June 28th, 2018

Understanding the Dental Marketing Funnel

New patients! While we love them, and they are certainly a metric worth measuring to gauge your practice’s success, they aren’t the only audience you should be crafting a dental marketing message to. There are many stages a potential patient goes through before they become the bread and butter of your practice. And guess what? The marketing doesn’t stop when they walk in for their first appointment. Each stage of the dental marketing funnel plays a role in your practice’s growth, both in the short-term, and long into the future.

Just tell me what a dental marketing funnel really is

Think of your patient’s journey through the practice. First they hear about you, then they decide if they like you. When the need arises, they call and hopefully your team gets them scheduled for an appointment. They sit in your dental chair, and you impress them. They decide to come back again. (Hooray!) You keep them in the practice with regular communication and reminders of their upcoming appointments. Perhaps, they even become your advocate. They write you a glowing 5-star review on Google, and they begin sending friends and family to your practice for dental care.

In a perfect world, the dental marketing funnel is the path your patients take to becoming not only life-long-patients but your biggest fans and your enthusiastic marketing army.

The top: state of awareness

At the top of the dental marketing funnel is the state of awareness. Simply put – this is how your practice name ends up on the mouths and minds of the community, so people recognize you as the place they need to go for exceptional dentistry. These potential patients aren’t actively seeking out care yet, but as members of your community, the brand awareness you work to build will increase the likelihood that you’ll be the first place they think of when they are ready.

We tell everyone from general dentists to our oral health specialists consistency with your logo, practice name, digital display ads, website content, social media presence, and so much more are all part of the brand awareness stage of your funnel. This is the long-game. You stay present in community events, on church bulletins, and in social media, and you will be rewarded.

The meat is in the middle: new patients, new cases, more work!

The middle part of your dental marketing funnel is where most of the magic happens. So much so, that this might be the only thing on your mind. It’s where the majority of the marketing dollars get spent.

Lead generation: Google AdWords, website content, SEO, email marketing, postcards

This one requires no intro. You know you want and need new patients. This marketing investment is how you get them.

Lead conversion: Phone training to convert calls to appointments, email drip campaigns

If the phone is ringing off the hook, but the schedule isn’t packed with revenue-generating appointments – something is not right. Some of the best marketing dollars you might ever spend are in training your team to be rock stars on the phone. Why bother blowing up the phone if the team can’t close the deal?

And for those that haven’t converted to an appointment, make sure they are in your email marketing funnel. Once it’s set up, it’s an easy way to foster those relationships, keep your brand top-of-mind and hopefully bring them into the practice later.

Treatment plan conversion: New patient packets, educational brochures & handouts

Hooray! They are in your chair, and they want or need some substantial dentistry. What do you do to give their experience wow-factor? How do you increase the chances that they will commit to treatment with you, vs. shopping for a second opinion? The money is literally just sitting there in diagnosed treatment, but do you have the materials in place to give them the little extra nudge they need to bring them back? If treatment plan conversion is not something you are tracking, you should. You’ve worked hard to get them to this stage of the funnel, don’t trip at the finish line!

woman in dental chair

Getting to the bottom of it: patient loyalty is the highest compliment

Over the course of your career, you will hopefully earn a following of loyal patients who sing your praises. These are the people at the bottom of the dental marketing funnel. It’s important to show this group some attention with ongoing marketing efforts. Keep ’em active, and keep the love alive.

Retention: Email reminders, texts, postcards & phone calls

People aren’t perfect. They don’t all have it totally together, and they need reminders. Sometimes many of them. Dental care can get pushed to the back-burner when life gets busy, and it’s your marketing’s job to keep them active. Invest in a solution that makes this easier for you, like SolutionReach, Lighthouse 360 or Revenue Well. Make your phone calls, send your texts, email with regularity, and if all else fails send the post office to their house with a friendly reminder.

Advocacy: Reviews, referrals & raving fans

Remember that marketing army we talked about earlier? This is them. These are the top 10% of patients in your practice. They never cancel on appointments, they are always on time, and they may have even penned you a handwritten thank-you note, or brought you homemade cookies (Grandma’s recipe)! They love you, they want everyone to know about you, and they are ready and waiting to be your advocate. Remind them that you appreciate them, their reviews and their referrals. Put programs in place to activate your marketing army. They are waiting for your guidance, and a little marketing magic can help you make the most of them.

It all matters

Getting just one piece of the funnel figured out does not guarantee success. Dental practices should have an eye on each phase of the marketing funnel to keep their practice healthy. If your marketing strategy is laser-focused on bringing in new patients, you may be missing out on other opportunities for growth and sustainability.

Bottom line, you need a comprehensive dental marketing plan. It can be customized to suit your practice, your values, your budget, your schedule, your everything.

Looking for new ideas to jumpstart your dental marketing? Download our guide!