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The 2013 Guide to Mobile Marketing for Dentists

The prevalence of mobile devices has skyrocketed among the consumer marketplace to the point where it affects our daily lives at every moment, which presents a huge opportunity for businesses and healthcare providers to connect with the right people.

Everyday people are using their phones for directions in the car, to get recommendations on where to eat, to browse the web as they wait for their appointment at the dentist and more. The Mobile Consumer Habits study was just released citing that 72% of respon­dents of the survey reported being within five feet of their smartphones the majority of their time.

Mobile Marketing for Dentists

What does this mean for dentists trying to connect with potential patients in their area? It presents an unprecedented chance to connect with local residents in a substantial way, improving the process and the relationship between a dental practice and their current and existing clients through mobile.

Where to Start

The first step for any dental practitioner looking to market their practice on mobile devices is to understand the practical uses of this form of marketing.

The three main reasons dentists should be focused on mobile marketing are:

1. To cater to the experience of web users regardless of what device they are using when browsing your website.

2. To strengthen your visibility in local search conducted on smartphones.

3. To improve communications between your dental practice and your patients through texting.

When it comes to mobile marketing it is important to always start small and streamline your approach, focus on your mobile presence as it applies to your overall marketing goals. Setting your benchmarks for a successful mobile campaign from the beginning is crucial for long-term measurable success.

A successful mobile campaign should be measured inline with your overall marketing goals, such as trying to attract new patients, retain existing patients, increase referrals, generate buzz or drive traffic to your website.

How can these marketing goals be achieved through mobile?

  • Attract new patients by increasing your rankings in local mobile search.
  • Retain existing patients through SMS text messaging reminders and campaigns.
  • Increase referrals by providing mobile incentives to existing patients.
  • Generate buzz by utilizing location-based social media on mobile.
  • Drive traffic to your website through mobile ads, local search and SMS text messaging.

Mobile Lingo

With the reasoning for utilizing mobile marketing clear as well as the goals to measure if a campaign is successful, it is time to understand mobile marketing lingo in order to accurately setup your strategy. Here is the most important lingo to know when discussing mobile marketing for the purposes of this article:

  • Responsive Design: A web design approach that automatically optimizes a website for the optimal viewing experience, no matter if it is viewed on a mobile phone, tablet or desktop.
  • SMS Text Messaging: Text messaging service (opt-in) offered as a part of a mobile subscription plan for all types of mobile devices. SMS can be used to message others, subscribe to something, pay for something and to receive notifications.
  • Search Engine Optimization: The process of optimizing your website and other online properties to be searchable in the major search engines for relevant keyword searches.
  • Local Search: When a user is looking for your website based on a physical location, it is important for your website and social media profiles to rank at the top of the search results with the correct address, phone number and contact info.It is a critical aspect of your SEO strategy to optimize your physical locations for local searches that are often conducted on mobile devices and will most likely result in an action taking place like a phone call or a visit. For instance, optimizing for local search helps someone searching dentist in Chicago find your practice if it is located in Chicago.
  • Web Analytics: The science of analyzing the traffic to a web property often through a platform like Ommniture, Google Analytics, Compete, Quantcast, MOZ and more. Understanding the frequency, number of visitors, the sources of traffic etc. can help any type of organization better their strategy for driving more traffic and reaching their goals.
  • Check-Ins: When a user visits the physical location of a business or organization, they have the option of sharing this visit from their mobile phone on Facebook, Foursquare, Google+ or other social channels with their friends. This action creates a post on their profile on the channel of their choosing, alerting their network about this user’s experince at this location.
  • Page Views: The number of visits to a particular page on your website from users on desktops, mobile phones and other devices, which could be a combination of multiple visits to that page by the same visitor or visits from many visitors.

For more mobile marketing terminology, check out this glossary from the Mobile Marketing Association.

Define Your Mobile Strategy

Your strategy with mobile should be simple, process driven and measurable. Here are suggested focuses for dentist’s and their practices.

Responsive Design

If your practice doesn’t have a website yet, then the time is now to build one. It does not have to be extensive, but more so a simple high-level view of your dental practice, contact information and service offerings.

Making sure that this website is mobile friendly is important to ensure visitors that find your practice online are able to find out more information about your business without any roadblocks.

