Internet Marketing: Attracting New Patients From Internet Search, Part II

Internet marketingAs we introduced in part I of this article, many dentists find that what they have relied on in the past just isn’t generating the new patient flow they previously experienced. Additionally, there have been significant changes in Internet marketing during just the past year. Keeping up with the changes necessary to attract new patients from Internet search is a challenge.

Let’s look at what’s changed—and what’s stayed the same, this time in terms of SEO and local listings.

Your SEO Needs to Be Strong

The need for effective search engine optimization (SEO) is constant. This gives your website visibility for location-based service search phrases such as “Dallas cosmetic dentist,” “dental implants Boston,” or “sedation dentistry in Fargo.”

PPC Extends Visibility

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is another fundamental element in maintaining a competitive edge online. PPC helps extend visibility for core service keywords, such as “cosmetic dentist” or “dental implants.” Since you can control the geography where these ads are shown, it allows your practice to be listed high in the search results for the geography around your practice from which you can reasonably expect to draw patients.

Expanded AdWords

Google’s new expanded text ads are the next generation of the standard AdWords text ad, featuring:

  • Two headlines
  • More characters
  • Expanded description

expanded AdWordsThis new ad type provides longer, more controllable messaging in your ads. These are improving click-through-rates by up to 20 percent, according to online advertising company WordStream. 

Your Local Listings Need to Be Claimed and Optimized

Internet success is also heavily dependent on local listings. These include such online directories as Google My Business, Bing Places, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and others. Claim these key listings; make sure your practice name, address, and phone number are correct and uniform; and optimize them as much as possible with services offered, a catchy business description with keywords, attractive photo content, and more.

Well-developed local listings tell prospective patients what they need to know about your practice through pertinent information and visually attractive images.

Tracking

Make sure you track your results to know what is working for your practice. It isn’t rankings for random keywords that matters; it is the rankings for the right keywords that bring in traffic and productive new leads that become paying patients.

The Future of Internet Marketing

It’s hard to predict what new developments will shape Internet marketing in the months ahead. But remember this: You must keep your online presence fresh and relevant. There are more ways than ever before to engage current patients and future prospects.

By ensuring your website is mobile friendly, developing your local listings and online reviews, using SEO and advertising effectively, and tracking your results to evaluate your success, you will be a step ahead and enjoying the benefits that come from being a leader online in your market.

 

Internet Marketing: Attracting New Patients From Internet Search, Part I

Internet marketingMany dentists find that what they have relied on in the past just isn’t generating the new patient flow they previously experienced. Additionally, there have been significant changes in Internet marketing during just the past year. Keeping up with the changes necessary to attract new patients from Internet search is a challenge.

Let’s look at what’s changed—and what’s stayed the same.

Your Website Needs to Be Mobile for Effective Internet Marketing

As always, you still need to have a well-structured website that is easy to navigate and loaded with relevant content. Your website must have fast page loading speed (not to be confused with site speed) for better ranking and conversion.

Practices need to ensure that their sites are easy to use on desktop and mobile devices. Responsive design allows your website to transition easily from a large layout for desktop users to an easy-to-navigate mobile-friendly layout for smartphones and tablets.

Recent statistics show:

Targeting specific ads to reach mobile users is another way to capitalize on this jump in mobile search, creating a more personalized and targeted search experience.

Your Reviews Must Be Monitored

Online reviews are another aspect of Internet search that continues to grow in importance. A major consumer shift has occurred, with consumers now seeking reviews for professional services with increasing frequency and basing decisions on those reviews.

It can be frustrating when online perception about your practice is largely in the hands of your patients. If you don’t proactively manage your reputation, however, you are at the mercy of those who choose to review your practice.

Even the best practices occasionally get a negative review—and they can be helpful. If you interact with your patients through both good and bad reviews, prospects will see that you are invested and involved. When positive reviews are the norm, an occasional negative review can provide credibility to the positive ones.

Online Reviews Influence Buying Decisions

BrightLocal’s 2016 Local Consumer Review Survey explored just how consumers read and use online reviews, and whether or not the reviews influenced their buying decisions.

