Dental patient referral marketing (or word-of-mouth marketing) is a powerful marketing strategy and one of the best tactics for acquiring more patients and improving conversion rates. However, finding the right ways to motivate your existing patients to refer their family and friends to your dental practice is hard work.
Like all healthcare marketing strategies, referral marketing is effective when managed properly and optimized to attract the right patients. However, building an attractive dental patient referral marketing campaign is only half the battle; ensuring that you actively encourage the referrals – which means your existing patients recommend your practice to their family and friends – is the real challenge. This is where referral marketing companies like Practice Builders come into play.
To help you understand dental patient referral marketing and to inspire you to include this strategy in your marketing arsenal, we have put together a quick guide on referral marketing. Read on!
What is dental patient referral marketing?
It is precisely what it sounds like: the process of one of your existing patients referring your practice and services to family and friends, and returning to the practice after the recommendation.
Unlike other ways to grow your dental practice (social media marketing and content marketing), referral marketing happens organically. This means marketers may or may not get involved in the referral process. However, a referral marketer’s role is to boost the process so that more patients share about your services with their friends.
Why is referral marketing so effective?
Referral marketing provides knowledge and a level of trust, as the opinions of family and friends are trusted more than paid advertising or other marketing tactics. In fact, according to a Nielsen report, patients are four times more likely to consider a dental practice when a close family member or friend refers it.
Is Influencer marketing a form of referral marketing?
Pretty much! This is because influencers are trusted and respected by their followers. A product or service recommended by influencers will have the same impact on followers’ minds as a personal recommendation.
How to implement dental patient referral marketing in your overall dental marketing strategy?
1. Make the patient experience share-worthy
There are several ways to build your patient experience to be share-worthy. By making sure their experience is share-worthy, you can subtly encourage them to post about it on social networks and third-party review sites. But social media platforms are not the only places where you can encourage word of mouth marketing. There are many more ways to do it. The experts at Practice Builders can help you leverage positive patient experience to acquire more new patients.
2. Provide exceptional service
Always remember that happy patients share more. Now the question is – how do you get happy patients? By giving exceptional service!
Despite constant reminders (we keep publishing blogs) on how patient experience can drive profitability, excellent service is still a rare commodity. Most dental practices provide the minimum expected. However, if you want your patients to share about you, you have to give exceptional service.
You may want to read about 5 Strategies to Improve Patient Experience here.
Providing exceptional service doesn’t have to be a fancy affair. Including essentials like sending pre-appointment reminders, training your staff to be courteous, making sure your staff knows patients by the first name, ensuring accurate billing, minimizing wait times, and maintaining overall hygiene inside your office.
3. Create and share relevant content
Dental patient referral marketing is an excellent concept! But you will need to focus more on your audience, to make it relevant for your dental practice. I mean, despite having the best staff, how many blogs can you write about “almost painless tooth extraction”?
You will have to come up with innovative content ideas. How?
You can consider making videos where your patients are talking about “almost painless tooth extraction.” Problem solved! These videos will serve dual purposes – market your services and act as positive patient reviews. Patient reviews work as effectively as referrals because prospects watching such videos will trust them more than they will trust a paid marketing campaign.
The idea is to chance upon an opportunity and take full advantage of it.
All you have to do is find out which content type will perform best in your local market, optimize it and promote it.
4. Partner with influencers
Influencers’ recommendations are crucial to determining your referral marketing program’s success and whether your service quality and brand awareness go viral. You can consider working with influencers in different capacities and get them to recommend your dental practice to their followers.
Remember, referral marketing is typically a cost-effective marketing strategy. You need not make it an expensive, large-scale campaign.
You may want to read about Influencer Marketing: Big Impact Even With a Small Budget here.
5. Announce a patient referral scheme
A referral scheme is a planned, systematic way of incentivizing your existing patients to refer your dental practice to their family and friends.
Two components – incentives and promotion – play an integral role in ensuring your referral campaign’s success.
Incentives are essential as they will motivate your patients to spread the good word about your services. According to experts, getting the incentive right is 80 percent of your referral program’s success. You must think clearly about a meaningful incentive for your existing patients and the friends they are referring to.
Promotions are essential because, without promotion, your existing patients would not know about your referral program. You can let patients know about your referral program by adding a link to it on the homepage of your website. You can also consider sending an email to your existing patients and inviting them to join.
6. Make it easy for patients to refer
A successful dental patient referral program makes it easy for existing patients to share your brand with others. If a patient has to jump through hoops just to send a referral, he or she will likely give up.
By giving your patients a few different ways to share, you might be able to increase the likelihood of them sharing. In addition to social media posts and website headers, you can consider traditional methods like handing out printed flyers or pre-filler coupons to your existing patients so that the process is easy, making it more likely for patients to participate.
Patient referrals can come from anywhere – a happy patient, a family member, or even through an influencer. The key is to leverage these referrals using a well-designed referral marketing program that incentivizes word of mouth and boosts patient loyalty.
Dental practice referral marketing programs are insanely effective. They have the potential to help you acquire higher-value patients that convert faster, trust you more, and stay for longer – all of this at a minimal cost to you. It is much, much cheaper to acquire patients through referral marketing instead of other dental marketing methods.
When starting a referral program, it helps if you already have a solid relationship with your patients and understand what will incentivize or motivate them to share. Also, focus on making the referral process as easy as possible.
What do you think? Considering having a referral marketing program in place for your dental practice? Our experts have the knowledge and expertise to help you and make your program a roaring success. Contact us today!