The Five Factors of Digital Marketing Success

With 12 years experience managing the online presence for thousands of practices, we've discovered that the following five digital marketing factors are essential to maximize new patient results.


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1. High-Converting Website

Your dental website design is typically the first thing prospective patients see. Naturally, everyone has an opinion about what makes a “good” design. Smile Marketing takes a practical approach to website design.

Your website should be contemporary, mobile-friendly and persuade visitors to choose you over the competition.

A high-converting website should lead visitors through the “New Patient Journey.” It does this by combining several conversion factors:

  • Your homepage must connect with visitors the moment they land on it
  • Your site should contain the five most important pages: Homepage, Doctor[s] Bio, Contact, About, and Services
  • Custom content should be persuasive and tell visitors why they should choose you
  • Content should be browsable with headings, bullets, imagery, and short paragraphs
  • Calls-to-action throughout your site should lead visitors to schedule a consultation

2. Website Traffic

Once you have a high-converting practice website, you'll want to maximise organic and paid traffic from search engines, namely Google. Our research shows that 84 percent of new patients start their online journey to find a new local dentist with their favourite search engine (not social media, online directories or referral websites).

This traffic can come in two forms: Organic traffic and paid traffic.

  • Organic traffic is free visibility that displays below the paid results at the top of a search. Visibility depends on competition and how well your website is optimised for Google, Yahoo!, and other popular search engines.
  • Paid traffic is paid visibility that displays at the top of the search results, where you pay a fee each time someone clicks on your ad.

Both forms of traffic are crucial to building your digital footprint. Timing is the key difference. Building a steady flow of organic traffic can take time, but once you have momentum, it can create a growing pipeline of new patients.

Meanwhile, paid traffic can start generating new patients the moment you activate your campaigns.

We take a holistic approach to organic traffic that follows Google’s terms of service. Taking shortcuts and trying to “game” your way into Google’s search results may provide short term benefits, but will reap greater long-term penalties.

Our PPC strategy is to integrate your paid ad campaigns (including both Google AdWords and Facebook Ads) with your website to maximise new patient conversion.

Coupled together, a sound organic and paid traffic strategy can keep your patient schedule full month after month, year after year.

3. Social Media

Unless you pay for visibility (i.e. Facebook Ads), we view social media as an internal marketing tool to build patient community. The main benefits are increased patient retention and referrals.

Social Media WebAs is the case of most referral-based practices, social media alone will not keep your schedule full. Your social media presence should integrate with your website to insure a complete digital marketing strategy.

Social media can also aid new patient conversion as many new patients will review your social presence before they schedule an appointment.

Here are our five best practices for establishing a robust social media presence:

  1. Social profiles should match the branding of your website and other marketing materials.
  2. Your website should have strategically placed social sharing buttons.
  3. Your status updates should be visual so they stick out in users’ newsfeeds.
  4. Post a mixture of content (educational, practice-related, etc.) to keep followers engaged.
  5. Monitor your social interaction by responding to comments, messages, etc.

4. Online Reviews

Long gone are the days when “real world” recommendations were the only way to grow your practice. Today’s digital-driven world has made your online reputation just as important – if not more important – as your real world reputation.

Positive online feedback with Google and other review sites aid new patient conversion. Getting 5-star reviews on websites like Yelp and Google will not only boost traffic to your website, they’ll help turn digital visitors into real-life patients.

Smile Marketing’s approach to reputation management is two-fold: Monitor online reviews on the most popular review sites and encourage 5-star reviews through our New Patient Survey software.

Here’s how the New Patient Survey works:

  1. Add a new patient to your Smile Marketing website dashboard.
  2. A welcome email and survey are automatically submitted to the new patient.
  3. Throughout the survey, the patient will select an emoticon that best describes their experience.
  4. After selecting their answers, the patient is able to provide a brief review.
  5. The software determines the patient’s level of satisfaction, and if they had a positive experience, the patient is encouraged to review your practice on popular review sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook.

5. Email Marketing

Email Marketing ComputerBoth an internal and external marketing tool, email marketing allows you to nurture current patient relationships and new patient leads. Similar to social media and other marketing channels, email marketing offers a two key benefits:

  1. Improved retention: Serves as a reminder for patients to schedule their next appointment.
  2. More referrals: Boosts patient referrals by keeping your practice at the top of your patients’ minds throughout the year.

There are a few ways Smile Marketing helps you achieve this.

  • Newsletters: Written by professionals with experience writing dental content, our monthly newsletters keep patients engaged by educating them on dental health.
  • Birthday greetings: Birthdays are a time of the year when people tend to reflect on their health. An automated greeting sent on your patients’ birthday remind them to think about you.
  • Seasonal greetings: New Year’s and other popular holidays offer another reminder to patients to schedule a visit and promote your practice.
  • Targeted campaigns: Sending relevant email messages to a segmented group of patients (i.e. ortho patients) can encourage repeat appointments and prompt an existing patient to refer you.


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Watch our 2-minute video that explains how we deliver new patients   play