Are You Driving Patients to Your Door or Down the Street?
SEO. Geolocation. Bidding Algorithm. Organic. Any of those terms sound familiar? I suspect you’ve heard of one or maybe two - they are not exactly household words, at least not for most dentists. Each relates to online advertising, but their definitions are not as important as what they can mean to your practice, specifically the magic three: Patients, Production, and Collections.
Today, 82% of consumers use the Internet to search for local businesses. They look for phone numbers, customer reviews, directions, information, and various details about restaurants, service providers, retailers, dentists, chiropractors, and more. For many practitioners, simply having a website is a significant accomplishment. But as Ben Rubenstein recently shared with me, the website is only the beginning when it comes to establishing your presence on the Internet. He would know. Ben is co-founder of Yodle, an online advertising company with a simple mission: to connect local businesses with consumers simply and cost-effectively.
Started just five years ago by three childhood friends, today Yodle is the fastest growing local online advertising company in the US with a team of 400+ employees nationwide. They literally wrote the book on online advertising in the latest installment of the ever-popular “Dummies” series, Local Online Advertising for Dummies. The company has quickly established itself as a leader in helping small businesses, dental practices in particular, to make the most of local Internet advertising – the operative word being local.
As Ben emphasizes, the point of creating an Internet presence is to drive patients directly to your practice door. But the website is only the first step. The appearance of the website is critical, as this is often the patient’s first impression of the practice, and beyond appearance is functionality. “The idea isn’t to have people spend two hours on your website. The idea is for people to visit your site and pick up the phone to call your practice and make an appointment.”
He notes that demand for dental services is out there. A patient searching for dental services in Philadelphia, PA isn’t accidentally searching online. Rather, the patient has a need and they are looking for a practice that can fulfill that need. “We don’t create the demand. We link the patient with the doctor who can deliver the product.”
Motivating patients to make the call to the practice is step two in achieving the magic three for your practice. But it can all come to a screeching halt at the phones. “You’d be surprised how many dental practices don’t handle their phone calls very well. We have practices in which the dentist is convinced that the person answering the phones is doing an excellent job. In reality, the individual will answer the phone and tell the caller, ‘This is the price, if you want it fine, if you don’t, goodbye.’”
That is where Yodle’s phone monitoring system comes into play. All of the patient calls into the practice are recorded. “This is a very good way to train staff on the best strategies in handling phone calls coming in from prospective patients,” notes Ben. He emphasizes that the calls are not accessible to Yodle, and the recording can be disabled at any time. Additionally, the calls are tracked, which allows Yodle to follow the number of calls generated from the local online advertising efforts. It also enables clients to audit the effectiveness of Yodle’s online marketing campaign. “There’s no debating whether it’s working or not, either the calls are coming in and the patients are making appointments, or they are not.”
Beyond tracking the effectiveness of the Internet advertising, clients can also track other forms of advertising as well to determine which aspects of their marketing campaigns are working and which aren’t. “It’s a way for dentists to feel comfortable about spending marketing dollars in specific areas, because they can see where they are getting the return on that investment,” explains Ben.
While many assume that only younger dentists are likely to pursue Internet advertising opportunities, Ben notes that doctors across multiple age groups and practice demographics seek out Yodle’s services. “We will work with doctors who are right out of dental school and just starting out, as well as those who are in their 70’s and want to generate as many patients as possible, so that they can sell the practice for as much as possible. It’s a matter of: if you need patients, we can help you.”
Next week, what to expect when working with an online local advertising company.
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