A modern guide to attracting and retaining more patients online
For long-term growth, internal medicine practices need a solid marketing and advertising strategy that focuses on both attracting patients and retaining them for years to come.
When parents choose a pediatric dentist, they begin the journey by looking for key qualifications and services. But when they reach a crossroad between several pediatric dentists, they choose a direction based on intangible qualities.
Parents want a pediatric dentist who is friendly, gentle, and makes their child feel at ease. They also would like a dentist who gives their child a positive experience supported by a comfortable environment and genuine respect for their child.
Pediatric dentists can rise above the competition by conveying those qualities through digital marketing. A website that shines with personality, includes personable bios, and demonstrates your expertise motivates parents to schedule an appointment.
With a comprehensive digital strategy and exceptional website, your online performance consistently improves, more parents schedule appointments, and you can create more revenue growth. A strong website also provides convenient features that can help you retain existing patients.
Build your practice with a digital growth platform
A digital marketing strategy encompasses many moving parts. Successful patient acquisition, patient retention, office workflow, and online reputation are four essential components that go into building your practice.
Invest in a practice growth platform that integrates everything pediatric dentists need in one cohesive system, including:
- A high-performance website
- Search engine optimization
- Online scheduling
- Reputation management
- Parent and patient satisfaction surveys
- Automated text reminders and confirmations
- Email, social media, and blog campaigns
- Telehealth options
- Integration with your existing EMR
Use the top pediatric dentistry digital marketing strategies
The most successful digital marketing strategies think about what parents want when they look for a pediatric dentist. At each step of their research journey, you have a better chance of attracting patients when you:
Appear in online searches. Even if parents begin their search for a pediatric dentist by asking friends and family for recommendations, at least 75 percent of parents will search online. So it’s important to have a standout online presence that will get your practice noticed.
Connect with a compelling website. When you meet someone in person, they sum up your appearance and decide if you’re trustworthy in less than a second. They take about 5 seconds to decide if you’re captivating or compelling.
When parents land on your website, you have slightly more time — about 10 seconds — to make a good impression and convince them to trust you with their child’s dental care. That’s why sharp website design and great content builds the foundation for your online presence.
To engage parents and motivate them to schedule an appointment, your website must load quickly and offer intuitive navigation. Parents must be able to easily find the information they need and then conveniently connect with you by following a clear call-to-action.
Publish online reviews. Positive reviews factor strongly into parent decisions. In our 2021 patient survey, 74 percent of patients said positive reviews are very or extremely important when they choose a healthcare provider online. Ideally, highlight the volume of positive reviews your practice receives, and make sure you continue to add recent reviews.
Develop integrated communication. In today’s digital world, parents value online communication. Pediatric dentists who communicate using digital technologies are more likely to achieve exponential growth, because patients want easier ways to contact and communicate with their healthcare providers. For example, 66 percent of patients prefer text messaging for appointment reminders.
Offer online services. Parents appreciate the convenient and time-saving aspects of online booking, online registration, and telehealth services. Automated appointment reminders and online bill pay also make life easier for parents. Technology also supports your staff with a more efficient workflow.
Implement SEO strategies that help you rise above the competition
SEO (search engine optimization) makes your website more likely to be found when parents search online for a pediatric dentist. A strong SEO strategy ensures your website ranks high on the list of search results, so you can bring more parents to your website.
The best techniques for consistent practice-building results include:
Keyword optimization. Your website should contain keywords and phrases that reflect or match the way parents search online. Parents often search generically for “pediatric dentists” or “special needs pediatric dentists,” for example. But if they know their child has a dental issue, they will likely search for specific conditions, symptoms, or services, such as “toothaches,” “braces”, or “when should my child have their first dental visit.”
Internal website linking. Internal linking across your website ensures parents can easily navigate to all of your web pages. Separate website pages for each service or pediatric dentistry procedure you have is recommended. As you organize your content, it’s best practice to create logical links between different pages. Smart internal linking establishes your expertise, and makes it easier for search engines to find relevant pages, which can increase your visibility online search results.
Enhanced backlinking. Links to your website from other trusted sites (such as other medical practices or child health organizations) can also boost your search engine ranking, and help position you as a trusted pediatric dentistry authority. You may ask child-related businesses to link to your website or write articles for relevant publications that include a link to your website.
Frequently published content. A new webpage or blog makes your content more relevant, which improves your SEO and search rankings. Keep to a regular blog publishing schedule so you always have fresh content to increase your visibility and help parents get familiar with your services and expertise.
When you publish a blog post that regularly addresses kids’ dental health, you have more opportunities to attract new patients and retain current ones.
Expand your online presence with these specific tactics
Build and maintain an active online presence to give you a competitive edge. Showcase your website, blog posts, social media content, and online business profiles to demonstrate how your pediatric dental services are unique compared to other pediatric dentists in your area.
In addition, online and digital communication through website resources, blogs, email, and text messaging has the potential to transform pediatric dental care. This is vital, considering:
- 20 percent of children under the age of five have dental caries
- About 50 percent of children aged 6-19 have dental caries
- 74 percent of parents don’t take their children to the dentist by their first birthday
The transformative power of online communication was recently demonstrated by an urban pediatric dental clinic. The clinic recruited parents to receive regular text messages about child dental issues such as sugary beverages, fluoride, and brushing. The participating parents were more likely than the control group to brush their child’s teeth twice daily, and their attitude about scheduling regular dental checkups improved.
