At a cocktail party with a group of dentists, it would be perfectly acceptable to use words like bruxism, prophylaxis, and Class 3 malocclusion. Your audience undeniably understands those terms. Now imagine that hanging on the edge of your conversation is an auto mechanic, a chef, a teacher, and a police officer. If you used the same terminology in conversation with them, they would either think you were incredibly boring or pretentious.
It’s the same when writing for your dental website. Sure, prospective patients want a dentist who is skilled and experienced, but they also want to feel comfortable and cared for. Emotionally driven copy provides a connection that allows patients to like, know, and trust you. But there’s more: We must take into consideration not only the desires of the new patient but their reading level as well.
It is widely accepted that the average American has a reading level between 8th and 9th grade. “But wait,” you say! “My patients are highly educated professionals. If I talk down to them I’m just insulting their intelligence.” Doesn’t matter – the lawyers, university professors and engineers in your practice still didn’t go to dental school. It’s important to make your content accessible and easy to understand.
In terms of web content, we should be focusing on presenting clinical terms in a more digestible manner, backing our definitions with infographics when applicable, and steering our content towards a more conversational style that is engaging, easy to read, and entertaining. This will keep people reading long enough to convert into a new patient appointment.
1. Write conversationally: conversational writing is easier to digest and helps the reader feel more comfortable. It lets them know that you are able to convey their treatment options in a way they can understand. And frankly, it’s just a lot more enjoyable to read.
2. Don’t bury the lead: This is probably written on the walls of every newspaper office. Tell the most important information first and support it with details and graphics when necessary.
3. Leave the technical terms for the office where you can gauge patients’ understanding through facial cues and nonverbal body language.
4. Have a trusted patient or group of patients read excerpts from your website to see if they understand what they are reading. Your content should generate conversation about treatment options rather than confuse your patients further.
5. Consider having a professional writer help with your content. They understand how to talk about your products and benefits in the most appealing way, vary sentence structure and syntax for engaging flow and readability, and write for the particular readers you are trying to attract.
Often, we find ourselves concerned with the minutiae of building a new dental website or resurrecting an old one, but it is important to step back and look at the website as a whole. The content, the imagery, the design, the case gallery, all make up important parts of a well balanced site. Starting with engaging, conversational text that favors readability over length will help make your website more digestible for your reader, and will increase their trust in your expertise and ability to explain the treatment you are recommending. It’s the first step in building enduring relationships with your patients.
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