An article in April’s issue of Dental Economics surveyed about 100 people to evaluate the impact of word-of mouth dental referrals. The results may surprise you.
Breaking it down quickly, the respondents were 73 females and 30 males from all age groups. None of them was associated with any dental profession except as patients.
75% said they used a word-of-mouth referral as their starting point the last time they looked for a dentist. Insurance provider lists came in second. That’s the good news.
The not-so-good news is that 43 percent of those respondents also did online research about those word-of mouth referrals before deciding on a dentist. Basically, 4 out of 10 didn’t think that the word-of-mouth referral was enough. They wanted more information and looked for it online.
Specifically, they wanted to know about hours of operation; to view photos of the practice staff and the doctors; to know that the practice appeared modern; and to know insurance information. All other search queries were under 25 percent of respondents.
There are some good takeaways here for dentists who want to attract more and better dental patients.
Your website has to cater to your patient’s needs and wants
Did you notice that few prospective patients are looking for condition-specific information? In fact, only 21 percent of respondents looked patient education material. Your prospects want to know:
- Do you keep my hours?
- Who are you people?
- Is your office clean, attractive, and up-to-date?
- Do you take my insurance?
Here are the takeaways from those findings:
- Your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) information has to be easily findable and understandable on your website. The same holds for your hours of operation. If prospects can’t find that information quickly, they’ll be off to another dentist’s website.
- Stock photos are not your friends when it comes to your website. Right or wrong, people make judgements about people from photos. They want to see the actual people who will greet them, answer their questions, clean their teeth, and give them a beautiful smile or pain-free eating.
- If your office is modern but your website isn’t, you’ve got a major disconnect in perception. If your office isn’t modern in appearance or equipment, forget it. You’ve got to tick all the boxes for your prospects or they’ll find someone else pronto.
- Cleanings and exams every six months might be affordable for many people without insurance. Once dental care moves beyond those, insurance is a crucial factor in dental patient decision-making. Given that real incomes for the bottom three quintiles have declined since the late 1990’s, 60 percent of your dental prospects, if not more, are going to be insurance-driven.
With insurance reimbursement constantly being squeezed, it’s tough to increase your revenues significantly without working yourself to half to death.
Of course, that still leaves the top 40 percent of dental prospects. That’s where the patients who will help you grow your practice will come from. Your website is the crucial link in the patient attraction process.
If you’d like me to evaluate your website and tell you how it can be improved, go to smartboxdental.com, go to the Resources tab, click Products, and then click on The Swift Kick Dental Website Review about halfway down the page. You can order a customized 30-minute video critique of your site, social media presence, online patient reviews, dental videos, and more using our 131-point dental web marketing checklist.