Personally and professionally, how often do you use your phone? Text messages, surfing the Web, making phone calls, using Maps as your GPS. There are a number of uses for our mobile devices. And if you’re using your mobile device on a daily basis, consider how often generations after you are using them.
Just like advertising your dental practice online has become a given, soon—if not already—mobile marketing will be so commonplace we won’t even question whether or not we should be utilizing it.
If we watch Google, we see that they’re doing everything in their power to make the mobile experience better for users. Recently, the search engine has been implementing algorithm features like Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) or ranking websites based on mobile-responsiveness and speed. Everything is shifting in the mobile direction, and has been for a while, so what’s holding the dental industry back?
I think the main obstacle is figuring out the how. How do you reach an audience on a mobile device? Where do you start?
First, your mobile dental marketing strategy needs to work toward two important goals:
- Reaching Existing Dental Patients & Improving Patient Retention
- Reaching New Patients & Keep Them Coming Back
Here are some ideas to help you with both aspects of your mobile dental marketing strategy.
Reach Existing Dental Patients & Improve Patient Retention
1. Use Text Messaging for Appointment Reminders
At one time, businesses feared this approach because of the different phone plans available to consumers. Unlimited texting wasn’t as common as it is now. Texting one individual could mean saddling them with a significant phone bill just for a few messages. That is no longer the case.
Instant Census estimates that nearly 90% of Americans have unlimited texting because it is included with just about every phone plan out there today.
According to an article by Dentistry IQ, “A recent national survey found that consumers overwhelmingly prefer using SMS over email and voice communications when engaging with businesses, finding it more relevant and timely.”
Text messages are a convenient, helpful way to reach your customers in the middle of their busy schedules.
Sound too overwhelming? You can streamline the process through texting software. Here are a few to choose from:
- Weave: Great tool, but you have to schedule a demo to get pricing
- Legwork: Software-only and marketing package available, as well as transparent pricing
- ClearDent: Includes computer security benefits to protect your practice from ransomware and hackers
- DentiMax: Least expensive of the 4. It starts at $49 per location per month but also has fewer added features
Texting is a great way to send out special promotions and personalized appointment reminders. Whether sending informational or marketing messages, there are many compliance considerations and best practices companies should follow though. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) governs regulatory requirements related to text messages. If you have questions about rules regarding text message marketing, you should consult with legal counsel experienced with TCPA requirements.
2. Recommend Dental Apps to Patients to Improve At-Home Dental Care
There are countless dental apps to choose from for adults and children. Recommend some good ones to your patients so they can keep up with their dental care at home. If you can help them improve their at-home care, it could have a number of positive results:
- They’ll have better dental health, and improved overall health
- They’ll be more motivated to commit to their 6-month dental appointments
- They’ll require less attention at your office, saving you time and them money
Overall, you’ll have happier patients who are more likely to return for routine checkups.
Some Great Dental Apps You Might Recommend:
- Brush DJ – Plays a song at random for a full two minutes while you brush so you brush for the recommended time. Also includes some reminders for when it’s time to change your toothbrush.
- Text2Floss – Sends user text messages with valuable information related to oral health and hygiene and reminds them to brush and floss.
- Brushy – Provides a map of your mouth and tips for how long to brush each tooth. Great for children and adults.
- Dental Phobia – If you have dental phobia or want to know more about different dental treatments, this app is great for that. It offers detailed descriptions of different dental services and treatments so you’ll know what to expect.
- KidsDental – A great dental app for kids. It uses animation to teach kids about the whys and hows of dental care. How should they brush and floss their teeth? Why should they floss, eat a balanced diet and visit the dentist?
- QuickBrush – Another app that times your tooth-brushing, QuickBrush also lets you know how long you should brush each part of your mouth.
- Dental Dictionary – Do your patients get frustrated with not knowing or understanding certain dental techniques and terminology? Recommend the Dental Dictionary app to them so they can better understand.
- Braces Help – Patients with braces, or parents of kids with braces, should get the Braces Help app. It tells users all about how to care for braces and what to do if issues arise.
Source: Arthur Glosman DDS, cosmetic & restorative dentistry
Smart Toothbrush App
- Kolibree – App syncs with your electric toothbrush so it can track you or your child’s tooth-brushing habits. It will tell you how long you brushed, if you reached all four quadrants of your mouth and if your brushing technique is good or bad.
Source: 1Dental Blog
3. Invite Patients to Follow You on Social Media
Want to keep in touch with your patients when they’re not in the office? You should! Social media is a great way to stay at the forefront of their minds so they remember upcoming appointments, follow-up treatment that’s needed and how to refer people to your office. And social media is most commonly accessed on a mobile device.
Important note: If you are encouraging patients to follow you on social media, you need to be active on social media.
- Post pictures of your staff at the office and helping out at special community events
- Ask permission to take pictures with patients and share those on your account
- Capitalize on holiday activities and fun decorations
- And definitely post any and all special promotions on your account!
4. Text Existing Patients Special Promotions and Referral Bonuses
There are a number of ways to approach special promotions and referrals. Think about areas you’d like to focus on. Ask yourself these questions to get you started:
- Are you trying to win back patients who haven’t been in the office in a while? Text them a coupon for $10 off their next visit or some other incentive.
- Do you have loyal patients you’d like to reward for continually returning to your office? Message them a special offer every once in a while to let them know you appreciate them.
- Have patients who are great at referring your office, or are referrals something you’d like to encourage? Offer referral bonuses to your patients. If they refer another patient to your office, give them $20 off their next visit. Send them reminders about this referral bonus via text message with an easy way to share your information with friends and family right from their phone. As previously mentioned, there are many regulatory rules regarding text message marketing. If you have questions, you should consult with legal counsel experienced with TCPA requirements.
