You finally took the plunge and dove headlong into the communication sea of the 21st century. At long last, you have a website. You have content, you have graphics, you have educational materials and necessary patient forms. Your site is as flashy as it is informative. You are cruisin’ down that info superhighway. The only problem, no one seems to have spotted you in the fast lane.
You may be wondering: Where are the “hits”? Where’s all the demand that’s supposed to be out there for my site? Where are the patients? Those are all valid questions. Now I have one for you: Have you told anyone that you have a website?
That may sound like a silly question, but it is not uncommon for practices to invest in developing a site with excellent content and information, only to never consider the need to market that site. They go along thinking they’re zooming along that information superhighway only to discover they haven’t even pulled out of the driveway.
Developing the site is only half the equation, now you have to promote it. Take the six steps below and before long your patients, the majority of whom are eager to access you and your practice via the Internet, and your prospective patients will know your website is the number one stop for oral healthcare information.
1. Spread the Word. Promote, promote, promote your website. Include the web address on all office materials, from appointment cards, to letters, to reminder notices, to brochures, to business cards, to yellow page ads, to hand mirrors, to toothbrushes. If it mentions the practice, it must include the website address – no exceptions.
2. Don’t Overlook the Obvious. Current patients are the single most important, yet most overlooked market for practice websites. Many doctors don’t realize they have to tell their existing patients about their website. How do you get the majority of your new patients now? Through patient referrals. Send a mailing to all of your patients and invite them to visit your new website. Ask them to email you with feedback and suggestions. Encourage them to forward the website address to their friends and family.
3. Rev Your Engines. Search Engines that is. Register the site with major search engines, including Google.com and MSN.com so that the site can be accessed through these. It is important to be listed under both the word dentist and your location, such as Dentist San Diego.
4. Build your Address Book. Collect email addresses from patients and ask patients for permission to contact them via email. Considering that 85% of today’s patients prefer communicating via email they will likely be willing to encourage your efforts to reach them electronically. You can then use the Internet to remind patients of upcoming appointments and alert them to new services via email.
5. Keep in Touch. Send an email newsletter to patients on a regular basis. This enables the office to maintain contact with patients in between their scheduled visits. The practice can cover a topic or two and it does not carry the printing and mailing costs associated with hardcopy newsletters. Encourage visitors to your website to register online to receive the newsletter as well.
6. Increased Chatter. Consider hosting an email chat room periodically to answer various questions from patients online, particularly if you are launching a new service. This is a great way to educate your patients about it.
The Internet is the telephone of the 21st century. It is no longer merely a source for information. It has become an essential tool in your patients’ ability to managing daily life and an indispensable tool in your ability to communicate effectively with your patients. Make the most of your website and you’ll likely find that more patients are willing to make the most of your dentist.
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