Re-opening and growing your dental practice after the pandemic

dentist coronavirus ppe

Most dental practices have reopened or are about to reopen after the initial pandemic closures. While your team is likely excited to get back to work, some of your patients may be apprehensive about returning for appointments. Making sure those patients feel confident about their safety is your main marketing priority right now. Most dental practices have reopened or are about to reopen after the initial pandemic closures.

While your team is likely excited to get back to work, some of your patients may be apprehensive about returning for appointments. Making sure those patients feel confident about their safety is your main marketing priority right now.

Many dentists are concerned about what will happen two to three months after they reopen. Most practices currently have a backlog of urgent appointments so you will likely be busy right away and maybe even for the next few months. What will happen when the backlog is cleared? What you do now will prepare you for the future.

This article will cover strategies to help you create smooth and steady growth in your office over the next six to twelve months. Growth from your marketing efforts right now will be essential for most practices to counteract coronavirus fears and any subsequent long-term declines in the overall dental market due to unemployment and loss of insurance benefits.

Marketing opportunities for dental practices

Many dental practices stopped marketing when they closed. This has caused a drop in competition in Google Ads and other pay-per-click marketing platforms like Facebook and Bing. Right now, getting new patient traffic to your website is easier and less expensive. Over the next six months it’s likely we will see a return to more expensive ads for dental practices. Take this opportunity to drive affordable traffic to your website in the short-term. This traffic will turn into new patients that will help you smooth out the inevitable drop in demand over the next half of the year.

Marketing safety to your patients

One of the most valuable marketing strategies a dentist can implement right now is to separate themselves from the competition for patients concerned about coronavirus safety. Dental anxiety is already an issue for a large part of the population. Coronavirus has made that anxiety even worse for many patients. Creating and communicating a trustworthy and safe environment right now is essential.

Most dental practices will be using similar safety protocols, but many won’t promote those protocols through their advertising. Creating safety-based messaging that you can use on your website and your marketing will help to attract new patients. Steps you can take to show them how you are reducing their risk include:

  • Well-written lists of new safety measures on your website
  • Videos and photos that showcase the measures you are taking (for example, photos of the steps your team is taking to sanitize the office)
  • Lists that outline patient protocols (handwashing, prescreening protocols, etc)
  • Lists of new safety equipment like HEPA filters, plexiglass, or negative pressure devices

You can use this messaging on your website, social media, paid advertising, reviews, and testimonials, and this will help to reassure nervous patients.

Reputation management is more important than ever

Positive reviews can drive new patients to dental practices. They are the most read type of review after hotels and restaurants. Negative reviews are always a problem, but negative reviews about safety procedures would be an even bigger problem. Give your patients clarity about what to expect and make sure they have a positive experience. 

Being proactive and soliciting reviews is a key marketing priority right now. Make sure you request positive reviews from new patients who are visiting your practice. Ask your patients who had a good experience if they could share that experience on social media or Google reviews. A few questions you can use to prompt them include:

  • What safety measures did they notice?
  • What was the prescreening like?
  • What were they worried about and did they end up feeling safe at their appointment?

These types of testimonials and reviews are very valuable to reassure patients with dental anxiety and fears about coronavirus. Building trust with social proof is one of the most valuable marketing strategies you have right now. You can tell them that they are safe, but when a happy patient explains it, their fears can be reduced even more effectively.

Everyone is spending even more time on social media

Lots of potential new patients are spending more time than ever on social media. It’s one of the only places people can still connect to their communities. Many people are spending hours a day scrolling through their Facebook and Instagram feeds. This is a great opportunity to get in front of existing patients to reassure them about coming back for an appointment and making a trustworthy impression on new patients. Some ideas for posting content on social media:

  • New safety equipment in the office
  • Show which staff are back in the office
  • What new patients can expect for their first visit
  • Educational information about oral hygiene until they can get to their next appointment
  • Videos that capture the new safety environment

Paid advertising is generating low-cost new patient leads

Many dental practices stopped advertising when they were forced to close. This has resulted in a drop in the cost per click (CPC) and an increase in conversions and click-through rate (CTR) for those who continued to advertise. The result is less expensive new patient leads for those who continued to advertise. Many practices haven’t started advertising yet because they are busy enough with the pent-up demand. The challenge will come later when the new patient flow slows. Advertising online is a fantastic opportunity to acquire new patients and to make sure you don’t experience a slowdown.

The key to advertising in Google Ads at this time is to add the safety based messaging we discussed earlier. This messaging will stand out and build trust with new patients who are concerned about safety.

Search Engine Optimization

The quest to climb to the top of Google is a never-ending battle. It’s important to keep up all the tasks that lead to success in SEO like adding content to your website, attracting links, and the behind the scenes technical work. 

A few actions you could take are:

  • Create content for your Google My Business posts that focus on safety messaging.
  • Add your website and business to any local directories that focus on businesses that have reopened in your area. These are valuable local links.
  • Update your hours and Google My Business and turn off the temporarily closed setting.
  • Add photos of your safety measures to your Google My Business.
  • Take advantage of any free media you can get about your business reopening.

Work with your SEO company to make sure that your COVID update pages are properly optimized. Also, consider adding new pages to your website addressing commonly asked questions about visiting a dentist safely during the pandemic. Use tools like Answer the Public or Google Trends to find out what these questions are so that you focus on the most important ones first.

The path to stability and growth

Communicating safety and reassurance to your patients will help to build trust and attract the type of new patients who will stay with your practice because they know you are the best option for taking care of them. These messages will also reassure existing patients that they are safe at your dental practice. Dental practices may experience some rough roads in the near future with the potential for additional pandemic related closings and a continued decline in patient visits. There is an excellent opportunity for dentists to add new patients and make your future more stable and profitable. Doing this work now will pay dividends in the future.

Contact us for a free assessment of your marketing plans and online presence.

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