To have a growing, thriving dental practice a dentist should be seeing 24-50 new patients each month! That’s a challenging feat that requires smart marketing and advertising investments.
Marketing automation can help by making your marketing and advertising more efficient and effective:
- You can automate the process of collecting positive reviews and generating referrals so that each new customer brings in others. This creates a viral effect that will help lower your advertising costs.
- You can use personalized follow up to help retain your existing patients. This too will help you cut down on advertising costs.
- You can utilize automated, date-based messaging to cut down on cancellations and reduce no-shows.
- You can use marketing automation to handle many of the routine tasks that would otherwise need to be handled manually by a receptionist or associate. This saves your employees time and frees up your staff to focus on other tasks.
Here’s a 7 step solution to help your dentistry practice get started with marketing automation…
Step 1: Automate your scheduling
Today’s scheduling tools, like Calendly, are fantastic. They’re drop-dead simple to use. You can send a patient your up-to-the-minute schedule so they can see exactly what openings you have and on which days. They can easily select the open appointment that’s most convenient for them. Your patient can even add it to their calendar so it stays on their radar.
These solutions give you full control over what your day looks like. You’re able to specify whatever limitations you want such as “allow 20 minutes between appointments,” or “only allow five appointments per day,” “only schedule appointments from 10 am to 3 pm,” and more.
In addition to these benefits, an automated scheduling solution is important because it can send your patients’ appointment information into your marketing automation solution via an integration. Using that appointment information, you can create automated processes that will help optimize and grow your dentistry practice. We’ll address those in the following steps.
But first, what happens if someone doesn’t schedule through your online solution?
Step 2: Notify your staff a patient needs attention
Some patients won’t be comfortable with automated scheduling and some just won’t get to it. If they didn’t respond to your messages after a certain amount of time, you can automatically send a notification to your staff that a patient needs a phone call to help get the appointment set up.
This prevents anyone from slipping through the cracks but your staff’s time is only spent on the patients who didn’t already book through the automated system. It’s much more efficient than having your staff reach out to every patient.
After the appointment is booked…
Step 3: Send appointment reminder emails & text messages
You can use date-based automations to trigger email reminders in intervals leading up to the appointment. This will help reduce no-shows so you keep your schedule booked and predictable. Of course, you won’t want to overdo it, but a reminder two weeks out and a few days before helps most people stay on top of their schedule.
The day of it’s a good idea to send a text (SMS) reminder. This can something as simple as “See you for your appointment soon. Looking forward to it! – Dr. Dentist” Again, this will help reduce no-shows. And, you’re only sending one very relevant, very helpful, very short text, you don’t have to worry about upsetting anyone.
This too can be triggered by an automation based on when the customer scheduled their appointment. See this post for more information on how to use text message marketing.
Step 4: Ask for feedback
After the appointment is a great time to solicit feedback from your patients. Technically this isn’t a marketing strategy, but it’s a great way to find ways to improve and nip problems in the bud before they affect too many patients.
You can reassure your customers that the feedback is easy and fast. A simple form tool like Google Forms is free and will handle the job nicely.
As part of your feedback form, you can have a question that is simply, “Were you happy with how your visit went?” with an options, for “Yes, I was thrilled,” “It went well.,” and, “It could have gone better…”
You can pass their selection into your marketing automation provider. If their selection is “Yes, I was thrilled.” you can…
Step 5: Ask for reviews
Glowing customer reviews go a long way for dentists and other healthcare providers. People shopping around for a new dentist often don’t have a whole lot to base their decision on. If they see that a lot of people are happy with a particular dentist, that can sway them to give you a shot over another dentist with fewer positive reviews or just fewer reviews.
So, the best way to keep your online reputation glowingly positive is to invite your most happy customers to leave you reviews.
If someone selects “Yes, I was thrilled” in their feedback form we discussed above, you can then trigger a campaign that invites that person to leave you a review. It’s important that you specify exactly where you want them to post their review and perhaps even link them directly to the web page where they can add it. The more simple, fast, and easy you can make it for them, the more reviews you’ll get.
Step 6: Send a content-oriented follow up sequence
This suggestion will require a bit more of a time investment but it’s an excellent long-term strategy. Most dentists will put up a website, list themselves in Google Places, and call it a day. By going above and beyond, you can help your practice rise above the rest, making it more likely you’ll be the first choice.
I recommend starting a blog. Your blog posts can simply be answers to the questions your patients ask you in person:
- “Which toothpaste should I be using?”
- “Does mouthwash do anything?”
- “Is an electric tooth brush better?”
- “What are veneers?”
They don’t have to be long or in-depth. These posts create fresh content for your website that will help boost your website’s credibility with search engines like Google. It will also help your website appear for a wider range of search queries.
What’s more, you can then re-purpose these posts into a sequence of messages that you send monthly or bi-weekly to your patients. You can use these messages to educate your patients on dentistry best-practices, which they’ll appreciate, and you can also use it to inform them on what cosmetic procedures are available to them and what the benefits of those procedures are. The more educated they are on what’s available and how it can help them, the more likely they’ll be to schedule those procedures.
These messages also give you an opportunity to…
Step 7: Ask for referrals
The most important marketing automation strategy for dentists is to remind your patients to recommend you. If you have a good relationship with your patient, they’ll want to spread the word about you. People know the importance of referrals to small businesses and they generally like helping businesses they appreciate. Sometimes, all people need is a reminder that it would be helpful and you’d appreciate it.
You don’t have to beg or be cloying. A simple, “And, remember, my business relies on your recommendations!” is enough to cement in someone’s mind that they can help you by recommending you to people new in town, people unhappy with their current dentist, and more.
I hope these 7 steps give you a sense of how marketing automation can help you grow your dentistry practice. For more information on getting started with marketing automation, I recommend these in-depth resources.