In a nutshell, the results showed that of survey participants:

  • 84% trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation
  • 90% read fewer than 10 reviews before they form an opinion about a business
  • 74% say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
  • 73% report that reviews that are three months or older are not as important as more current reviews
  • 54% say that after reading positive reviews, their next step is to visit the business’s website

Read part II of this article to find out how SEO and local listings impact local Internet marketing.

How To React To Negative Reviews Online

The importance of having a strong online presence is increasing as reviews on local listing sites such as Google Maps, Yahoo Local, Bing Local and Yelp are becoming more of a factor for ranking your business. We all want our business to have five star reviews across the board, but what should you do if you receive a negative review? Step one: take a deep breath.

Negative reviews are an unfortunate reality of any customer service industry. But they don’t always mean the downfall of your company. Here are some ways to react if you receive a negative review:

  • Try to resolve the issue with the reviewer directly. If you recognize the patient from their comments and why they may have reacted this way, try to contact them to see if you can address their concerns and come to a resolution. If they are satisfied, ask them if they could remove the negative feedback.
  • If a resolution cannot be met, it’s a good idea to respond publicly to the review as the business owner on the site. The customer may not be happy, but you will be able to present yourself as professional and responsive to feedback by explaining what happened and how you will rectify the situation in the future. Is the reviewer’s complaint legitimate? Take a moment to see if you can enact a change in your office that will be an overall improvement in the service you provide for future patients.
  • Use the public reply as an opportunity spin the negative into a positive and explain something about the practice that wouldn’t be known otherwise. For instance, do you offer a 100% patient satisfaction guarantee or their money back? Mention this.
  • Finally, and most importantly, bury the negative with positive reviews. There are a number of ways to encourage your patients to leave reviews. Whether it is through an e-mail request with a link to your review page, a QR code poster that lets them leave a review from their cell phone or having a device in the practice office that lets them leave immediate feedback, reviews are a vital part of improving your local listing search rankings.

So next time you get a negative review- stay calm. This is a chance to improve your service and turn a person who had a negative experience into another satisfied customer.

Google Places 3rd Party Reviews Disappear

The news from Google that they will not post 3rd party reviews (only links to them) has created concern for many dental practices that rely on local internet marketing. For some time now, we have always recommended having patient reviews directly in the search engines as well as using third party review sites.  Now that these third party reviews have disappeared from Google Places (other than to have a link to them), it is important to have a strategy to get reviews posted directly in Google.  During the past few weeks, we have discussed a variety of approaches with dental practices.  Here are some strategies to consider.

• Some patient reminder systems for dental practices such as SmileReminder and DemandForce can automatically invite your patients to go into the search engines and write reviews after an office visit.  This is a great way to keep a steady flow of reviews coming into the search engines, but there is a monthly cost.

• Send your own e-mails out to your patients with a link to your local listing. We can help you format an e-mail with links directly to your local listings where they can write a review.  Give them some help with instructions.  Contact us if you would like to some help formatting these e-mails.

• Use QR codes to help direct patients to your local listings using their smart phones.   It will make it easy for them to find you, and they can use their smart phone to write a review and share their experience with others.

• Consider a simple reminder such as a business card with the address of your local listing on it that your patients can take home with them.  Make is convenient.

Reviews are gaining more and more attention from consumers, and it is important to pay attention to this area of your marketing.

20 Ways to Win with Internet Dental Marketing

We just returned from the Crown Council Annual Event in San Antonio. What a great group of Eagles who flock together in this organization to learn from each other, improve their practices and give back. It was a great opportunity to spend a few days with those who attended.

On Saturday afternoon, I presented a workshop on “20 Ways to Win with Internet Marketing”.  The internet has become a critical source of new patient traffic, but doing it right makes all the difference. If you did not have a chance to attend, here is a list that we shared with those who were there, broken into three areas:

Strategy Development
1.  Effective Targeting
2.  Proper Messaging
3.  Consistent Branding
4.  Channel Strategies
5.   Results Analysis

Driving Traffic
6.  Meaningful SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
7.   Targeted Paid Advertising (PPC)
8.   Hard-Working Domain Name(s)
9.   Informative Website Content
10. Purposeful Blogging
11.  Optimized Video
12. Newsworthy Press Releases
13. Developed Social Sites
14. Enhanced Local Listings
15. Online Testimonials
16. Targeted Micro-Sites

Converting Prospects
17. Enticing Promotions
18. Innovative Phone Tool
19. Immediate Click to Call
20. Convenient Lead Form

Bonus

• Follow-up

• Continual Tracking to Learn What is Working

There was much more in our discussion.  However, in considering ways to reach and convert key prospects as part of your internet dental marketing, this is a good starting list of things that will help you achieve success.

