Eliminating Noise in the Marketplace

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Every year, countless dollars are wasted on ineffective marketing efforts in the dental industry. When marketing tactics are disjointed and incongruent, the results they produce (or don’t) pale in comparison to those of strategic and comprehensive efforts. As competition grows, the need for a well-oiled marketing machine is becoming even more significant.

Big Buzz has identified three key factors that help to eliminate noise in the marketplace:

  1. Staying ahead of the competition
  2. Consistently gathering data
  3. Refining your marketing plan based on the trends in the market

Staying Ahead of the Competition

This is a two-step process. The first step involves finding out who your new competitors are in the market and the second step involves staying on top of current competitors. In both cases, you must thoroughly understand what competitors’ unique selling points are and then determine your differentiating factor in a single statement. This message needs to be crystal clear, extremely succinct and should be evident in every single patient, referrer and employee interaction. Be sure that this differentiating factor aligns with your patients’ expectations and the original mission of your practice.

Gathering Data

Any successful and thriving business is constantly gathering data based on customer experiences, evolving preferences, the changing market, etc. Apple is a perfect example – they are constantly gathering customer feedback and input and then using that information to update software, release new products, create new services and refine their brand – all based on said data. Dentistry is no different: give your most loyal patients what they want, and they’ll sing your praises for life.

Refining Your Marketing Plan

The final piece is evolving and refining your ongoing strategy based on what the competition is doing and what the market research tells you. It is important to address trends over individual incidences – if competitors are increasingly utilizing Yelp for their practices and the market research is indicating an increased allegiance to or trust in Yelp, it is likely time to invest more heavily in this marketing tactic.

By staying deeply in-tune with your patients, your competition and the marketplace, you will be able to deploy a strategic marketing plan that will produce effective and sustainable results that will allow your practice to thrive.

Dental Premarketing: Finding Success for a New Practice

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The marketing strategy for any successful new business should begin well before the doors open, and a dental practice is no different. It may go without saying, but don’t expect positive results from announcing yourself to the world on opening day and expecting excited new patients to flood in. It’s crucial to hit the ground running with the momentum you have accumulated prior to your grand opening.

It’s important to develop a web presence, since it’s the only presence you can have before the doors have opened. Construct a website that looks professional and functions well, especially on mobile devices. Consumers increasingly use mobile devices to conduct online searches, and without a mobile-friendly site, search engines are less likely to feature your practice in top search results. Even if your site does show up, consumers likely won’t move forward with a practice whose website appears shoddy and dysfunctional. Make sure you build your website with an online scheduling system, which will be helpful both before and after launch. As mentioned above, hitting the ground running is crucial, and an online booking system can help you do just that by filling appointments ahead of time. To help fill appointments before the doors open, consider offering discounts or incentives to patients who pre-book.

Next, construct social media pages to gain visibility and drive traffic your website. Focus your social media efforts around your ideal patient persona by setting up pages on platforms they’re more likely to use. If you’re looking to attract retirees, don’t rush to make a Snapchat page. Instead, focus on Facebook. Create promotional content that speaks to their wants, worries, fears and obstacles, framing your practice as the one that truly understands their needs. Then run that content as a targeted ad campaign. Facebook makes it very easy and straightforward to target your desired target audience.

Don’t forget to plan for opening day! A ribbon cutting ceremony can be fun way to announce your presence and help ingratiate your office into the local community. Who doesn’t like a party? Find your local chamber of commerce and talk to them about how to plan and what to expect. You can even use it as an opportunity to schedule new patients or hand out discounts and offers for future visits.

Following these tips will help position your new practice for success. Stay tuned to our blog for more industry insights.

The Rise of Big Data

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You’ve probably heard the phrase “big data” being tossed around over the last few years, especially as it pertains to marketing. Before you begin tuning it out as just another useless buzzword, consider another popular phrase: “data-driven.” It’s a driving force in marketing, focused on using large collections of data to speed up processes and remove the clouds of human bias and indecision. Data-driven processes can be hugely helpful to businesses hoping to free up time for important tasks and functions. These processes utilize sets of data so large they require computer assistance to be understood, hence the phrase big data. Big data is changing the way practices can target and reach patients.

