How Effective are Patient Referrals?
Patient referral effectiveness often correlates with the amount of work put into the process. Many dental practices, especially those in specialty areas like endodontics or orthodontics, rely heavily on referrals from family dentists. It is extremely risky for specialists to fall under the impression that they don’t need to work hard to attract new patients. Referral marketing is one of many solid dental marketing ideas that is necessary to keep the flow of patients coming through the door. For a dental marketing strategy to be effective, it must be a planned process that is implemented strategically over time. Strategies that work together will ensure a consistent flow of referrals.
Long, Long Ago
Once upon a time, dental practitioners could rely on dentist-to-dentist referrals as their main lifeline. Meeting for lunch or on the golf course was how people networked with colleagues and dental school alumni. We’re not saying that is completely moot, but with the growth of the internet, patients tend to rely on more than just the word of one dentist. They are out there searching for information and patient reviews on their own. There are common traps that snare dental practitioners who rely on referrals.
- They get too confident when things are going well. Be careful not to neglect relationships with referring dentists.
- They take their eyes off the goal. Stick to the plan, so the process by which you earned those referrals stays strong. For dental marketing ideas to continue working it is important to recognize that the referring dentists are customers who also require continuous care.
- They become complacent in regards to their online presence. As more dental practices harness the power of the internet, the competitive landscape shifts. To stay relevant, this means all dental practitioners must be ready to go toe-to-toe with the competition in new ways.
The Role of Dental Website Design
Website design has come a long way in just the past five years. With the exponential growth of technology, has come the exponential growth of information available at the touch of a button. A dental website that was created just ten to fifteen years ago as the internet was becoming an integral part of people’s lives is long overdue for an update— or a complete overhaul. Website design for dentists has shifted to a patient-centric approach. This can be seen in the rise of social media and blogs that serve to connect with and educate patients in an informal environment. Rather than focusing on promoting the dental practitioners first and foremost, modern website design focuses on building relationships with patients and colleagues. Digital communications with referring dentists are vital. Web sites that include a secure communication portal to facilitate dialogue among dental practitioners will ultimately lead to a solid network of referrals for all involved.
Even with an effective referral network in place, the power of the search engine can wreak havoc on the actual number of conversions you experience. When patients receive that referral, many of them immediately Google your name. If your online presence is lacking, you may very well lose out to your competitor who has invested in a responsive website that meets the needs of the patients. Quality dental website design will incorporate some marketing strategies. Search engine optimization (SEO) is key to being found by those looking for your services. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is another piece of the marketing puzzle that will send people directly to your landing page. Once those people arrive, it is vital to have an aesthetically pleasing design that functions as well as it looks. The longer people stay on your website, the more likely they are to convert into patients. First impressions matter online.
Business Savvy Referral Marketing
Remember, referring dentists are your customers too. It is crucial that you take a proactive approach when building relationships with the local dental community. An effective dental marketing strategy is purposeful and includes personal communication. Reach out to referring dentists and ask what their expectations are of you. They will undoubtedly expect the care you give their patients to be first-class. Some dentists may value prompt communication before treatment is rendered while others may prefer to wait until treatment is complete to receive a thorough synopsis of treatment and the outcome. It is wise to ask each new referring dentist of their expectations, but it is also business savvy to periodically ask those with whom you have an established reciprocal relationship to ensure continued satisfaction.
The Power of Social Media
Think of your online presence, including active social media accounts, as an engagement tool. Web sites and social media accounts are dental marketing ideas worth their weight in gold. Google’s new search engine algorithms like the activity created by your social media accounts. This means your practice will rank higher in search engines, which will make you visible to more of the people looking for your services. New customers— referring physicians— and patients are likely to connect via social media, so it is vital to establish an active presence on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even YouTube.
Track Methods and Set Goals to Improve ROI
There is no point in continuing to spend money on an ineffective dental marketing strategy. Optimized360 partners with Google Analytics to track the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. An experienced marketing team understands it takes the time to determine if a specific strategy is garnering an acceptable Return On Investment (ROI). As new strategies are implemented, be sure there are specific goals in place and a way to measure those goals. Pay attention to which strategies bring in more referrals, more patients, and gain in income. Make sure the goals you set are measurable, for example, “in three months, I expect to see referrals increase by 15%.” An experienced marketing team will help set realistic goals, run regular progress reports, and help modify or change strategies as needed to meet your goals.
The Team Approach
Optimzed360 provides website design for dental practitioners that surpasses industry standards. Their custom websites are responsive and user-friendly, so both patients and colleagues are more likely to return and become a part of your larger referring network. The marketing team works diligently to implement and track goals to ensure a healthy ROI. When the website designers and marketing team are all under one roof, it is evident that their clients come out on top.