Are you different than the corporate dental outlet down the street? How would a prospective patient know?
Before a new patient calls or steps into your office, research shows that they will already have a first impression of your practice. It’s probably why they called you. Sometimes it is from word of mouth, but increasingly that impression is formed online.
Most dentists understand that their physical office is important to their brand image. You want it to be professional, clean and make patients feel comfortable. So, you invest a lot of time and money in your office, rightly so.
Yet, the majority of your new patients will visit your website before they ever step foot in your office. So, it would make sense to invest in your website just as you do your office. Your website is as large a part of your brand image as your office.
Your Website IS Your Virtual Front Office
Stop reading for a minute, pick up your phone, and go to your website. If you were a new patient, would you be impressed by what you see? Would you call?
Simply having a website isn’t enough. To beat the big budget corporate dentist down the street, your website must connect with potential patients and show why you are a better choice.
Your Website IS Your First Impression
Wouldn’t it be nice to meet all potential patients before they choose a dentist and have a conversation about why you are the best provider for them?
While you can’t do that in person, it happens every day online. More and more, people connect online, watch TV online, work online, shop online, date online, and yes, choose their dentist online.
Your Website IS NOT an Online Brochure
Choosing a dentist is often a personal decision. Do they feel comfortable that you will be right for them – quality, service, convenience and cost?
The purpose of your website is to connect to your ideal patient and to convince them to make an appointment. When building their website, many dentists fall into the trap of listing every service they ever have or ever may provide in an effort to appeal to as many patients as possible. Be careful trying to be all things to all people, or you may end up appealing to no one.
7 Steps to an Awesome Dental Website
So, what is the secret to transform an ordinary website into an awesome virtual office?
Over the course of the past 11 years designing hundreds of dental websites, we’ve discovered seven keys to creating an effective dental website that will help you stand out from the cookie-cutter corporate office and get more new patients.
- Be clear about what makes your practice the best choice
If you’re a dentist in North Texas, you have a lot of competition. To beat them, your website has to stand out. But before you start designing, you need to be clear why you are a better choice than the dentist up the street – your brand positioning. Are you the “eco-friendly” dentist? The “family” dentist? The “modern” cosmetic dentist? Find out what makes you special and own it.
When you are crafting your website, this should guide the entire design. We clarify brand positioning with every client before we start work on design.
- Speak to your Ideal Patient
Keep your ideal patient in mind. What is most important to them? Will your design appeal to them – language, pictures, style?
Designing to an ideal patient does not mean you will not get other patients. But it will give you focus. The more targeted the communication, the stronger the connection.
Put yourself in their shoes. If your ideal patient is a busy mom trying to juggle the dental needs of her family, then extended or weekend hours, family appointment blocks and a no-fail way to book an appointment are probably high on her priority list. Make sure these are front and center on your website.
- Connect on a Personal Level
Research shows that the second most visited page on a dental website is the “Meet the Doctor” page. This is great news for the independent dentist. One huge weakness of corporate dentistry is their revolving door. Patients want to know, trust and develop a relationship with their dentist.
People want to see and hear from the doctor before booking an appointment. Be personable. Get professional photography. Have a well written bio that tells them more than where you went to dental school. Ideally, have a short video of the dentist(s) introducing themselves and the practice. Talk to them and be real.
- Give them Social Proof
Rave reviews from current patients are very persuasive and reassuring to prospective patients. With the rise of reviews and ratings online for everything, patient testimonials are more important than ever in building your credibility. If you have a 3-star rating, many people won’t give you a second look.
The reality is that people trust reviews online. Psychologists call this “social proof” – gaining re-assurance that the choice we are about to make is the right one. Take advantage of this insight by prominently displaying positive patient reviews throughout your website.
- Make Scheduling Simple
The most important action a prospective patient can take is to schedule an appointment. So you want to do everything possible to make that process easy.
This might seem like an obvious point, but you’d be surprised how often this is not the case. Take a critical look at your own marketing materials and website from a patient’s perspective. Use your phone and click on the links. Was it easy?
Just having your phone number on the “Contact Us” page or at the bottom of your homepage in small font isn’t going to cut it. Don’t forget, most prospective patients are viewing your site on their phone and won’t hunt for a number. For best results, add a prominent “Book an Appointment” button and “Click to Call” phone number on the top right hand corner of every webpage on your website.
- Feature a Meaningful Offer
Give them a reason to call. Sometimes it can be as simple as inviting them for a free consultation. But it is most effective to give them an incentive to call now.
Trial incentives are a staple in marketing for a reason – they work! It doesn’t always need to be discounts, but it should be something that will appeal to your ideal patients. For example, with cosmetic dentistry you might offer complimentary teeth whitening with new treatment plans.
- Visit your Website from Your Smartphone
Smartphones have surpassed computers as the most used device for going online. When reviewing your website, make sure it looks great & is easy to navigate on a phone. If they can’t find what they’re looking for in a couple of seconds, or they have to pinch & zoom to read the text, most people will just move on to the next dentist in the search results.
What to do now?
The key point in this article is that your website is a critical weapon in your battle to beat your competition. Most of your potential patients will search online for information about your practice and check out your website – it IS your virtual front office.
If you’d like help working through this process, we offer a free initial consultation we call a Marketing X-Ray. We’ll prepare a thorough analysis of your website and overall online presence and give you customized, actionable solutions based on the findings. Give us a call at 214-491-6166 or click here to request your free X-Ray.