As the old dental marketing saying goes, “It costs more to gain a new patient than keep an old one.” Words couldn’t be truer! Patient acquisition and retention strategies can vary between dental practices, but one thing remains constant; nurturing and communicating with your current patients is almost always a fruitful marketing strategy.
We understand that it’s easy to get caught up in the chase of new patients with shiny new marketing strategies. Acquiring new patients certainly isn’t something that should be ignored. But, in the chase for new patients, your best source of practice growth is neglected; retaining your current patient base.
Your potential patients have multiple choices when choosing a dentist for their family’s next dental procedure, and research tells us that when they are searching, they often do it online in a Google search. To gain new patients from the web takes a lot of marketing work, including (but not limited to); a dynamic practice website optimized to Google’s current liking, social media profiles with sharable, likable content, complete local listings and online patient reviews. Moral of the story? It takes consistent work to show up when patients search online for a dentist in your area.
But what about your current patients? How do you connect with them? Two words: promotions and contests. Everyone (including your current patients) loves a great contest and no doubt, you’ve tried one or two in your time. But, by promoting them on your social media profiles, you not only strengthen your patient connections and relationships, but also can increase your social media signals which highly affect your SEO efforts and search engine ranking. Here are three ideas to get you started:
1 – Big Prizes for Big Results – As we said in a previous blog post, if you want your current patients to be excited about your promotion or contest, offer something exciting. While complimentary dental products like toothbrushes or toothpastes are definitely useful and on-topic, they usually don’t get the results you want for your effort. Here’s one great idea – Register the first 25 current patients who book an appointment for a giveaway for an iPad, complete teeth whitening treatment or any other high-value item you’re comfortable offering. By making the contest exclusive for current patients, you strengthen that special connection your practice already has with them. So, for the price of an iPad (roughly $400), you get 25 booked appointments in return. That’s pretty good ROI. NOTE: Be sure to post the happy winner on your social media accounts!
2 – Patient of the Week – Feature a patient per week on your Facebook, Google+ accounts and in your office. Each week, choose a patient whose smile exemplifies something great about dentistry (white teeth, straight teeth, consistent 6 month check-ups, etc.), snap a photo with the dentist and ask the patient how they feel about the “honor.” The more fun and “cheeky” it is, the better. This idea is a quick way to make your patients feel special AND get a quick testimonial. TIP: Make sure your patients have an incentive to be chosen as Patient of the Week. Give each week’s winner a $25 gift card for coffee, ice cream, nail or spa treatment, etc.
3 – Why my Child LOVES his/her Dentist Contest – If you run a promotion or contest asking your adult patients to submit a story to be entered into a drawing, you’re probably going to get little to no response. Adults are busy and writing a story for their dentist just isn’t going to make it on the to-do list. It’s a good thought; it’s just not going to happen. Kids, however, will be all over this promotion! Here’s an idea: September is National Literacy Month, so run this promotion then and ask your child patients to submit a story about why they LOVE their dentist, with the winner getting a year’s free membership to your city’s zoo. Once all of the stories are submitted at the end of the month, post the stories to your Facebook profile (with permission, of course) and ask your Facebook community to “like” the story they think should win. The story with the most Facebook “likes” will win the contest. So fun! And, since Facebook likes are a social signal that affects SEO, you gain some online marketing support AND strengthen your patient connections.
Connecting with your current patients is so important for retention and practice growth. For more ideas and tips on internal marketing, contact our online marketing team today!