There are several stages to growing a business online.

It’s even more important to have the right systems in place when trying to grow a dental practice because there are so many moving components to your business: dentists, assistants, hygienists and front desk. Oh yeah and also rent, equipment, sanitisation, services and other standards, keeping up to date with newest procedures, legal stuff, dental suppliers etc.

And on top of that you want a constant stream of patients, right?

You hear in a chamber of commerce meeting or a dental conference about how someone is rocking it with direct mail. You go back to your office and immediately implement. And then you’re a couple of thousand dollars down the drain and with no clear results to show for that you can measure. Then you do the same thing with newspaper ads. Then with yellow pages. Then with AdWords. Then with Groupon. Then with Yelp. Heck, you might even go wild with billboards.

You get results here and there but nothing that you can set in stone so you can automate this part of your business and have a proper system in place that allows you to focus on doing all the other parts and ultimately being a great dentist that delivers to his patients and to the community.

That’s why people rely too much on referrals now. Because they think that nothing works. Get burned once or twice and you’re done.

But there is a method. And while you’re trying to post how awesome you are on your blog and ask your patients to tell their friends and family about you, there is a dentist not far away from you that’s getting a constant stream of highly targeted patients to his practice.

Because that dentist is using Facebook Ads. If you know how to use it the smart way.

Now there are some people out there that experimented with Facebook. Just like they did with all the others online channels above and got zero results. That’s because there are a lot of moving elements that you might not have been aware of.

This post is not about how useful Facebook could be for your practice. I already covered that here, here, also here and… yeah, let’s not forget about this one.

This post is about understanding what happens after someone signs up for your practice through Facebook. And this is something that almost no dental marketers talk about but it’s essential to your business. Because if you don’t have the right elements in place, there’s nothing worse than a wave of patients that you can’t handle properly who can send you a wave of 1-star reviews that will plummet your practice to the ground.

So let’s say that you have your initial funnel in place. Leads are pouring in from Facebook at a constant pace. You know your cost per acquisition for new dental leads. Now you can work on optimizing. One of the biggest problems is that practice owners want to go for the big wins first.

“I want to run ads that will get me X amount of patients that will pay me Y amount of money”.

Although not impossible it’s pretty damn hard. And you will end up wasting a lot more marketing money than you should. Because you are asking cold traffic to trust you.

I get it. We all want that. But behind those numbers usually, there is a human being. And humans are uncomfortable giving away a huge chunk of cash to someone they never heard of before just because they have a flashy website. When I understood this I started offering trials to potential new dentists that wanted to take their marketing to the next level. No promises. No selling. Just straight up results.

“Hey try this for a week and let’s see what happens”.

Sure I took some loss at the beginning. Staff working for free that I needed to pay out of my own pocket. The technology stack (landing pages, accounts, email lists, reporting tools, campaign builders, integrations etc) they all cost me.

But then after the trial and after seeing the potential for their business, usually 3/4 dentists would decide to commit long-term with me in a mutually beneficial partnership.

Because I focused on nurturing a win-win relationship first.

You can also get a ton of leads into your office with a jaw-dropping offer, something to get them through the door and from there it’s all about nurturing that relationship with your patient. I already made a complete guide about the how to get leads through your door here.

Here are 4 steps you need to implement in your dental marketing strategies right away to nurture your online relationship with your patient after they sign up for any of the offers you’ve promoted for your dental practice.

1. Set up automatic follow-ups

The moment a potential lead signs up for your offer is also the moment they immediately forget about it. That’s why it’s really important that in the first minutes after they signed up they are introduced into your world.

It’s like when you met someone in real life. No matter what, the first impression counts.

They should receive a welcome email reminding them why they signed up for your offer. An SMS follow up reinforcing the same message will solidify that personal connection even further.

Personalise these emails as much as possible to incorporate your individual personality. Nobody wants to feel like they are messaged by a robot.

From the moment a patient has entered your world, even if it’s online, they should always be engaged with your brand one way or the other.

2. Have a closing team

Having your only receptionist to take calls is OK if you’re a small practice.

But what if you’re growing more than you can handle? Your front desk person probably has other tasks to finish (talking with patients in the practice, running errands etc) and if they are disturbed every 2 minutes you end up with a frustrated employee and patients that are not happy with the service they are getting when they try to call your practice.

Never, ever, ever act like a one-person practice. Don’t try to be a dentist, take phone calls, receive patients all by yourself. It’s a recipe for disaster.

If you want to scale, you need to scale all parts of your business in harmony.

Make sure your front-end part of the business is trained to handle a large number of calls and close appointments. At Atom Leads we help our dentists automate as much of the process as possible with call tracking and online appointment scheduling.

3. Become the Coca-Cola of Dentistry

Know your numbers. When people sign up for any of your online offers you will get conversion rates. 100 people might sign up but only 70 actually call and only 40 might actually appear to use your services.

Most practice owners write off those 60 people that didn’t sign up as a loss. But it doesn’t need to be like that.

Always be engaging with your audience. Tell them a story that happened this week in your practice. Tell them struggles you went through when trying to build a business. Share with them upcoming events and offers that you will have in the next months. Share with them a funny story about your family and how you got into dentistry. Share with them articles from your blog.

I call these emails the soap-opera sequence. It is what makes people connect with you. It is what makes people relate to you. It is what makes you get closer to them.

And everyone needs a dentist at some moment in their life.

And that’s when they will come to you if you constantly shared stories with them. One or two emails per month should be enough to keep them engaged while not being pushy.

4. Educate your audience

I see this all the time in dental conferences. Dentists go to these presentations where they learn about a new procedure or a new equipment. They get all excited about what this could do for their practice and how this could help their patients. But when they go implement it back home they face resistance from their patients because your customers are feeling like they are being sold.

Someone who is receiving your services doesn’t care about the tech behind a certain product or service. They don’t care about how great this procedure is and how you are the only dentistry in town that does it at the moment.

They care what it means for them.

Educate your patients on why procedure A is safer and more long-lasting than option B.

Educate them why product X, even though more expensive than product Y, brings better results and a lower cost of maintenance down the road.

And you can only do this prior to actually starting to sell the service or product. People need to be educated before they get exposed to it so when they see your new offer they get excited and start asking you more questions instead.

Add “Educating your audience” to your soap opera sequence. But don’t make it boring like a scientific research. Make it exciting. If you’re in a dental conference where you are exposed to new stuff, write an email about that experience, what it meant to you and what you have in store for the future.

Create workflows in the backend of your online business with content designed to connect with your audience. Perhaps they have answered a specific call-to-action and will need to be nurtured accordingly.  Develop content to engage your community with topics that align with their objectives, extend engagement, and offer a path to conversion with calls-to-action.

Monitors these workflows closely and give your audience the opportunity to remain engaged and reconnect with your brand by always adjusting.

Never give up on a lead!

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My name is Andrei Constantin and I’m the co-founder of Atom Leads, a digital marketing agency that loves helping local dentists thrive in the online world by creating results-based digital marketing systems that bring in more opportunities for their practice.