What sort of dental content attracts patients?

Posted on May 29, 2017 POSTED UNDER:


(This article is a 7.5-minute read)


1. You’ll learn what sort of dental content grabs attention

2. Whether dental services are an impulse buy or a considered purchase

3. A benchmark number for how many patients respond to content


Not all content is created equal. Sometimes you’ll come up with a killer idea for something to attract patients to your website or into the surgery, and it’ll get no response. Other times, you’ll do something that has a huge impact, but you don’t know why. Finding dental content that will attract patients to you is a bit of a Holy Grail.


This article will give you a way of thinking about it that will get you a little closer to that goal. It’s based on an analysis I did of 980 email campaigns, made up of 2,735,416 emails. So it’s a decent sample size, and I’m confident about the conclusions I’ve drawn. The full paper is presented this week at the Summit on Content Marketing.


While that research is based on data from email marketing, the findings can be applied to anything that involves content. Because the thing with content is, it’s not about words, or video, or printed matter, or advertising.


Content is ideas and information. It’s about an author’s intent matching a reader’s intent. How you express those ideas—in a blog post, or a video, or a tweet—is up to you.

The types of dental content that don’t appeal

When I looked at the data from all those email campaigns, one thing stood out. Those bits of content with a clear sales message got a consistently poor response rate.


How do I judge what’s a good response and what’s a poor one? Well, I used a ‘click’ as an indicator that a reader was interested in the content. If you write something, and someone clicks on a link to read it, that suggests to me a clear interest on the reader’s part.


A lot of the content I looked at had a sales message. It was things like, ‘Get a voucher for a 10 per cent discount’, or ‘Buy this package for $XX’. The average response to those messages was 5 per cent.


That means 95 per cent of the people who had looked at that message had ignored or dismissed it. That’s from a list of people who have opted-in to receive the email.

boring dental email.gif

What content really works well for

The content that got a much higher response rate was content that offered information. On average that attracted 20 per cent of clicks.


The difference between ‘information’ content and ‘sales’ content can be muddy for some people. If you’re telling people about your surgery and your great prices, that’s information, right?


Well, not really. It’s easy for readers to distinguish between something that’s offering information, and something that’s selling to us. You can tell the difference between the news, a peer-reviewed paper, and an ad. The language, the ideas and the subject matter tell you straight away.


For my study, I looked at certain words and phrases that reliably indicated the author’s intention. And when the intention was to convey information or to educate, the number of clicks it got soared.

How does this work with dental content?

That’s all good to know, but you’re doing this because you want readers to become patients. You want them to book an appointment. The way this knowledge can help you is for you to see your services from a patient’s point of view.


Some of the services you offer, like emergency treatment, are a lot like an ‘impulse’ buy. It’s a quick, emotional decision driven by desire. In the case of emergency dentistry, it’s driven by the desire to not be in pain.

dental emergency.gif

A considered purchase is the opposite of that. It’s driven by need, and frequently involves a longer decision-making process. A service like cosmetic dentistry, implants, or orthodontics are all textbook cases of considered purchases. A potential patient really needs to understand their own problems and the possible solutions before they will consider these services.


Many dentists hope that an impulse buy will give them the opportunity to offer a considered purchase. The ideal is, a patient walks in wanting an emergency treatment for something. You fix their problem, and they consider other options as you offer them.


But a lot of patients resist that impulse. They recognise when you try to tap into that desire. So rather than trying more, you should help the patient on their quest for information. Help them to make a considered purchase.

Nurturing with knowledge

Using blog content to do this is cheaper and more effective than anything else. For someone to consider something, they need to research it. You can help them with that research by making relevant articles or videos available to them when they need it.


There is marketing automation software that can help you be a little bit more targeted with that information. But even with that, you can’t guarantee a potential patient will follow the path you set for them.


But you can guarantee you have a 300 percent better chance of having them book if you offer information to help them, rather than selling to them.

In conclusion

A piece of content that is selling something will, on average, get a 5 percent response rate.


A piece of content that is offering information that isn’t selling something will get a 20 percent response rate.


You can’t get patients to consider your full range of services if more than 9 in 10 of them are ignoring you. But if you can get four times as many paying attention, you will increase your bookings exponentially.


100 keywords for dentists

Rob Johnson

Rob is the co-founder of Bite magazine and Vet Practice magazine. He writes and gives talks about content marketing, and leads a team of good-looking and stylish content folk from their Sydney HQ.

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