In a competitive industry that’s constantly being squeezed by the big insurance companies, many dentists are confused and concerned about their new patient acquisition strategy.
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Referrals and up sells from their existing patient base isn’t enough to pay off their debts and start setting aside money for retirement and though the internet seems promising…dentists have been burned so badly by the onset of hundreds of dental marketing companies promising the next big spike in new patients that at this point their trust has been almost completely extinguished.
So what is it that dentists are racking their brains asking themselves?
What is the best way to attract new patients to my practice consistently and profitably given that 3 of the biggest factors that make up patients decisions making process have nothing to do with marketing.
Before we discuss what some of the most effective strategies actually are for new patient acquisition lets briefly look at 3 of the largest factors that new patients use to make up their mind when choosing a new dentist.
The 3 factors:
1. Do you accept my insurance…many dentists are now out of network with a lot of the insurance companies strictly because they can’t afford to stay in network. The insurance companies have made reimbursement so unprofitable for dentists that just on a pure survival basis it doesn’t make sense to remain in network anymore.
The flip side of this is that whether you take a patients insurance is typically one of the top considerations for new patients investigating your practice. We’ve noticed some practices seem have their office staff very well trained in regards to how they handle these delicate questions on incoming calls.
The difference between handling that question the right way or the wrong way can drastically impact your new patients numbers. We strongly recommend getting strategic and devising a plan with your office staff/receptionist to make sure they are prepared to answer questions regarding insurance eloquently in order to maximize the number of new patients that come in.
2. Location…how convenient is your location to the new patient. This one is tough to create a work around on. You’re either convenient or your not for that individual patient. However, with many households now having 2 working parents families are much more mobile and it’s possible that we begin to see trends of patients willing to travel slightly further for the right fit with a new practice. This seem particularly relevant in areas that are more densely populated and people are already accustomed to spending a significant amount of time behind the wheel.
3. The third factor is reviews. The famous neuroscientist Rick Hanson P.h.d likes to say our brains have evolved to be Teflon for the good and velcro for the bad. As humans we sure do happen to have a tendency to hang on the negative experiences in our lives much more then the positive. So if you’re my dentist and I love you…what is there to talk about? Really….the issues obviously occur when a patient feels upset or mistreated in some way.
Reviews are a double edged sword because if you take a proactive approach and you go out of your way to create a lot of positive reviews it’s possible that you could reduce the importance of your convenience and some patients may be less price sensitive to your practice if they truly feel like you’re their best option. The key point is that you have to be proactive because almost nobody just happens to end up with more positive reviews then they can count. You have to ask for them and you have to request them the right way…professionally…we typically don’t recommend bribes and at the right time. When the patients is feeling good about you!
Now that we’ve kind of creamed some of the biggest variables that impact new patient acquisition outside of effective marketing strategies lets jump into the real pot of gold.
The way that most consumers do research and make buying decisions at this point is obvious to most of us…it’s just understanding how to leverage that information to make profitable marketing decisions.
Fortunately for Google, search engines are still the dominant tool consumers have to do research and make buying decisions.
Until that changes search engines will always be one of the primary channels for new patient acquisition. The problem is that from the perspective of most dentists it’s not always straight forward on how to get patients from search engines.
Mobile search has exponentially increased over the past couple years so paying attention to how consumers use mobile search differently then desktop has been the major variable that’s shifted on search engines.
That being said, there are 3 basic ways to get traffic from search engines and into your website.
1. The maps section which is primarily based on your physical address of your practice so unless you have multiple practices you’re just going to show in the town you’re in and maybe a couple of the neighboring towns if you’re lucky.
2. Organic search. Many people include organic search under the map listings however it’s slightly different. Organic links are typically under the maps, sometimes above them and sometimes they take up the whole page when there are no maps. Organic rankings can be a large variable in generating new patients if your website ranks well. One common thing a lot of dentists don’t catch is that consumers search for dentists in hundreds of different ways so just because you rank for one or two or three keywords organically does not mean your work is done. Just like there are hundreds of combinations that consumers use to search for you organically you should be attempting to rank for as many combinations of relevant keywords to your practice as you possible can.
3. Paid Search. The form of search engine traffic is paid search and that’s the one that Google really brings home the bacon on. A majority of Google’s 89.46 billion dollar revenue comes from paid search ads so when dentists are wondering if it works or not they should be asking if that revenue has grown over the past decade and I think most of us know the answer to that. Paid search has been one of the most effective forms of advertising ever created and the reason why is because you spend 100 percent of your budget targeting people who are in your practices market and they are proactively looking for exactly what you do.
One common thing we’ve heard from dentists is that they’ve tried paid search and it didn’t work. There are so many potential explanations for why a paid search campaign could have failed you in the past instead of going through the hundreds of potential failure points lets just consider that you may have tried pizza at a really bad fast food pizza place and it was terrible and then you tried it at an amazing high quality pizzeria and now it’s your favorite food. Same thing for paid search. You have to get it at the right place or the ingredients aren’t the highest quality which makes for a very bad experience.
That’s search marketing in a very small nutshell and now you’re wondering…yeah but how else can I get new patients profitably. Well the good news is that there are only 2 real behemoths in town and we’ve already covered one of them. The other is probably pretty obvious at this point too. It’s Facebook.
When consumers aren’t busy looking up exactly what they want they have one other favorite activity online that’s popularity seems to be improving contrary to what many of you may think.
Over the past year or so Facebook has quietly turned itself into probably the largest media company in the world. Though most people view them as a social network. The already control the consumer marketing with over 2 billion users it’s safe to say everybody is on Facebook.
However, what’s happened over the past year surprised even many of us in the marketing space and that’s how users have begun using Facebook as the hub of their media consumption experience. Now people don’t have to visit the news websites, the sports websites…their favorite celeb gossip sites or any other site at all because everybody posts everything they read directly on Facebook.
So what does that mean to you as a dentist looking to get more new patients? It means a couple obvious things. 1. Everybody is on Facebook as I’ve already stated and 2. more importantly they seem to be spending more and more time on Facebook.
What happens when a person spends a lot of time on Facebook? It’s very simple…Facebook captures every action you take on it’s platform as a data point used to provide better targeting for their advertising platform which is their primary revenue stream.
As people spend more time on Facebook and take more actions it’s easier to target them with ads and generate actual new patients because Facebook is turning around and selling that data to companies like ours to create better advertising campaigns, generate more revenue and continue to report record sales growth like any company would love to do that’s publicly traded.
If you own a dental practice in the Chicagoland or surrounding markets and you’re looking to take your Dental Practice and new patient acquisition to the next level adding another 20, 30, 40 or more new patients every month. Consider reaching out to us. We’ve built proven and effective strategies for acquiring new dental patients profitably.
Here’s a case study of a Chicago based dentist that’s seen significant growth from our proven strategy. Watch Case Study Now!