You already know that online scheduling software can help your dental office save time, streamline the scheduling process for your patients, and reduce no-shows.
But here’s a surprise: online scheduling can also help you attract new patients to your dental practice.
The mere act of implementing an online appointment scheduling system can increase your bookings. In fact, 68% of patients in an Accenture study said they’re more likely to choose a provider who lets them book, change, and cancel appointments online.
But there’s more to it than patient preferences. You can actually use your scheduling system as a part of your marketing efforts to increase your web traffic, convert more of your website visitors, and improve the results of your social media marketing and paid ads. Here’s how.
Patient Marketing Problem: Your web presence is weak.
A family just moved to your area and needs a dentist to take care of their kid’s toothache. They visit your website, click around, become frustrated that they can’t find what they need, and head off in search of a better experience.
The Solution: Improve the user experience with online appointment scheduling.
The big buzzword for businesses these days is user experience. When prospective patients arrive on your website, they want to find what they need asap. The most common details they want to find are:
- Your phone number.
- Your fees.
- What insurance plans you accept.
- Information about your dental practice and what they can expect as a patient.
- Your location (so they can find out how long it will take to drive there).
- Patient testimonials or reviews.
- How to book an appointment.
That last one is where an online booking system comes in. When a patient has an emergency in the middle of the night, they don’t want to wait until morning to schedule an appointment; they’ll search until they find a practice that will let them book immediately. In fact, about a third of appointments are scheduled after hours.
Even better if your booking system is easy to use on mobile devices. As of 2016, people spend more time online using phones and tablets than desktop computers. And Google actually takes mobile friendliness into consideration when ranking your site in search engine results. High ranking is a big deal, since only 7% of people look beyond the first page of results on their searches.
Patient Marketing Problem: Your online marketing isn’t generating leads.
You’re posting marketing messages on social media and maybe even paying for ads. But the ROI on your time, effort, and money has not been good.
The Solution: Include your online booking link as a Call to Action.
The Call to Action (CTA) is a device that highlights the immediate action you want someone to take after looking at your ad, social media post, email, or other marketing content. CTAs work: in one study, emails with a single CTA increased clicks by 371% and sales by an astonishing 1617%.
Even so, many marketers forget to include a CTA at all—and those who do remember often use a less-than-inspiring one.
An online scheduling system like Smart Scheduling by YAPI makes Calls to Action easy, because you can simply include a link directly to your schedule. For a dental practice that’s looking to gain patients—and for patients who are looking for a new dentist—can there be a more compelling and useful CTA than “Schedule an Appointment Now”?
Here are some more tips to make sure your CTAs lead to more bookings:
- Use only one CTA. For example, don’t include a “Book Now” button and a link to download your free patient ebook.
- Make the CTA stand out. We all want our websites, ads, etc., to match our branding—but a CTA button that’s in the same color scheme as the rest of your branding can get lost. Try a contrasting color that still looks good with your usual hues.
- Use powerful language. “Reserve Your Spot” makes your CTA sound more like a benefit than an ask. “Book a Free Consultation” is a give instead of a take. Words like “try,” “start,” and “stop” are more enticing than plain old “submit.”
As with abandoned booking emails, there’s been so much research on CTAs that you could study them for a week—and still not know it all. For more tips and examples, search online for “CTA examples” and “best medical CTAs.” Just don’t fall into a rabbit hole of research! Pick a CTA, try it out, and adjust as needed until you find the one that works best for you.
Patient Marketing Problem: Patients don’t convert on their first visit to your website.
About 96% of people who visit your website aren’t ready to become a patient, and many people abandon booking in the middle of the process.
The Solution: Retarget your booking system visitors with online ads.
Imagine you’re shopping online and your kid (or dog, or cat) interrupts you right as you’re about to purchase a guacamole bowl. You take care of the problem and forget all about the bowl…
…until you’re back online browsing, and an ad for that very bowl pops up in your Facebook feed, Google, or your favorite local news website.
Seventy-five percent of shoppers who abandon a shopping cart have the intention of returning. The thing is, we’re forgetful creatures. So smart dental practice owners and managers use behavioral retargeting, where ads are targeted based on a consumer’s previous behavior, such as visiting your website. As a bonus, these ads help people get to know you better, which increases their trust and increases the chances that they’ll return to become patients.
Retargeting works best for businesses that already have a following; having at least 100 monthly website visitors is ideal. So if you use the other tips here to attract more people to your website with an online scheduling system, you’ll have the opportunity to use this powerful marketing technique.
How it’s done: you add a pixel to certain pages on your website. When someone visits those pages, you’re able to show them ads on other websites via an ad exchange. For example, you might add a pixel to your “Contact Us” page where you have your Smart Scheduling widget by YAPI —which will track not only people who made an appointment, but also those who abandoned their booking—and create ads that will show up in other places where your target audience tends to go online.
Don’t worry if all this sounds complicated: Facebook, Google, and other websites that run retargeting ads all have instructions on how to make it happen. You can also easily find tutorials that walk you through the process, and many marketing firms exist that can help you.
An online appointment booking system is table stakes for internet-savvy patients—and it can help boost your marketing to attract more patients as well. Ready to see how online scheduling might work for you? Contact us today for a demo of Smart Scheduling by YAPI.