An extensive survey conducted by McKinsey & Company revealed 4 main areas of data analytics’ impact:

  1. Improved generation of leads. Big data allows enormous sets of potential patients to be analyzed in the blink of an eye. It does so with a degree of specificity that would take a human weeks or months of work to match. The data provides a 360° view of potential patients and examines a multitude of factors that can reveal the degree of quality they possess as leads. This can remove a large portion of the guesswork from lead generation.
  2. Improved pairing of deals and patients. Not only can big data analyze how likely a prospect is to become a patient, it can apply its skills to examining the behavior of current or past patients. Analyzing buyer behavior can reveal a treasure trove of analytics that can help businesses see the big picture. What’s more, one firm was able to study data related to the behavior of their own salespeople and use it to improve training procedures.
  3. Increased patient lifetime value. In addition to converting prospects into patients, big data can also help drive existing patients to schedule routine appointments. Relying entirely on human sales can lead to missed opportunities to sell patients on related services since they don’t have expansive customer data on hand the way big data systems do. Big data can devise and execute “microcampaigns,” or small sales pitches targeted towards specific patients based on their individual behavior and habits. Not only that, big data can increase patient retention because it can recognize patterns and behaviors indicating they may be unhappy and reach out to them much more proactively than a human could.
  4. Efficient transactions. This ties in to programmatic advertising, which utilizes big data to make efficient sales and purchases of ad space. These capabilities can help practices secure local advertising in the blink of an eye, specified to their budget and the parameters they set for the campaign. For instance, they can focus advertising efforts on certain geographic locations from which they’d like to attract new patients.

Big data is becoming less of a trend and more of a staple with each passing day. Stay tuned to our blog for more industry tips and insights.

Developing Your Ideal Patient Persona

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Meet Theresa. Theresa is 44 years old and lives in a quiet suburb. She is a CPA at a successful accounting firm, where she earns $85,000 a year. The firm also provides full medical and partial dental coverage. She is married with two children, ages 10 and 12. She considers herself a ‘foodie’ and enjoys exploring local cuisine, constantly combing through local publications and food blogs for restaurant reviews and announcements. Bonus points if they have a good wine selection, as she considers herself an amateur sommelier.

As she’s gotten older, she has begun experiencing more oral health issues. Her enamel has begun to wear away, accelerated by years of rich food and wine. To make matters worse, her teeth have begun to yellow, making her feel self-conscious. She meets with most of her big clients face-to-face and wants her smile to be as spotless as possible.

There’s one more important thing you should know about Theresa: She’s not real.

Theresa is an ideal patient persona (IPP), a tool used by dental practices to help focus their marketing efforts and target the people they’d like to serve as patients. Practices can build an IPP by conducting interviews with their best and favorite patients, allowing them to repeat continued success. A practice might also like to transition into serving a new type of patient, in which case they can construct an IPP based on the characteristics of the patients they’d like to attract.

Theresa has partial dental coverage, which will help get her in the door, while helping the practice earn more when she pays the remainder of her bill out of pocket (which is not a problem thanks to her stable income). Due to her client-facing work, she might also be inclined to pursue non-essential cosmetic procedures like teeth-whitening or veneers. She also has a husband and two children, whom she may refer if she is pleased with the work she receives.

She sounds like a great patient, but how can the practice reach her? They can start by advertising with the local publications and food blogs she reads to find the restaurants she visits. The more comprehensive an ideal patient persona, the more targeted a marketing approach can be. And the more targeted a marketing approach is, the less money is wasted throwing strategies at the wall to see what sticks.

Stay tuned to our blog for more industry tips and insights.

How Artificial Intelligence is Shaping Dental Marketing

By | Advertising

It wasn’t so long ago that artificial intelligence, or AI, was considered the stuff of science fiction- a novel and faraway concept existing only in fantasy. Today, however, it has become a reality and can often be found at the top of trends to watch lists. It has an expansive reach, affecting both the dental industry and how it is marketed. According to Forbes, artificial intelligence is present at every point in the care-pathway, from biometric information tracking to disease diagnoses to treatment. In the field of dentistry this can mean performing tasks like identifying caries on x-rays.

