As 2020 winds down this month there are still a lot of questions that we can’t answer.
How soon until a vaccine for COVID-19 is distributed?
When will the pandemic end?
When will we return to business as usual?
For dental clinic owners, that last question looms large. With COVID cases spiking across the country and the probability that very soon only essential businesses will be allowed to keep their doors open to the public, it’s crucial to take a long view of the marketing landscape.
Because there are so many unanswered questions, the marketing trends for 2021 have a slightly different focus than might be the case in a typical year. Here’s what’s on the horizon.
Focus On Patient Retention
I’ve talked a lot before about how much less it costs to retain existing patients than to win new patients. In 2021, it’s going to make a lot of sense to put your marketing budget into patient retention. Holding steady in a global crisis qualifies as a win.
Social media and email are the best tools you have available to drive patient retention. By encouraging existing patients to follow you on Facebook or subscribe to your list, you’re gaining the ability to stay in touch with them. You can offer special promotions, keep them informed, and remind them of why they chose your dental clinic in the first place.
Service Availability As A Priority
We’ve all experienced issues with availability as well as delays due to the pandemic. The key to patient retention is ensuring that your patients have access to your services. And, if they don’t, letting them know why.
For dental clinics providing services, you may need to think about alternative or extended hours and other adaptations to meet your patients’ existing needs. At the same time, you’ll need to communicate clearly about delays to minimize the risk that patients will abandon you for a competitor.
Marketing automation has been a trend in digital marketing for years now and that’s not going to change. 51% of companies were already using marketing automation as of the end of 2019 with a slight edge to B2C companies. However, 58% of all B2B companies said they planned to add automation.
Automation can include everything from simple fixes such as email autoresponders, to complex solutions such as chatbots and digital assistants. Chatbot technology is within reach thanks to free chatbot builder tools like Chatfuel and MobileMonkey. You don’t need to pay a programmer to build an effective bot.
There’s no doubt that there’s still room for static content, meaning content that your followers read, watch, or listen to on their own. That said, one of the biggest content trends for 2021 is the rise of interactive content as a way of engaging patients and providing value at the same time.
Interactive content can take many forms, including:
- Interactive Videos
The reason for the rise is two-fold. First, interactive content is fun for your followers and can make them feel more engaged with your clinic and brand. Second, the data you collect – whether it’s in the form of quiz responses or information entered in a calculator – will help you learn about your audience. You can use the information you collect to fine-tune your digital marketing and increase new patient acquisition and patient retention.
Another key element of patient retention is list segmentation. With marketing budgets shrinking, it is far more cost-effective to segment your list than it is to send the same emails to everyone expecting to get a high conversion rate.
Segmentation can be done using any factors you choose, including:
- Previous bookings
- Service preferences
You have the option of segmenting your list based on the data you’ve collected from your subscribers, or asking them to self-segment by sending out a survey or email where they can opt into and out of your content. Either way, the result is better targeting and a higher return on your investment.
Automated Bidding For Google Ads
In-house automation isn’t the only way to streamline your digital marketing in 2021. While automated bidding for Google Ads isn’t new – it was first introduced four years ago – it has been greatly improved in the past year.
The benefits of automated bidding are clear. By taking advantage of automation and letting it handle bidding adjustments, you can dedicate your valuable time to improving your PPC ads and increasing your marketing ROI.
Optimizing For Voice Search
Voice search optimization isn’t an option anymore – it’s a must. 40% of all internet users in the United States have used voice search and those numbers are only going up. If you’re ignoring voice search in your optimization efforts, you’re making a mistake.
You can optimize for voice search by making the content on your website conversational and accessible. Keep in mind that conversational still needs to apply to your audience. If you own a B2B tech company, for example, your audience’s conversation may include jargon.
Instead of focusing on short keywords, try building your content around common questions and responses. Using questions in your blog headings and other content – and having a robust FAQ section on your website – will make it easy for potential patients to find you using voice search.
Non-Linear Patient Journeys
The rise of digital has undoubtedly shaken up traditional marketing. When you consider the many ways that a potential patient can learn about a clinic or service, it’s hardly surprising that you can’t count on a linear patient journey to be the result.
How to respond? The trend is toward an omni-channel digital marketing strategy that includes:
- Website content
- Social media
- Mobile apps
Your goal should be to provide any patient or potential patient with a seamless experience across channels. Patients should get the same tone and information on Facebook that they do from a chatbot on your website, your mobile app, or your landing page.
Overall, agility is going to be the name of the game in digital marketing in 2021. We can’t know yet what the new year will hold, but dental clinics that remain flexible and adaptable have the best chance of continued growth and success.
We know everyone is struggling right now. But we know the dental industry, and if you would like to talk with our Dental Marketing Heroes experts about upping your digital marketing game for 2021, simply connect with us here.