73 Creative Dental Marketing Ideas to Attract New Patients
This post was originally published September 19th, 2016, and extensively updated February 10th, 2017.
The ultimate list of dental marketing ideas
As a dentist, you probably haven’t devoted as much time as you'd like to coming up with effective and creative dental marketing ideas. Don’t feel bad – you’re not the only professional to find yourself in this pickle. Between handling patients, managing staff, making sure you are following all new regulations, etc. you no doubt have your hands full.
You can’t get around the fact that you need an online presence to compete in this day and age. But with a real-world business to manage, you simply might not have much time to spend on moving into the online and mobile arenas.
Luckily, there are hundreds of ways to expand your reach. And since increasing your online presence is an essential part of expanding your business in the real world, here are some pointers to help you get the ball rolling.
Listen to this blog post:
Optimize Your Website Design
Your dental website is the hub of your online operation and it often provides the first impressions to new and potential patients.
Therefore, you'll want to focus on stellar dental website design as a foundation for all of your online efforts. Here are a few ways to get started:
1. Use robots.txt
Robots.txt is used to make sure the pages you want get 'read' by the search engines are read. You can also use it to block certain pages that are in development. Here’s some information on how to create Robots.txt for your site.
2. Perform SEO
Dental SEO is a must if you want to increase your online presence and show higher in the search results. There's multiple methods of SEO, both Onpage, and Offpage. Be sure to follow some best practices. The number of people who search for your office specifically is bound to be rather small. But you can use search engine optimization to increasing your search engine rankings, allowing you to be seen by more people that are searching for a dentist in your area.
Dental SEO is a must if you want to increase your online presence
3. Use HTML and CSS
HTML and CSS are both coding languages you can use to build your website. More likely than not, you’ll hire a designer to create your website for you. Just make sure you validate the code so you know it’s error-free.
Knowing how to use HTML and CSS on your site can have some other benefits for marketing as well. For example, using schema markup can give search engines more details about your pages, and in turn, they can display more information to people in search results. Here’s an example of a dentist using schema markup for their on-site reviews:
4. Optimize for mobile
Make sure your website design is responsive -- meaning it adapts to different screen sizes. This is a standard for most site designs these days. But if you’re not sure, head over to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and type in your URL to see for yourself.
Geotargeting is a great way to make your website more relevant to potential visitors, especially if your dental office has more than one location.
Adding geotargeting to your site determines a visitor’s location based on IP address, WIFI and GPS data, and delivers a page relevant to their location. So say you have one office in Moscow, ID and one in Pullman, WA.
When geo-targeting, you can show ads to the appropriate audience when they are looking in your area.
6. Link out as appropriate
Google pays close attention to links for SEO: inbound, outbound, and internal links. So having a healthy set of links from your pages to others is a good idea. Google looks at the anchor text of your links to better understand what your pages are about as well.
7. Focus on tags and titles
Page titles and title tags are also important SEO rank factors, and they help potential site visitors understand what your pages is about. Make sure you write page titles that attract readers and are optimized for your target keyword.
On page optimization can be one of the most effective ways to dramatically increase the ranking of your website.
8. Add a sitemap
It’s recommended that you create a map of your site and submit it to Google Search Console. This makes it easier for Search Engine Bots to crawl your site and find the pages you have on your site.
If your site is less than 500 pages, you can create one for free using XML SiteMaps.
9. Choose a web host wisely
Nothing makes a dental website seem less professional than hosting it on a free domain, like WordPress or Blogger. It’s better for your image and SEO if you pay for hosting and have your own domain.
There are a lot of great hosting services out there that regularly offer affordable deals for an annual agreement. Shop around.
10. Prominently display buttons
You want to make it as easy as possible for people to use and interact with your site. That’s why you should make your social buttons, RSS feed, and other calls-to-action as prominent as possible to people know where to go.
11. Get Backlinks
In order for your site to rank well in Google search results, you’ll need to get some high quality backlinks pointing at your site. One place to start is with directory listings, an opportunity to increase your inbound links and reach consumers seeking your services. Directories you'll want to participate in can be found here.
All of these strategies should help to make it easier for visitors to find, browse, and share your content, and for web crawlers to find and index your site.
