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a blog by Chris Barrow

Human Interest Marketing – Part 4

The purpose of your SEO (yesterday’s post) is to direct curious (and, preferably, pre-qualified) people towards your web site.

In future instalments of this series, I’m going to share with you tips and techniques to increase the flow of those people to your web site via social media management, blogging and your newsletter.

In fact, we are going to obsess about directing people to your web site – because that has now become the virtual shop window of your business.

Whether it’s a word of mouth recommendation, a social media post, a walk/drive by the practice, advertising – the reality is that most potential new patients will take a look around your web site before they attend.

But please remember that yours is not an e-commerce site – you are not attempting to encourage people to make buying decisions there and then, in the way that Amazon would or an on-line fashion retailer.

Yours, instead, is an experiential site – a movie trailer for your patient experience and the outcomes you deliver to “people like us”.

Your perfect visitors are highly unlikely to make a purchasing decision on-line and may not even make a decision to attend until the time is right for them at some future date.

Earlier, we shared the essential “P’s” of web site design.

What we need to do now is pause on the tactical front and consider, for a moment, the strategic reason for driving all of those people to your web site.

Is it to get them to book an appointment?

You would think that would be #1 purpose?

I disagree. Not everyone who visits your site will be in the buying or visiting zone at that moment.

The real #1 objective is DATA CAPTURE – defined as collecting the visitor’s email address and permission to add them to your email newsletter database.

Marketing pundits agree that the best way to do that is to offer them some useful information in exchange – a free guide to whatever treatment modality they have researched, known in marketing parlance as a “white paper”.

The #2 objective of that web site visit is to encourage them to book an appointment through the telephone, on-line booking or live chat, if by chance they are in the visiting frame of mind.

So so many dental web sites out there, aesthetically gorgeous or not, miss the first objective – so that visitors come and go without leaving any footprints in your sand – what a waste.

Look at these examples of dental web sites offering white papers:

The astounding reality is that white paper marketing is still a rarity in dentistry and the majority of sites that I visit have no means to collect the visitor’s data – so those visitors come and go and it’s a lottery as to whether they subsequently make contact.

You don’t need expensive CRM software to create DATA CAPTURE on your web site – there are simple applications like Mailchimp that will do the job and even SOE have cottoned on to the important of this in the latest version of Exact – their new marketing module innovates in the right direction.

Take a look at my own new web site and you will see the white paper down there at the foot of the home page and the place to deposit your email address and join the 3,000+ people who receive my monthly email newsletter – my team tell me we are organically collecting around 10+ new email addresses every week – and the site has only been live since 19th September.

Once you have a visitor’s email address and permission, you can spend time nurturing the relationship through your regular newsletter, so that when they trigger (become a red hot lead – for their own reasons) they will contact you because they have been exposed to your core values and to stories about the patients you treat – people just like them.

I’ve had dentists engage me as a coach over 15 years after subscribing to “my stuff” (as they call it) – patience is a virtue in this respect.

If you don’t have an email database, you are constantly shouting at a crowd, looking for first dates with strangers – it’s exhausting.

I had dinner with a friend in Soho this week and in the basement of our restaurant I had to cross a crowded Millennial speed-dating event to get to the gents – I have rarely been so happy to be 63 and in a relationship.

No white papers, no email collection, no newsletter means that you are speed-dating strangers (potential new patients) all the time – yuk.

With a strong and growing database, you are regularly whispering to friends about the positive difference you make to other peoples lives – it’s empowering.

DATA CAPTURE – it is mission critical in Human Interest Marketing and, over the long term, it is like preventative maintenance in dentistry – it will considerably reduce the cost of your new patient acquisition.

All of which presupposes that your newsletters are worth reading and sharing – of which more later.

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