Internet Reviews – Not to Fear

With the increase in online reviews for dental services and other local businesses, dentists sometimes raise concerns about the lack of control about what is said online. A recent survey of online reviews found that they are largely positive. Like word of mouth, a great experience or a very negative one is more likely to spawn a review.

Here are a few excerpts from a front page Wall Street Journal Article on October 5, 2009 that provide some interesting insights into online reviews.

On the Internet, Everyone’s a Critic But They’re Not Very Critical

Average Review Is 4.3 Out of Five Stars; Jerkface Fights Back and Gets Bounced

By GEOFFREY A. FOWLER and JOSEPH DE AVILA

The Web can be a mean-spirited place. But when it comes to online reviews, the Internet is a village where the books are strong, YouTube clips are good-looking and the dog food is above average.

One of the Web’s little secrets is that when consumers write online reviews, they tend to leave positive ratings: The average grade for things online is about 4.3 stars out of five.

Many companies have noticed serious grade inflation. Google Inc.’s YouTube says the videos on its site average 4.6 stars, because viewers use five-star ratings to “give props” to video makers. Buzzillions.com, which aggregates reviews from 3,000 sites, has tracked millions of reviews and has spotted particular exuberance for products such as printer paper (average: 4.4 stars), boots (4.4) and dog food (4.7).

If the rest of the Internet is filled with nasty celebrity blogs and email flame wars, what makes product reviews sites so lovey-dovey? “If you inspire passion in somebody in a good way or a bad way, that is when they want to write a review,” says Russell Dicker, the senior manager of community at Amazon.

His boss, Amazon’s Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, follows that pattern. He has posted five-star reviews for products like Tuscan brand whole milk and some “ridiculously good cookies” sold on the site. Mr. Bezos’s only non-five-star review: one star for a science-fiction movie, “The 13th Warrior.”

Culture may play a role in the positivism: Ratings in the U.K. average an even higher 4.4, reports Bazaarvoice. But the largest contributor may be human nature. Marketing research firm Keller Fay Group surveys 100 consumers each day to ask them about what products they mentioned to friends in conversation. “There is an urban myth that people are far more likely to express negatives than positives,” says Ed Keller, the company’s chief executive. But on average, he finds that 65% of the word-of-mouth reviews are positive and only 8% are negative.

Some suspect companies goose their ratings. This summer TripAdvisor.com, which averages just above a four, posted warnings that some of its hotel reviews may have been written by hotel managers. But review sites say the incidence of fakes is tiny, and many pay people to delete puffery.Other sites admit they have a positivity problem and are taking novel steps to curb the enthusiasm. One way is to redefine average. Reviews of eBay.com’s millions of merchants were so positive that eBay made 4.3 out of five stars its minimum service standard. Beginning this month, it is switching to a system that counts just the number of one- and two-star reviews. Sellers who get more than 3% to 4% of those ratings could get kicked off of eBay.

Another site, Goodrec, decided to ditch the five-star rating system altogether, replacing it with a thumbs-up and thumbs-down system. Amazon now highlights what it dubs “the most helpful critical review” at the top of its reviews page.

Jeremy Stoppelman, chief executive of Yelp.com, which posts reviews of local businesses in cities around the country, bragged in September that his site’s reviews were more diverse. The average review on Yelp is 3.8. Many assume online reviews are “only rants or raves, resulting in consumer Web sites composed solely of ratings on the extremes,” he blogged. “A broader range of opinions can give consumers a more complete view of a business,” he says.

What can we take from this? Providing outstanding customer service in your dental practice leaves you nothing to fear. Going beyond the expected to make their experience in your dental office exceptional and will likely eventually help you develop exceptional reviews online. Paying attention to your online reputation as a portion of your internet dental marketing strategy also pays off.

