10 Critical Elements Of A Dental Website
One of the biggest challenges dentists face is increasing competition. Recently, I spoke with a dentist who was the only doctor in his area when opening his practice years ago, but now he’s surrounded by 8 competing dental practices within a 1-mile radius of his office.
Competition is fierce and his story isn’t unusual. More new dentists are graduating every year and corporate dental offices are moving into neighborhoods across North America.
If you’re like most dentists trying to compete, you’ve likely started to invest more heavily into dental marketing. Maybe you’ve sent out direct mail pieces, launched social media ads, built a new dental website, or hired a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) marketing company. The options for marketing your dental practice are seemingly endless.
But even with all of that effort, is your phone still not ringing enough? Or, are you getting phone calls, but they aren’t the right type of patients for your practice?
This can lead to frustration. You feel like you’re not getting what you paid for after spending heavily on marketing. You’re not getting that return on your investment and can’t figure out why your online marketing efforts are failing.
Your Website Could Be The Problem
When a dentist comes to us frustrated by the lack of results from their marketing efforts, the first thing we look at is their website. That’s because a dentist’s website is the hub. It’s at the core of every marketing campaign, and regardless of how a patient hears about your practice they will end up on your website. At that point, a patient will decide whether or not to call your practice dependent upon what they learn about you from your website.
Additionally, our research shows that even if patients refer a dentist to a friend or family member, that person will STILL go online to look at your website before they schedule an appointment.
The Goal Of Your Website
Your website’s goal should always be to convert website visitors to potential new patient calls. You may be surprised to learn that the design of a website is actually one of the least impactful components of success. If your website is pretty but doesn’t generate those new patient calls you need, what’s the point of having it?
Furthermore, a website built with the 10 critical elements of a dental website we'll outline below will cause all of your marketing efforts to improve. For example, if you haven’t had success with pay-per-click ads in the past, and you make these changes to your website, you will likely see your PPC conversions improve, and experience a lower cost per patient.
The 10 Critical Elements Of A Dental Website Designed To Convert Are:
1 - Speak To Your Ideal Dental Patient
The first thing every visitor should see when they land on your website are compelling reasons why they should trust you with their dental care. These trust-building factors should also highlight how you’re different than all the other dentists in your area.
This information will speak directly to the type of dental patient you want to convert from a website visitor to a new dental patient.
The best way to make sure your website is speaking to your ideal dental patient is to consider:
- What is your ideal patient looking for?
- What makes your dental practice different than your competitors?
- What type of dental services do you want to promote?
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Evening & Early Morning Appointments Available
- 1-2 Day Dental Implants
- Invisalign For Adults & Teens
- 1 Visit Root Canals
- Same-Day Emergency Dental Appointments
- Sedation Dentistry For Anxious Patients
- 0% Financing Options Available
In coming up with these factors you want to really think about what makes you different. Every dental practice says they "have the best quality of care" and "the friendliest staff". However, not every dental practice can say they have same day appointments, or sedation options. Furthermore, many practices that offer financing for larger procedures don't promote it on their website. Steer clear of general terms like "friendly", and "great quality", and come up with a clear list of differentiators. Then, make sure these factors are prominently displayed on your homepage and throughout the rest of your website’s content.
2 - Be Authentic
People want to schedule an appointment with a dentist they can trust. Building that trust needs to begin on the homepage of your website. Like the example above, highlight awards you’ve won in your community in a prominent position on your homepage. And even more importantly, include real photos of yourself, your staff, and your office.
Of all the changes you can make to your website, we’ve seen this one be the most impactful for our clients. Resist the urge to use stock images! If you look at your competitor’s websites, I guarantee you’ll see a lot of stock images of random, smiling people.
These professionally retouched photos might seem to look nice on your website, but they don’t tell a potential new patient anything about your actual dental practice.
One of the most viewed pages on any dental website is the “About Us” or “Meet Our Staff” page.
People considering scheduling an appointment with you want to see actual photos of you and your staff members they can connect with. It’s another essential element of a dentist’s website that will strengthen the bond of trust between you and your potential new patient.
