If you’re a dentist looking for ways to bring in more patients with digital marketing, you may have come across the topic of lead generation but wondered exactly what’s involved.
When done correctly, lead generation can be one of the most effective marketing strategies for growing your dental practice.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss what lead generation is and why it’s essential for dentists.
We’ll also be giving you tips from the expert team at our lead generation agency, Ignite Growth, on how you can start generating leads for your dental practice – today!
Let’s dive in!
What is a lead?
For our purposes, a lead is a person who has indicated they’re interested in the dental services you offer by giving you their contact information.
What is dental lead generation?
Lead generation is the process of stimulating interest and then gathering valuable information about the lead so you can follow up and help them with your treatments.
By generating more leads, you can help more people, increase your patient base and grow your practice with high-value dental procedures like dental implants or Invisalign, for example.
What are the different types of leads?
When talking about generating quality leads, we must remember leads are real people just like you and me – not just an entry in our lead management software with a financial value. That’s why we like to be respectful when referring to leads as having ‘quality’.
So, when using terms like “good quality” and “poor quality” to describe leads, we’re using a shorthand for how much intent the lead has about proceeding to receive treatment – not about their actual quality as a person!
A note about getting leads without selling
Healthcare businesses like dental practices have a duty to act responsibly and in the patient’s interest at all times, and obviously, your lead generation must not use unethical techniques either.
I’m paraphrasing slightly here, but master marketer Eugene M. Schwartz once said:
You cannot create a desire for a service, you can only take the hopes, dreams, fears and desires that already exist in the hearts of people, and focus those already existing desires onto your particular service.
That’s why we never suggest attempting to “sell” people into dental treatment when generating leads; the aim should be to tap into the existing desire for treatment and help them make a decision that will be best for them and their dental health.
Why should your dental practice generate more leads?
You’ll often hear us say, “Every practice is unique” (because it’s true!), and there are several reasons why you’d want to generate more leads.
Even if you have strong demand for general dentistry, you might:
- Have spare capacity to fill for a specific high-value treatment
- Be adding clinicians who’ll need new patient flow
- Want more patients for the treatments you enjoy most
- Need to be more competitive with other practices in your area
- Want to build a steady stream of new patients with the highest intent and value
If you’ve decided to take control of your practice and grow in the direction you want sustainably, next, you’ll need an effective lead generation strategy to deliver suitable patients who’ll help you achieve those goals.
How does a dental lead generation strategy work?
Lead generation works by recognising that leads go through three stages of evolution and understanding how to communicate with them at each stage.
#1 Cold leads
A cold lead is a prospect (or potential patient) in the first step of the sales process. They’ve just found out about you and registered interest in your offer or treatment.
Maybe you’ve popped up in their feed on social media, in an ad campaign, or they have found you on a Google search results page (SERP), and for those reasons, they’ll need some careful nurturing.
#2 Warm leads
Warm leads have progressed from the ‘cold’ awareness stage and have already shown interest in your practice in particular but are not ready to go ahead yet. They could still be researching the best options or might not have an immediate need. They are most likely wanting treatment (or what we call ‘in-market’).
#3 Hot leads
Hot leads already know, like, and trust you. They’ve shown genuine interest and are ready to make a decision on the best practice to help them get the patient experience and outcome they want.
They have an immediate need and know exactly what they want, so now it’s time to help by booking them in for a consultation or as new patients.
How can dentists generate leads?
Lead generation is a wide-ranging topic, and many dentists aren’t aware of the different ways they can acquire leads.
In a nutshell, dentists can generate and attract leads with methods that can be classed as Organic (free) or Paid.
The clear benefit of the organic route is there is no cost to you, the practice owner, but the downside is you’re going to need to be patient as it’s going to take quite a long time to get those leads coming in. Organic marketing is a long term strategy however when done correctly it can be extremely beneficial to the practice and definitely one you can’t miss out on.
With paid advertising, you can get new leads quickly, but there’s going to be a cost, and you’re going to need some expertise.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, those costs can quickly skyrocket, and you could end up losing a lot of money extremely fast. One setting could be the difference between the budget being spent across the month to hundreds of pounds gone in seconds.