How can you get backlinks? Check out the blog post Four Ways A Doctor Can Build Links and the answer I wrote at Quora below.
Optimize Your On-site blog
12. Post engaging, informative, and entertaining content
Your blog isn’t about converting site visitors into customers directly. It’s about building interest and nurturing trust so people can easily become customers later on.
So don’t just post about your services, instead inform people about dentistry and entertain with your content. And it doesn’t have to be all text! Videos, infographics, and other visual elements are great ways to engage.
13. Post timely content
Posting about current events is a great way to attract new traffic to your site. Google favors newsworthy content, and you can take advantage of that.
Get on Google Trends and look for trending stories that could relate to your field. Turn these into content opportunities.
14. Post regularly
A blog that’s never updated is worse than no blog at all. So if you’re going to host one, make sure you put in the effort to update it regularly, or risk looking unprofessional to your site visitors.
15. Add links
Linking to and from other pages on your blog creates a healthy site structure. It improves navigation by giving visitors more options to explore your site, and helps with SEO.
16. Add social media buttons for likes and sharing
Make it as easy as possible for people to share your blog posts by adding social media buttons. This is easy enough to do with a simple WordPress plugin like WP Social Sharing:
17. Add an RSS feed
People interested in reading your dental blog probably are avid online readers. Many like to keep all the blogs they follow in one place using an RSS Reader. RSS Readers copy the content from various blogs the person follows and puts them all in one, easy-to-use feed.
You need to make sure your blog readers have the option to do this by adding an RSS feed to your site.
18. Promote membership
19. Allow reader comments
Allowing readers to comment on your blog posts is another great way to attract interest and engage. But be careful with this tactic -- blogs with comments enabled can attract a lot of spam posts. Google can penalize your site for this.
So make sure you use an anti-spam filter or Captcha to weed them out:
20. Reply to reader comments
21. Ask for reader suggestions
22. Post product/service tutorials
23. Host giveaways
Hosting a giveaway on your blog is a great way to attract traffic to your site and create buzz about your business. Give away something related to your business, such as a free tooth whitening or filling. Make sure it’s valuable enough that people will want to submit their email addresses to enter. Then you can market to them later on.
24. Post employee columns to interest a variety of readers
The ways in which blogs can promote dental websites and increase online presence are many and varied, so you cannot afford to go without one.
25. Affiliated blogs
Guest posting is a great way to increase inbound links and participate in the larger blogging community associated with your industry. As a bonus, getting in good with other bloggers could lead to increased opportunities for partnerships, cross-promotion, link sharing, and of course, reaching a broader audience.
26. Follower submissions
Whether you encourage commentary or you allow followers to submit blog posts, just for example, getting your online audience involved in the creative process can lead to increased sharing opportunities.
Use Your Social Media Profiles
It’s not enough to create a proliferation of social media profiles – you also need to support them if you want to gain the benefits they offer in terms of increasing your online presence. You should use your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and other accounts in the following ways:
27. Link to your website
Some, but not all social links will count for rank in Google search, so that’s one reason to do this. The other is that you want to make it as easy as possible to navigate social followers back to your site.
28. Post links to blog articles
29. Send notifications
30. Introduce new products and services
31. Advertise discounts and deals
Social media is a great place to attract new patients. Use relevant hashtags related to dentistry and share special discounts and deals, such as a free consultation:
Just make sure promotions aren’t the bulk of your social shares -- this can annoy your current followers and cause them to unsubscribe.
32. Host contests and giveaways
33. Encourage sharing
34. Communicate with followers
35. Form relationships
Just like your blog, your social profiles are another place where you can build trust with potential and current patients. So make sure you post content that shows you care. Here’s a great example:
36. Provide Value!
Social media offers nearly unlimited opportunities for outreach, including the chance to funnel traffic to your website, interact with followers on a personal level, and get introduced to the family and friends of your followers from a trusted source.
37. Host Gatherings
Social media is also a great way to plan and promote in-person gatherings. Just look at the success of efforts like geocaching and flash mobs.
Use social media to promote an in-person gathering, such as an educational oral health presentation for kids in the park.
