practice could choose to boost new patient numbers by a certain quantity or enhance its brand recognition and average review rating online.
When deciding on your marketing goal(s), it’s essential that you set realistic targets. These should be motivating yet achievable goals so as not to become overly taxing. We recommend following the “SMART” framework when setting marketing goals, ensuring they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. The right measurements help tailor specific dental marketing campaigns as well as track progress and ROI.
For more information on goal-setting, check out Chapter 3 in our recently released dental marketing book.
Allocate Budget for Marketing Activities
It’s important for a dental practice to allocate an adequate budget to support marketing campaigns that will bring in new patients and retain existing ones. Most dental practices generating consistent, cost-effective results are typically spending 4-7 percent of gross revenue on marketing.
Remember, marketing spend should be variable and based on performance. Some costs are fixed, such as those associated with website design and development, while others are recurring (e.g., marketing agency retainers, Google and social media advertising spend). As always, you’ll want to pay close attention to your key performance indicators (KPIs) like cost-per-lead (CPL) and cost-per-acquisition (CPA) when determining how much budget to allocate and where.
Building a Strong Online Presence
For dental practices to draw in new patients, a strong online presence is an absolute must. Utilizing strategies such as local SEO, Google ads, and Facebook ads, and platforms like Instagram and TikTok can be tremendously effective. SEO optimization and content marketing, in particular, play an integral part in improving dental practice rankings on Google and increasing visibility in the local community.
Create an Engaging Website
Your dental practice website is your online “front door.” Potential patients often reach your dental practice’s website first, so it’s important to create a captivating and user-friendly site that responds well to mobile devices. Your website should be optimized for local search and feature intuitive navigation. Make sure contact information and calls-to-action (CTAs) such as a click-to-call button are highly visible on every page in order to make the process as streamlined as possible and convert site visitors into new patients.
Dentists often wonder how much they should spend on a practice website. It may not be the most satisfying answer, but it truly depends — and most of the time, you get what you pay for. In general, you might reasonably expect to spend anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000+ on a custom website for your dental practice, depending on your requirements, preferences, and rounds of revision.
There are many opportunities to maximize your website’s performance. Check out our recent blog post, “Everything You Need to Know About Dental Website Design.”
Optimize for SEO
To bring in more potential patients to your dental office, it’s crucial to have an effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Incorporating keywords, optimizing “behind-the-scenes” technical elements, and developing content that meets Google’s informal “EEAT” requirements (ensuring that your content prioritizes Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) can help boost your website’s relevancy on major search engines.
SEO is typically divided into “on-page” and “off-page” SEO, with on-page SEO including the actual content that appears on your website, and off-page SEO referring to technical optimizations and links from other websites to yours. Both are critical in communicating relevance and authority to Google, which will boost your site’s rankings on the search engine results page (SERP).
In today’s online environment, there may be no better return on investment for dentists than local SEO. But it takes commitment — we often say that online advertising is a “sprint” while SEO is a “marathon.” Set the foundation for success and commit to regular content development and optimization, however, and you’ll be rewarded with a steady stream of new patients at a very low cost-per-acquisition (CPA).
A deep-dive into SEO for dental practices could easily take up its own gigantic blog post, but fortunately, we’ve got you covered with this local SEO video training for dentists.
Leverage Google PPC and Local Services Ads
Targeting customers in search of a dentist with Google PPC (pay-per-click) or Local Services Ads (LSAs). Google ads can be a great way to get your practice seen by potential patients. For effective ad copy, ensure the language used is attractive and that proper keywords as well as location targeting are incorporated into the campaign. This will help make sure your website stands out when people are looking for what you offer!
There are many differences between “traditional” Google PPC ads and Google Local Services Ads, but the primary one is their cost model.
With Google PPC ads, as the “pay-per-click” name implies, your dental practice is charged per click. So, if you’re bidding on the keyword “chicago dentist,” you only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad and visits your website. For more information on how PPC works for dentists, check out our video walk-through.
With Local Services Ads, on the other hand, your practice pays per lead, which means you only pay when a qualified patient makes a phone call or submits a message to your practice. We’ve got a complete guide to Google LSAs for dental practices if you’d like more details on this relatively new ad product.
One of the advantages of Google PPC and Google LSA ads, in particular, is that ad campaigns can be turned on and off immediately — so you are in full control of what you spend based on the cost-per-acquisition (CPA) (the cost of booking a new patient appointment). That’s why we say online advertising like PPC is a “sprint” and SEO is a “marathon.” With PPC and LSA ads, results are generally immediate and only constrained by budget and search volume in your practice’s area.
An experienced marketing agency handling online advertising for dentists can advise you on what mix of Google PPC and/or LSAs makes the most sense for your practice.
