How to overcome stagnant revenue growth as a dental practice in 2020

January 13, 2020
Joseph Lucero
The ultimate goal of this guide: help people who need great dental care discover your practice. When you carry out these strategies with the intent of educating potential patients, before asking them for an appointment, you will always win because that builds brand image

It’s my privilege to share these insights my team and I have gathered over the last year and strategies we plan on implementing for our dental practices. 

Intro: Why this matters

Grow: How to get new patients in 2020, despite competition

Maintain Your Growth: How to build brand image for your practice

The Purpose: Your patient's happiness

If you prefer, here's an eBook version of this guide.


Intro: Why this matters to your revenue, happiness, and patients 

You’re aware that there is a dentist on every corner in every city, including you. 


I don’t see this as a problem for you. I see it as an advantage, it’s an advantage if you embark on building the best dental practice in town. 


Let’s take a more extensive look at that statement; “Create the best practice in town”. 


There are many dental practices that you consider a meaningful competitor. 


So, what would happen if you solved the problem of removing the decision for patients weighing between which practice to create an appointment at? That approach would make patients who need dental care happy because the minute they need an appointment, no matter where they look for a dentist, they’ll find you. 


Achieving that will directly reshape your revenue for the better because of the quantity of patient increase. Following that achievement, your sleepless nights and stress will vanish.


I want you to be a happy dentist, that’s what this is all about. The objective of this guide is to help you defeat stagnant growth, create a frictionless discovery strategy for getting new patients and build a brand image for your practice that renders continuity for your advertising forever. 


Every ounce of energy placed in growing your practice needs to be placed with your patient's best interest in mind. It’s easy to get caught up in our own assumptions about what may work - the truth is our patients determine what will be a success. 


Grow: How to get new patients in 2020, despite competition

Before we begin, here is one strategy that I would like you to try. It will work forever. 


Do you ever wonder how Belmar Health and other agencies create their strategies? Honestly, it's nothing complex.  


Step 1

Have a really great understanding of how each platform you're advertising on works 


Step 2

Regularly test new ads and content with variation in creative and targeting


Step 3

Take notes from victories and defeats from your tests. Use your notes as insights for step four. 


Step 4

Using your insights develop a strategy that you feel comfortable putting money behind.


It would mean the world to me if you took a shot at that. Until then - here are three tested and proven successful strategies you can begin doing today to get new patients:


Content

Create more content than you have in the past and absolutely more than your competitors. 


An exciting concept to grasp is that the more dental content consumed by patients in your community, the more leverage you have when running an ad that asks them to create an appointment. Once you understand that concept you can begin to think about what content you want to share! 


If you’re not familiar with content creation in dentistry; it’s educational media in written, audio and visual form. The educational pieces of content should always pertain to your services i.e. veneers, fillings, cavities, etc. 


You need to create content about procedures and treatments you offer to educate patients on the topic before they schedule an appointment with you. This achieves a few points: 

  • Makes your potential patient feel comfortable about the procedure or treatment 
  • Creates familiarity with your practice 
  • Eases stress around the visit


Good content will bridge a relationship with your potential patient long before they step foot into your practice or decide if they would like to schedule with you (Good news for you since their indecisiveness or skepticism won't exist.). 


Here is a tool you can use to create content for your practice and repurpose it: 

Dental Content Distribution Guide by Belmar Health


Dental Marketing Insight: Your content with the most engagement, comments, shares, likes, and pageviews will give you an insight into what’s popular among your potential patients. Take this knowledge and use it to determine which pieces of content would be best used for an advertisement.  


Social platforms you should create a profile on:

  • TikTok
  • Facebook 
  • Instagram 
  • Twitter 
  • Snapchat 
  • LinkedIn 
  • Pinterest 
  • Reddit 

Facebook Ads 

Facebook ads are not a new strategy and they surely aren’t a quick remedy to your revenue woes. 

The reality of Facebook advertising for Dentistry is that you cannot simply try it once, assume it doesn’t work, and move on. To successfully get new patients from Facebook Ads in 2020 you need to consider context, testing and creative.


Facebook has three different ad objectives for your practice to choose from, seen below: 

Facebook Ad Objectives (Screenshot from Facebook Business Manager)


For the sake of getting started on lead generation, we will focus on four different types of objectives under the umbrella of consideration. 

Objective and strategy #1: Traffic


Traffic does just that, it gets people to a destination of yours online. Choose this objective and test sending potential patients to a landing page that gives them the option to create an appointment. The biggest mistake you could make with Traffic ads is sending people to your default scheduling page - big MISTAKE. 


