January 9, 2015 Everyday there are new patients in your geographical area who are looking online for the exact services you offer. To be proactive in engaging them is what digital marketing is all about. In the past, traditional marketing included newspapers, magazines, Yellow Pages, and direct mail. These were one-way communications only, from Dentist to potential customer. With the advent of the Internet, the trend now is towards interaction and two-way communication. A successful digital marketing campaign will engage the user to interact both as a potential client, and, as an existing patient. Digital Marketing methods include the following: 1) Website Optimization A website is your virtual storefront. A potential new patient will judge you within 10 seconds of landing on your page so a good first impression is important. The website should be visually attractive, easy to navigate and include useful, relevant information containing your designated keywords and phrases. Two additions to the website include a Blog, and a Call-to-Action. Blogs are recommended as a compliment to a website so new and existing patients can be regularly informed about your practice. Blogging also allows for dialogue and interaction which a traditional, static website does not. According to Google, the two most important factors to rank well are relevancy and current information. Blogging accomplishes both. A Call-to-Action is what you would like a user to do once they land on your site. Examples include: “Stay connected with our free newsletter” or “Click here for a free brochure” Using special discounts for new patients can also spur them to action. 2) Social Networking More and more we are seeing people using Social Networking to field recommendations for goods and services. If someone is looking for a Dentist it is highly likely they will solicit recommendations from their friends and neighbors on Facebook and Twitter. For this reason Social Networking has become an invaluable marketing tool. It not only offers communication with existing patients, but more importantly, it offers a way to introduce your services to new patients. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, as well as local review sites Yelp, and Google+ all facilitate interaction and dialogue (two-way communication) with new and existing patients. One note of caution, when using social media, Doctor to Patient confidentiality needs to be respected at all times. If you think you’re crossing the line – you probably are. 3) Inbound Links (Local and Niche Directories) To increase PageRank as well as online exposure, manual submission of your website and blog to niche and local directories is highly recommended. Examples of niche directories include: dentistdirectory.com and americasmiles.com. Examples of local directories include: Local.com and Patch.com. 4) Mobile The Internet has evolved so rapidly that if you’re currently not on Social Media or maintaining some kind of Mobile presence you’re missing the biggest marketing medium sensations since television, and at a fraction of the cost. Going mobile could be as simple as making sure you have a mobile compatible website or more advanced like creating your own mobile application. 5) E-Mail Newsletter A regularly scheduled email newsletter to your client database is highly recommended for sending holiday greetings, special offers, industry news, etc. It can also be used to remind patients of their upcoming appointments or to wish them a Happy Birthday. Regardless of the message it keeps your name in the forefront. 6) PPC with Google Adwords or Facebook Ads PPC is Pay-per-click. These are paid ads that compliment organic content. With PPC we use specific keywords that are relevant to your practice and marketing strategy enabling your content to be more accessible to those who are already looking for it. The biggest advantage of PPC is that they can be geo-targeted to specific areas i.e. 20 mile radius of your zip code. Lastly, the best marketing solution whether digital or otherwise is still word-of-mouth. How you and your staff conduct yourselves on a daily basis will speak volumes and reverberate throughout the online universe. Remember that each and every time you answer the phone, welcome a new patient or greet an existing patient. The Internet is listening.