3 - Leverage Videos Of Your Patients & Staff
Many of the dentists we’ve worked with over the years are hesitant to use videos on their websites. They think they need a professional videographer or they’re worried about having to spend time editing video to get the content they need.
Thankfully we now live in a world where anyone can record a high-quality video on their cell phone!
We encourage our clients to grab a phone after a patient has finished a smile makeover or a restoration that has a big impact on their smile and record their reaction (with the patient’s permission of course). Showing the positive reaction of that patient when they see their restored smile for the first time is a powerful way to market your dental practice to a potential new patient.
People have become cynical to overproduced marketing videos and it’s easy to doubt their authenticity. That’s not the case with real footage of a patient in your office. Someone visiting your website can literally see you, your staff, and a satisfied patient who has had their life changed by your dental services.
4 - Use Written Testimonials & Reviews
Online written reviews are a fantastic way to help potential new patients see that you’re the best dentist in town. However, you need to make sure your reviews are actually being seen by your website visitors.
That’s why we recommend you integrate them into your website. When you do this, make sure to use the logo of the site where the review came from - usually Google, Yelp, or Facebook.
When you add a review site’s logo, you remove the skepticism that the reviews aren’t authentic. A potential new patient can actually go to Google and see the real review there if they want to.
Consider how you shop for any product online - you’re likely buying things or choosing service providers based on what other people are saying in their online reviews. More and more people are making decisions based on online reviews, and putting them prominently on your website will make a difference.
5 - Get “The Fundamentals” Right
The fundamental critical elements of a dentist’s website all revolve around making it as easy as possible for website visitors to find your contact information and contact your office.
These are elements every dentist needs to get right on every single page of their website:
- Have your phone number prominently featured on every page
- Make your phone number clickable from any type of mobile device
- Ensure you’re easy to connect with using online booking and “click to call” features
- Set up the “Book An Appointment” button to follow visitors as they scroll down through your website’s pages
- Include a click to call dental emergency number (if you offer after-hours emergency appointments)
- Use an online appointment booking system to give patients an option to schedule an appointment or send you a message immediately.
6 - Feature A Clear Call To Action On Every Page
No matter where a visitor goes on your site, you should tell them exactly what to do next. Schedule a new patient appointment, click to call our dental office, take advantage of this limited time special offer, etc. Every page needs to make sure a potential new patient never really has to ask, “what do I do next?”.
7 - Use Special Offers To Attract And Schedule New Patients
Special offers are the key to driving specific types of patients to your practice. Want to see more cosmetic dentistry patients? Offer a free consultation.
You can always weed unqualified patients out over the phone if they aren’t the right fit for your practice, but offering potential patients something for free will make them reach out and actually contact your dental practice.
For example, if you want more dental implant patients, offer a free consultation including free imaging. Your goal here is to get people in your chair who are actively considering dental implants. Once you get them in your office you can likely move them forward in the process of receiving dental implant treatment.
I’m not saying you need to radically drop your prices or give away the farm. We’ve had clients have great success increasing their new patient appointments by simply listing a $299 new patient exam as a special offer on their website.
Offering a discount, even a perceived discount, like a new patient appointment priced at $299, can help lower your advertising costs and get a potential new patient to move toward becoming a scheduled patient.
8 - Make Your Website Mobile Friendly
This is a really big deal. Every year more people are using mobile devices to access the internet and find the services they need. However, most of the dentists we talk to don’t realize just how important having a mobile-optimized website really is. Or worse, they assume their website is automatically optimized for mobile use.
- 2.7 billion people now own mobile phones
- 81% of Americans have smartphones
- 40-50% of people search for a dentist on their smartphones
- Google reports that 40% percent of mobile consumers turned to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile Web experience
Mobile devices are now the leading source of internet traffic in the United States. “Mobile First” is the big initiative Google has been working on for years and their platform continues to rank websites that are optimized for mobile use higher in Google search.
