(This article is an 8.5 minute read)
THREE THINGS YOU’LL GET FROM THIS ARTICLE
1. A dental marketing plan to convert website visits to leads
2. An explanation of how to get better quality patients
3. What percentage conversion rates to expect
It’s frustrating watching those traffic spikes in your Analytics dashboard. All those people seem to be visiting your website. But not enough of them are booking appointments. It’s like seeing a hundred people outside the front door of the surgery, but no-one in the waiting room. You need a dental marketing plan to convert those website visits to patients.
Then you come up with a plan! It seems really brilliant! You’re going to have a special offer or a coupon that can draw a pile of people in! But before you jump into it, keep this in mind. It’s a bad plan. For any small short term gain it will give you, the long-term damage will be greater.
Your goal is not just to get more patients, but to get a better quality of patient. One who will take care of their oral health, come back regularly, and progress to more satisfying, high-yield treatments.
If you try to force people into acting before they’re ready, the only patients you get will be bargain hunters and emergency cases. They will resent how much you charge no matter what the price.
Instead, focus your dental marketing plan on identifying prospects, leads, and patients. It’s very rare for prospects to immediately become patients. Your plan should instead be to help people move through these three levels.
The best tool to use to achieve this is email. Email is still the most intimate way to directly contact people. And the key to making it effective is consistency.
Very few people will hear about you and immediately book an appointment. That doesn’t mean that only that small group is interested in you. That larger group of people in your area who may want your services are your prospects.
Many dental surgeries try to sell products to prospects. They offer discounts on whitening services, or talk about Invisalign. Or they run a campaign at a particular time of the year, believing this will maximise their chances of converting.
But prospects aren’t always ready to buy. If they were ready, they wouldn’t be a prospect. Prospects are far more interested in researching their options. They may even believe that dentistry is one of several options available for them. God knows what they think the other options are.
Here’s a graph that shows you the process of turning prospects into leads on this website. It shows the percentage conversion rates between July and December last year. It also shows that the sooner you get started on this process, the sooner you will see results.
Prospects are interested in learning, not buying. So don’t try to sell to them. Instead you should be trying to educate them. And I don’t meant that as some crappy euphemism for ‘educating them’ into buying your stuff. I mean just educating. Making them a better patient.
The way to make them better patients is to give them content that will inform them about their general health and oral health, and how they’re linked.
No-one knows that stuff better than you. Because you are so familiar with it, you may assume that your patients know it too. Don’t assume. Your patients aren’t trained dental professionals.
You can reach prospects through social media, other online health sites, referrals, and sign-up forms on your website.
The first step in turning a prospect into a lead is to ask their permission to stay in touch. This may take the form of signing up for a ‘healthy mouth’ newsletter. This is a more appealing idea than signing up to a practice newsletter, the very name of which suggests you’re trying to sell them stuff.
The difference between a prospect and a lead at this stage is a lead has opted in to keep hearing from you. It doesn’t mean they have opted in to becoming a patient. But even to call them a lead, you need to know their name and email address. And then you need to keep communicating with them.
The only way you can do this is through email. Posting on social media will not reach all of your existing leads. And to keep them interested in your email, you need to be offering a consistent feed of good quality content. The intent of which has to be to educate them.
You don’t convert leads into patients. They can only convert themselves. You can’t force them into the surgery. But you can help them identify the need to come in themselves.
The more you know about a lead, the easier it will be to help them convert themselves into a patient.
There is marketing software that can help you with this task. Software like HubSpot or InfusionSoft, which are targeted primarily at small-to-medium businesses, are designed to help gather information about what people click on in your emails, and which pages they look at on your site.
As you gather more information about these leads, you can better understand the types of services they may be after. The way to gather this extra information is to give them more of what they’re looking for. And you don’t need any special software to work that out. You can get it for free from your Google Analytics dashboard.
You can see which content on your site is most popular on your Google Analytics dashboard. By the way, of you haven’t claimed ownership of your site in Google, you really have to do that now. If you don’t manage your own site, your website provider can step you through the process.
Popular content can be repurposed and gated, so people have to give you a bit more information about themselves to get it. That’s a fair and reasonable exchange. The type of information you may want to gather is a person’s name and email address, and later, perhaps age and gender and marital status.
A more informed dental marketing plan will always be a more successful one. And the best way to get the information and data you need is by building a relationship with prospects, not just with patients.