Dental marketing: A go-to guide for growing your practice

Attracting leads is easier said than done in a space as competitive as dentistry. According to a 2019 report by the American Dental Association, there are 200,419 dentists working in dentistry in the U.S. Total market share for dentistry in 2020 is $137.6 billion nationwide.

To stand out in this competitive landscape, you can’t rely on a single paid ad in the newspaper, and you don’t have time to be cold calling potential patients. You need to be familiar with a wide range of digital marketing tactics to reach potential patients online to keep pace.

Inbound marketing (digital, content-based marketing) outpaces more traditional marketing methods in 2020 — according to Bristol Strategy. And inbound created 3x the amount of leads per dollar than more interruptive outbound marketing tactics.

To successfully grow your practice with dental marketing, you’ll need to build a convincing, compelling online presence. You’ll need to implement three key areas based on inbound marketing principles to do this in a replicable way without hiring more employees.

What is dental marketing?

Dental marketing refers to all business activities a dental practice does to attract potential patients and engage current ones. These activities educate prospects and current patients about the practice as they consider who to work with for their dental needs.

Some examples of dental marketing are:

  • An informative video on YouTube about the teeth-cleaning process with braces
  • A monthly email newsletter to notify your email list about special deals, new website content, or promotions of new services
  • A website page about pediatric dentistry to capture search engine traffic related to that phrase
  • A Google ad on the top of a search engine result targeting anyone searching for dental services in your region or city
  • A poster or ad placement on a bus stop or billboard in your area

But, of course, you’re a dentist running a practice. You’re not a full-time marketer, so you need to tackle these tasks as efficiently as possible. To handle all of these tasks for modern dental marketing, dentists will often use various software to automate and consolidate their marketing activities. It’s easy for follow-ups to fall through the cracks when each one relies on logging into a separate tool or software.

Why is dental marketing important?

Dental marketing is important to sustain a dental practice. Its purpose is for you to keep leads coming in, prove your credibility through your website and online profiles, and, most of all, grow your revenue.

A huge shift in the effective approaches to the discipline of marketing was the internet boom and the rise of inbound marketing. Exponentially growing with the internet was online content to inform buying decisions. One of the biggest impacts was the reimagining of the overall customer buying journey:

McKinsey Buyers Journey

Effective dental marketing meets patients at these touchpoints to communicate and persuade. It’s more nuanced than simply sending a postcard to the neighborhood about your new dental practice, an outbound marketing tactic. Now that the ways consumers gather information have irreversibly changed, the internet has become a fundamental marketing channel for all businesses.

A survey by PatientPop revealed 75% of people research dentists online, while 70% of patients stated that a positive reputation online is very or extremely important. To meet this demand, here are three ways you can leverage your digital presence to connect with potential patients.

3 dental marketing strategies to grow your leads

Success in modern dental marketing hinges on defining a process for fostering leads through your buying journey. With these three strategies, you’ll improve your practice’s marketing potential, compete in inbound marketing, and grow your patient base as a result.

1. SEO for Dentists

Search engine optimization (SEO) for dentists is a delicate mix for both robots (the search engines themselves) and people searching — a balance of technical and experiential components. The proper target keywords form the foundation for a business’s SEO strategy.

Keyword research refers to the process of identifying which keywords and phrases your potential patients use search engines for. While conducting it is a whole topic on its own, helpful tools to dig into keyword research are SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz (and several more free tools).

Optimizing your website and content for keywords is essential for search engines — and your future patients — to find you. It provides the contextual clues for both robots (search engines) and real humans (your patients) that you hold answers to their questions.

Keywords are applicable for showing up in both the organic and paid components of a search. You don’t pay to rank for organic results, but it takes mastery and time to rank highly. For paid results (the first two to four spots on a search, usually), it’s pay-to-play, which can produce quick results but can be expensive.

A good dental SEO strategy includes a combination of the two: organic and paid.

Dentist Search Results

There are three types of keywords to focus on to dial-in dental SEO:

  • Branded keywords. These keywords contain your practice’s name and dentists in your practice. These are no-brainer types of keywords to target and maintain for your practice.
  • Services keywords. This type of keyword targets searchers who are seeking a provider for a specific dental service. These include services that can be specific to a practice like Invisalign, emergency dental care, or related locations on a keyword like “pediatric dental emergency near me.”
  • Long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are more targeted. The search volume is certainly lower on these keywords, but the idea is that the searcher is buying-ready, and there’s less competition. These can be longer phrases like “how do I select a good dentist for my family” or just really specific conditions to a search like “emergency care when dentures break.”

Once you’ve conducted keyword research, you can employ those keywords in one of two ways. You can either integrate them into your website content for organic purposes or bid on those keywords in a paid advertising platform like Google Ads.

Local SEO is also a piece of the dental SEO puzzle — it’s the geographic layer for a search result to turn up the most relevant results for the searcher. For example, the results on a search won’t be the same for “dentist near me” in Philadelphia and Honolulu. To optimize for local SEO, you need to geographically place your company in a neighborhood, city, or state on the main platforms: Google My Business, Yelp, and local dental directories.

