Connect, Engage, and Win New Patients!
Posted on February 14th, 2017
With the competitive landscape of orthodontics ever changing and the resounding shift towards new social communication standards, the manner in which we connect, engage, and ultimately win new patients has many practices I meet scratching their heads. They are wondering how they can implement a marketing strategy and operational solution that is as relevant in today’s technological terms as it is both manageable, and quantitatively productive.
Further, as I survey the marketplace with clients and colleagues it has become increasingly obvious that more general dentists are performing orthodontics, economic conditions continue to still constrain household cash flow and there are more orthodontic options available for patients to choose from. Taking into consideration these dynamics, we advise practices looking for solutions to both adopt these new communication standards and become market leaders in this information age. Luckily there has been no better time to institute these changes than now. With minimal cost solutions can be readily employed by any size business and results are quickly visible. In most instances providing a much-needed boost in new business activity while delivering both a greater value and higher quality patient experience.
The benefits are numerous and impactful. Giving orthodontists a new found way of providing greater connectivity and engagement with patients, dental colleagues, and the communities in which they serve. Additionally practices that embrace new social marketing initiatives allow for further competitive differentiation in the new patient exam process.
We’ve seen the greatest impact for our clients when integrating an approach that utilizes the best of Facebook & Twitter, coupled with a custom branded reward program. Additionally, we sync those programs with contest, testimonial, and referral engagement features. For the practice the entire suite of services are then delivered and administrated through a personalized dashboard in a web-based application. Likewise for the patient an ever-engaging personal portal experience is created. Linking familiar Facebook activities, games, contests, and messaging services with an added e-commerce platform for the redemption of rewards points.
Utilities such as these are quickly becoming a global norm for businesses looking to leverage their marketing programs in the most productive way. This year alone 4 out of 5 companies will use either social media or reward programs in achieving their desired results. These aren’t just tools for big business anymore. After all, you and your patients connect with family, friends, neighbors and communities in this format. You practice should too.
The data surrounding social media and reward-loyalty programs as a means to greater connectivity is compelling.
- Facebook now has over 600 million users.
- An average user of Facebook has 130 friends
- In 2009-10 alone, social media budget growth tied to customer loyalty grew nearly 300%.
- 86% of all teenagers have a Facebook page.
- 85% of online users that are between 45-54 use some form of social media.
- Loyalty-Reward program members are most likely to be one or more of the following; female, young, living with children under the age of 18 in the household.
- 32.3% of consumers said the recession has made their participation in rewards programs more important.
WAYS TO CONNECT
We’ve all seen these bold technology shifts before. With the advent of the Internet, yellow page and most print ads were largely replaced with websites. Online connectivity is evolving rapidly as well. Websites are simply not enough on their own anymore. We’ve moved past sites as information silos and are looking for recurrent ways in which to easily interact and retain our patients’ attention. Further, why after treatment begins or ends would your patient go back to visit your website? Most don’t. Yet those existing patient relationships are your most important source of new referrals. The problem we’re solving for is how to deliver information, practice advancements and success stories in an engaging, familiar and unobtrusive manner. The desired outcome is keeping your practice connected to both active patients and those alumni members who likely, if given an easy way to do so, would readily share your information with a person in need of treatment. This is where your suite of e-tools does all the heavy lifting. Importantly, it does it in a far more efficient and welcomed manner than any letter, phone call, or email could ever do.
Sharing information about yourself or business through social media resources has never been easier or more effective. Adoption of social delivery platforms like Facebook for information exchange is common place and appreciated as it delivers an effortless way to stay connected. Thus being "Liked" has never been so important. Interestingly the top two motivations for "Liking" a companies Facebook page are 1) Receive a reward, discount or promotion 2) Show support.
Progressive offices have realized for sometime the upside of leveraging social media and viral marketing strategies. These methods are easy ways to bridge connections with patients and their friends as well as your community and dental partners. Take for example the word "LIKE". For every one follower that clicks the ‘like’ button on your Facebook page it makes your page visible to anyone who views that person’s page. One "like" can turn into two, then three, and four etc. Before you know it, your patient’s friends are seeing your updates, latest happenings and practice news. The "like" feature is essentially an online version of word-of-mouth marketing. People see content or products that they find useful and they "like" it. When it shows up in their friend’s activity feed, they’ll check it out and possibly "like" it as well.
HOW TO PROVIDE ENGAGEMENT
Engagement comes best through a relevant set of positive patient experiences.
Employing a strategy and marketing program that keeps patients interested in you and wanting to come back to visit you online and in office. Recently one of our clients shared with us a podcast from one of their local morning radio shows. The DJ (Mercedes) took her daughter for a visit at their orthodontic practice. She was so impressed by the experience that she shared it the next day (completely un-solicited) during her radio show.
"I went to the orthodontist, expecting the same experience I had as a child and was blown away. The office greeted us by name, there was a hello message displayed at the front desk welcoming Sophie to the practice. The office was clean, parents were reading magazines and kids were playing video games in the lobby. We got called back right away. They knew that Sophie had a birthday this month and gave her a balloon with candy attached to it. She was encouraged to participate in a Presidential office contest where the winner would get reward points. She was so thrilled to get a rewards card and was so excited that she earned points that day just for coming in for the new patient exam. She booked her next appointment on her birthday so she could get birthday points on her rewards card. It was quite possibly the coolest place I’ve ever been, we had fun at the orthodontist!"
WIN AND HARVEST NEW PATIENTS
The last mile is taking these various activities and converting them into practice success stories in the form of word of mouth referrals, testimonials, and reviews. Thereafter employing a proper harvesting platform for these new leads is essential to maximizing your marketing efforts. With most orthodontic offices experiencing an increase in second and third opinion exams, it’s critical that your treatment coordinator has the tools to differentiate your practice as well as a system to take those leads through a properly sequenced process that will ultimately lead to conversion.
Social media, reward programs and a strong web presence are amongst the most impactful tools for delivering an engaging patient experience while providing a highly viral forum for practice advocates eager to share their story of treatment success!
Brenda Ashwell is a Senior Practice Advisor at PracticeGenius™ the firm powering The Patient Rewards Hub™ she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800.560.1469 ext 110