So you’ve made the decision to grow as an orthodontics practice. Now what?
You know that digital marketing is the way to go if you want to reach more of the right prospective patients. Facebook advertising has perfected its targeting abilities and many are saying that “you are nothing if you are not on the first page of Google.” But how do you get all of these pieces working together to your advantage?
We’re glad you asked. After over 20 years in the marketing industry and a habit of staying on the leading edge in digital marketing since its inception, we believe we have developed a digital marketing funnel that will send new patients flocking to your doors. Find out what we consider to be our “secret sauce” below.
5 Steps for Orthodontists Who Want to Register More Patients
If you want to register more patients for your orthodontics practice, you have to think like your prospective patients! It is well-known in the digital marketing industry that people go through four stages as they are being convinced to buy–they are called the “four stages of the buying cycle“–these stages are Attract, Engage, Convert, and Close. We have added one more stage–Prepare. It is important that you have a couple digital marketing “ducks in a row” before you dive into the buying cycle. If you follow the advice under each of these stages, you should see results in a matter of months!
The foundation of an effective digital marketing plan is strong branding and an optimized website. Without these elements, your marketing strategy will struggle to get off the ground. Here is what we mean when we talk about branding and website design:
- Branding and Graphic Design – Your brand–the logo, colors, and fonts of your orthodontics practice–is one of your greatest assets. It visually communicates to prospective patients who you are and what you do. Without a strong and consistent brand, you will not be able to market your practice effectively. Prospective patients will be confused when they see different visuals representing your practice in different places online. Make sure you have an authoritative style guide, outlining which logo, colors, and fonts you can use, to keep you on-brand throughout your digital marketing.
- Website Design, Content, and Development – Your website is prospective patients’ first impression of your business and the primary source of the content Google will read to rank your position online. Therefore, it is important that you have a clean, seamlessly designed website with good structure and quality, keyword-optimized content for each of your services. By “keyword-optimized” we mean writing each service page focused on including the keyword for your service (such as “orthodontic braces”) 5-10 times placed naturally throughout your content so that Google knows what you’re talking about. This is called “Search Engine Optimization” or “SEO.” Clean up your website if you can and rewrite your services if you need to before you begin marketing online.
“Attract” is the first stage of the buying cycle and where your digital marketing begins. In the “Attract” stage, prospective patients should be identified as people in your area who are starting to become unhappy with their appearance, people who are beginning to notice issues caused by the alignment of their teeth or jaws, or parents who are wondering if their children might need orthodontic work. As a result of this heightened awareness, many of these people are asking questions online, typing them into their browsers or asking friends over social media. All of these people in your region can be targeted and attracted to your business using the following digital marketing tools:
- Social Media Marketing – You probably already know that Facebook is big, so we do not need to prove it to you, but here is statistic that should put any questions in your mind to rest… Facebook has 214 million users in the United States alone–That’s almost 66% of the population! Social media is the place to be if you want to reach as many potential patients as possible. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow you to target these people based on location, their demographics, the groups they follow, their interests, and more, showing your advertisements in their news feeds. Setup business accounts with these platforms to begin showing your brand to your target market, advertising your services to them, and answering questions they may have as they engage with you online. Always, always, always include a call to action in your posts and advertisements–either links back to the service pages of your website to learn more or a phone number to call to schedule an appointment.
- Google Advertising – Most orthodontics practices know that Google is important for attracting business. One of the first things any modern, prospective patient is going to do as they are looking for an orthodontist is search and research online. Put your practice in the #1 slot on their search results page by paying for Google advertisements! Google ads show up at the top of the page in the “ad” section whenever a prospective patient searches using the keywords you choose to target through your ad account–to use an example from before, you could target “orthodontic braces.” Be sure to use catchy title and copy on your ad and point the ad toward a relevant, keyword-optimized service page on your website for best results.
