The first quarter of 2020 brought us an unprecedented situation with a global pandemic that shut down parts of the country, creating economic uncertainty and record unemployment in the process. For a lot of dental practices, that meant taking a new approach to their marketing roadmap.
Now, more than nine months into the pandemic, the road ahead is clearer than it was then. However, even with multiple new vaccines announced and an end in sight, we still have a rough road ahead in many ways.
So… the big questions are:
- What will practices be doing to get back on track?
- What will the new normal look like?
- What are the ideal first steps (in the next 90 days) to set your practice up for success?
With that in mind, I have some thoughts on what you can and should do in the next 90 days to get (and keep) your dental practice on track for success.
Audit Your Marketing Roadmap Plan
The first thing I suggest is a thorough audit of your marketing plan. A lot of practices hit the pause button — or drastically reduced their marketing spending — when the pandemic hit. For obvious reasons, that’s not a long-term strategy.
I suggest creating a short-term plan that takes the current climate into consideration, and then mapping out some long-term plans as the situation evolves. With COVID cases spiking in the final quarter of 2020, we’re not in the “after” picture yet — but it’s getting closer every day.
Evaluate Your SEO
In the early days of the pandemic, you may have been reluctant to drastically rethink your SEO, both on your website and in your ads. I think now is the time to make changes and do some marketing roadmap planning.
If there are changes in the way you do business that may impact the way patients search for your practice, then you’ll need to incorporate them into your Google Ads and possibly your website. For example, if you’re offering Zoom consultations, then you should be using those things to your advantage while the pandemic is still top-of-mind for consumers.
At the same time, I suggest choosing negative search terms — keywords that might be bringing you useless traffic. For example, if patients are Googling “dental supplies curbside pickup” to get to your site, and you don’t offer curbside pickup, you should list “curbside pickup” as a negative search term.
I’d also suggest keeping a close eye on your traffic and search terms and updating them as needed. If you add a service or find that a term has become more or less relevant, you’ll want to act to refine your traffic.
Mobile vs. Desktop
This next topic is a tricky one. As of the time I’m writing this, in December of 2020, parts of Canada and much of the United States is shutting down again as COVID-19 cases spike. Back in March and April, marketers noted a slow-down in mobile search as many people were working from home and glued to their computers all day.
Mobile traffic picked up again over the summer, but I expect to see it decrease again now and probably into the spring. The key is to do some non-mobile marketing while teeing up your mobile marketing roadmap strategy for the future.
Prior to the pandemic, estimates were that 75% of all digital traffic would be mobile by 2026. I don’t think there’s a reason to doubt that we’ll get there, but mobile traffic is down now and you should be aware of that — and market accordingly.
Focus On Patient Retention
It’s always less expensive to retain existing patients than it is to attract new ones. It’s possible you might have the marketing budget to prioritize new patient acquisition, but if you don’t, I suggest a focus on retention instead.
That may mean:
- Revamping your communication strategy
- Improving patient service
- Revising automation to reflect current conditions
Of course, all these things may change as we get closer to the roll-out of new vaccines. It’s important to review everything periodically and tweak as needed.
Use Your ROI To Adapt
A lot of the dental practice owners I talk to have told me that advertising channels that used to be fruitful are less so now. Of course, the reverse may be true as well.
That said, you should be tracking your ROI on every advertising and marketing channel and eliminating those that aren’t delivering the results you want. Doing so will then allow you to redistribute funds to the channels that are working.
Invest In Marketing Automation
Finally, I believe that using this time as an opportunity to streamline your marketing roadmap and set yourself up for future success is the smart thing to do. Marketing automation will save you a ton of time and money in the long run.
You may want to consider:
- Building an email list and creating automated sequences for lead nurturing, patient reengagement, and other goals.
- Building chatbots to provide instant customer service on your website and social media.
- Creating social media posting schedules and getting ahead of the game with content marketing.
Best of all, using automation will make it easy to collect data and fine-tune your marketing roadmap going forward. If you can afford to do it, this is the ideal time to get automated.
These are uncertain times, but doing the things I’ve outlined here can help you to navigate the remainder of the pandemic and be ready to adapt when it ends.
For expert help kick-starting your new post-Covid marketing roadmap, reach out to one of our Dental Marketing Heroes now – this is what we do best, and we can help set your dental practice up for success in 2021.