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Six Digital Marketing Trends Dentists Need to Know in 2020

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The start of the new decade is the perfect time for dentists to brush up on the latest digital marketing trends and tactics. Not because 2020 marks the turning of the page to the next incremental generation of consumer preferences and marketing technologies — but because those who aren’t focused on the future are already falling behind.

Consumer behavior and marketing trends change at a breakneck pace, and there’s no better time than now for growth-minded practice owners to start familiarizing themselves with the tools and tactics they can employ to move ahead of their competition.

Here are six digital marketing trends every dentist should consider in 2020:

1. Omnichannel marketing is now essential if you want to be visible to patients.

Above all, dentists and dental practice owners should know that no single marketing platform or tactic is sufficient for attracting new patients anymore. Instead, there is now a great need to invest in an omnichannel strategy, which involves spreading your marketing budget across several “channels” (such as email, social media, videos, display ads, pay-per-click ads, etc.) in order to reach potential patients in a variety of ways.

An omnichannel strategy works like this: if a modern consumer is experiencing tooth pain, is interested in cosmetic dental work, or is just looking for a new dental care provider, they’re not going to call the first number they see in the yellow pages. They’ll likely begin with a Google search. They may watch a video or read a blog post about the problem they’re having or work they’d like to have done. They might recall a banner ad they saw last week for a new dental office in town. Then, they’ll probably read reviews on Facebook or Yelp to see which dentists are most popular in their area.

Starting to see the idea? With the information available at consumers’ fingertips, every stage of the customer journey presents a marketing opportunity, and an omnichannel strategy is the best way to maximize your visibility to new patients.

2. Hyper-targeting capabilities can vastly improve ROI.

The average American encounters up to 10,000 branded messages in a single day. If you want your ad to be one of the few that sticks in consumers’ minds, you’re going to have to find creative, relevant ways to communicate value. People now ignore generic messaging — instead, employ localized, personalized ads to have a higher chance of resonating with your target audience.

Creating ads that cut through the clutter isn’t easy. But thanks to hyper-targeting, it doesn’t take nearly the amount of research and testing that it did in the past. Hyper-targeting refers to the ability of certain platforms to serve advertisements to extremely specific subsets of demographic, geographic, and psychographic groups. With the amount of data these platforms gather about a user’s location, search habits, tastes, and preferences, it’s possible to paint a much more detailed picture of the users you should be targeting.

For example, rather than launching a Facebook campaign that serves ads to 24- to 40-year-olds who live in Denver, the possibility now exists to reach a much smaller and, ideally, more receptive audience — like 24- to 40-year-olds in the Denver area who have a household income above $100,000 and have searched for cosmetic dental services on Google in the last 30 days.

3. Machine learning will revolutionize the patient acquisition process.

The term “machine learning” often conjures images of a far-off, high-tech future, like something you’d see in a science fiction movie. In reality, you probably interact with several machine learning-powered applications on a day-to-day basis. From smart assistants like Siri and Alexa to email spam filters, the prevalence of these programs have exploded in recent years, and dentists would be wise to consider how they can be used to improve the patient acquisition process.

Machine learning-driven programs are capable of finding correlations in sets of data large enough to overwhelm any human who is trying to process the same information. In terms of marketing, this can be a game-changer in business.

Whether you own a practice with a single location or manage marketing tasks for an organization with hundreds, this technology saves time and increases cost efficiency by analyzing how unique groups of people will likely respond to ads and by automatically tweaking each campaign for maximum effectiveness.

4. Voice Search will continue to rise in popularity.

Today, consumers can get answers to their dental questions whenever they need them and without lifting a finger. Thanks to the widespread adoption of smart speakers and mobile assistants like Siri and Alexa, patients are increasingly turning to voice search to quickly and conveniently gather information when they need it, including information about local services like dental care. And voice search is especially valuable for reaching potential patients in your local community — research shows that mobile voice-related searches are three times more likely to be location-based than text searches, and 44% of people say convenient location is a must when choosing a dentist.

Just as the advent of text-based online search revolutionized digital advertising and marketing, leading to the rise of paid search advertising and a nearly universal focus on search engine optimization, the increased prevalence of voice-command technology will bring sweeping change to today’s most common and widely accepted advertising tactics. Dental providers who foresee this shift and begin to tailor their strategies to voice-activated virtual assistants will possess a huge advantage in their effort to attract new patients as opposed to those who do not.

5. Live chat and chatbots are crucial for customer service.

Beyond voice search, consumers are also turning to other emerging technologies to get answers during their search for dental work: live chat and chatbots. One side effect of today’s easy access to information is impatience: 51% of people believe professional service businesses (like dental practices) should be accessible 24 hours a day, and 73% of people say timeliness is critical to good service. What’s more, the dental practice that answers a potential patient’s questions first — whether those questions are answered over the phone, email, or chat — will end up being chosen 50% of the time.

Live chat services on your website can provide patients with the timeliness and responsiveness they’re looking for. However, they also come with the cost and complications of hiring or outsourcing employees dedicated to the service. To solve this dilemma, some companies have started investing in another revolutionary technology made possible by artificial intelligence: chatbots.

Chatbots work much in the same way as a customer support chat team — they can answer common questions about location, hours, prices, etc., but this is only the beginning. They can also filter out patients who would not be a good fit for a given practice, saving time an office staff member could have used to assist patients at the office. And as AI technology improves and chatbots become more human-like, they’ll be capable of moving patients through the intake process without any effort on the provider’s side. These conversations may not be as robust or specific as human-to-human interactions, but they make up for this deficiency with their ability to engage with consumers at an infinite scale and at any time of the day.

6. Video is a must for reaching the modern consumer.

When it comes to the way people consume content, online video has absolutely exploded in recent years and shows no signs of slowing down. Two billion people watch YouTube every single day, and experts predict that by 2022, video will account for 82% of all web traffic.

But consumers aren’t just watching video for entertainment. It’s proven to be a useful educational resource for viewers and a lucrative marketing tool for brands. Nearly 55% of Google’s users watch video to evaluate products and services, and 88% of video marketers are satisfied with the ROI their content produces. With its innate abilities to capture viewers’ attention and provide them with outside opinions, video has time and time again proven to be one of the most reliable marketing channels when it comes to influencing consumer decisions.

And video is particularly beneficial for dentists and practice owners. The costs and procedures involved in both cosmetic and general dentistry can intimidate patients, making them hesitant to schedule an appointment. However, a high-quality, informative video can answer many of the questions swirling in a viewer’s mind — mitigating their anxiety and increasing the likelihood that they’ll pick up the phone to call the practice that produced the video.

While these six digital marketing trends are essential for any dentist who aspires to attract more patients and increase revenue, they only scratch the surface of the ways technology will revolutionize advertising in this new decade. To ensure patients will choose your practice over a competitor’s, you need a completely new perspective on the way marketing on the Internet is done.

If you’d like to learn more about the emerging tools, trends, and technologies dentists need to know about to boost their businesses, fill out the form below to speak with one of our marketing managers. We would be happy to answer any of your questions and get you set up with a plan to make your 2020 goals a reality.

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