Do you need a new website? Does your current site need a facelift?
If you answered “yes” to one of these questions, you have to figure out the purpose of your new website – before you begin designing it. The purpose could be to have an outlet for personal expression. Maybe it’s to improve your Google rankings. Maybe it’s been seven years since it was last designed.
Or, it is to produce new patients. Getting new patients is generally the most common goal for a practice website. But whether or not it will do so largely depends on the type of company you use to design it.
Below, we outline the three main types of dental website companies so you can make the best decision for your practice.
The Web Artist
The Web Artist is the local designer. They typically come as a referral or a local Google search. They have a diverse portfolio of clients that might consist of retailers, service companies, and B2B firms. They are a jack of all trades that will serve anyone who knocks on their door.
Web Artists design beautiful websites. The drawback is they don’t specialize in the dental industry. And without knowing what makes a dental patient tick, how can they design a website that appeals to your audience of prospective patients? You’d have the added burden of teaching them to understand the mindset of the typical dental patient.
After all, a dental patient is far different from a television buyer or a CEO seeking out business services. People searching for a healthcare practitioner have different expectations and different needs.
Hiring a local Web Artist has its benefits. One benefit is that you can usually meet with them face to face. However, once your website is completed, they’re onto their next project for a carpet store or plumber. Now the success of your website lies on you. If you’re a professional copywriter, SEO expert, and savvy online marketer, then no problem. If you’re not, you might have to hire and coordinate multiple vendors or risk having a website that produces little or no new patients.
“What separates design from art is that design is meant to be… functional.” ― Cameron Moll, designer, speaker, and author
The Website-as-a-Product provider is similar to the Web Artist. They typically have clients in several industries, but there are some that specialize in the dental field.
You might call them a “discount provider,” as they offer a templated solution that is, ultimately, a “product.” Similar to the Web Artist, hiring a Website-as-a-Product company would mean you have to handle the marketing component. And if you aren’t equipped to handle it, you’ll likely suffer from low traffic, subpar rankings, and a website that is little more than a novelty.
Simply having a website used to be enough. But today, the only way to get the full potential out of your website is to constantly “work” it. This includes making updates, adding content, incorporating social signals, and other ongoing activities. In essence, your website should be the hub of all your online marketing efforts. Tending to this obligation is outside the scope of vendors who provide websites as products.
To remain competitive online, you have to promote interaction and community. This can be achieved only through a comprehensive marketing plan that stimulates long-term growth.
“As the web becomes a more social and porous medium, remember that interaction and community are going to happen with or without your involvement. You can watch the conversation take place, or you can own and guide it.” – Adam Weinroth, author and marketer
The Dental Website Service Provider
The Service Provider is unique in that they offer an integrated dental marketing solution. They not only specialize in the dental field, they design a patient-generating website and provide the long-term support required to achieve your new patient goals.
Rather than following a “set-it-and-forget-it” strategy, the Service Provider markets to dental patients on your behalf. The strategy goes full circle by converting new patients and educating them along the way to improve patient retention and stimulate referrals.
Here’s what an integrated marketing plan from a service provider might look like:
- An attractive website designed with the patient in mind
- Professionally written content that persuades visitors to choose you
- Ongoing SEO that sends qualified traffic to your website
- Social media content that promotes top-of-mind awareness
- Blog posts that educate readers on the importance of dental health
- Monthly newsletters that keep patients engaged with your practice
- Online patient learning that improves patient retention
For a dental website to be successful, it must be viewed as a marketing tool, not merely a form of “digital art.” Competition in the online space is rising, so it’s important to keep up with the changing digital landscape. This underscores the importance of partnering with an integrated service provider, one that will work with you to keep your schedule full.
“’Build it, and they will come,’ only works in the movies. Social media [and other online activities] is a build it, nurture it, engage them, and they may come and stay.” – Seth Godin, marketer, speaker, and entrepreneur