In my 30 years of practicing dentistry, I’ve seen a lot of changes in the way we as dentists interact with our patients. For a time, my practice relied solely on expensive forms of outbound marketing—magazine advertisements; mass, community-wide mailers; and an endless number of calls—hoping to regenerate patients whose interactions with our office had, for lack of a better expression, expired. For a time, these methods of patient communication certainly did their job, but as the years have passed, larger and larger segments of our targeted population have become savvy to these efforts, and more often than not, they’ve become too expensive to justify their worth. Cutthroat as advertising already is in an industry like ours, we are finally, as a larger community, beginning to embrace the Internet age our industry has crawled into.
I say that we, as an industry, have crawled into the Internet age because, frankly, we are far behind the eight ball in comparison with other industries. The sales, services, and dining sectors all recognized the need to get their foot in the Internet door a long time ago, and it is truly astonishing to see that such a large portion of dental practices are just now embracing inbound and Internet-based forms of marketing. We have embraced advances in technology in how we operate our business; it is finally time we do the same when generating that business.
There is no time like the present to start taking advantage of these new avenues of marketing. At first, I myself was discouraged to reinvest in digital marketing because of the exorbitant costs of the pay-per-click era. The pay-per-click era brought many shoppers but very few buyers to my practice. This was a time when search engine optimization (SEO) was less dependent on the creation and promotion of rich content, but rather on how much money could be spent or how many keywords could be “stuffed” into a Web page. But that is no longer the case—through a comfortable blend of social media, Web design, and SEO, my practice is now able to digitally target potential patients who are looking for exactly what we provide and appreciate our unique approach to dental health and facial esthetics. My practice focuses on dental implants, cosmetic reconstructions, and facial enhancements using BOTOX® and dermal fillers. This new age of digital marketing allows us to focus our attention on these particular areas of profitability in ways that were not available years ago.
The ushering in of modern SEO techniques, responsive website design, digital live chat, and various social media outlets have provided an opportunity for my practice to grow in ways that I did not believe possible. These new tools redefine the patient experience. Prospective patients can speak with a live representative at our facility and be guided through our website, which is full of amazing and informative content. Our social media pages keep patients updated on what’s happening at our office and include photos of ongoing full-mouth restorations. We also use email as a resource for highlighting our practice, including announcements about new technology or procedures. One of the most important things that we have added to our patient emails are before-and-after cosmetic consultations, which include digital photos and key points discussed with our doctors, helping patients to see the real potential of the practice’s cosmetic treatment offerings.
We continue to look for new avenues to provide the greatest digital experience possible. If you haven’t already, I recommend exploring these new media options as they become more and more essential to growing the modern dental practice.
Nicholas Navarro, DDS