A Welcome Site: Orthodontic Marketing by Phil Horton

Categories: Marketing;
A Welcome Site: Dental Social Marketing 

Even if your practice has a booming social media presence, it’s essential that your website contains the right information

by Phil Horton

Since the advent of social media, its popularity has continued to grow astronomically. According to We Are Social, a social-led marketing agency, in 2020 there were 3.8 billion active users across social media platforms. Nearly half of Earth’s population is actively using social media!

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Social media is primarily free to use and allows users to send out massive amounts of information to friends, followers, fans, etc., from the convenience of a phone or other internet-connected device.

Ease of use and ability to effectively communicate with customers en masse on social platforms has left many businesses wondering if their website should even be a priority anymore. But websites still play a crucial role in appealing to existing patients, while also attracting new ones.

Keep reading to learn about the differences between social media platforms and a website, why they are both important aspects of a practice’s marketing strategy, and why it’s not time to neglect your website—even if your practice has a strong social media presence.

The customer funnel

To better understand how customers are affected by online marketing, we need to follow the “customer funnel”—in other words, how customers go from starting their search for a new doctor to actually making the call to set up an appointment.

According to Workshop Digital, an analytics-driven marketing agency, 77% of people search for a new health care provider using a search engine. The first step in their journey will likely begin with a search query such as “orthodontist near me” or “orthodontist [+ city].”

A practice without a website has a 0% chance of showing up in the search results for either query. That equates to already missing out on a chance to make an impression on nearly 80% of all new patients.

Conversely, if a practice does have a result displaying within the top of the same search results, the chances of prospective patients clicking through to its website are relatively high. If the prospect does indeed click on the link, it provides the practice with a chance to make a good first impression. That goes a long way toward attracting a prospective patient versus losing that person’s business to a competitor.

Making a good first impression

Once someone lands on a practice’s website, the clock starts ticking; a practice has just 10–20 seconds to persuade a viewer to stay on-site and learn more.

An organic search result will often send viewers to a practice’s homepage, so it’s crucial to have important content front and center. Because the website offers the best chance at a first impression, clearly telling visitors the type of practice, services that are offered and the location of the practice immediately within the homepage headings and content is a must.

Let’s use the example of someone performing a search for “orthodontist in Phoenix, AZ.” When someone performing this search lands on a practice’s website, can they immediately see the “who,” “what” and “where” information? Is it clear that the orthodontic practice offers a variety of treatment options for people in and around the Phoenix area? These questions must be immediately answered without making the visitor search around the homepage extensively.

Evergreen versus dynamic content

The social media platform versus website content variance really kicks in after someone has discovered a practice and knows what they offer.

Website content

While a website should certainly be updated to ensure accurate business information, services, staff, etc., such updates need to happen infrequently. Most information on a website can be considered “evergreen content,” meaning that it will stay the same for long periods of time. This especially applies to service pages that tell customers what a practice offers. Unless there is an update to services—Invisalign, traditional braces, etc.—the content on these pages will generally always be the same.

Such content is important because usually by the time a prospective patient has gone through the funnel and reached these pages, that person is close to making a decision. Evergreen content allows practices to continue to drive home who they are and what services they can provide while going into more detail than on the homepage.

However, there are some places on the website where more frequent updates may be necessary. For websites that feature a blog, for search engine optimization (SEO) and traffic growth purposes, new content should be launched relatively frequently.

Staff changes, especially at larger practices, also occur somewhat frequently and should be reflected on website content. It may also be necessary to make homepage updates when larger-scale changes occur. For example, many practices changed hours and protocols after the COVID-19 outbreak and such changes are worthy additions to a homepage.

Social media content

Social media platforms, on the other hand, exist as spaces for online conversations and interaction. On such platforms, people expect more timely information that doesn’t necessarily have staying power. They also are accustomed to frequent updates.

So what does social media content look like? First, it’s important to understand the rest of the customer funnel. A prospective patient typically reaches a practice’s website through a search engine, clicks through to the site and reviews the website’s content. They generally look at the staff overview, whether the services offered meet their needs and determine where the office is located. At this point they are close to making a decision, but they want to get just a little more information. They want to know what to expect regarding atmosphere and personality. This is where social media excels.

When a potential customer reviews a practice’s social media profiles, they want to see pictures of the staff, the office and maybe even other patients. This gives them a glimpse into what their experience will be like. So while website content does the majority of the selling through the aforementioned evergreen content, social media profiles and the shorter, yet frequent, updates and different content styles they exhibit will likely offer the final push to help a prospective patient make a final decision.

Cross-platform marketing

A majority of potential customers follow the pattern that was just outlined. That’s why an updated and informative website is paramount. Practices should thoughtfully exhibit their personality and services so that important information is easy to find.

Still, there are many other possible customer journeys. It’s entirely feasible for a prospective patient to find a practice on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. This is why, after developing a website with all of the requisite information and features, an active social media presence should be considered.

Social platforms enable practices to post compelling content that appeals to current and potential patients. They allow the personality of a practice to be illustrated to patients. What happens if someone does find a practice they like via a social media platform? Most likely, that person will go straight to the practice’s website to learn more, bringing them back to the top of the funnel where, again, the website plays an incredibly important role.

There is no perfect solution for attracting new patients via digital channels. What we do know is that most patients perform extensive online research with the tools at their disposal. In the digital age, there is no shortage of available resources.

Practices must target people at the right times throughout the decision cycle. Websites and social media networks both play very different roles but, when used together, paint the most accurate picture of a practice. They should be used in tandem to really maximize appeal to prospective patients and provide valuable information to existing ones.
Author Bio
Phil Horton Phil Horton is a senior search manager at Sesame Communications, a Henry Schein One company. Horton has extensive experience in digital marketing, focusing primarily on search engine optimization and social media. Before joining Sesame, he worked in public relations for a large financial institution based in Seattle. Outside the office, he spends most of his time on the golf course, the softball field, or working around the house with his fiancée.

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