- Blog Marketing for SEO – A great way to target the *exact* questions prospective patients are searching online is to write a blog answering their question! We use a useful data-informed tool called Answer the Public to determine what people are searching around a given keyword. For example, enter “orthodontic braces” and you will find that people are asking, “Do orthodontic braces hurt?” Write a blog answering this question and optimize for the keyword you have chosen to drive these people to your website. If you blog regularly–we recommend one to two times per week if you are able–you will notice your web traffic increase substantially! If you cannot maintain this level of blogging schedule, one to two times per month will return results as well.
Once you have attracted potential customers, your next goal should be to have them stick around. Keep your followers coming back with higher levels of content that answer more of their questions about orthodontics, establish your credibility, and begin to develop a virtual relationship. Use the following digital marketing tools to engage prospective patients:
- Video Marketing – Now that your followers know that they can find quality content from you on social media, they will be on the lookout for more. Video is one of the most easily consumable forms of content and a very effective way to get your message across. Create short, 30-60 second videos that talk about the benefits of becoming a patient at your orthodontics practice or that answer common questions to keep people engaged.
- Social Media Quizzes – Social media quizzes are also becoming increasingly popular online. Create an engaging quiz such as, “What does your smile say about your personality?” and be silly if you like. Remember that this stage of the buying cycle is all about engagement! Include a call to action at the end to encourage people to call or visit your website.
After attracting and engaging prospective patients with quality content, you do not want to wait long before you ask them for something in return. At this point, your followers are interested and may be willing to give you something, such as their email address, time for an appointment, or their orthodontic needs! Convert these people to leads by requesting their contact information using the following digital marketing tools:
- Landing Pages – Landing pages are generally the pages on your website that a customer lands on after they have clicked on an advertisement or a call-to-action, however, many landing pages are built with one goal in mind: conversion. These landing pages offer something valuable in return for prospective patients’ contact information. It could be an ebook, free consultation, or whatever you choose (see below)! When creating a landing page, be sure to write a catchy headline, use relevant images, and write concise, relevant content to the topic at hand, always driving the visitor closer to the call to action of submitting their contact info.
- eBooks – eBooks are a fun way to repurpose the blogs you have written in the “Attract” stage! Compiling and indexing relevant blogs into an eBook gives you a valuable piece of content to deliver to prospective patients in exchange for their contact information. For example, after you have answered a comprehensive set of questions about orthodontic braces, you are now in a position to create an eBook entitled, “What You Need to Know Before You Get Braces.”
- Other Forms of Lead Generation – There are many ways to capture contact information that are not limited to landing pages. For example, you should have a contact form setup on your website and strongly consider installing a chatbot if your orthodontics practice has the time to manage it. Chatbots can request that visitors enter their email address and/or phone number before they chat. You could also offer free subscription to email updates whenever you publish a new blog or a free subscription to an e-newsletter if you have time to regularly email prospective patients as well.
The “Close” stage is the final stage where a prospective patient makes the decision to register with your orthodontics practice! Make it as easy as possible for them to give you their business using a simple sales tactic (yes, we know some of those too!):
- Free Consultations – Free consultations require no commitment and allow prospective patients to take a no-strings-attached peak into your practice. By making the first step, however, they are taking action that will give them a favorable predisposition to you over your competitors. Offer a free consultation form on your landing page or website to take prospective patients through the final stage of the buying cycle!
After you have completed the “Close” stage, you’ve done it! You have successfully taken a prospective orthodontics patient through the buying cycle using an effective digital marketing plan. Now all that’s left is to stay consistent with all of these tools and techniques to keep the new patient registrations rolling in!
If all of these stages and tools sound too overwhelming, please know that they can easily be built up over time. That said, it is imperative that you complete them regularly and in a reasonable timeframe if you want this digital marketing strategy to be effective. Please know that we have done this for many practices over the years and we would be happy to talk strategy with you! You can reach out to our President directly at [email protected]. Our VP of Marketing Jennifer Christensen is also available for a free consultation. We look forward to getting to know you and your practice!