A mobile-optimized website needs:
- To have an attractive design display on any iPhone or Android device
- Every feature on the site needs to work - all links should be clickable, including buttons and phone numbers
- To make sure turning the device from portrait to landscape doesn’t ruin the design. The web design needs to be responsive in any format
A potential new patient visiting your website on their mobile device needs to have the same positive experience they would if they accessed it on a desktop computer. Otherwise, they’ll leave your site and go to a competitor’s website instead.
9 - Use Click To Call For Mobile
Having a “click to call” feature on your website is one of the most critical elements to make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
The last thing you want to happen is to have a potential new patient tap the phone number on your mobile site and have nothing happen. That is a prime example of a bad user experience. Now they need to write down your number or try to copy and paste it because this feature doesn’t work. At some point, it’s just easier for them to hit the back button and find another dentist’s site whose phone number is easier to access and use.
10 - Offer Patients Online Booking Options
Online booking gives your website visitors a way to bypass calling your office or leaving a message to schedule an appointment. It dramatically shortens the process of converting a website visitor to a new patient.
Think about it this way:
You’re trying to choose a restaurant for the evening. You find one and schedule your reservation online using a service like OpenTable. Once you schedule your reservation you don’t keep looking for another restaurant.
The same is true with patients using online booking for a dentist. If someone schedules a date and time to come into your office for a dental appointment, that’s it. They’re not out there looking for other dentists. They’re done, they’ve scheduled an appointment and you no longer risk losing that potential new patient.
More and more people don’t want to have to call and talk to someone to schedule an appointment. By offering online booking for your dental practice, it removes another barrier potential new patients see when they land on your website.
Do The 10 Critical Elements Of A Dental Website Really Work?
We could talk about the 10 critical elements of a dental website all day, but what we really want to make sure we show you is that these elements actually work for dentists.
So we tested it with a client site. We had 2 different designs for this client based in Anchorage, Alaska, and sent half the client’s website traffic to each site.
The second website shown is a site that includes the 10 critical elements of a dentist’s website and the first website design is just a typical “clean” and “modern” design.
Website 2 is represented by the orange line and as you can see the conversion rate is significantly higher than Anchorage Midtown Dental's first website design. The site jumped from a little under a 2% conversion rate of visitors to phone calls all the way to a 5-6% conversion rate in 3 months.
This improvement was made only by having the conversion elements on their newly-designed website. Without sending more traffic using paid ads, without spending more money, this dental website is converting at a higher level.
Why Is An Increased Conversion Rate So Important?
To illustrate this I want to share 2 different dental website scenarios:
- 750 website visitors per month
- 2% website visitors convert = 15 calls/leads
- 33% conversion rate = 5 scheduled new patients every month
- $1,450 1st year patient value (ADA estimation)
- $7,250 monthly revenue added
- 750 website visitors per month
- 6% website visitors convert = 45 calls/leads
- 33% conversion rate = 15 scheduled new patients every month
- $1,450 1st year patient value (ADA estimation)
- $21,750 monthly revenue added
Do you see how big of an impact just increasing the conversion rate on your website can have on your practice’s revenue? By doing nothing other than improving your website using the 10 critical elements we outlined above, you’ve got triple the leads and triple the revenue every month.
In this second scenario that totals over a quarter million dollars in annual revenue added to your practice without spending additional money on other marketing strategies. That’s why your website is critical to your success as a dentist.
Even if you don't incorporate all of these critical elements on your website, start by choosing a few of them and you’ll still start to see your website conversion rates start to improve.
When you’re considering what to improve on your dental practice’s website, keep your ideal new patient in mind and make it as easy as possible for them to trust your practice and schedule an appointment.
Remove barriers that make it difficult for them to call your office or schedule an appointment on your website and you’ll start to see more of your website traffic turn into actual new patient phone calls and appointments.
We also understand that dentists aren’t website designers! That’s why we’re here to help you make sure you have a dental website that not only attracts patients but is designed to convert those visitors to new patient appointments.
Ready to stop wasting money on marketing that doesn’t seem to work and use your website to attract and schedule the patients you need?