The average dental practice loses about 8–10% of its patients every year.
Some move to the next county. Some die. Some stop going to the dentist because of a pandemic…
Attracting new patients is key to stabilizing revenue for 2020. So how do you make sure you’re acquiring 150+ new patients per month without breaking the bank?
Dentists are getting creative about how they attract new patients, and they’re looking to pay less than the standard $150–$300 they were paying per new patient before the pandemic hit.
So we put together that exact list. Here are some cost-effective, healthcare-specific marketing ideas to grow your dental practice.
Cost-effective Marketing Tactics to Grow Your Dental Practice
Under normal circumstances, we would recommend investing in a paid digital ads strategy to acquire new patients. Facebook and Google Ads local audience targeting is granular enough that you can feel confident you’re reaching the right people, as long as your content is good enough.
But we’ve saved that content for another time. This is about what you can do on a budget.
- Modernize the patient experience.
People talk about the experiences they’ve had, whether online (pandemic) or in real life (it still exists!).
Before you invest in digital ads, email, direct mail, etc., you’ll want to do some housekeeping to make sure you’re ready to receive guests. Here are three ways to modernize your dentist office for new patients.
For dental clinics, one of the best ways to improve patient experience is to adopt an online booking system.
Especially for millennial patients, online booking is now an expectation. If they click on an ad outside business hours and see they can’t book an appointment as part of the flow, they’ll abandon the process and won’t call your clinic in the morning.
This year has solidified the era of contactless payments.
During COVID-19, you want to minimize facetime between your patients and staff. That means decreasing your clinic’s reliance on credit card machines for payment.
Online payments improve patient and staff experience by automatically sending text and email invoices to patients after their appointments. All the patient needs to do after that is pay with a few taps on their phone.
You’ll eliminate extra admin steps after their appointment is over – they leave, and they usually pay faster when the bill is in their inbox.
Text appointment reminders
This year your clinic may be seeing no-show rates higher than the standard 5% to 30%. On average, clinics lose $200 for every hour of missed appointment.
The recent rise of robocalls have ruined phone calls for everyone. Email and text appointment reminders are now a must to make sure patients show up for their appointments.
- Use email and SMS marketing.
For every dollar spent on email marketing, businesses see $38 of revenue.
So how do you do it effectively? Here are four ways to leverage email marketing on a budget:
Create a newsletter that provides people with valuable health advice.
Due to the pandemic, people are much more aware of health misinformation that exists on the internet. If you establish yourself as an authority they can trust, people will be more willing to hear from you every week or month.
People are craving sound medical advice. You could be the one to serve it to them … along with a button to book an appointment in the email.
Use Facebook to build your subscriber list.
Include a button to subscribe to your newsletter on your business page, or post a contest that gets people to sign up with an email address.
Make it easy for people to share your emails.
In your newsletter sign off, ask subscribers to forward the email to a friend if they like what you’re doing. Tell them it helps your practice grow. You’d be surprised what happens when you ask for help from people who like you.
Offer your patients something special.
One thing to remember about email marketing is that people love personalization. Remember your patients’ birthdays and send them a birthday text message with an offer.
The offer doesn’t need to be large, but it does need to be easy to take action on. When you send a birthday offer via text or email, make sure to include an obvious call-to-action button that lets them take advantage of the offer in just a couple of taps.
Then, when they get the offer, ask for a referral in return to generate word of mouth or a positive review.
- Update your website.
This year, you want to make sure your website is update with two things in mind:
- How your office is taking extra safety measures for patients and staff
- Local search engine optimization (SEO)
The first part is straightforward: create a banner on your homepage that places safety protocol messaging front and center. Website visitors should never need to dig for that information.
The second part requires some basic knowledge of SEO, but it’s not as difficult as you might think. It’s also free.
According to a study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 93 million Americans have searched for a health-related topic online.
And when people are searching for a new dentist, they’re searching within their own neighborhood. That means you’ll need to include keywords on your website that match search queries like “dentists in [your city/neighborhood]” so that people find you.
Google’s algorithm uses more than 200 ranking factors to generate results––but not all of them will matter to you. Here’s a quick checklist for how to focus your efforts on the right SEO strategy:
Step 1: Perform keyword research.
Use Google Keyword Planner to search for keywords like “dentists in San Diego”. Get even more granular with your neighborhood. Use keywords on your website that have high search volume (average monthly searches) and low competition.
Step 2: Insert high-volume keywords into your website’s title tags.
Title tags are what’s displayed in search results when your page shows up in Google rankings. Your website’s content management system (CMS) will allow you to change each page’s title and description.
Step 3: Insert high-volume keywords into your website’s H1 tags.
H1 tags are the headlines on your website. Include high-volume, local keywords in your main headlines.
Step 4: Optimize your website for mobile.
At the end of 2018, Google announced “mobile-first indexing”. This means that websites optimized for smartphones now rank higher in search results than websites that aren’t.
Check if your website is optimized for mobile through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. You’ll also get suggestions for how to improve your website for mobile.
- Test a direct mail campaign
Direct mail does cost some money, so we recommend a strategic approach to your next direct mail campaign. Specifically, you may want to mirror your local SEO approach in real life with new-to-town postcards.
According to Pew Research Center, 22% of Americans moved during the pandemic or know someone who did. Those people might need a new dentist.
Beat your neighborhood competitors to the punch and send new-to-town postcards to highlight your highest performing services to new residents in your area.
How NexHealth Helps Dental Practices Grow
Times are tough, but not for practices using NexHealth.
With NexHealth, dental clinics are keeping calendars full and providing great touch-free patient experiences.
Here’s what we specialize in:
- Modernizing practices with HIPAA-compliant online booking, online payments, and text and email communication
- Cost-effective bundles that combine our full suite of features
- Flexible pricing for dental offices that only need certain services
Learn more about how NexHealth can help get your practice back on track. Book a demo.