4 Lead Generation Tips for Dental Practices

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Running a dental practice often feels like a game of attrition and replenishment. You’re constantly losing patients (for one reason or another) and attempting to replace them with new faces.

But at the end of the day, you aren’t really growing. There has to be a better way.

Patient Attrition and the Need for Leads

If you look at averages and statistics from around the industry, it’s generally believed that patient attrition rates average roughly 17 percent within the dental industry. However, as more data becomes available, there’s reason to believe that number is considerably higher.

Research from Dental Intelligence’s 4,000 dental office clients indicates that the average is more like 25 percent annual attrition. That means you can expect to lose one out of every four patients per year.

A deeper dive into the Dental Intelligence data shows that the average practice has a true growth rate of just 3 to 4 percent. That means most practices are on a steady year-over-year decline. (It’s basic math – if you lose more patients than you bring in, your practice is in decline.)

It’s not enough to retain patients. You also need to find ways to acquire new patients. That begins with generating a steady batch of fresh leads on an ongoing basis. In other words, you need a lead generation strategy that’s built on proven techniques.

4 Lead Generation Ideas and Tips

The great thing about lead generation is that you have plenty of options. There’s no singular way to do it (and best practices evolve over time). With that being said, here are a few helpful tips and ideas:

1. Optimize Your Website for Lead Gen

You can think of our website as the foundation of your online lead generation strategy. It’s the structure that everything else stands on. If it can’t support the “weight” of the leads, your strategy will fall apart. So, before you do anything else, make sure your website has been properly optimized for lead capture.

While your website’s exact design and layout will vary based on your brand’s style, the Mint Dental website is a great example of a site that’s well-optimized to handle lead generation. Notice the professional appearance, custom photography, clean layout, and simple opt-in forms. This is what you want out of a website.

2. Develop a Patient Referral Program

Your best (and most cost-effective) source of new patients might just be your existing patients. If you aren’t proactively mining for leads with some sort of referral program, you’re missing out.

Patient referral programs can help you exponentially multiply every patient you have. One patient becomes two patients. That second patient refers a couple more patients, which becomes four patients, etc.

Good referral programs incentivize both the existing patient and the new patient. The existing patient has to have a reason to reach out (other than the fact that they’re happy with your services). Cash rewards and gift cards work very well. Plus, the referred patient needs a reason to schedule an appointment. A free consultation or complimentary first appointment works well.

3. Expand Your Services

You can generate more leads when you have more services that appeal to potential patients. For example, why restrict teeth whitening services to existing patients who get teeth cleanings? Offering teeth whitening as a standalone service – or even offering at-home whitening kits for resale – opens you up to an entirely new market.

4. Invest in Email Marketing

Email marketing generates a return on investment of $36 for every $1 spent. That makes it the most profitable and high-returning marketing investment you can make. The question is: Are you actively focused on building your list?

Email list building (and nurturing) needs to be a focus. And we’re not talking about collecting email addresses of current patients and sending out a cheesy holiday email each month. We’re talking about proactively building out funnels to grab email addresses of new leads and sending them valuable email content that builds trust.

You don’t have to get fancy with building an email list. Try driving simple Facebook and Google ads to a basic landing page that offers people a valuable lead magnet in return for their email address. Examples of good dental lead magnets include free eBooks, guides, video courses, and consultations.

Grow Your Practice With Purpose

Dental practices don’t grow by happenstance. If you’re content with standing still, the dozens of other dental practices in your community that are hungry and motivated will surpass you.

While patient retention is certainly important, don’t forget about the need for lead generation. You need both in order to experience true growth.

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