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25th July 2019

It’s Time for New Shoes

While dental treatments don’t present the same experience as, say, purchasing a great new pair of shoes, the purchasing journey is somewhat similar.

There’s an upward trend in patients who are performing preliminary research online.  They may be inspired by social media posts of smile makeovers or perhaps just curious about how to best solve an existing dental problem they may currently be experiencing.

In 2009, authors Richeal Ní Ríordáin and Christine McCreary contributed a paper to the British Dental Journal (BDJ). This paper, “Dental Patients’ Use of the Internet”, affirmed the importance of patients receiving direction from practitioners on where they could locate the best online information sources.

Knowledge is key to making the best dental marketing decisions

Dental practitioners are now fully expected to supply patients with information based on evidence so their choices are more informed and their experiences  enhanced. Since patients could be uncertain or confused about their dental treatment options, special care should be taken to explain services in a way that’s simple and easy to understand.

Dental team standards, developed by the General Dental Council (GDC) in 2013, state all advertising or promotional material, as well as any other information given to patients, must be accurate, not misleading, and compliant with the ethical advertising guidance produced by the GDC.

A study in the United States found that patients’ decisions on whether to purchase dental treatment averaged 69.8 days in length even though most of them believe the treatment is truly necessary. Of those who searched online for information, 38% went to a review website, 46% to a dental practice website, and 51% to a website offering medical advice. This reiterates the pressing need for dental professionals to have comprehensive information about their practice readily available online.

The initial impression a potential customer receives may matter most. A majority of visitors (55%) seemingly spend 15 seconds or less on a particular website before navigating elsewhere, suggesting there’s just a small window of time in which to engage that person.

Does the shoe fit?

With the cosmetic dentistry industry becoming increasingly dominated by image, and since we process images markedly faster than we process words, it’s crucial that practice websites use photographs of the highest quality to achieve the most positive impact. Both the images and information provided to customers are essential in convincing visitors to not only remain on your website, but seek dental treatments with your practice as well.

Because information is mixed in the virtual world, it’s often difficult to match the right clinician with the right treatment. Converting online visitors into actual patients involves clarity as well as demonstrating to them that they’re making the right decision in visiting your practice. Their needs must be a match with your offerings. The shoe must fit perfectly! The challenge then becomes a matter of getting the visitor to engage with you beyond the website, and what is the most effective way of converting them into a patient.

Opportunity knocks

If you’re having difficulty bringing your website visitors into your practice, it’s important to make use of the following list to identify gaps and ways you can take advantage of the small window of opportunity you have been given:

1.Make your website simple to read and navigate, with smiling photographs of your team and short descriptions of the treatments you offer.

2.Make sure the location of your practice, its email address, and telephone number are highly visible on each page. Consider integrating Google Maps to assist visitors in locating your practice easily.

3.Heavily promote appointments available out-of-hours, late nights, or weekends. The ability to accommodate patients whose daytime schedules don’t allow for dental visits is definitely an advantage you should be prominently announcing.

4.If your website has a “live chat” feature, use it and stay on top of it. Live chat creates rapport with visitors and provides a ‘human’ touch to the digital experience. Forward-thinking practices are beginning to integrate this feature into their websites, although not many use it. People surf the web during work breaks and live chat may help speed up what can be a lengthy process, which could break down another barrier to booking.

5.Offering a subscription to your e-newsletter may also enhance the customer experience while encouraging them to investigate further. Topics such as ‘Top 10 methods of maintaining the whitest teeth” or “Foods that promote a healthy smile” may stoke engagement and attract the interest of potential patients. For a gentle way of encouraging conversation, you could also set up a subscription box to automatically slide in when the visitor scrolls past 70-80% of the page.

Your dental website design visitors will invest a great deal of time, as well as effort, seeking the dental treatments they need, and which practitioners are best suited to provide them with the desired outcome. Keep in mind that time is money, so you must provide your potential clients with a website that provides the latest information in a format that’s both easy to read and attractive.

Make your website reflect the openness and honesty of your practice. The key to successfully converting website visitors into patients is in enhancing the user experience and introduction with simple options that promote their engagement beyond the website.

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