Utilize Social Media Platforms
Dental practices have the ability to promote themselves and increase brand recognition by using popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. By regularly posting relevant content that prospective and current patients may be interested in sharing, one can build meaningful connections with their target audience on these digital channels. One recent study showed that roughly 40 percent of patients indicated they had engaged with dental practices on social media.
When engaging with potential and current patients on social media, it’s best not to be too promotional or pushy. People flock to social media to be educated and entertained, so focus on publishing content that highlights the unique personality of your practice, providers, and staff and helps your audience better understand the importance of oral health. Following the “90-10” rule, in which 90% of content is educational or entertaining and 10% of content is promotional, is a good place to start.
Keep in mind that while access to social media channels is technically free, for dental practices and other businesses, social media is basically a “pay-to-play” environment. “Organic,” or non-paid, reach is practically non-existent for business profiles these days, so you’ll want to budget a few dollars to “boost” your content on social media. Even just $5 per post can mean the difference between reaching 10 people and reaching 1,000.
While lower “intent” than Google (i.e., people aren’t typically using social media to search specifically for dental providers), Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok also offer more advanced online advertising options that go beyond simply boosting posts. A social media advertising campaign is a great dental marketing idea and can be tremendously effective at raising awareness, re-engaging visitors to your practice website, and promoting special offers.
Get 5-Star Reviews
For dental practices, patient reviews are critical — especially those that appear on your Google Business Profile (GBP). They can have a considerable influence on the practice’s online presence and may be an element taken into consideration by potential patients when deciding which dentist to choose. Today, reviews — both quantity and average rating — are a factor strongly considered by Google when ranking dental practices in local search results.
If you want to dominate the search engine results page (SERP), you need to focus on consistently generating 5-star Google reviews. An automated, SMS text-based review campaign is a must-have marketing strategy for dental practices.
Traditional Marketing Techniques for Dental Practices
Dental practices can achieve a more comprehensive approach to their marketing efforts by integrating both online and “offline” dental marketing ideas. By blending digital tools with traditional methods, it’s possible for them to reach an expanded group of potential patients as well as sustain relationships with existing ones.
Brand and message consistency is key, though — so make sure that whoever is managing your online dental marketing is also coordinating with whoever is managing your offline marketing.
Direct Mail Campaigns
With some exceptions, direct mail campaigns remain an effective method for dental practices to reach and acquire new patients from local neighborhoods. “Welcome to the Neighborhood” messages on postcards or other mailed materials can be a great way of drawing attention to your business. Offering discounts or specials as part of these promotional efforts can also help convince potential clients that your practice is worth considering over others in the vicinity.
Remember, potential patients will often search for your practice online or visit your website before calling. You can make it easy for them and increase the chance that they convert into a new patient by including a QR code or featuring your website address prominently on any direct mail materials.
Local Event Sponsorships
Being a sponsor of community activities can help boost the reputation and presence of your dental practice in the local area. By taking part actively in such events, you show that it is more than just business for your office, it sends out a friendly message to potential patients who may seek treatment from you. Local event sponsorships also present opportunities to form relationships with other nearby businesses or groups, which could result in more referrals in the future.
Advertising your dental practice and services through print publications can be advantageous in bringing in prospective patients who may not use the internet in the same way (or at all) as other consumers. To reach a larger group of people, catchy visuals and messages should be created to make an impact. Print advertising can still be powerful when it comes to promoting dentists’ practices, especially when it features dynamic elements that catch viewers’ attention.
Remember, as with direct mail campaigns, be sure to include your website address or a QR code on any print advertising. If you include a phone number (which you should), make sure it’s a tracking number. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for potential patients to get in touch with your practice.
Creating a referral program is an effective way to incentivize current patients to refer their friends and family members to your dental practice. Offering rewards, such as discounts or complimentary services, can motivate those who are already familiar with your practice to spread the word.
Similarly, dental specialists like orthodontists, endodontists, and oral surgeons should take steps to cultivate referral relationships with other dentists. Focus on building personal relationships with activities like in-person meetings, lunches, golf outings, and even giving small gifts. You might also consider buying lunch or sending other goodies to the other office’s staff. Ultimately, when it comes to generating more provider referrals, nothing beats good, ‘ol fashioned “boots on the ground” marketing.
Innovative Dental Marketing Ideas
With the fundamentals of online and offline dental marketing covered above, let’s turn our attention to some more innovative dental marketing ideas for growing your practice. While each of these may not be the right fit for your specific practice, you’re sure to find something that will help you raise awareness, generate engagement, and ultimately keep your chairs full!
