According to a study published in the British Dental Journal, only 35% of dental practices have a working practice website (Nichols and Hassall, 2011). Though this figure was reported in 2011, it would seem clear that there are still not enough dental practices taking advantage of the internet as an effective marketing tool.
This seems strange given the fantastic opportunity that the internet represents. In the right hands, a well-designed practice website can be an extremely effective means of generating and converting leads, encouraging new patients to call your practice to find out more. Not only will a high quality practice website cost less than you might think, but it will also make each pound you spend work harder for you, providing an excellent return on investment that just can’t be matched by print advertising or outsourced PR.
If you are one of the 65% of practices still without a website, then the best advice is to plan for one sooner rather than later. While there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ time to set up a practice website, the longer you leave it, the more time your competitors will have to establish their own online presence and build up an advantage over you.
At this point it is important to recognise that the world in which we live in is changing, and the ways of marketing your practice that may have worked 10, 20 or 30 years ago are no longer as effective as they once were. The Yellow Pages, in particular, is fast becoming increasingly irrelevant, as patients would much rather search for a dentist on their smart phone or tablet. Not only is this method quicker and easier than searching a weighty phonebook, it also gives the patients a wealth of information on the practice before they decide to book an appointment.
Getting it right
One other important point to come out of dental website research is just how important it is to work with a website design team that has direct experience working within dentistry. This is because dental websites are different to other types of websites and must meet standards such as those set out by the General Dental Council, the Care Quality Commission and the Information Commissioner’s Office. You should also consider that there are many different factors that make a practice website truly effective and attractive to patients – factors that not every website design team will understand. This is why it’s important that you work with a company that has a proven track record of success in dentistry, that can draw upon many years of experience and research to produce a website that works – a website that will provide a guaranteed return on your marketing spend.
Nichols L and Hassall D (2011) Quality and content of dental practice websites. British Dental Journal 210.
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