How to generate more dental patient appointments Wednesday, August 20, 2014 @ 10:10:18

A Powerful Website

An overwhelming majority of dentists have yet to realize how much their practices might benefit from a powerful website and a well-orchestrated SEO campaign developed around the website. That creates an opportunity for the early birds who can seize the advantage and reach out to the largest number of potential patients in their local area at the lowest possible cost via online marketing.

Potential patients are increasingly relying on the Internet to find good cosmetic and general dentists in their area. With more than 80 percent of all internet users looking online for information on specific diseases or treatments, an informative and user-friendly website becomes the most effective means to connect with these potential patients.

Key Sections of a Dental Website:

A comprehensive dental website must provide information in distinct sections. It is like a well-organised library, where the reader is able to access the precise information he or she is looking for, with minimal effort. A few critical sections are listed here. They should be a part of every dentist’s website.

  • "Procedures Offered"

Your dental website must include a prominent section detailing the procedures and services offered at the facility. Potential patients are looking for information about the latest procedures, how they are performed, effectiveness, recovery period, potential risks and side effects, and estimated cost. It is also important to include information about the latest technologies and equipment available at the facility to perform the procedures.  This could perhaps include the details of the dental laboratory used and the technology, process and materials used to manufacture the patients' restorations.

  • "Before and After Pictures"

Before and after pictures represent one of the most effective ways to explain to a potential patient about the expected results of a procedure. This helps patients make up their mind about their choice of a procedure, and also allows them to have realistic expectations about the results. Images must be chosen and presented with professionalism and sensitivity to achieve the desired impact.

  • "Dentist’s Profile"

Most new patients are keen to know more about the dentist before they decide to seek an appointment. This section should provide all the relevant information about the qualifications, certifications, experience, specialty areas, awards, honors and achievements, media features and ratings, community involvement, and family background of the dentist. If there is a team of dentists at the facility, the website should ideally include information about each member of the team.

  • "News and Blog"

One of the most informative sections of a dentist’s website is the News and Blog section which should offer excellent value to the readers. This section can include any announcements of new procedures, new equipment, new additions to the dentist’s team, or news about the latest developments in the field of dentistry. It can also include comprehensive articles related to the specific treatments and procedures offered at the facility. A content-rich website with reader-friendly information encourages readers to spend more time on the site, which brings them closer to the dental practice.

  • "Videos, Images, and Reviews"

A recent internet survey reveals that more than 25 percent of all adult internet users have watched an online video about health or medical issues. Furthermore, 16 percent of all adult internet users have consulted online reviews or rankings of doctors. Keeping these facts in view, a dental website should have a section that includes relevant videos, images, and positive reviews about the practice. These elements are an eloquent testimony that says more than what words can convey about the practice.

Tips for a Smart Dental Website:

Sometimes even a great dental website can lose its impact if the website architecture and design is poor, or attention has not been paid to create an easily navigable and user-friendly website.

  • Quick Page Download

The attention span of the average Internet surfer is extremely limited. Therefore, make sure that your website’s home page and every other page download quickly. The faster your website, the more it will be explored by an average visitor. To ensure a fast website, the pages must be short, but not too short t the expense of content and continuity. The pages can include hyperlinks for more readers who need more detailed information.

  • Easy Navigation

The reader should be able to navigate through your dental website conveniently. Anchor links and tables of contents should be available on each web page, so that the reader does not have to go back to the home page each time. A site map should also be a part of the website to provide a quick overview of the entire site. A site “search” feature can also add to the user-friendly quality of the website.

  • Optimized Images and Videos

Images are an important part of a dental website. However, it is equally important to size the images optimally so that a balance between the speed and beauty of the website is maintained. Videos should download only when the reader gives a command for the video, and not automatically.

  • Error-Free Website Content

This is a huge bug-bear for me...even the greatest of website content can fail in its purpose if the reader is confronted with typographical and grammatical errors. Even a single glaring error is nothing short of a disaster for the professional image of the website, and in effect, the dental practice.

  • Current Links

If the website includes broken links, it will not only frustrate the reader, but also lower the search rankings of the website. Broken links are a clear indicator that the website is poorly updated. Regular updating of the website is critical to maintaining its quality and freshness, and delivering new value to the readers regularly.

  • Minimal Special Effects

A dental website should be differentiated from a typical commercial or jazzy website. The frills and fancies must not overshadow the content, and they should be used only where they enhance the content. Spinning graphics or logos can slow down your website, and a new visitor may leave before the special effect finishes downloading.

  • Background, Text Colours and Fonts

The goal of your dental website must be to provide information to the reader in the most effective and pleasing manner. Busy backgrounds with light text colors or complex fonts can make it difficult to read the content. Each web page must be attractive, but at the same it must be eminently readable.

  • Contact Information

Contact information is the most important element of a dental website. It is a subtle call to action for a potential patient to get in touch with the dentist’s office. The contact information must be placed strategically at various points in the website where the reader is most likely to feel the need to make an appointment or seek more information from the dentist’s office.
A great dental website is akin to a football stadium, where each section of the website represents a different entry point to the stadium. Each ticket holder to the football game will enter the stadium through a different door as per the ticket. However, once all ticket holders are inside the stadium, they can all enjoy the game from their vantage points.

A great game must always be played in a great stadium. That stadium, in the world of virtual marketing, is your dental website.


Online Reviews

For most consumers, online reviews have become integral to their buying decisions. A recent study found that 90% of people are influenced by online reviews when deciding whether to purchase a product or service.

More than 70% of consumers say they trust online reviews, second only to personal recommendations, as the most trusted forms of advertising.

Consumers searching for dentists are no exception to this trend since 70% of patients say that online reviews are as important as the dentist's credentials.

Although at the moment in Australia, patient testimonials are a no-no on a Dentist's website, it's clear that prospective patients rely on online patient reviews as a key influencer when choosing a new dental care provider and reviews are often placed on other social media sites, like Facebook, LinkedIn or taargeted medical review websites.  The challenge for practices is to ensure their patient reviews are dealt with properly. There is so much discussion today around online reviews that it can be overwhelming at times.

Here are a couple of easy ways to use online reviews to generate more new-patient appointments:

  • Spend some time online to search for and monitor all reviews of your practice to keep track of your reputation. As much as you try to give the best possible patient experience, there are times when a negative review surfaces. While it's easy to identify negative reviews, it's a little trickier to keep track of reviews across the entire Internet. In this instance, your best bet is to get help from a vendor with software that does the scanning for you.  With the overwhelming influence that online reviews have on prospective patients, you want to know when less than stellar reviews take place.
  • Quickly address all negative reviews. Dental care providers, like most people, do not like conflict. Dealing with negative reviews is never fun; however, the speed in which you address these with patients can have a dramatic impact on your practice. When a negative review is identified, contact the reviewer as soon as possible. Seek to understand the issue, apologise where appropriate (even when you think it is a bit unreasonable), and then ask the reviewer to resubmit a revised review. The longer you wait to address the negative review, the harder it will be to come to a mutually beneficial resolution.