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Data-Driven Marketing for Dental Practices: What It Takes To Get Results In 2021

Gone are the days when putting out a yellow pages advertisement or sending out a leaflet/postcard locally would drive patients to your door. While it is still possible to market your dental practice this way, it is also very easy for people to go online and check out your website, view your social media presence and, most importantly, read online reviews. Having so much information and customer feedback at our fingertips allows patients to quickly compare other dental practices and find the one with the best reviews and services to fit our needs.

For a business to truly thrive in today’s market, a cohesive online and offline presence is needed. It is not enough just to have a strong social media presence, website or even good reviews, but to also answer your phone calls and email inquiries in a timely manner and provide the great service you advertise to every patient that walks through your door. So how can you achieve a successful marketing campaign for your business in 2021? This article will look at how to consolidate your marketing to help grow your business and retain life-long patients.

There are a lot of right ways to run a marketing campaign and when it comes to your dental practice, it is important to focus on your strengths and target audiences. If you are a small, community-based dental practice there is no point comparing yourself to a larger practice in a big city that would be targeting a wider audience. Knowing the three main forms of advertising can help you understand what is right for your practice and give you the biggest return on investment (ROI).

The Three Primary Forms Of Gaining Patients

1. Advertising

This is the more traditional route and can cost you more in the long run but is a quick approach that requires minimal effort. A stagnant advertisement can feel impersonal and non-creative in this age of online marketing campaigns and social media. This is not to say advertising with billboards and leaflets cannot work, but if you are in a bigger area with a lot of competition, working on your online presence through digital marketing can be more beneficial.

2. Digital Marketing

Digital marketing surpassed traditional marketing in 2020, with digital ad campaigns set to grow by 6% year over year in the US. Digital marketing’s benefits outweigh traditional mostly due to its cost-effectiveness and high conversion rate. Plus, it is easy to analyze and track what social media or digital campaigns get the most return on investment, meaning your budget can be targeted more clearly, wielding better results.

3. Word-Of-Mouth

Word of mouth marketing may be the oldest form of marketing in the book, but it is also still extremely effective. Word of mouth marketing has also shifted online as a recent report showed that 90% of consumers believe recommendations from friends, and 70% believe consumer opinions, showing the importance of good customer reviews on your website. Also, social media users are 71% more likely to trust a brand they are referred to by another user. Word-of-mouth marketing may be the slowest as it is built on trust and reputation, but it can gain you more loyal patients!

What You Need To Track To Succeed – Know Your KPIs

KPIs for Dental Practices: What Are They & How Can They Help You?

So once you have implemented a marketing strategy, how do you know this is helping you grow a successful business? Key performance indicators (KPI’s) can help you get a clear picture of how successful your practice is and how it can be improved. Remember, no clear KPIs means no clear path to success. Here are some KPIs you can follow in your practice:

KPI: Phone Conversion Rate

New patients for your practice can come from many channels both online and offline, but one channel that can make or break your practice and is often not talked about is the phone conversion rate. Every phone call that comes into your practice could be a potential new patient or an opportunity for word-of-mouth marketing, but research shows that offices have a 50/60% phone conversion rate. This could mean if you’re spending $10,000 on marketing, 50% of that money is being wasted before you even answer the phone. How can you ensure your phone calls turn into profit for your practice?

KPI: Unanswered Calls

Data by dental scheduling company Callforce shows that about 35% of patients are lost due to unanswered calls. This is added to the previous amount of 50%, meaning if you have a budget of $10,000, you’ve already lost a majority of your budget before you’ve come off the phones. Something as simple as an unanswered phone call could be costing your practice thousands.

KPI: Your Team’s Conversion Rate

You may have more than one person dedicated to answering calls, in fact, this can be a good idea to ensure no calls go unanswered. Tracking your team’s conversion rates using a call-tracking service can help teach you and your team what works best with patients. Some questions to ask yourself when assessing numbers:

  • Which team member has the best conversion rate? What are they doing that others aren’t?
  • Was anyone left on hold? Why and for how long?
  • Did the receptionist say anything that inhibited the conversion?

Research shows 39% of patients won’t use a service again due to poor customer service. The conversion rate can come down to something as simple as phone etiquette. It may seem obvious, but agreeing with your team on what good phone manners are and implementing them could make a big difference. Some tips that could help:

  • Use a script. Taking hints from your employee with the best conversion rate, producing a script can ensure a linear phone manner. Simple things such as getting to know your patients on a first-name basis and wishing them a good day can help. It may seem obvious, but pleasant phone manners can leave a good impression.
  • Reduce wait time. Don’t leave patients on hold for too long.
  • Make sure all team members are trained to answer questions appropriately. It may seem small but it can be off-putting to a potential patient if the team can’t answer basic questions. Make sure everyone is up to speed.
  • Find out how the patient heard about you. This is a great way to discover where your patients are coming from, allowing you to track your patient referral rate and measure how this varies month to month.

Getting all your team members up to speed could be the difference between loss and profit, so don’t forget to invest in your team first.

Cost Per Lead (CPL)

Cost per lead (CPL) can help you add up just how cost-effective your marketing campaign is. It’s important to note you’re not including all new patients, just those generated through your marketing strategy. It is simple math – look at your marketing patients and divide by your budget. For example, if you take the $10,000 budget and 100 leads—that’s $100 per lead.

Show Rate

Again, when it comes to show rate, it is important to isolate your show rate in terms of marketing. On average, practices will determine a show rate of 10% but usually, the marketing show rate is much higher. This can also be true for no-show rates also. The best way to calculate this is by dividing the number of no-shows, including cancellations, by your total number of weekly appointments.

Cost Per Acquisition

So now you know your cost per lead, it’s time to go deeper. Cost per acquisition is your cost per lead minus your lost calls, minus your no-show rate. Cost per acquisition looks at:

  • How much it costs to get through the door.
  • How much came through the door – So 50 of my 100 leads from my $10,000 budget came in, that’s $200 per cost of acquisition.

Return On Investment (ROI)

The next number that is important to grow your practice is the return on investment. Look at:

  • How much you spent on marketing
  • How many patients did that bring you
  • How much they spent

For example, I spent $10,000 on marketing. I had 100 leads but only 50 people came in, and they were $200 per person. Each person spent $600 on dentistry, so the profit I made from those patients is my return on investment—$400. You can also look at the long-term. Will this patient refer your practice to others? And how likely is the patient to come back for additional treatment?

Recare Rate

Globally, GP offices have a recare rate of 80-90% on average. But when you isolate just the marketing figures it is more like 40%. What happens to the marketing patients? If you take a look at the above statistics you can see that it is very easy for marketing patients to fall away percentage by percentage. So how do you guarantee returning patients and a growing business? An important step would be to get to know these numbers and not just guess at your marketing. If you don’t know all the data and all the numbers, you truly are just guessing, and that is never good for your bottom line!

Putting It All Together

One of the key takeaways here is that if you don’t know the specific number to any of these factors, you aren’t succeeding at your marketing—you’re just guessing and likely wasting money. All of these data-points are crucial to growing your practice and seeing results. Take the time to figure them out so you can start applying your marketing efforts the right way.

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Gary Bird

Gary Bird

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