Building A Loyal Patient Base In This Digital Age
Ajay Prasad is the CEO of GMR Web Team, a full-service healthcare digital marketing agency focused on patient acquisition and retention.
Thanks to the internet, patients now have a ton of medical information in the palm of their hands. With dental marketing strategies, you can take advantage of this to attract more patients to your practice. But this is only half the battle — impressing and retaining your patients is the other challenge.
Here’s a look at some dental marketing techniques that can help you acquire, engage and retain patients for your dental practice.
Many patients search the web for healthcare services, including dental care, every year. Whether you’re a general dentist or a specialist, you can make your dental practice more visible to new patients with these digital marketing techniques:
1. Make Your Website Patient-Friendly
A highly visible and converting dentist website should be anchored in efficiency and user-friendliness. Make sure your site is responsive, easy to navigate and well-organized.
2. Use SEO To Boost Your Rankings
You can boost your practice’s search engine results page ranking and increase organic traffic to your website with SEO. Do your keyword research well, and adapt your strategy to prospective patients’ search intent and search engine algorithms.
3. Run Paid Advertisements
Targeted paid ads are some of the most efficient dental marketing options. Whether on Google, Facebook or YouTube, you can run ads targeting prospective patients according to demographic data, including their location (i.e., the distance from your practice’s location), their age and their income.
4. Employ Social Media Marketing
Having a social media presence can help your dental practice grow organically. As you engage your fans through tweeting, posting and sharing, more prospects will follow your page, and your numbers will likely keep growing.
5. Generate Reviews
Soliciting and displaying patient reviews online help make your practice more appealing to new patients. One survey found that 70% of patients believe that online reviews are crucial when it comes to choosing healthcare providers. Also, generating more positive reviews from your happy patients can help minimize the impact of any negative sentiments published online.
6. Create Profiles On Google My Business And Other Listing Sites
Create business profiles on Google My Business and other sites such as Facebook, Yelp, Bing and Healthgrades. These give your practice a chance to appear in more places, which boosts your visibility.
To help increase patients’ participation and knowledge, you can leverage digital patient engagement strategies and tools. We find that increasing engagement helps increase not only satisfaction but also retention.
1. Communicate Via Two-Way Texting
Because many patients own smartphones, text messaging is one of the most effective ways to reach them and get quick responses. Many dental marketing tools include this feature to facilitate timely personalized communication between patients and staff.
2. Offer Telemedicine
Telemedicine, including video appointments, lets you engage patients remotely when in-person visits aren’t necessary or practical. It can help with follow-up consultations and patient monitoring, which are key factors in achieving better outcomes and patient satisfaction.
3. Enable Online Scheduling
Give patients more control over the scheduling process by enabling them to seamlessly book appointments based on availability. This can help reduce your staff’s workload as well.
Keeping your existing patients happy is the key to maintaining a loyal patient base. To achieve this, it’s crucial to collect patient feedback to improve practice operations and care.
One technique that we implement for our clients is AI-based sentiment analysis. Getting inside your patients’ minds without personally speaking with them is a daunting task. For some of our healthcare clients, the challenge used to be analyzing tons of unstructured patient comments left online and on-premises. They kept missing important clues about patient satisfaction (or the lack thereof) in texts, live chat, reviews, etc.
AI-based sentiment analysis can fix this problem. According to one study, such sentiment analysis can determine patients’ opinions about aspects of medical care with 81% to 89% accuracy compared to quantitative ratings.
Since paying attention to patient experience and patient satisfaction has become integral, many healthcare practices are using AI-based sentiment analysis tools. These tools help providers analyze the comments and online conversations by detecting the emotion, tone and words used. They typically label the responses and comments received as positive, negative or neutral so that the providers can get a detailed picture of how patients feel about the services being offered. There are many AI-based sentiment analysis tools on the market for medical and dental practices. My company has created one, and two others are MonkeyLearn and Lexalytics.
Aside from conducting sentiment analysis, here are some other ways to increase your clinic’s patient retention rates:
• Show you care by sending patients personalized special event emails, such as holiday or birthday cards.
• Give patients access to their health data via your patient portal to improve coordination of care.
• Conduct patient satisfaction surveys and use the feedback to improve care.
• Politely respond to negative online feedback where reasonable, aiming to de-escalate.
Using these dental marketing techniques will help improve patient experiences and satisfaction and help you build a loyal patient base for your practice. With the digital technologies available today, it’s now a lot easier and cost-effective to do this. Be sure to offer your patients the personalized attention, service and healthcare information they’re demanding, and they will keep coming back to your practice.
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