Participating in industry & geographically related forums can help you to become known and recognized amongst colleagues and prospective patients. You can do this by:
38. Asking questions
39. Offering advice
40. Discussing new technologies
43. Become a known authority
Work hard enough, and it is possible to become a known authority in your field through forum posting. Take Quora, for example. People ask a wide variety of questions about dentistry on the site all the time.
Many dentists set up their own profiles and focus on answering these questions:
This helps them gain more page views and Quora followers, promoting their business in the process.
44. Forming partnerships
45. Social bookmarking sites
Submitting content to Digg, Reddit, Delicious, StumbleUpon, and other social bookmarking sites can help you to increase your visibility, and website traffic, increasing the likelihood that your content will be seen as eye-catching, share-worthy, timely, and trending.
The main reason websites for dentists exist is to ensure that those using the internet to search for services (i.e. just about everyone these days) are able to find yours. You can create a buzz around your business and have engaging, interesting reasons for people to visit your website by creating online promotions, such as:
46. Discounts and deals
47. Contests and giveaways
48. Email Marketing
Maintain a connection with current patients by taking advantage of your in-house email database. Your patient intake forms should have all the relevant email address to connect with patients who are not due back for another annual check-up (this can be done once a month).
It works, and it’s highly cost-effective to keep in touch with patients. It’s a crucial part of maintaining patient relationships throughout the year. Further, it can also be a tool that you could use to remind patients of an upcoming appointment and confirmation of that appointment. This has the added benefit of ensuring that your patients show up for their appointment (saving you time and money in the long run).
Email marketing can be in the form of newsletters or brief information blurbs about what’s happening in your practice or industry.
Although this is a great digital marketing tool, be sure to get written consent from the patient before making any contact via email. No matter what the marketing campaign may be, always make sure that you and your staff consistently maintain HIPAA compliance.
50. Google+ hangouts
51. Growth Hacking Strategies
Growth hacking involves using innovative, low cost marketing strategies to gain major business growth in the digital world. These strategies usually utilize social media, digital design, and viral marketing to achieve growth, as opposed to traditional advertising strategies.
Check out Growth Hacker Central to learn more about how to grow your dental practice this way. It was founded by Ken Newhouse, DDS, and catered towards your industry.
52. Joint marketing/cross-promotion
Create relationships with other businesses in your vicinity or a related industry to promote each other’s services. For example, an orthodontist would be a great business to get referrals from.
Joint marketing with other businesses in your business complex is also a great idea -- people like one-stop shopping, which can set your dental office apart.
53. Support charitable organizations
These ideas will not only delight current patients connected to you online, but they’ll also help to catch the attention of prospective clientele.
54. Press releases
Distribute press releases to local news agencies to get more reach for your dental brand. There are also many online press release distribution services you can use.
Don’t focus on creating press releases about your dental office and services. Press releases like that are a dime a dozen, and not attractive for news reporters to pick up on. Instead, look for ways to tap into current events, such as:
- Offering expert commentary on how recent FDA rule changes impact dentistry
- Discussing a local charity event you’re sponsoring.
55. Create Videos
Creating videos about dentistry and oral health are a great way to get more reach for your business. Instead of promoting your services, make them educational, entertaining, and informative.
Upload your videos to YouTube, Facebook, and your website. Creating video content can improve social media engagement, influence purchase decisions, and more:
If you want to expand your online presence, eventually you’ll have to engage in online marketing for dentists. Here are a few options that have not yet been discussed:
56. Do an EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail)
I know what you’re thinking:
Direct mail’s obsolete, right?
Far from it, especially for dentists. An International Communications Research survey found that 73% of consumers prefer direct mail to other advertising methods.
EDDM can be a valuable marketing strategy that cuts through the noise of digital advertisements.
57. Search Advertising
It can be difficult to get your business page on the first page of Google search results. But one solution to this is investing in PPC search advertising..
Bid on the right keywords, and your advertisements will appear above organic search results:
And the great news is you’re targeting an audience that’s already searching for dental services, so they’re much easier to convert.
You can also create advertisements targeting people who’ve already visited your dental website but navigated away.
The Google Display Network has an extensive bank of websites that will host advertisements for your dental office. This helps attract potential patients that didn’t convert back to your website.
