We are a gadget-obsessed culture, and there’s no greater gadget than the World Wide Web. The web is the only form of media that gives us so much individual control. Become a blogger or a published author overnight. Order that new book online right now and start reading it on your tablet immediately. Hired a new employee? No problem. Just log into your website and upload her photo and bio. Instant gratification never felt so right.
There is a lingering belief that online promotion – including tactics like website, social media, search engine optimization, and reputation management – is far less expensive than traditional media – like radio, television, or print advertising. In the early days, online promotion was commonly thought of as free. Just jump online, post your information and get instant exposure in front of potential patients.
If only it were that easy.
Here’s are the top 10 mistakes to avoid:
1. Believing slick salespeople. There are no guarantees in online promotion. Walk away from anything that sounds too good to be true. “We will get you found on page one of Google tomorrow…” probably means in the Google Maps section, which any web-savvy 12-year-old could do for you.
2. Same old website. There are a lot of cookie-cutter templates out there, but you don’t want to look like the dentist next door. At the same time, there’s no need to hassle with an expensive custom website. A happy medium is a customizable WordPress theme. Pick a theme, and then add your own design to stand out.
3. Dismemberment. In your website, ditch the teeth-only photos in favor of full-face before-and-after shots. They tell a more compelling story to your potential patients.
4. Bad shots. Use crisp, clear images of the practice, dentist and staff in lieu of blurry or stock photos on your website.
5. Confusing navigation. To keep the potential patient moving through the website and eventually to your door, narrow down the navigation to no more than seven pages or “rails” across the top and no more than five on each dropdown. Group similar information on each page so the layout is digestible and well organized.
6. Missing the opportunity. Be sure the phone number, email address and links to the practice social media pages appear prominently on every webpage. Better yet, include a short form on every page with an engaging offer: “Share your email address and get our article, ‘10 Ways to Naturally Keep Teeth White and Bright.’”
7. Missing the party. People are talking about your practice online on social media and review websites. Join the conversation.
8. DIY on the cheap. Attracting web visitors is to marketing as the all-on-four is to dentistry. (God forbid a layperson ever try that without his dentist!) Let go of the idea that a do-it-yourself solution will save money, and invest instead in a solution that can guide you through these tactics. It will pay off.
9. Billboard at sea. Your website is a billboard in the middle of the ocean until you make the effort to attract visitors. Start with intent tactics first (SEO and Google AdWords), since they are the easiest and least expensive way to attract people who already have the intention of finding a dentist like you.
10. Reputation management run amok. Instead of getting carried away worrying about bad reviews, focus on attracting great reviews by being your best.
Your practice’s online promotions should act as an efficient machine that attracts visitors to your site and patients into your door while you focus on what you do best.