If you do have an existing website and a web analytics tool monitoring your traffic, check to see what percentage of traffic is from mobile devices because you will be surprised at the number of visitors that are viewing your website from mobile even without it being responsive. Can you imagine the difference in converting web visitors to patients if your website did work properly on mobile?

Responsive Design

Responsive design is often noted as the best means of ensuring that a website is both mobile and search engine friendly, no matter the device being used to view your website. If you have an existing website, even if it is brand new, then you can proceed down one of two paths.

First, your dental practice can invest in upgrading to a responsive website from a web designer or firm which is expensive but the best investment in the long-term.

If not, the second option is to create a mobile version of your website through an app or DIY mobile service. These solutions are typically affordable or have no cost at all like GinWiz, Mofuse or BMobilized. This option is an excellent short-term solution for updating your website to mobile, while building the budget necessary to upgrade to a responsive website in the future.

If you don’t have a website, hire a web design firm or web designer to build your responsive site or look for solutions to build it on your own. To build a responsive website on your own utilize services like Wix, or Weebly if you are a beginner or WordPress if you are a more advanced user. Each of these services offer mobile friendly solutions when building a website, not to mention that all three services have free versions, especially useful for building a smaller website.

Local Search Marketing

Ensuring that your website comes up high in the search engines for local searches as a dentist is very important. To help optimize your website for the search engines include text throughout your practice’s site that includes the right keywords in a natural way like Omaha Dentist or Dentist Office in NYC. Describe your service offerings, include customer testimonials, start a blog and add title tags and meta descriptions to all of your pages to help benefit from the search engines.

On-Page Optimization

This screenshot illustrates how the pages on your website will be featured in the search engines. The text in blue is the title tag, which is defined by the website owner as the 65 character title of a particular page and taken into consideration by the search engines as to what the page is about.

The green text is the URL or the web address, of the particular page on your website which you can define. Lastly, the black text is a 150 character description about the page which is an opportunity to tease and incite web visitors to click.

Lastly, register your dental practice on a Google+ Local page, Foursquare, Yelp and Facebook to ensure patients searching for your practice on these popular social media channels can find your organization. These channels also allow your dental practice to post content to your audience, driving more visibility to your service offerings locally.

SMS Text Messaging

SMS text messaging can help your practice retain existing customers by ensuring there are less missed appointments that could potentially hurt your revenue. Typically, dentist offices send post card reminders, phone calls or even emails to remind existing patients of their upcoming appointment.

One of the least invasive methods of alerting patients of an upcoming appointment is through SMS text messaging that saves the practice time and effort with stronger results than phone, postcard or email.

Dentist Text Messages

According to SimpleTextin, most text messages are read instantly and aren’t ignored, which makes the SMS approach the most effective way to reach your patients. Still not convinced? 90% of texts are read within 3 minutes of receipt, while less than 1% of all text messages go unread. SMS cannot be ignored as a powerful technique to market your practice on mobile.

Other Resources

Looking to get more insights on mobile marketing for your practice? Here is a roundup of helpful mobile marketing resources for all skill sets:

Beginner Level

Mobile Marketing 101 via Quirk

Getting Started with Mobile Marketing via MobiTrax

Mobile Search: How New Customers Find You via Constant Contact

How Marketers Are Approaching Mobile in 2013 via MarketingProfs

Intermediate Level

SMS List Building Guide via Ez Texting

Mobile Mania – The Growing Importance of Mobile Website Optimization via KISSmetrics

10 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Marketing Via Foursquare via Marketing Land

5 Mobile Marketing Tools to Reach Customers on the Go via Mashable

Advanced Level

Mobile Marketing Best Practices via Mobile Marketing Association

Mobile Marketer’s Classic Guide to Mobile Creative via MobileMarketer

MarketingSherpa’s Top 5 Mobile Marketing Case Studies & How-tos via HubSpot

How are you marketing your dental practice? What results has your organization seen thru mobile marketing? Share your thoughts below.

Images courtesy of Eat Sleep Draw, Designmodo & Lockbox.

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Jonathan has a proven record of entrepreneurial success in the healthcare field. As the founder and CEO of ReferralMD, he is responsible for designing the framework of ReferralMD, while managing enterprise sales, marketing and channel development.