All the technology you need to digitally connect with parents, create an outstanding online presence, and steadily build your business are available through a comprehensive practice growth platform.
Connect with parents through content marketing
Great content can help your practice distinguish its services and expertise. Digital content marketing includes sharing social media posts, your provider blogs, email campaigns, and informative videos on your website. The versatility of content marketing allows your practice to reach parents of kids of any age, depending on the procedures and services you want to highlight. You can also reach parents with kids using seasonal or regular email campaigns and text messages. For instance, you might send an email to parents that prompt them to book regular dental cleaning for their children, or review the need for orthodontics during the pre-teen years.
Pediatric dentists who regularly publish engaging content can reach more parents who appreciate timely information about pediatric dental technologies that make treatments less noisy and more pleasant for children, along with tips on everyday dental care.
Creating and publishing content may sound overwhelming, but you have many topics to choose from where you can offer expertise and insight.
Here are a few topics to address:
- Teeth cleaning for kids
- Dental exams
- Baby teeth
- Tooth decay
- White fillings
- Fluoride treatment
- Root canal
- Nitrous oxide
- Oral surgery
- Laser dentistry
- Tooth extraction
- General anesthesia
- Early dental care
- Special needs dentistry
- Emergency dentistry
- Airway dentistry
- Cosmetic dentistry
- Holistic dentistry
- Biological dentistry
- Pediatric dental checkup
There are also more specific topics to address within these general categories. For instance, you may want to focus on answers to commonly asked questions from parents about oral healthcare and nutrition, or address concerns about early tooth decay.
Use online advertising for pediatric dentistry
Don’t overlook the potential to attract more people to your website with paid online advertising.
Facebook and Google both allow you to target your ads and build online advertising that fits within your marketing budget.
The Pew Research Center reports that 69 percent of Americans use Facebook7. The numbers look even higher in the age group commonly targeted by pediatric dentists because they’re likely to have kids: 77 percent of adults aged 30-49 use Facebook.
When buying Facebook advertising, begin by defining your advertising goals. You can design your ads to increase brand awareness or bring people to your website to book an appointment. You can also generate warm patient leads from advertising by asking people to request information or sign up for a newsletter.
Include videos, images, or calls-to-action in your Facebook ads. You can also feature an exclusive offer, such as a one-time discount for new patients. In short, Facebook ads are versatile and can meet the changing goals of your practice.
When you advertise your practice on Google, the ad appears above the search engine results. Your ad looks just like all the other search results, except the word “Ad” is included next to the listing.
This automatically puts you and your practice website at the top of search results when a parent searches for a pediatric dentist. Link your ad to specific keywords to get targeted results. Google uses a pay-per-click system, so you only pay when someone clicks on the ad to learn more about your practice.
When your ad is complemented by an SEO optimized website, packed with relevant content and clear calls-to-action, you are more likely to convert parents and their children into patients.
How to manage your online reputation
Patient (parent) reviews play a vital role in your business growth. Nearly three-quarters of all patients rely on digital reviews when choosing a healthcare provider and 69 percent won’t consider a physician with an average star rating lower than 4.0 out of 5.
Less than one-third of providers think that reviews have an important role in their business growth, but you can’t afford to ignore online reviews. When you nurture and manage reviews, you gain a strategic advantage over your competitors.
Patient reviews may worry you because you can’t control what people post. However, there are specific tactics you can use to strengthen your online reputation.
Evaluate your practice from the patient perspective. The type of review a parent writes begins the minute they enter your office. Is your waiting room bright and child-friendly? Do front office staff smile and make each patient and parent feel welcome? How long do patients wait before seeing the hygienist or dentist? What steps do you take to relieve anxiety in children, and give them a positive experience? Falling short in any of these areas can lead to a negative review no matter what happens during the dental exam.
Ask for parent feedback. It’s best practice to send out automated satisfaction surveys via text messaging or email shortly after each visit. This serves two purposes. First, parents who are asked for feedback are twice as likely to submit an online review. Second, reading through patient feedback gives you the opportunity to learn about and respond to patient suggestions for improvements to your practice.
Complete your online business profiles. To boost your reputation and search rankings, complete your online business profiles and keep the information up to date. Your visibility online skyrockets when you claim your business profile on Google (Google My Business), Yelp, Healthgrades, WebMD, and other popular sites.
Add great photos of providers and staff, provide specifics about your services, and include a profile that has the details parents want to know when choosing a dentist for their child.
Improve your star rating. If you only choose one business profile, use Google My Business. Google has 88 percent of the market share, so parents are more likely to see reviews of your practice on Google
Turn around negative reviews. Always respond to negative reviews as quickly as possible, ideally within the same day the post appears online. A negative review can serve as an opportunity to regain trust; parents want to be heard if they encounter a problem with their child’s care. You have a good chance at retaining a patient if you reply to any concerns with a thoughtful message online, and then follow up directly with the patient (parent) offline. Eighty-one percent of patients who receive a prompt response are satisfied. By comparison, patient satisfaction falls to 2.8 percent when you don’t post a reply.
Showcase your brand and practice
Your brand reflects the values and mission of your pediatric dentistry practice. While branding is important for all businesses, it’s essential when you specialize in the care of children.
Review your brand periodically to ensure it conveys exceptional oral healthcare for kids, safety, and comfort. The elements that reflect your brand include your logo, website design, and other visual elements that convey your practice mission and goals.
Strong, consistent branding across your online content and communication will enable you to compete well in your local market, and stand out to parents.