Here’s a breakdown of the best 11 strategies successful practices use to generate dental leads, as well as what you need to know about each one. They fall under 2 categories, organic (free) and paid.
You’ll learn which methods might work best for your practice and how to implement them into your healthcare marketing strategy.
Organic marketing involves creating engaging content, encouraging others to share it on social media and building your search engine ranking with helpful content perceived as high value.
#1 Online presence
Before you start any paid lead generation, you should always make sure you’ve got a solid online presence.
Online presence means where your business appears across the internet – and how it looks on the different platforms you use.
#2 Your Website
The first place to start building your online presence is your website – that’s because it’s a presence you own, have complete control over, and no one can take away from you (unlike an account or page on a social media platform!).
Make sure it’s modern looking, uncluttered, and easy to find the information about your dental services that prospective patients are searching for. Your site must load quickly, and there are two reasons for this.
Google will penalise you in the search rankings if it considers your site to be providing a poor experience for the people it sends there, and a slow loading speed is a huge red flag for Google.
Secondly, if the site takes too long to load, then your website visitors (and potential leads) are simply going to leave and most likely search for your competitor instead.
To be more specific, visitors will wait for 2 to 5 seconds for a page to load before moving on, and the likelihood of converting the ones that are patient enough to wait for the page to load drops by about 4.42% for every second they wait.
To understand just how important it is for the website to accurately represents your practice, once the website has loaded, it will take a visitor less than two-tenths of a second to form an impression.
#3 Lead Capture
Don’t forget that if you want to capture leads on your site, you will need a contact form for submissions.
Contact forms are incredibly valuable because there’s no point in getting someone to come to your site if they can’t take any action that brings them closer to being a patient when they get there.
A great way to encourage potential leads to leave their contact details is to offer them something of value that will genuinely help them in return (not just something you provide because it’s easy for you!).
This is what’s known as a lead magnet, and a common example is a guide about dental care tips, etc. You could really ramp up the lead flow by creating special offers or incentives for the treatments your prospective new patients are searching for.
Don’t make the mistake of just offering a list of the treatments and services you offer on your website; that won’t make you stand out or aid the lead generation process.
Instead, create a blog on your site with useful content that engages and helps potential patients who are searching for information about their dental problem and who’ll be best to help them fix it. That will also bring visitors to your site from search engines, improve visibility and build authority for you amongst your target audience.
It also means you can deliver regular fresh content to your website, which is more interesting for your leads, and you’ll remain high in search engine rankings, so you’ll have a higher chance of being found by more qualified leads too.
This will not only drive targeted web traffic to your site, but also help Google understand what your site is about.
One of the best ways to get leads is blogging combined with social media advertising and an email marketing strategy.
#5 Email marketing
Once you’ve received their name, and email address and been given permission to contact them (by the way – always adhere to GDPR regulations), they’re officially a warm lead!
Then you can use email marketing to nurture the leads you’ve generated. We’re not talking about sending out a newsletter (that’s rather old school). Today, effective marketing that helps convert leads into patients is built around expertly crafted, engaging content that educates and informs.
Not everyone is ready to invest in the treatments you offer right now. And that’s OK! In the meantime, you can provide value, build know, like and trust, and when they’re ready, they will come to you.
Because you’ve already been of service by helping them, and you didn’t just try to sell.
#6 Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business)
A Google Business Profile is a tool to easily manage your business presence on Google. You can publish posts and photos to your business location and share updates about upcoming offers and events like open days.
You simply enter the requested information about your practice, and that appears in Google search results and maps. This lets new dental leads find you when they’re looking for a local practice – even if they don’t know your address.
Google Business Profiles help with “pull” lead generation strategies where dental leads are actively looking for your treatments and services instead of being directly marketed or advertised to.
Creating an up-to-date Google Business Profile is a quick and easy way to:
- Increase visibility to leads in top-of-the-page organic results
- Bring local organic new leads to your website
The more complete the profile, the more likely it is you’ll be seen by leads in their local searches. Your Google Business Profile can also be linked to your website, which will help improve your site’s rankings in local search results and send even more leads your way.
#7 Word Of Mouth
We’re all familiar with the power of word-of-mouth, which is by far the best way to get leads for your practice.
