Here is how to make the most of your dental marketing in 2021.

How to Make the Most of Your Dental Marketing in 2021

While the start of 2021 looked a lot different than the beginning of 2020, many of the changes orthodontic and dental practices had to make were already in motion before the pandemic. And moving forward, practices everywhere are applying the lessons they’ve learned to how they promote themselves.

The reality is COVID-19 forced businesses to dig deep to figure out how to keep their doors open, which often required them to rethink how they operated altogether. This emphasis on efficiency was key to businesses’ survival during 2020. But these indelible lessons will continue to be essential for practices as both doctors and patients have slipped into a new mental framework, even as the nation reopens.

That being said, this year has also had some developments of its own that will impact how you should be marketing your orthodontic or dental practice. Here’s what you should be doing to get the best results from your marketing efforts in 2021.

Prioritize Marketing with Meaning (MWM)

A more modern understanding of the term “word-of-mouth marketing,” MWM encompasses referrals from one patient to another or from another medical professional, such as a dentist referring a patient to an orthodontist. This concept follows the traditional principle of word-of-mouth marketing with the understanding that many personal referrals are also happening in the digital space.

But it also stands to reason that now is a good time to refocus on word-of-mouth marketing. People are spending time with each other at social gatherings, restaurants, and parties again. And while people may have decided the pandemic was a good reason not to stop by their neighbor’s house for a glass of iced tea during their afternoon walk, there’s not as much of that apprehension anymore.

Overwhelmingly, the data continues to point to MWM tactics as the most effective way to earn the trust of new patients. Almost 90% of consumers are more likely to trust the recommendation of friends, and 70% trust other consumer opinions, even if they are strangers.

Effective MWM strategies are largely organic in nature and rely on consistently delivering quality treatment to patients and going above and beyond to add a personal touch to the patient experience. This can include sending out an email newsletter that includes a patient appreciation note with a friendly request for patients to tell their friends and family about your practice.

Focusing on generating more reviews is a great MWM strategy that allows you to be a bit more proactive. Explore different review generation tools and ask your reception staff to mention reviews to patients as they wrap up their appointments. Just be sure to take a look at the policies of different review platforms before you dive deep into your review generation strategy.

Rethink Social Media Marketing

While it’s certainly not time to just throw out what you know about social media marketing, it’s a good idea to shift your focus to organic social media engagement rather than putting heavy investments into social media advertising. One reason has to do with MWM, but another has to do with a little update Apple made.

In the spring of 2021, Apple released an update for iOS 14 that gave iPhone users more control over how their data is tracked. iPhone users have long been able to customize which apps can track their data, but they used to have to go into their settings to change this for each app. With the new update, apps are required to give users this notice upfront before they start using the app – or else they’ll be taken out of the App Store.

It’s estimated that the share of iPhone users allowing apps to track their data will fall from about 70% to 10% with this new update. While this satisfies many users’ demands for privacy, it negatively affects the ability for businesses to target social media ads for iPhone users. Facebook even responded to the update by creating a page for small businesses to post about how the update will affect them.

The exact degree to which this change has started to affect small businesses, including dental and orthodontic practices, remains to be fully seen. Social media ad targeting remains fully intact for Android users and you can choose to target your social media ads to reach Android phones when your ads go live. But this new development makes tracking your ROI for each campaign especially important.

Going along with the MWM principle, you’ll want to focus on growing your social media pages and boosting engagement. Use contests to gain new followers, respond to comments, and invest in creating visually compelling content that’s hard to ignore.

In particular, it’s a good year to put extra effort into video marketing.

Make Video Your Friend

Video marketing can seem like an intimidating venture to pursue, especially for a healthcare business. But it’s not nearly as scary as you think, and the results of investing in video make it well worth it. Video captures and retains people’s attention in a way no other medium can replicate. According to Facebook’s data, users spend five times as much time on posts containing video as they do static images. Video also results in superior retention, making it an overall more impactful medium.

Video is also great for your website’s search rankings. Google’s algorithm recognizes its users’ affinity for video content and rewards websites containing video content with desirable positions on the search engine results page (SERP).

Both dental and orthodontic practices have plenty of great options for video ideas:

  • Video office tours where patients can visualize the space they’ll visit and get introduced to the staff.
  • Explainer videos detailing how different types of treatment work, proper oral hygiene techniques, and safety tips.
  • Patient testimonials and patient journey videos.
  • Videos showing advanced technology that makes your office cutting-edge.

