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How to Improve Patient Retention with Marketing

Business Development

Here’s something every dental practice should remember: retaining patients is key to keeping their business thrive and alive.  

While it’s common to focus solely on attracting new patients, nurturing relationships with existing ones is just as important. In fact, a study revealed that losing a patient to another provider could cost your practice up to $200,000 over its lifetime.  

Think about it. Your current patients are already familiar with your work. They know how good you are in terms of taking care of their oral health. The better you serve them, the more likely they’ll stick with you for a long time.

Besides scheduling more appointments with you, you can expect your loyal patients to spend more during each visit than someone who has just walked into your clinic for the first time. That’s because accumulated trust built through the years tends to increase a patient’s confidence in a practice and its treatment recommendations.  

It’s also worth noting that patient retention is far less expensive (and less complicated) than acquisition. You’ll find yourself spending up to five times more in your efforts to win a new patient versus keeping an existing one.  

Acquisition requires you to start from scratch, identify prospects within your area, get them to discover your dental practice, and find effective strategies to convince them why you’re better than your rivals. With retention, you get to skip these steps and focus on maintaining a solid relationship with folks you’ve previously treated.

The question is, what can you do to make sure they come back?  

This is where marketing comes in. By implementing the right marketing tactics specifically designed to retain patients, you'll be on your way to building trust and loyalty, reducing patient churn, and of course, increasing your profits.  

Let’s take a closer look at these tactics below.

Develop Personalized Outreach

Consumers appreciate brands that interact with them on a more personal level. The same can be said about patients and their healthcare providers.  

Showing your patients that you appreciate them gives them a reason to remain loyal to your dental practice. Here’s how you can get started:  

  • Targeted emails: Send out personalized emails with relevant health information and offers tailored to their individual needs. Oh, and don’t forget to send messages for special occasions, especially their birthday!
  • SMS notifications: Set up automated reminders and alerts via text to remind patients of upcoming appointments and provide timely updates about oral hygiene.

And, you know what? You can actually send automated emails and text messages through our internal practice management (IPM) software! In other words, you can leave all the outreach-related tasks (or most of them) - from notifying and greeting to educating your patients – to the program.  

Basically, our IPM software is designed to send messages to everyone in your mailing list. You can use it to remind your patients about an upcoming appointment, wish them a fantastic birthday, or provide valuable content to combat any fears they may have regarding a certain procedure.  

Curious to learn more about IPM? Feel free to check out this post!

Make Appointment Booking & Billing a Breeze

happy woman using laptop

Nothing annoys a dental patient more than having to go back and forth just to schedule an appointment or pay their bills. Especially if they’re in a hurry, they’ll leave and look for another practice.

Obviously, you don’t want this happening to you. So, what’s the solution? Use a patient portal!

A patient portal is a secure website that provides patients convenient, 24/7 access to personal health information wherever they are. It can make the lives of your patients much more convenient, allowing them to:  

  • View available appointment dates and times
  • Book an appointment
  • View and pay their existing bills
  • Enter and verify insurance details
  • Track clinic visits

All your patients need is an internet connection and they’re good to go!

Seek Feedback and Act on It

Some of your patients will want to express how they feel about your dental practice and services. Whether they love having you as their dentist or are a bit dissatisfied with a certain product of yours, they should be able to freely voice their thoughts.  

One way to give them this opportunity is by sending them a patient satisfaction survey via email after their appointment. Keep the questionnaire short and sweet by including only questions related to their experience with your practice, though it’s also a good idea to add a comment box. Give them the option to stay anonymous so they won’t hesitate to answer everything honestly.  

Another way to obtain feedback from your patients is by asking them to leave you online reviews. Ask them to review your service through a follow-up email or text after their visit. Provide the link to your Google Business Profile, Yelp, or whichever platform you’ve listed your dental practice.  Don’t forget to thank them for choosing you.  

Take time reading and responding to all the reviews, preferably within a day or two after they’re posted. Responding promptly shows patients that you genuinely value them, and that you really want to provide the best care possible.  

Manage Your Online Reputation

online reputation concept

Reputation management is a great way for dental practitioners like yourself to maintain a good relationship with current patients while continuing to attract new ones. It’s all about actively monitoring and managing what people say about your business in the virtual world to ensure that you maintain a positive image.  

When we said respond to all patient reviews earlier, we mean both good AND bad.  

When replying to negative feedback, always do it in a professional and courteous manner. Instead of getting defensive or hostile, try to understand the viewpoint of your unhappy reviewers and see if there's anything you can do to remedy the situation. Better yet, reach out to them privately after apologizing or explaining your side in public.  

Also, as much as you may be tempted to, don’t delete bad reviews. Doing so could lead potential patients to think that you’re trying to hide something, further tainting your image as a dental practice.

One more thing, before you can post your responses to any comment, good or bad, make it a habit to check that you’re not violating HIPAA rules. This means not compromising your patients' privacy by disclosing any protected health information (PHI), including details about their diagnosis, treatment plan, medical history, etc.  

You don’t want to use language that could identify a certain patient either. For instance, a message like “Thank you for your recent visit and I'm glad we were able to help with your toothache" can possibly lead to a HIPAA violation, which can ultimately damage your reputation and keep existing patients from returning.  

Create a Dental Website

If you have yet to build a professional website for your dental business, where have you been? It’s 2023 and almost everybody expects to find their favorite brands online. There’s no better time than now to give your practice a permanent place in the virtual world!

It doesn’t have to be the most awe-inspiring site one could ever find. Just make sure that it contains all the vital information current and prospective patients alike need – including your phone number, complete address, email address, and hours of operation. Even though current patients have contacted you before, there’s still the possibility that they forgot to save your details.

Post high-quality, relevant blogs on a regular basis to keep visitors engaged. Your topics should focus on dental care and oral hygiene habits, though you could also write about intriguing matters like dental myths and bizarre dental facts. Be open to discussing the latest or trending news, too.  

Educating your patients consistently through your content won’t just show them how knowledgeable you are in your field, it will also help them realize that you really want them to stay informed. This makes them more likely to remain under your care.  

Finally, your website should be optimized for search so it’ll rank high in Google and other search engines, thus making you easily discoverable for anyone looking for dental services in your area. Along with helping you find new patients, this visibility builds trust with your existing customer base and ensures they’re less likely to see your competition when searching for you.  

To rank well on search engines, you need to have a solid dental SEO strategy in place. Here’s a helpful guide we’ve created for practices like you to walk you through the basics.  

Who Says Patient Retention Has to Be Complicated?

smiling dentist giving thumbs up

Judging by the strategies we’ve just outlined, you probably agree with us when we say improving patient retention isn’t rocket science. Then again, your super hectic schedule might hinder, or worse, prevent you from implementing them.  

If that’s the case, your best bet is to hire an online marketing company like Digital Resource. Having helped countless dentists across the country grow their retention rates through our award-winning services, you can count on us to take your dental practice to the next level. Whether you need assistance in SEO, online reputation management, content creation, we got you covered.

So, what are you waiting for? Request a free consultation now!

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