Reach New Patients & Keep Them Coming Back
1. Make Your Website Mobile-Responsive
First of all, if you don’t have a website already, you need to get one. Your patients want to know who you are, where you’re located, what your office looks like, what your hours of operation are and how to contact you. Make sure you’re the one who tells them. Otherwise, your competitors will be more than happy to get new customers from all those Google searches that were originally looking for you.
As you build your website or tweak your existing site, make sure it is mobile-responsive.
“Many dentists’ websites do not display well on a mobile device. They push contact details down to the bottom of the page, and visitors often have to scroll to find the information they’re looking for. Then, when they find it, it often is not sized correctly. All of these issues can add up to a frustrating experience for your patients.”
A mobile-responsive website changes to fit the device it is being viewed on. For example, someone looking at your site on their computer will have a different experience than someone looking on their mobile phone—and that’s important! The devices are sized differently, so the design/website they see should cater to that.
2. Ask Existing Patients for Online Reviews
Reviews are important. Your patients have the power to share reviews about your business by word-of-mouth or online. While we’ve already touched on incentivizing them to get you patient referrals, consider encouraging them to leave you online reviews, as well.
According to Google, the Internet is a patient’s #1 confidant (61%) over family/friends (38%) or their medical professional (37%). On average, patients consult at least 12 different sources before choosing a health care provider.
And where do people look up reviews of businesses? Often, it’s on-the-go on their mobile device.
According to an article by Dental Economics…
“Nearly 90% of Internet users say they use online reviews to choose local businesses. If you’re a dentist seeking to expand your marketing reach to parents, these statistics are even more significant. Parents are more likely than any other group to look to the Internet as a key source of medical referrals. In fact, 72% of parents say they trust online reviews for medical professionals as much as they trust personal recommendations.”
Where Should Patients Leave an Online Review of My Business?
There are many review sites to choose from, but the very first place I’d have them start is Google. When you try searching your practice’s name in Google, what comes up? Is it a bunch of web links and a knowledge graph on the side of the page, like this one?
This is a typical result for a local business. And looking at this example, you can see why Google reviews are so important. This result stands out in the searches when someone searches this practice’s name. And what really catches your eye is the number of stars and number of Google reviews listed below the name.
If you have too few reviews or too few stars, prospects will quickly skip over your name and go to another dentist nearby who has better reviews.
Other Reputable Review Sites
Some other reputable review sites, according to Vendasta, to encourage your patients to visit include:
- Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- Angie’s List
You might also try localized apps like Nextdoor.
How Do I Ask Patients for Reviews?
Not sure how to ask your dental patients for a review? Try using one of the templates below.
Dear [patient’s name]
We hope you had a great visit today. We really appreciate your business, support and feedback, and truly value you as our patient.
Our goal is to provide the very best service and we are always looking for ways to improve. We are looking to gain feedback on our service so that we can enhance your experience and make our customers happy. Plus, online reviews are a great way to help people, like you, find a dentist.
We would love to hear your feedback, and I would be incredibly grateful if you could take a couple of minutes to write a quick Google review for us. This will allow us to improve our service and let others recognize the value we provide.
To submit your review, simply click the link below and let us know what you think.
Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review. Your feedback is highly appreciated and important to us. We look forward to seeing you again at your next appointment.
Dental practice name
Contact info for dentist:
Social media contacts
For text messages…
Hi [patient’s name]. We hope you had a great visit today! We really appreciate you. We want to provide the best service and are always looking for ways to improve. If you could leave a review for us, we’d really appreciate it. You can do so using this link: https://goo.gl/nWBdYR – [Practice Name]
In each example above, I’ve included an example Google link to include in your messages. You’ll want to create your own direct link to the Google Reviews’ section of your business. Do this by visiting Google Place API and following the instructions you see here, put together by Honeypot Marketing
You can incentivize your patients to leave you a review by offering to enter them into a drawing for a chance to win [insert an impressive gift here]!
While reviews are vital for your business, just remember that they can also break your business if you aren’t careful. Your staff will need to understand the importance of providing a great customer experience to each patient who comes into your office. You’ll also want someone to monitor reviews. No business wants negative reviews, but you’ll sometimes receive them no matter how hard you try. Just make sure you or someone on your staff responds in a kind and courteous manner to help smooth things over and show others that you are genuinely trying to provide the very best experience to all of your patients.
3. Create Your Own App
This may be a stretch but if you have the resources and haven’t been too impressed with the dental apps you’ve seen out there, create your own app and promote it to your customers! It could have an appointment reminder feature, a dental history section, a place for patients to pay their bills, a tooth-brushing timer for adults and kids, dental tips, coupons to your office, a place for them to submit a review about your business, etc. Have fun with it and make it profitable for your business. Remember your goals: improve patient retention, grow patient referrals, attract more patients and increase treatment plan acceptance rates.
Mobile is the future. So whether you’re new to digital marketing or an experienced dental digital marketer, remember your goals and these strategies to help you achieve them as you use mobile marketing for your dental practice:
Goal #1: Reach Existing Dental Patients & Improve Patient Retention by using the following strategies:
- Use text messaging for appointment reminders
- Recommend dental apps to patients to improve at-home dental care
- Invite patients to follow you on social media
- Text existing patients special promotions and referral bonuses
Goal #2: Reach New Patients & Keep Them Coming Back by using the following strategies:
- Make your website mobile-responsive
- Ask existing patients for online reviews
- Create your own app
If you want to keep your patients coming back, you need to meet them where they are—and that’s on mobile.
The information provided here in no way constitutes legal advice. It should be used for informational purposes only. You should consult your own legal counsel to determine whether and how individual state laws apply to your marketing activities.