People are more likely to believe word-of-mouth because it comes from someone they know and trust rather than an unknown practice trying to get them to buy their treatments.
The problem is you have no control over the flow of personal recommendations, so they aren’t a reliable strategy for attracting dental leads consistently.
#8 Social Media
If you want to take full advantage of organic dental lead generation, then you’re definitely going to need to be active on social media too. For dentists, that’s most likely going to mean Instagram and Facebook.
When we say active, that doesn’t mean actively trying to sell your treatments in your posts. That’s a sure-fire way to alienate potential leads because nobody likes to be sold to – and it’s not why people go onto Facebook and Instagram in the first place.
Your posts should always show the human side of your practice and feature real pictures of your own team or happy patients where possible.
This content lets you strengthen relationships with existing patients and attract leads by proving that you’re not just looking to push, sell treatments and make more money.
Healthcare businesses have a higher purpose: to help people be their best selves and enjoy their lives – and that’s a wonderful side of being a dental practice that you can post about that will attract new –inquiries and leads without being ‘salesy’.
With paid Digital Marketing, you’re spending money to drive targeted traffic towards a website or landing page so you can acquire leads.
For dental practices, it’s usually
- Website Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
- Facebook and Instagram ads
- Google ads (Pay Per Click)
#9 Website SEO
We’ve already mentioned your website in the organic section above, but if you really want to unleash the full potential of your site and turn it into a lead generation machine, then you’re going to need to invest in some professional help with website SEO.
That’s because having a sound SEO strategy is one of the top three ways to drive relevant traffic to your dental practice website and lead capture form.
If potential leads search for your dental practice on Google, you want your website to appear as close to the top spot as possible – that isn’t going to happen unless you have good SEO in place.
Search engines are now focused on creating a good experience for leads rather than simply showing them relevant results to their queries.
And the best way to do that is by showing pages that load quickly, are highly relevant to what they’re searching for and have strong authority (that’s where your blog comes in!).
#10 Facebook and Instagram Ads
Social media advertising works by building interest in your practice and treatments with ads that look similar to your regular posts.
The difference is that ads on social media are centred around an opportunity for people to take advantage of a limited-time offer with added value and become leads.
Offers like a free consultation and a bundle of related dental products, services or treatments are proven to work well.
Remember, rather than offering a big discount on the main treatment itself (and eroding your margins), articulate the true value of the bundle – especially if the bundle contains things that you usually supply at no cost.
#11 Google ads (Pay Per Click or PPC)
Google Ads is another popular online advertising platform. When a user searches on Google, relevant ads are displayed based on the words they used for their search (also known as keywords).
Google matches the ads to queries based on each advertiser’s keywords. These keywords help explain what your practice does and where it is.
Ads appear only when somebody searches for your relevant term, so you won’t be paying for unqualified clicks or impressions. This also means that you’ll only pay when somebody has a greater chance of being interested in your product or service.
Google ads are an effective way to drive traffic to your site but can be expensive if you don’t understand the latest technical nuances of the platform.
Higher intent vs lower intent leads
One key thing to understand is that different ad platforms generate leads with different levels of intent. In this case, intent means the ‘strength of their intention’ to proceed with a treatment.
When patients use Google to research a specific dental problem or dental desire, they’ve self-identified as potential new patients for the appropriate treatment. They are either problem aware, solution aware or closer to being ready to invest in treatment. The targeted keywords you use for your Google ads generate high-quality leads who are more likely to go ahead in the near future. That’s why we say they have higher intent.
On the other hand, Facebook leads have a lower intent because people are typically scrolling through their news feed and don’t know what they’re looking for. They might come across an ad that grabs their attention for whatever reason but only click out of curiosity rather than a genuine want or need to have treatment.
Dental lead generation strategies that work
In this article, we’ve shared the different types of lead generation you can do for your dental practice.
By generating good quality leads, you’re putting yourself in front of potential patients who may not have otherwise known about your practice or treatments.
When done correctly, lead generation can help you grow your practice and bring in more of your ideal patients – with less effort.
If you’re ready to start getting more great fit leads to grow your dental practice and would like some help with lead generation services, just book a FREE growth strategy call with one of our friendly growth experts today!
Let us know what worked best for you, and if you need more support, our team of growth experts are here to help!