By Theresa Ahearn
With a looming recession and out-of-control inflation, consumers worldwide have dramatically changed their spending habits. Moreover, several economic forecasters predict this growing trend will continue well into 2023. Many of these changes – for instance, the rise of online shopping, a decline in elective procedures, and the preference for telehealth – have critical implications for the healthcare industry, including dentistry.
Dental practices must enter the new year with an innovative marketing and advertising strategy to stay ahead of the economic challenges. A strong marketing strategy can strengthen patient relationships, help dental practices offset rising costs, improve the quality of care, and enhance brand awareness.
Marketing Strategies for 2023
Dental practices need to start the new year with a comprehensive marketing strategy to connect with customers if they want to be successful in 2023. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the way that all businesses use online technology has changed, and dentistry is no exception. To have the best possible access to patients, dental offices now more than ever need to stay current with the latest trends, particularly when it comes to online and digital marketing.
Consumers look for an easy-to-navigate website, engaging social media posts, and excellent online reviews. Therefore, a multipronged approach will be required to attract modern patients and build a sustainable dental brand based on the latest technology.
Know Your Numbers
When facing a recession, you must pause, assess your data, and establish goals before beginning any marketing initiatives. For example, what number of patients do you have right now? How many additional patients do you hope to attract? What percentage of visitors to your website stay there, and for how long? Guessing is not an option during a recession; a campaign's success hinges on correcting the numbers.
Being proactive and investigating how you are performing and where you need to improve will help direct your campaign and offer you a benchmark to measure your success. Once you know your numbers, you can implement modern marketing strategies and trends to help your dental practice grow despite the ever-changing economic landscape.
Make Your Website User-Friendly
A website can be essential to survival during a recession and is one of your most important marketing tools. The design and functionality of dental websites must be reimagined to meet the expectations of healthcare consumers. Today's customers want high-quality, timely, relevant content and tools that simplify and facilitate patient access to scheduling and services, such as live chat, patient portals, and mobile apps.
Consider adding an online booking tool to your website to streamline scheduling, appointment reminders, or other messaging. In addition to redesigning your website, search engine optimization (SEO) is essential in 2023 to keep traffic coming to your website. An efficient SEO strategy will guarantee that you publish material that people are searching for and keep you on track when adding new content.
Focus on Patient Reviews
In addition to a modern website, the holy grail of a successful marketing campaign is patient reviews. Patient reviews typically come in the form of online comments or star ratings. 94% of patients use online reviews to compare providers. Another way to provide patient feedback is by using video testimonials on websites or social networking sites like Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube. Dentists can encourage patients to leave reviews by reminding them how valuable their feedback is or by sending thank you emails after an appointment reminding them to leave a review.
Though positive reviews are never guaranteed, improving the patient experience can increase the likelihood that happy patients will leave reviews.
Patients who are satisfied with their experience and receive efficient, high-quality care are more likely to leave positive online reviews and spread the word about you to their networks. Conversely, suppose an online review is negative. In that case, practice managers can use it to learn where improvements need to be made and re-engage the patient by politely and professionally responding to the review.
Engage the Community Through Social Media
Building and strengthening brand awareness in your local community is vital during a recession. It won't help much if a prospective patient from New York City finds the website for a dental office in San Francisco. Consumers typically search for a dentist's office within a 10-mile radius of their residence and only further if they live in a remote area. As a result, you should focus your digital marketing efforts on connecting with customers in your immediate area.
An easy way to reach local audiences is through social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram. Social media can be used to share information about your services in your neighborhood and collect feedback and endorsements from local followers.
Another technique to engage with the local community is by claiming or creating a Google My Business listing. Utilizing Google My Business listings will significantly boost the likelihood that local patients will find you online.
Offer New and Trending Cosmetic Services
Despite the economic downturn, the market for cosmetic dentistry is anticipated to grow to $43.06 billion by 2026. The "Zoom Boom" brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in individuals utilizing video conferencing apps like ZOOM to communicate or work remotely is partly responsible for the popularity of cosmetic procedures.
A marketing campaign highlighting new and trending cosmetic procedures can attract new customers and inspire existing ones to return. To promote cosmetic services, create a detailed webpage describing the service and any frequently asked questions.
Images or videos can also illustrate the procedure and expected results. Using keywords while promoting procedures or creating material about them will help to boost the likelihood that local patients looking for specialized services will find them.
Putting Strategies into Action
While we enter 2023, and the threat of recession presses on, it may seem overwhelming to start a marketing strategy. However, by beginning the new year with a successful, contemporary marketing plan that includes modernizing your website, utilizing social media, promoting trending dental procedures, and re-engaging with the local community, you can practically recession-proof your dental practice and start the year off right.
If you're not yet subscribed to receive the Incisor newsletter, filled with cutting-edge dental news sent directly to your inbox bi-weekly, you can do so here.
Author: Theresa Ahearn is a freelance writer currently residing in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the New York Institute of Technology and her Master of Science from Central Connecticut State University.