A landing page with an appointment form should include the following: Appointment form, info about practice/docs, recent reviews, insurance you accept, info on services, hours and a video if you’re able to. Be sure to test variations of your landing page. 

Objective and strategy #2: Video Views


Video on Facebook is a brilliant strategy because you can create a custom audience based on people who watched the video. What’s a custom audience? A group of people who completed an action that you can use as a targeting option.


In this case, you can create a video talking about Extractions, for example, then create a custom audience based on people who watched the video 90% of the way through and show them an additional ad, except this time you’re asking them to come in for an appointment for an extraction. If there is a strategy that will convince you Facebook ads work, this is it. 

Objective and strategy #3: Lead Generation


Technically all of these strategies are performing lead generation, but this specific objective by Facebook is a form within the app that prospective patients can fill out without ever leaving Facebook. We have tested dozens of form fields for dental patients to identify what works best, as of October 6th, 2019, here are the form fields that work best for Facebook Lead form ads: 

  1. Name 
  2. Phone Number 
  3. Email Address 
  4. Note for Doctor


You’re also going to need a CRM to connect with Facebook to quickly access your patient leads. We recommend Hubspot! 

Objective and strategy #4: Messages


This Facebook ad objective allows patients to message your practices business page on Facebook using Messenger straight from the ad that you’re running. There are endless ways to utilize Messenger ads to the best of their ability, so we have narrowed down the chaos into 4 stellar tips unique to Dentistry. 

  • Reply to each message in under 5 Minutes (Yes, have to be speedy)
  • Don’t immediately ask for insurance, solve their problem and look for a solution first 
  • Once you have identified their problem, get them to your appointment form quickly after 
  • Designate a staff member to monitor the messages during your business hours and after business hours 

Each of the four strategies above are coming from a dental marketing standpoint and nearly $100k in research. To better understand configuring your ads on Facebook you can learn here


Asking for reviews, without literally asking 

Did you know you can ask a patient for a review without literally asking them for a review?

Yes. Here are a few ways to help you get started getting more reviews. 

Tactic 1: Online Payments

If a patient is fulfilling their invoice online, that means they previously visited your practice. So why not ask for a review?

Following a successful payment from the patient, you can redirect them to a page where you kindly ask for a review.

It can be designed like so in a web page or light box form:

Only use one button that way patients don't feel overwhelmed. Choose the platform where your practice could use a higher quantity of reviews


When the button is clicked you can direct the patient to a website of your choice where you feel there need to be more reviews!

Tactic 2: Insight articles via Email

This one is constantly misinterpreted. The idea is not to send an email soliciting reviews for your practice.

Rather, create an email list for existing patients and regularly send them helpful tips regarding the type of care that you provide. At the bottom of these emails create a section where it’s CLEAR that you would appreciate a review from the existing patient who received the email.

That email can be structured like so:



We recommend using MailChimp to send patients helpful info like this, feel free to use this template on your future campaigns! Download template here.

Tactic 3: Micro Incentives

In the macro running incentives isn’t a game plan that sustains itself, which is why we call them micro incentives. This strategy should only be used for desperate measures when you need a lot of reviews, and fast.

Eventually, you will run out of incentives, or have to create internal systems to track who received their incentive gift for leaving a review. It can become a mess! Incentives can be $5 Gift Cards or an entry to win a prize. If you are doing a prize drawing make sure that the prize is something people will want.

Here is data from an Incentive Review Campaign we ran recently using an existing list of patient emails on Mailchimp:

Data from a recent Belmar Health campaign


Each strategy will require a direct link to leave a review for your care. Since we have already touched on Yelp, GMB, and Healthgrades we will teach you how to create links that will take patients directly to a page where they can do so for each of these websites.

How to create a Review Link for Yelp

Step 1. Go to your practices Yelp profile

Step 2. Click Write a Review

Step 3. Click and copy the URL at the top of the page

Done!


Create Yelp profile 

How to create a Review Link for Google My Business

Step 1. Go to your practices GMB listing after searching for it

Step 2. Click on Write a review

Step 3. Click and copy the URL at the top of your page

Done!


Create GMB Listing 

How to create a Review Link for Healthgrades

Step 1. From your physician dashboard click on the blue star icon

Step 2. Go to Patient Experience

Step 3. Go to Resources

Step 4. Within the Patient Satisfaction Link Generator Section, choose the copy icon to copy the link

Done!


Create Healthgrades Profile

These links are vital when you’re asking for reviews so that the patient can be immediately taken to the page necessary to leave a review. Most other review websites offer options to create review links as well.


Maintain your growth: How to build brand image for your practice 

When you have a rhythm on your marketing strategy the next matter in question is how to create longevity for it. 

 

Ask yourself: What will sustain this growth? 