59. Facebook Ads
Facebook ads can be a great way you can target your ideal audience. You can zoom into and narrow down on the exact audience you want to reach.
60. Using QR codes
A QR code is a special barcode you can put on your fliers and physical advertising material. People use an app on their phone to scan the code, and it will direct them back to your website, or another digital domain of your choice.
You can easily create one with a QR Code Generator:
61. Live demos
Live demos aren’t a common for dental office marketing ideas. But so long as you remember to include online information like your URL and social media via your signage, flyers, and so on, your real-world advertising efforts can definitely increase your online presence.
Websites, blogs, social media accounts, and other online platforms are only useful inasmuch as you take the time to track and analyze the results of your efforts. Analytics tools can provide you with information pertaining to:
- Traffic patterns and trends
- Click-thru rate analysis
- Conversions Rate Optimization
- Determine the most (and least) popular keywords
- Number of pages viewed
- Most (and least) viewed pages
- Time spent on site/pages
- Search terms used to find you
- Traffic sources
- Referring websites
- Sharing resources
- Funnels, understand your customer journey
- Browser and OS data
- What devices are visitors using that come to your site?
Without analytics, you may never know which of your efforts are hitting or missing. Paying attention to the back end is crucial if you want to save time and money, hone your efforts, and effectively and efficiently increase your online presence.
62. Maintain a Positive Attitude and Appearance in the Clinic
You and your clinic staff need to reflect the clinic’s or brand’s values when interacting with patients within your medical office. It’s a direct reflection of your brand’s image as your patient’s perception of you, and your practice is formed during an appointment.
So it’s crucial to consistently maintain a clean and modern working environment with employees that display a positive attitude. Train your staff to be courteous, to greet patients when they come in, and display a good attitude during every interaction.
A new patient’s first contact will be with your reception staff, so it’s important that all staff members are on the same page. It’s a good idea to create a warm and welcoming reception area and waiting room. Further, have some toys for kids to play with and free WiFi for patients to utilize while they’re waiting.
63. Chamber of Commerce
Attend local Chamber of Commerce meetings to network with other businesses and individuals interested in the community.
BNI International is a networking organization designed to help members meet up, discuss business, and share referrals. BNI meetings are a great way to find other dental professionals to build relationships with.
65. MeetUp Events
MeetUp Events are an opportunity like BNI, but more informal. You’ll be more likely to attract patients and business partners from MeetUp Events in your community.
66. Start your own after hours meet up
67. Hold regular tours for preschool or elementary school students
68. Offer regular lectures on oral health at your library
69. Hand out business cards
Never forget the power of a card in hand. People are bombarded by marketing material on their phones, TV, and radios these days. Many tune it out. But handing out business cards gives people a physical object to focus on. It sits on their kitchen counter and reminds them of your business in a way digital marketing can’t.
70. Take Advantage of Marketing Collateral in your Waiting Room
A lot of medical offices are engaging in various medical marketing activities (email, social, blogs, etc.) and having some success. But that doesn’t mean offline marketing is dead. In fact, offline medical marketing is very much alive.
Take advantage of your waiting room, place some brochures that patients can read while they wait. These brochures can highlight the benefits of using the medical services that you offer (that may not be very obvious to most patients).
Further, you can also promote wellness initiatives and provide opportunities for current patients and prospective patients to provide or update their personal details. This can be a form at the end of the brochure (and it’s a great tool to quickly acquire information for a patient database).
It will also help to have your clinic’s business cards easily available around your clinic. These brochures and business cards should easily highlight your clinic’s logo and contact details.
Other benefits that can be emphasized include the following:
- Brief history and profile of all the doctors practicing at the clinic
- Information about the state-of-the-art equipment used within the practice
- Information about common diseases
- Disease prevention
- New medical innovations that patients might want to know about
The only online aspect of this exercise will be your email and website addresses listed on the collateral and your call to action to visit the clinic’s social media pages (not forgetting the patient database).
Displaying brochures facilitates opportunities for (patient – doctor) dialog and will possibly lead to another consultation. So it’s a great tool to get patients returning after the annual physical.
What are you doing to increase your presence and grow your practice?
