12 Jul Attracting New Patients via a Blog – How Do I Start?
Inbound marketing is a phrase you have probably seen used within all the marketing hype, perhaps used to confuse you a little more. It is the phrase given to marketing activity that brings attention in to your largest marketing asset which is usually your website.
For most dental practices your website is the place of maximum information about your practice, team and services and it is somewhere that you would like your new patients to arrive at and stay a little.
We know from stats that guests who arrive at your website via inbound marketing activities such as links from your social media channels are “pre-engaged” and thus more likely to stay longer and not “bounce” off your website.
One of the forms of Inbound Marketing that I feel is under utilised by dental practices is a Blog which when shared on social media becomes a powerful tool driving traffic to your biggest marketing asset, your website..
Why write a Blog?
- A great place to educate your patients especially repeating the message you have given in the surgery
- To create a source of unique content that can be used in many ways, do try to avoid copy and pasting others work, it is unnecessary as you discuss these matters all day every day and no-one understands it better than you.
- A blog keeps your website updated with fresh content and therefore helps with Search Engine Optimisation. We know that sites that have no spend on active SEO but have active social media engagement and regular blogs can have very high rankings.
How to start
You and your team are experts in the field of dentistry, I use the term expert loosely, not in a way the GDC would be upset with. Your patients come to you for advice and information so they can make informed choices with their treatments and you have a wealth of information. Whilst some of your knowledge in dentistry may seem insignificant to you, to a patient really struggling with terminology and decision making, more information is what they need.
How many times have you rolled your eyes at articles in the press where they promote the latest fad to have healthy teeth and gums? Why not be the go to place for real information instead? Educate your patients and potential new patients, this build trust and your audience will see you as a practice they would like to be part of. There is no need to “sell” to patients, educating and information builds relationships and as long as your message within your practice is congruent with this external message you will never have to “sell” dentistry.
Creating your Blog
Preferably create your blog on your website so that every time you direct traffic to your blog from your social media channels they will land on your website ready for their journey. WordPress is a very user friendly Content Management System (CMS) and if your website is built on this platform then you will have the ability to update and post Blogs yourself, even if you are not too adept digitally.
How do I write the blog?
I would encourage you to have your own style. You will see all sorts of blogs out in the digital realm of the internet, some a few words, some lengthy but when starting out it is best to follow some guidelines. Use your personality to be authentic.
- Write at least 350 words and probably average about 500. Google likes new content and prefers at least 350 words to recognize new content and longer than 500 will probably stop readers reading the article to the end.
- Write to your audience. You are trying to attract and educate patients, so don’t use jargon – you are not trying to impress your peers so don’t be too clever. You are building trust by being helpful and informative, try and think about the questions you get asked day in day out and what people really want and need to know.
- Break the text up into readable chunks with images, keeping any images friendly and safe, for instance, no images of “scary” dentists with masks or needles.
- Finally, be consistent and post regularly, at least once a month, if possible twice a month. Keep yourself on track and timetable blogs so you know when you need one to be written. Ask team members to write them if you find this overwhelming. Once a pattern is started and you see the benefits you will be encouraged.
What do I write about?
In my experience of writing blogs for dental practice, dentists find it hard to write simply for their patients and tend to over complicate the message. It is understandable, as we discuss treatments with each other on a highly informed level. Your patients may not understand jargon and want information that is presented in plain English. Think about the conversations you have in the surgery. What do patients want to know about? What may seem obvious to you and trivial to write about may have a big impact on your patients.
Some suggestions to get your started:
- Why use a Dental Hygienist?
- Is a manual or electric toothbrush better?
- The importance of a dental health check – especially with regards to cancer screening
- Benefits of white fillings over amalgam fillings
- How to replace missing teeth
- Modern teeth straightening techniques
- Benefits of dental plans
- Treatment of nervous patients
We all love stories so the more relevance you include to real people the better, keeping within GDC guidelines of course. For instance an ongoing blog about a nurse having her teeth straightened in your practice will create a lot of interest and potential new work.
However, the opposite is also true. If you really dislike looking after very anxious patients it is probably not a good idea to write a blog about care of the anxious!
Consider the kind of treatments you would like to spend more time on and create interest, stories and information around them.
Now I’ve created my blog what on earth do I do with it?
Post your blog on your website and then it can be used in many ways and reused over time. It is a good idea to avoid it being time sensitive so when you repost in next year it is still as relevant.
- Post a paragraph on Facebook with a link back to the blog
- Tweet key phases, again linking back to your website
- Record it as a YouTube video and embed in a blog
- Record as an audio podcast
- Offer a guest blog to someone who shares the same ideal client as you, possibly someone in other healthcare fields or beauty related
- Submit to article sites where they will distribute articles to larger news websites, look at ezinearticles.com for ideas
The use of a Blog to market your dental practice and services is under utilised in dentistry yet other professions realise the advantages.
I would encourage you to get started and impart your knowledge to the rest of the world, well, at least to potential new patients.
Jan Clarke BDS FDSRCPS