Dental marketing sustainability entails many elements such as being kind to patients and giving the best dental care. Both a given, right? In terms of what directly impacts your marketing and brand image, we have classified three areas that present the most return on investment. 

 

Scheduling 

To make the appointment scheduling process more natural for your patients, you need to find the pain points or points of conflict in your process. 

 

Which typically involve: 

  • Bad user interface 
  • Slow loading 
  • Verbiage that doesn't make sense
  • No clear way to describe why they're coming in
  • Buggy form fields that seem to lag between each question 
  • Lack of information 
  • Questions that force the patient to answer something that may not apply to them

 

Not only will a proper scheduling system present a painless way for your patients to schedule appointments from the convenience of their own home, but it even automates some of the administrative work for your front office. 

Reviews 

Something that has always fascinated me growing up is that just because I worked on a Macbook Pro (Perceptually the best laptop), does not automatically make my work better than someone who is working on a $100 laptop from Walmart. 


Fast forward to today have friends that spend upwards of $5 Million on a new practice, top of the line dental equipment and high salaries… just to have a body of patients who dislike them but schedule anyways because they feel like it’s their only choice. 

 

That I do not agree with. Patients deserve care from a dentist that takes their marketing, scheduling and brand image seriously. That’s what running a business is, more than just dentistry and the treatments you offer in this case. 

 

Patients take notice of everything and share their sometimes jarring opinions through reviews. 

 

Search

You have heard of SEO or had someone try to sell you SEO services a gazillion times. 

 

If you haven’t - SEO is an abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization. The practice of ranking your website or listings towards number one on Google search results. 

 

Despite all the cold calls you get from someone asking to do SEO for you, it's still a useful strategy for dentists who need new patients.

 

At this point, search engine results are drenched with other dentists striving to rank for the same keywords as you. To continue through this and rank above them, energy put forward to rank higher needs to be more prominent than what it has been in recent years.


Here are three starter areas to kick start your improved SEO strategy.

Keywords

As was mentioned earlier, keywords are a very significant part of SEO. Keywords are typed into the search bar and all results are found based on the input. 

 

The question is then asked; How do I know which keywords to use? 

 

That is a legitimate question because even though you’re a dentist there could be few patients in your city are typing in Dentists near me. For your city a more common phrase could be {treatment name} near me.

 

You can find the best keywords for dentistry in your city by using Google Keyword Planner, this tool from Google themselves will help you identify profitable keywords for your practice.

 

Keywords are crucial to producing new patient leads because a patient will feel more inclined to convert when they see a keyword or description that is contextual to them or contextual to the service they’re looking for. 

 

Remember that keywords should also be used for Title, meta and description tags on your website. Not just content and static web pages. 

 

Website and User Experience 

When we discuss user experience for dental websites, we’re often referring to how easily a potential patient can navigate and use your website. You can make the user experience more natural by using this checklist: 

  • Mobile optimize your site for smaller screens 
  • Easy access to Menus 
  • Easy to understand page navigation 
  • Creating ADA features 

 

Other aspects include making your site pages load quickly, removing grainy or blurry images, and having text that isn’t clustered. 

 

A generally neglected factor to good user experience is the way your content (articles/videos/photos) are presented. Two content management systems we highly advise using are Wordpress and Webflow

 

Wordpress requires more upkeep and has more flexibility for customization. 

 

Webflow is just wonderful to use. 

 

Both work. 

 

Backlinks

After finding keywords and guaranteeing that your site is easy to use. The next step is to build the number of backlinks to your website or pages of value (scheduling page or landing page). 

 

You can think of a backlink as an upvote from an already authoritative website. They create a link to your website, on their website and Google says “Hey, we should rank them higher”. 

 

The purpose here is to have a few backlinks from highly credible sources versus hundreds of backlinks from not so credible sources. Backlinks are all about quality, not quantity. If you need help finding credible sources to get backlinks from, Ahrefs is a great tool that can help you research links in the dentistry niche. 

 

The purpose: your patients happiness  

The ultimate goal of this guide: help people who need great dental care discover your practice. When you carry out these strategies with the intent of educating potential patients, before asking them for an appointment, you will always win because that builds brand image. 


You can begin any of these strategies today, even as a one-person team. Hiring an agency that specializes in Dentistry only makes sense if you're at a point where immediate growth is a must. 

Want to create a growth strategy for your dental practice?

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Written by
Joseph Lucero
Founder and Director at Belmar Health
Joseph began medical practice consulting when he was 16, founded Belmar Health shortly after.
1550 Larimer Street suite 126 Denver, CO

© Belmar Health 2020
Kindness. Empathy. Love.