In terms of marketing, artificial intelligence is much more heavily utilized. It is increasingly being used to help implement mechanisms that save marketers time, removing laborious legwork and leaving more time to focus on strategizing and looking at the big picture. For example, AI can help divide customers into segments, which marketers can then examine and use to ascertain customer motivations and devise need-based marketing systems. For dental practices, this could mean identifying patients with dentures and reaching out to them when they’re due for relining.

Marketers can easily obtain troves of data, which before now would have taken weeks or even months to parse and analyze, and the power of AI doesn’t stop there. Once the market segments have been identified, AI can help target them with smarter ads by analyzing social media profiles, keyword searches and other elements. What’s more, its systems will continue learning and building upon themselves, allowing for more effective targeting and campaigns, while reducing waste by avoiding avenues that don’t work.

Another quickly growing facet of artificial intelligence is the chatbot. Chatbots often pop up in a lower corner of a website, offering to help answer questions. While some may view them as a nuisance, they’re actually a very valuable tool for both consumers and marketers. In fact, the global market for chatbots is expected to grow to $1.25 billion by 2025, with a 24.3% compound annual growth rate. As mentioned, chatbots can help answer questions instantly, which can help internet users acquire the information they’re seeking without the need for a company to pay a customer service representative. While dental practices don’t have CSRs, chatbots can help answer patient questions online, freeing up valuable time for front desk staff to assist patients in person and perform more pressing duties.

AI is no longer just a sci-fi plot, it has arrived – luckily for marketers! Stay tuned to our blog for more industry insights.

The Importance of Reviews in the Digital Age

By | Blog, Local Marketing

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, the world is more connected, and consumers have a louder voice than ever before. This is largely positive for businesses and consumers alike. According to Think with Google, most reviews are 4-5 stars and written with the intent of altruism rather than revenge. They also note how even bad reviews provide an opportunity for businesses to engage with customers and potentially foster goodwill for their brand. Reviews can be especially valuable for dental practices because of both the high cost and high personal stakes for prospective patients.

Below we’ll explore some important things to know about online reviews.

Where people look for reviews.

This may not come as a shock, but Facebook is a huge resource for business reviews. With 2.27 billion monthly active users as of September 2018, the site has an absolutely massive audience, creating a big opportunity to get eyes on reviews of your practice. Yelp is another well-known review site that may sometimes get overlooked by those in industries outside of food service. ZocDoc is a popular site for connecting patients with medical professionals covered by their insurance. They also allow patients to leave reviews, so it’s a great place to generate positive visibility for your practice. Healthgrades is another patient/doctor pairing site that offers reviews. Angie’s List is a prominent resource for reviews, and while it’s not specific to the medical field it’s a trusted source for many consumers.

How to ask for reviews for your practice.

It may seem self-explanatory, but the best way to approach getting reviews is simply to ask. Otherwise, patients have no way of knowing you seek them. What’s more, even if the patients themselves use reviews while researching products and services, it may not register to them how important reviews can be to the success of a business. DentistryIQ recommends asking while the patient is still in the office, and their positive experience is fresh on their mind. Once their procedure is finished and they’ve gone home, they may not give much thought to dentistry until the next time they need it. Try and avoid asking every single patient to leave a review every visit, but rather consider the patients with whom you or your front office staff share the best rapport. Not only will they be easier to ask, but there’s a greater likelihood they’ll have something positive to say. DentistryIQ also advises providing WiFi, or even tablets, to remove obstacles and make it as easy as possible for patients to leave a glowing review while they’re still thinking about their great experience at your practice.

Keep these strategies in mind and you’re sure to be generating good reviews in no time! Stay tuned to our blog for more industry tips and insights.

How to Make More of Your Loyal Patients Proactive About Referrals

By | Advertising, Blog

The marketing landscape in 2019 offers a boundless supply of techniques, with digital strategies getting smarter by the day and a new social media platform at every turn. It’s critical to stay current on the latest digital marketing trends in order to keep your practice at the top of the search results and top-of-mind for potential patients. However, it’s equally if not more important to foster and maintain perhaps the most timeless advertising strategy there is: good old word of mouth. In fact, a survey of dentists conducted by the Levin Group Data Center revealed that 88.3% named “referrals from current patients” as their most effective marketing method. So how can your practice harness the power of this valuable approach? It may be easier than you think.