71. Engage & Market to your Existing Patients
You have a great opportunity here to analyze and promote the medical services that you offer to your patient base. For example, suppose you’re running a general practice, but you have some doctors who are also qualified counselors. This is an opportunity to market another service that can be offered by your clinic.
Engaging with your patients can be conducted via postcards (like reminders) and internet marketing for doctors can be conducted by blogging and via social media posts. It’s a tool that can keep the dialog between the patient and the clinic going (between annual check-ups) and it can help to build loyalty.
72. Attract Referrals
If you’re running a specialty practice, you’re going to depend heavily on other doctors referring patients to you. Between annual check-ups, you may have a lot of downtime if your patient base is small.
So how do you go about attracting more referrals?
The short answer is to build relationships with doctors who have the potential to refer patients to you. But how does one go about doing this?
The first step is to identify which doctors in your area can refer new patients to you. Then you’ll have to develop a marketing strategy to communicate with these medical professionals.
No matter how you look at it, marketing 'yourself' will require you to 'sell yourself' and make sure that the potential referring doctor has a reason to refer you. One way of doing this is by introducing yourself and your practice through a letter with attached literature (about the you & your office).
It’s a good way to make an introduction and make the first contact.
But don't leave it at that.
Ways to connect and build a relationship include:
- Have face-to-face meetings
- Network with colleagues at professional meetings and conferences
- Holiday cards and gifts (make it personal)
- If you already have a relationship, send them some lunch (to show that you appreciate the referrals)
You can also attract referrals by becoming an authority in your specialized area. You can do this by getting consistently getting published on authority websites (listen to the podcast below for more information on that).
Further, you can also try to become a member in the community that news organizations can contact for expert opinions.
73. Engage in Target Marketing
That's where you want to be.
See that image above?
You want to find the sweet spot of your ideal patients.
We call this a persona.
Here's visually what a customer or patient persona could look like, compliments of Xtensio.
What are you doing to increase your presence and grow your practice?
When you truly know your patients and potential patients you know all information mentioned above and more!
Knowing this allows you to go where they are, and to practice targeted marketing.
In the old days, doctors would just place an ad in the yellow pages and maybe invest in a billboard. This sort of mass marketing can deplete your budget and may fail to target specific individuals who would be in need of your services.
Targeted marketing can help you reach your potential patients more efficiently and more effectively. You can segment your audience based on location, age, sex, and income. You can essentially narrow down the population according to any criteria that fit your goals and communicate relevant information.
How much more effective is it to have your advertisements, or your marketing message reach your ideal patient, a 35 year old business owner, making 100k+ per year, living in Henderson, NV, and married with 2 kids, and is a home owner?
Think of the possibilities!!!!
Summing It Up
Digital or internet marketing is vital to communicate information about your practice and bring transparency to the clinic. You don't need me to tell you how the Internet has transformed how doctors market their practice, and the potential that it offers.
So if you want to be easily found when a potential patient searches online, you have to have a digital marketing strategy as part of your medical marketing plan.
Your website and social media profiles need to communicate your clinic’s brand image clearly and remain consistent throughout every interaction. Further, these media avenues need to list all the services that you offer at your practice, staff bios, payment policies, and insurance plans that are accepted at the clinic.
The website, in particular, should make it easy for all visitors to schedule an appointment. Further, your hours of operation should be communicated clearly (although a flexible schedule is recommended). It’s an opportunity to make a good first impression, so invest in designing a professional website that not only looks good but is also highly user-friendly.
You, like most internet users probably click on a results on the first page of an internet search, right?
So, it would be a good idea to work with a search engine optimization (SEO) company that understands your business, your industry, your patients, etc. and has helped medical professionals like you with their online presence and Google rankings.
This isn't something you can take lightly.
Did you know that I still have potential clients contact me on a regular basis that think that SEO is some voodoo type magic?
Make your website easily readable by the search engines.
Get other websites mentioning you in some way shape or form.
There's obviously a lot more ways you can build your practice, but just take 2 of these and utilize them every week. Next week take two more, by the end of the year you'll be done with the list, and no doubt will have expanded your reach, and your patients more than you have now.
That's it in a nutshell.