The world of online marketing is constantly changing – every single year brings new updates, standards, best practices, trends, and recommendations. It can be overwhelming!

As 2019 draws to a close, many dental professionals we speak with are asking:

What does effective, ROI-driven dental marketing look like for 2020 and beyond?

Believe it or not, online marketing looks a little like a cocktail party. Really!

Let’s see how.

Picture a cocktail party or networking event where you KNOW you’ll meet some influential individuals who could become new patients, help you build your practice, or help you gain recognition in the industry. Now that we’ve set the scene, here are 6 marketing essentials for 2020.

6 foundational elements of dental marketing

The path to gaining more new patients includes six main components, all of which combine to help you ATTRACT new patients, NURTURE real relationships, and create loyal customers.

First comes “Attract,” then comes “Nurture.”

3 components of dental marketing: BUILD, SHARE, LINK

Attract new patients

The first thing we need to do is attract attention to our brand online. The three main steps to take in achieving this are to BUILD, then SHARE, and get LINKS.

Let’s go!

1. BUILD.

If you were invited to a posh cocktail party, would you throw on some sweats, head to the party, and hang out in the corner?

Of course not – you’d dress to impress! A unique, stylish, and polished presence at a cocktail party would make a great first impression.

Your online presence is no different. You must create (and maintain) a polished online presence that attracts.

How can you build a memorable first impression that stands out over the competition?

  • Ensure your website (the foundation of your online marketing) is up to date with what users expect: great user experience on any device, useful content, real photos and videos of your team, a fresh, current design, etc.
  • Claim and optimize your local directory listings and ensure they’re consistent, accurate, and up to date.

2. SHARE.

Have you ever been stuck at a party with that one guy who prattles on endlessly about himself?

Nobody likes that guy. Don’t be that guy.

You MUST share content that your audience actually needs and wants. Yes, sometimes that content might be about your services.

But to deliver value, you have to listen and take note of what your audience needs and wants – and then devise ways to share THAT.

What types of content do real patients want to see?

  • Real photos of your team, office, and culture
  • Content that answers patients’ most common questions
  • Community support and involvement
  • Videos that educate and engage

3. LINK.

Hanging out in the corner at the party and refusing to make eye contact with others isn’t exactly going to help you get to know those influential party guests.

You have to converse, make connections, and keep in touch.

Gaining links to your website from quality, relevant websites is a genius way to rank higher on search engines and to make connections with others in your community, both online and offline.

Interested in learning more about acquiring links for your dental website? You’ll love this blog post!

3 components of dental marketing: ENGAGE, CONNECT, CULTIVATE

Nurture relationships over time

Once we’ve attracted visibility to our online brand, we must nurture real relationships and connections.

Let’s see how it’s done:

4. ENGAGE.

Remember that guy no one likes, the one who only talks about himself? One-way conversation is never a good way to make a lasting connection. The same is true online.

Regularly promote online conversation in a variety of forms, and deliver content your audience finds useful. Also, be sure to listen and respond in a genuine and meaningful way.

5. CONNECT.

Just as a sincere, genuine demeanor can attract others to you at a party, the roots of your marketing must be real, honest, and trustworthy.

The content you share must instill confidence and build trust.

Keep that connection growing over time by connecting with existing patients in a variety of ways, both online and offline.

One of the best ways to engage and connect with your audience is by means of social media. The entire point of “social” media is to, well, socialize!

Use your social platforms to interact, provide valuable content, share what you love, and show off your practice’s authentic personality.

6. CULTIVATE.

You might make a connection at the party but that doesn’t mean you’re automatically BFFs – you must build and cultivate a relationship over time.

Similarly, conversion and retention of new patients may include several points of online (and offline) contact. Lead generation and loyalty building requires systematically nurturing and delivering value at different stages and in a variety of ways.

Building your marketing foundation to attract new patients

Now that we’ve broken down the foundational pieces for an effective dental marketing strategy, you might be wondering:

“Ok, so where’s the best place to start?”

Every practice is different, so there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer to that question. That’s where we can help! Here are a few resources to help you get started:

Educational resources from Roadside: Learn the basics with free marketing education videos, webinars, and ebooks on branding, SEO, and more!

Request a free website analysis: This comprehensive (no-obligation) analysis will cover what’s working with your website, areas that might need improvement, and the health of your overall online presence.

Schedule a free consultation with Angela: With roots in real dental practices like yours, Angela’s an amazing resource! Schedule a time to discuss your questions and get her recommendations for your unique needs.

Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.