The first step in generating patient referrals will seem obvious to most, but it can never hurt to reiterate: provide exceptional service! Consider every step of a patient’s journey. Doing great dental work is important, but consider how to provide an experience someone will be truly excited about. A warm, welcoming atmosphere at the front desk can go a long way, especially for those with anxiety about vising the dentist. Encourage everyone from techs to office staff to develop a rapport with patients. Many positive reviews begin with “I usually hate going to the dentist, but…” which goes to show that creating a positive experience outside of actual dental work can really resonate with people.

Another important step in achieving referrals is simply asking. This also may seem self-evident but can often be easier said than done. Once you develop the patient rapport mentioned above, asking for their help spreading the word about your practice will feel natural and less stressful. You can also use signage to encourage referrals, or have staff ask happy patients while they’re checking out. It never hurts to be proactive; current patients don’t know you’re seeking new ones unless you ask! You can also create and hand out referral cards to patients, and create a referral page on your website to make things easier.

Contests are also a great way to generate referrals. Give patients a timeframe in which to refer as many new patients as possible, and offer a prize to the winner. The better the prize, the more motivated patients will be to participate. It can be wise to consult with an attorney before launching a contest, as laws about such contests can vary from state to state. An attorney can also help you choose the right language to use in a disclaimer about the contest to protect your practice from loopholes or abuses. An hour of an attorney’s time can be pricey, but will seem much more manageable when compared to the amount of revenue a referral contest can generate.

Patient referrals are a cost-effective way to find new patients and build great, long-lasting relationships! Stay tuned to our blog for more industry tips and insights.

What Exactly Is Programmatic Advertising?

By | Advertising, Blog

You may have heard the term “programmatic advertising” being tossed around in the last few years. And with the onslaught of marketing buzzwords, you may have tuned it out. What’s worse, you may have investigated it and given up due to its dense and complex nature. Either scenario is understandable, but there’s a reason practices become buzzwords in the first place. The concept is picking up steam with no signs of slowing down. In fact, more than 80% of digital display ads in 2018 were purchased programmatically, generating over $46 billion in revenue. What’s more, this number is expected to reach $65 billion by 2020.

These numbers may be staggering, but they don’t answer the billion dollar question: what exactly is programmatic advertising?

Instagram’s Product Director Ameet Ranadive describes it as “the practice of implementing an automated set of business rules to efficiently target your most valuable customers and prospects with personalized ads.” Still sounding vague? Let’s strip it back a level. According to the Oxford Living Dictionaries, it means “of the nature of or according to a program, schedule, or method.” This simple explanation may provide more clarity than that of a leading expert. Programmatic advertising is essentially the use of automated computer programs to procure the purchases of digital ads. While it does not fully automate the digital ad-buying process, it removes some of its more time- and labor-intensive elements, including proposals, quotes and negotiation. This frees up time for marketers to devote to planning and optimization.

The software used in the programmatic advertising process uses complex algorithms which can help decide where advertising resources are best allocated in a manner much faster and more objectively than the human mind. What’s more, it can launch your campaign and monitor how your ad spend is performing while looking for areas that could improve.

One of the most common forms of programmatic advertising is Real-Time Bidding or RTB. RTB acts as an auction where ad publishers are linked up with ad buyers who want to buy and use their ad space. This is a speedy and efficient method of completing transactions, but since there is no real face-to-face interaction quality cannot be guaranteed and advertisers may find their content popping up in some unsavory places. For example, Verizon and AT&T found their ads being run alongside extremist hate groups as a result of programmatic advertising. Conversely, Programmatic Direct allows buyers and sellers to transact via a third-party. This allows for more accountability on both ends since each party knows with whom they are interacting.

This may be a lot of information, but it’s becoming increasingly critical to understand. Just look at the numbers listed above! A great glossary of programmatic advertising related terms can be found here. Stay tuned to our blog for more industry tips and insights.