Leverage Video Marketing
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is probably worth a million. Quality videos answering commonly asked questions, showcasing the clinic team, or providing oral hygiene instruction can boost your online reach and generate engagement among both potential and current patients alike. Video is also increasingly important for SEO, and embedding YouTube videos directly on your dental practice website can often give those pages a nice lift.
Further, with the continued growth of video-centric platforms like TikTok and Instagram, video has become even more important for dentist social media marketing. Social media algorithms often prioritize video in their feeds, so incorporating video into your social media mix can increase your reach, generate more engagement, and ultimately drive more potential patients to your website.
Utilize SMS Texting
Beyond simply using SMS texting for appointment reminders and communication with existing patients, dental practices can leverage text messages to promote new services and re-engage patients who may have missed recall appointments or otherwise fallen off the map. Automated text messaging platforms make the process easy, affordable, and wildly effective — text messages have open rates of 98 percent!
Download the “Dental Practice Revival Program,” our guide to text message reactivation campaigns, one of the most effective dental marketing ideas for dental practices in 2023.
Launch Online Referral Partner Outreach
One way to grow your practice is by partnering with non-competing dental providers to generate new patient referrals. While there’s no replacement for traditional “boots on the ground” relationship-building (see “Referral Outreach” above), you can supplement and expand your referral strategy with online outreach to area providers. Incorporating a “Referral Partner” page on your website and running a “cold” email campaign targeted at local dentists are great ways for dental specialists to cultivate new referral relationships.
Implement a Dental Membership Program
A dental membership program can be a great way to promote patient loyalty and bring in additional revenue for your practice. By providing discounted services, regular check-ups, and other perks, you can develop long-term, profitable relationships with patients who may not have great dental insurance benefits (or any at all). Dental membership plans are customizable based on the unique needs of your patients and practice, giving dentists lots of flexibility.
Not sure if a dental membership program is right for your practice? Check out our recent blog post with everything you need to know about offering an in-house dental membership plan.
Utilize Retargeting Ads
Retargeting ads are an effective strategy to reach those who have already demonstrated interest in your dental practice. These tailored advertisements enable businesses to re-engage with potential patients who have previously visited their website and incentivize them to book an appointment.
There are other opportunities for retargeting, as well. With list-based retargeting, ad networks like Facebook can match a contact list to users on their platforms, allowing you to serve targeted ads to specific people. This can be a great way to reach and re-engage with patients who have not recently visited your practice. You can also leverage “lookalike” audiences to serve ads to online users whose demographic and behavioral profiles resemble those of your existing patients.
Start an Email Newsletter
Email newsletters enable dentists to share important information about oral health, updates about their practice, new dental procedures, and promotional offers. A newsletter can also act as a gentle reminder for patients to book their next appointments, which can increase patient loyalty and drive recurring revenue. Beyond that, email newsletters are extremely cost-effective, allowing dentists to communicate with a larger audience and manage patient relationships with minimal investment of time and money.
The Bottom Line
Ready to put these dental marketing ideas to work for your practice? It’s not as hard or as expensive as you might think! That said, most dental practices don’t have the internal resources or expertise to manage marketing on their own, and it’s generally a good idea to partner with an experienced dental marketing agency. Regardless of how you choose to manage your dental practice marketing (or who you choose to partner with), here are some simple tips to get started.
How to Get Started
Begin the journey of dental marketing by analyzing any existing campaigns. What’s the cost-per-lead (CPL), cost-per-acquisition (CPA), and how does that compare to your average new patient appointment value and patient lifetime value (PLV)? Based on that analysis, you can determine what should remain a prioritiy and what may need to be adjusted.
Next, outline the objectives that you want to achieve from your marketing strategy including more website traffic and qualified leads, improved patient engagement, and increased retention rates. Based on your objectives, consider which dental marketing ideas outlined above (or others) may help move the needle. Keep in mind that in general, a combination of online marketing and offline marketing is a winning strategy for dental practices looking to drive results.
You’ll also need to allocate an initial budget and measure peformance. In general, we recommend allocating roughly 4-5% of gross revenue to your marketing efforts, keeping in mind that this figure can be adjusted based on results. Remember, at the end of the day, marketing investment should be generating a significant return on investment (ROI), so tracking is critical. Be sure to monitor your website, SEO, and advertising analytics and ensure correct lead attribution.
Talk with an Experienced Dental Marketing Company
Finally, if you decide that implementing these proven dental marketing ideas is too heavy a lift for you and your staff, consider consulting with an experienced dental marketing company. At DentalScapes, we like to think we’re building a different kind of dental marketing agency, and we’d love to see how we can help. Schedule a free strategy call today and let’s see if we might be a good fit!