Building Your Online Reputation

In the past, dental practices relied on satisfied patients to spread the word with their friends and acquaintances. Today, more and more patients are going online to share their experiences with friends and many others they don’t even know. While reviews have been online for several years for books, electronics and sellers on eBay, reviews are just gaining hold for local service providers.  This is an important developing area of the internet that makes sense to cultivate. While what others were saying about your practice was fairly invisible in the past, now word of mouth is online and visible for years.

Following are some excerpts from an October 2, 2009 Wall Street Journal article by Raymund Flandez that suggest some tips for improving your online reputation.

Three Best Ways to Improve Your Online Reputation

By RAYMUND FLANDEZ

These days, a great danger lurks just a few clicks away: the online review. By Googling your company’s name, anyone can read and track your business’s performance – including missteps, poor service or less-than-stellar products.

Protecting your company’s reputation is now a 24-hour vigil. Negative reviews – whether they’re merited or not – can turn away potential customers and vendors, and reflect badly on your company’s brand.

The good news is that small-business owners can be proactive in securing positive reviews by asking satisifed customers to share their experiences. But what if it’s already too late?

Here are the three best ways to improve your online reputation:

1. Reach out immediately to dissatisfied reviewers. Their negative comments don’t need to be the end of the conversation. Small-business owners should attempt a dialogue, experts say, as complainers might improve the review or take down the post. Oguz Ucanlar, president of SpaForever LLC in Chicago, managed to turn around bad reviews on Yelp.com by contacting the aggrieved posters. He apologized, explained the situation and offered the reviewers discounts or a free massage. The result? One bad review was deleted, and the spa’s overall rating went up. “I take it really seriously,” he says. It also helps that Yelp now allows business owners to respond publicly to any customer comment, giving others a window into how the business treats its most finicky customers.

When a bad review surfaces, an apology goes a long way, says Lisa Barone, co-founder of Outspoken Media Inc., a Spring Hill, Fla., Internet marketing company. “Most people just want to be heard,” she says. “They just want to know you’re listening and you care, and that you’re going to try and fix it.”

Keep in mind that a negative review can sometimes be helpful. Case in point: an online customer of Nationwide Candy LLC of Albuquerque, N.M., complained after she received the wrong bubblegum product. Turns out, the candy wholesaler had posted an incorrect image on its site. “It just casted a bad image on us,” says Ken Hanson, its general manager, who immediately corrected the error.

2. Flood search engines with content you can control. Use digital media’s reach to your full advantage, says Evan Bailyn, founder of First Page Sage LLC, a New York search engine optimization company. Mr. Bailyn says he often helps clients put “good publicity on top to knock bad publicity off the first page” of search engine results. To do that, he suggests releasing press releases through prnewswire.com or pr.com and building Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts since these social-media sites show up high on search results. “The overall strategy is inundating the Google results with as much good or neutral content as possible so that the bad seems like an anomaly,” Mr. Bailyn says.

3. Appeal to bloggers to review your company or your product. Getting others to weigh in can be an effective way to generate neutral or positive reviews to counteract negative ones. Influential bloggers in your niche market can bring instant credibility to a company. If you already know bloggers in your industry, read or reach others by simply scanning their blogrolls, a handy list (typically placed in the sidebar) of potential contacts. Alert them to news about your product or service as a first step in building the relationship.

For your dental practice, one of the ways you can take control of your online reputation is to invite your satisfied patients to provide reviews.  This is easy to do with a simple e-mail invitation that includes a link to your listing on a site such as Google Maps or Yahoo Local where they can write a review.  ProspectaMarketing assists dentists with this by building their local online listing with helpful information about the practice and then providing e-mail templates that can be sent to their patients to write reviews.  It is easy to implement and just requires some ongoing attention and effort.

Some dentists have concerns about the lack of control over reviews.  The best defense is a well-run practice.  However, even the best practices may have a dissatisfied customer from time to time.  One doctor of an excellent practice had a dissatisfied patient who wrote a negative review and had her husband write a negative review as if he were a patient also.  After a phone call to discuss their concerns, they agreed to remove the reviews.  Sometimes just showing you hear them and will resolve their concerns will resolve the problem and maybe even create greater loyalty.