Growing Your Practice Through Digital Marketing

In Building a Practice, She's an Entrepreneur by Susanne Kimball

Have you found your practice life “groove”? That’s the comfortable place where you arrive after climbing the rocky hillside, in the rain, sometimes high winds and thunder, to get to the sunny meadow. The groove feels like a sunny meadow, with the warm sun on your face, soft grass beneath your feet, and a sense of stability and calm.

Starting a new practice or even making major shifts in your existing one can feel like climbing rocky terrain in a storm. In times like this, you know you need to do something to market your practice, and when you’re starting out or tight on funds, grassroots marketing is the way to go. But once you get to that solid, groovy ground it’s time to start taking more steps toward growth. That next step could be digital marketing.

Digital Marketing for Dentists

Digital marketing is defined as the marketing of goods or services through an online platform. This form of marketing is relatively new, considering it wouldn’t even exist without the internet which became widely used in the mid-1990s. The late 1990s and early 2000s brought Google and social media. Then in the mid-2000s, the smartphone was released. The world of marketing has been rapidly changing ever since.

Whether you are new to practice life or more established, you know that marketing is, and always has been, about connecting with your audience in the right place at the right time. And right now, that place is online. Research shows that more than 76 percent of Americans have access to the internet, and 69 percent of adults regularly use social media.

That’s a lot of people online! So what does this mean for you? It means your business needs to be focusing on marketing efforts there too.

Making the Most of the Digital World

Digital marketing is also known as online marketing, internet marketing, and web marketing. For the purposes of this article, I’ll stick to the term digital marketing.

Digital marketing is the sum of all of your online assets working cohesively together to ultimately drive a potential patient to contact you for an appointment. The methods of getting here are complex and nuanced, so it can really help to have a marketing adviser. I suppose you could spend endless hours online trying to figure it out on your own, then learning how to actually do it—but is that really how you want to spend your free time? Sometimes it’s best for business (and you!) to delegate.

There are so many ways to use digital marketing, but not all methods make sense for all businesses. So let’s narrow down the list and look at the top four digital marketing methods you should be considering in 2019.


In the online realm, your most important digital asset is your website. It is THE platform. It is the home base for all other digital fronts and without it, all other digital marketing tactics wouldn’t exist. Just as you own your business, you should own your home online and all other digital assets.

By owning your website, you have full control of the domain and all content on the site which means you can do whatever you want with it, whenever you want.

But wait, website ownership shouldn’t even be a question, right? You’d be surprised how many businesses do not own their home online. Read this article that talks more about website ownership and how to know if you own yours.

If you don’t already have a website, get one now. If you do have one, you may be due for a website remodel to ensure a good customer experience. Your website should have an easy flow and present the most important information in an easily accessible format.

And most importantly, your website should be mobile responsive! This means it should be easy to navigate from any device.

Your website gives you the platform to create informative and engaging content to educate and captivate the reader. The content you produce for your website can be used in a variety of ways across many digital platforms. It’s like that pair of jeans you have that can go with sneakers or heels and has just enough stretch to be comfortable enough for anything. This is called content marketing.

Content Marketing

This type of digital marketing is the art of attracting attention and engaging the target audience by creating and distributing free information that is valuable to the audience. This information is distributed in various forms including blogs, articles, social posts, and videos. The purpose of this is to establish your business or brand as a trusted authority in your field.

By continually providing high-quality, free information, you build trust among your audience so when they’re ready to buy, they think of you. Oh, and it’s great for search engine optimization strategy too.

Once you’ve engaged a customer, you need to continue to build that relationship by telling the story of your brand, which in a way reflects the story of who your customer wants to be. Content marketing is storytelling. A content marketer uses various digital platforms to create and tell the story. The way the story is told will vary depending on the digital platform and which is best for your particular business.

Social Media

There are lots of reasons why your business needs a social media presence. Primarily, your audience expects it of you.

Social platforms are like websites, you just have to have it nowadays. Consumer research usually begins online through a Google search, which lands the user on your website. They can then find useful content about your practice and links to your social profiles where they can find out more about you.

Your social profiles are like the mouthpiece of the practice personality. It’s your platform for sharing your awesome blogs, updates about the continuing education you took, any specials you have, birthdays, all of the fun things! Social media is about connection, so do that! You have the opportunity to connect and engage with your patients and community.

It’s a great platform for storytelling and the best part is, it’s free! While creating the content to share may take time and financial resources (if you delegate, which you should), the actual platform itself is free which is a huge plus.

If you want younger generations to pay attention to you, a good social media presence is a must. It can also help with your ranking in a Google search and offers a platform for online advertising. Which brings me to the next topic…

Paid Ads

Advertising, like most other things, has migrated online. Do you remember the days of looking up phone numbers in the yellow pages of your local phone book? You had to thumb through page after page with ads that had nothing to do with what you were looking for. Now businesses can pay for their ad to be shown to their target audience online on the sites and social platforms where they are.

Digital advertising can be launched at a targeted audience with ease. The traditional method of targeted advertising meant figuring out which magazine your target audience likely reads and putting your ad there. Now, you can target people through the major online platforms like Google and Facebook and create ads that then follow them around their online journey. This type of advertising is a broad term to describe any type of digital marketing where you pay for a user to click or see your ad.

With this form of advertising, you are paying for impressions or clicks. Paid ads work best as part of a larger digital marketing strategy that includes a well thought out plan.

Effective Digital Advertising

Hastily creating a Facebook ad without any real strategy behind it won’t work. For paid online ads to be effective, you need to first identify your audience, cultivate your audience, determine the messaging or story you want to tell to attract them, then decide how and when you will distribute the ad on which platforms and with what budget.

Digital marketing is becoming an essential piece of any dental practice. When you’re ready to start the trek into a more comprehensive marketing strategy, venturing into digital marketing, with the help of a knowledgeable adviser, can do great things for your business.


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