Software of Excellence research has revealed some fascinating insights into the extent to which dental practices use marketing to attract new patients and also to increase their treatment footprint to existing patients, but there are also some serious shortfalls in the processes used to manage and track marketing activity.
The result is a picture of a profession that knows it has a marketing challenge, but for various reasons, be that lack of knowledge, time or resources, is failing to address the problems adequately.
The solution, in the form of EXACT V12, signals a pivotal moment for the dental profession as for the first time dentists are presented with the means by which they can connect their marketing and business functions, enabling them to take full advantage of new digital communication platforms.
The power and influence of internet searches for dental practices is no longer a factor that can be ignored and new patient acquisition is now driven to some extent at least by a combination of word of mouth referral and internet searches. So maximising online presence needs to be a dynamic part of a practice’s growth strategy.
This change in climate has precipitated a preoccupation with two burning questions that now face dentists. Firstly, how do I get to the top of Google’s ranking and secondly, once there how do I make my practice stand out from others in my local area?
To answer either, or ideally both of these questions, requires an understanding of how potential patients conduct internet searches in the first place. Evidence suggests that in the main this happens either by a local search or a direct search. A local search is one in which the patient might enter ‘dentist in High Wycombe’ into Google, suggesting they have no preference for a particular practice. A direct search on the other hand refers to the patient entering the practice’s name and town, which suggests that the search is more likely to be in response to some other form of practice communication, or is possibly the result of a personal recommendation.
The aim for practices should be to appear on page one of any internet search for practices in their local area. But page one status is not the end of the story. The days when a business could ‘buy’ its way to the top of Google through search engine optimisation are gone, and instead the constantly shifting algorithm now returns a slimmed down number of results, favouring those sites that are local and have high quality, fresh content. Within this equation Google assigns substantial weighting to customer reviews when considering where to rank respective businesses.
As a result of Google’s shift in emphasis, the relevance and importance of online reviews is growing. Research from Harvard Business School has already shown that a difference of just one star on a business’s online profile can lead to a 5-9% increase in revenue (Luca, 2011).
Good reviews enable a practice to ‘own’ the results page for a local search, but managing the process of collection, collation and ultimately the publication of online reviews can be a complicated, time consuming task and one which can be easily forgotten by busy reception teams.
Online Reputation Manager
Online Reputation Manager is a key part of EXACT V12 and automatically manages patient reviews. It gathers reviews in practice and then automatically emails those patients who have left positive reviews and asks them to post via their Google+ account. The software also manages the publication of reviews both on the practice’s own website and on reputation.com. Effectively this strategy secures your domination of the results page when a prospective patient makes a local search for practices in your area.
Online Reputation Manager also features a dashboard that provides full visibility of your ratings and how these are being used across various digital platforms, so you can monitor performance and ensure that positive reviews are being used across as many channels as possible.
In addition, Online Reputation Manager benchmarks your performance against that of the average UK practice. By showing the results that are being achieved by the nation’s top performing practices and identifying where your practice ranks, the software will make recommendations as to which areas you need to improve.
EXACT V12’s focus on exploiting the power of internet searches now enables dental practices for the first time, to take control of an integrated patient communication plan by optimising their online presence and using digital platforms to maximum effect as part of a fully co-ordinated marketing strategy.