How Online Scheduling Can Help Your Practice

By | Blog

Ordering pizza. Finding a business’ hours. Buying concert tickets. This is a very short list of activities that, not too long ago, were performed over the phone. While the option still exists, these and many other tasks have shifted largely to being done online – and this can be explained by a few factors. First of all is convenience: it’s much easier to complete a task autonomously without depending on the input and receptivity of another party. Additionally, some people – especially millennials – don’t really like talking on the phone.

There are so many businesses helping increase sales and engagement by offering online access to services, and dental practices are no different. By offering booking and scheduling services online, practices can open themselves up to a wealth of bookings, both from existing patients who will appreciate the convenience and new patients who perhaps had reservations about calling. Additionally, some prospective patients may simply not have time during the day. They may be hard at work during your hours of operation and unable to place a call to schedule an appointment. Appointment booking service, Zocdoc asserts that 45% of their bookings occur after the business day has ended. What’s more, according to a study performed by global management consultants Accenture, “by the end of 2019, 66 percent of US health systems will offer digital self-scheduling and 64 percent of patients will book appointments using digital tools. Nearly 38 percent of appointments will be self-scheduled— that’s almost 986 million appointments —creating $3.2 billion in value.” That’s a lot of appointments – and a lot of value!

What’s more, shifting to online booking and scheduling can help free up time for your staff, both in performing their normally scheduled duties and assisting patients who need help right then and there. Time spent playing phone tag with patients, leaving and listening to voicemails, making confirmation and follow-up calls and manually inputting data can add up more quickly than you might think.

There are a number of companies that can help your practice implement online booking and scheduling with relatively little work on your part. These companies include the aforementioned Zocdoc, Demandforce, LocalMed and Solutionreach. These companies will walk you through how to set up and implement their scheduling systems, which can be as simple as providing a link on your website or social media pages.

Keep this in mind as you continue to perfect your website and marketing strategy, and stay tuned to our blog for more industry tips and insights.

Top Trends in Dental SEO in 2019

By | Blog, SEO

The most recent numbers suggest there are nearly 200,000 practicing dentists in the United States. That’s a lot of options. With such a crowded playing field, how will your practice stand out when someone searches online for “best dentist” in your city or town?

 

The answer is search engine optimization, or SEO. SEO helps fine-tune your website and match it up to the results page of someone searching for related material online. As technology improves and algorithms change and evolve, so too do the best SEO practices. Read on to examine some of 2019’s biggest projected trends, and how you can use them to your practice’s advantage.

 

Video Content:

We have discussed it in previous articles, but the importance of video content in today’s marketing landscape cannot be stressed enough. Not only does it improve your user experience and help your brand stand out among the competition, it enhances your standing on search engine results. In fact, your site is 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of Google’s search results if it features a video.

 

Voice Search:

Over the past few years you’ve likely encountered a voice assistant like the Amazon Echo (Alexa) or Google Home, but you may have not considered that these products are playing an increasingly big role in SEO. In 2018, 58% of those who owned these devices used their voice search function to look for information about local businesses. It will be valuable to ensure your website is optimized for voice search, as voice recognition is projected to become a $601 million industry this year.

 

Microformats:

Microformats are essentially pieces of code used to mark up your website which help convey unseen information to search engines, essentially labeling or tagging them. The more thoroughly your website’s content is labeled like this, the more likely a search engine is to match your site to a search. Microformats can be especially helpful for businesses with brick and mortar locations who want to display their business hours… dental offices, for example!

 

Mobile Friendliness:

As consumers increasingly shift to mobile searches in lieu of desktop searches, it’s essential that your website is geared towards mobile searches as well. If your site is not optimized for mobile viewing, search engines are less likely to show it to those searching. Google is rolling out its mobile-first indexing system, meaning google will search for the mobile version of a site first. According to the company, “Since the majority of users now access Google via a mobile device, the index will primarily use the mobile version of a page’s content going forward. We aren’t creating a separate mobile-first index. We continue to use only one index.”

 

Take stock of these items and make sure your website aligns with them. Stay tuned to our blog for more industry tips and insights!