Local Search Results for Dentist Near Me

Collecting reviews on these listings and keeping accurate business contact information maximizes your potential for local SEO benefit. Reviews on these platforms and applicable social media platforms provide credible social proof for searchers that your dental practice is trustworthy, professional, and great at what you do.

2. Social Media Marketing for Dentists

Social media is a major area of opportunity for dentists to alleviate patients’ fears, demonstrate expertise in the field, and win more patients for their practice.

Of course, you should be careful about which social media channels you choose to pursue for marketing purposes. Dentistry has quite a different marketing strategy than would, say, a fashion or e-commerce brand, so we’re not advocating for your practice to spread itself thin across many platforms needlessly.

Focus on these few tried-and-true social media platforms for the dental industry to connect with potential and current patients.

  • YouTube. As the second-most used search engine in the world (after Google), YouTube is a place to inform and educate in a visual medium. Create videos based on long-tail keyword queries, such as “what is a dental extraction process like,” as one example. Another great opportunity here are videos that build trust around your practice, like interviewing different team members or successful case studies with patients.
  • Instagram. Like YouTube, Instagram is a very visual platform, but there’s a huge opportunity to inform here as well. Create posts that show before-and-after photos of patients who receive significant treatments. With this content, your own Instagram profile can serve as a visual portfolio of your work. Use Instagram Stories to give followers a look behind the scenes or to answer frequently asked questions.
  • Facebook. Beyond just being a social media platform, Facebook is a review and customer service platform in its own right. You can also use it as an outlet for testimonials, geographic targeting through Facebook ads, or a way to reach specific neighborhoods in your region. The platform’s users span a wide range of ages, so building a solid Facebook presence (perhaps even leveraging Facebook Messages) can help you reach many different types of patients.

Learn more: How to win patients with dental social media marketing

3. Call Tracking for Dentists

According to the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation (DOCS) Education, the main reasons people switch dentists are lack of phone etiquette and difficulty developing a relationship.

With phone etiquette as the number one reason for switching, consider whether it’s an area of your business that needs improvement. Using a friendly, professional demeanor on the phone helps your practice retain existing clients and build trust in new patients.

Call tracking is crucial to creating the ideal customer experience — before, during, and after a call with a potential or current patient acquired through inbound marketing methods.

  • Call tracking contextualizes each call. Knowing which ad or special offer brought a potential patient to you is powerful, especially when you can kick off a call with that context. Call tracking through CallRail allows you to trace the lead back to the original marketing campaign. This intelligence about different campaigns’ effectiveness is helpful in budgeting — determining your most effective marketing efforts and ROI with precision.
  • Call reporting surfaces insights and trends. Call tracking reports indicate frequent call times, when missed calls happen most often, and other key data points. Knowing this information, you can make hiring decisions more easily and get the coverage you need to prevent missed calls.
  • Ongoing monitoring of recorded calls will ensure improvement. Listening to hours of recorded calls just isn’t efficient, which is why CallRail puts AI to work with Conversation Intelligence. With automatic transcription and AI to analyze call quality, our technology identifies issue areas like negative keywords commonly paired with an insurance provider’s name or billing, for example. With this knowledge, you can systematically correct issues that repeatedly arise with more precision, improving your patients’ experiences.
  • Automatically qualify your calls. To direct urgent attention to patients, such as emergency patients, use Automation Rules paired with Call Tracking. Automatically qualify your calls by sending patients through a call tree menu. From the menu options patients select, you’ll be able to route the call accordingly. Based on insights from this process, you can identify trends around predefined keywords and optimize marketing content as a result. Feedback from real calls with patients can then directly inform your practice’s upcoming blog posts or ads.

The stakes are high at each touchpoint when a potential patient can get in touch with your practice. Getting it wrong means losing patients, but getting it right means happy patients who can refer more patients.

Learn more: 4 Ways dental call tracking helps you get positive patient reviews

Manage leads with confidence to supercharge your dental marketing efforts

Given all you’ve learned, it might feel overwhelming to think about positioning your practice online in an authoritative, competitive way. Plus, you don’t have tons of free time at work in between treating patients, so you might be wondering if you even have the space to fit in these marketing tactics.

To get started, we suggest investing in a platform like CallRail to confidently track calls, form fills, and keep track of each contact and its history. Call tracking helps you identify the marketing campaign or lead source that brought a lead to you. Form tracking then links your call tracking data to your leads’ interactions with your practice online. And finally, Conversation Intelligence allows for systematic learning from your calls through AI to improve the customer experience. Finally, Lead Center brings it all together under one roof as a lead management system to prevent any lead from slipping through the cracks.

Try out CallRail free for 14 days to see for yourself. Among these features, you can ensure you’ll never miss out on following up with a potential patient when they’re seeking dental care. CallRail can help make your marketing work for you, not the other way around.

Learn more: Want dental leads? How to do less outreach with inbound marketing