Once you’ve created some videos, you’ll have plenty of great content to share on social media to boost engagement even more. As you revamp your organic social engagement strategy, video should be at the forefront. Different social media platforms have been pushing video content more and more as videos become easier for servers to handle and as quality video production becomes more accessible. Instagram now offers five video formats for its users and Facebook Watch now boasts over 4 billion views per day, creeping up on YouTube’s 5 billion daily views.

And speaking of YouTube, this video hosting platform remains a highly user-friendly way to upload videos and to make them easily discoverable by adding SEO-based descriptions and hashtags. People turn to YouTube to learn new information quickly, which makes it an ideal platform for routinely posting educational content, helping potential patients gain more trust in your practice.

Creating quality video content is easier than ever, and considering 88% of video marketers reported a positive ROI in 2020, a number that has continually risen, there’s no reason to put it off any longer.

Track Analytics and Adjust as Needed

The main apprehension with any new marketing strategy is the idea of wasting money. And the best way to keep wasting money on marketing is to ignore analytics. If you’re not gaining insights from your previous marketing campaigns, you’re going into your next campaign blind.

For specific campaigns, such as Google Ads, social media contests, and video marketing campaigns, you should take advantage of the analytics tools available to you. For example, you’ll get to look at your conversion rate on paid ads. And if you’re using a CRM to track your lead generation, you’ll be able to track conversions and gain insights into where your leads are coming from and what matters to them most.

You should also be paying attention to analytics on your actual website to look for signs of design flaws or areas where you could improve. For instance, if you notice a page gets suspiciously little traffic, it could be a sign it belongs in a different section or there are page load speed problems you need to address.

Your website’s analytics will also be able to reveal where web traffic is coming from, giving you further insight into how well your campaigns are performing, how effective your social media pages are at directing users to your practice, and how impactful your videos are.

By compiling conversion data together from campaigns and determining your ROI, you’ll be able to refine future campaigns accordingly. Meanwhile, analytics from your website and social media accounts will inform you of the overall effectiveness of your messaging. Pay close attention to all the data available to you to keep track of what works and what doesn’t. In the end, you’ll find this will make future marketing efforts easier while yielding greater returns.

Involve Your Team More

Odds are most of your office staff wouldn’t consider themselves marketing experts. But each of your team members still plays a significant role in marketing your practice.

As mentioned before, you can involve your staff in soliciting reviews for your practice. And when it comes to being involved in marketing, your reception staff will have many opportunities to make an impact. In addition to being a friendly first contact when entering your office, they’re the ones doing much of the heavy lifting in determining if leads decide to book an appointment. But they can also play an essential part of retaining patients and earning referrals by looking for ways to go the extra mile for patients and by being a relational touchpoint patients look forward to when visiting the office.

Beyond your reception team, you should see every person within your office as part of your marketing since they will all play a part in the patient experience. Each person you hire, whether they’re an x-ray technician or a dental assistant, should add to the patient experience.

This is where internal marketing comes into play, a type of marketing many practices neglect. Especially with team members coming back into closer contact with each other in 2021, now is the perfect time to revamp your office culture and look for opportunities to engage in team-building exercises. You should also review your training materials and make improvements to better instill your practice’s values in your staff. It could also be the right time for you to create new training videos that will result in better retention and build more excitement about working at your office.

Strike a Balance Between On-Site Marketers and Outsourcing

If you’re preparing to bring more people on-staff at your practice, one key consideration is who you hire for marketing. For most dental offices and orthodontic practices, having a part-time marketing employee or allocating marketing responsibilities to reception staff is what makes sense a lot of the time. But since major campaigns come in ebbs and flows, you’ll also want to consider the benefits of outsourcing marketing to a marketing firm.

This is especially true if you’re wanting to create videos beyond casual social media uploads or live videos. Hiring a professional video team won’t break the bank and it will typically result in great ROI. But the costs may add up if you choose a video novice or attempt to finish production with in-house staff members alone, with no guarantee of quality results to show for it.

In general, it’s more cost-effective and less risky to outsource your marketing to a team that creates marketing collateral day in and day out. You can hire them for specific campaigns or have them on retainer for when the need arises instead of an in-house marketer who may not always have something to do. And by tapping into the resources of a marketing firm with a great portfolio, you can expect better results as well.

Now is a better time than ever for a fresh start. And your practice deserves a bright future of providing excellent treatment to new patients and familiar faces. By continually looking for ways to make your marketing produce tangible results, things will continue to look up and your practice is guaranteed to grow.