The Science and Art of Building Effective Dental Websites

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Dental websites are an essential tool for dental practices looking to increase new business and service existing patients.

A dental website is no longer a luxury, but a necessity, for dentists striving for the best practice possible. No dental practice, large or small, should ignore the many benefits that come from having its own, professional website. So what should practices consider when launching them online or considering an overhaul?

There are two types of dental websites to choose from: custom and prefabricated. Custom websites will prove to be far more effective, look more professional, and have longer-lasting value than the cheaper prefabricated versions. Every practice is different, so a design company should take the time to understand what the practice has to offer and convey that in their site.

Effective websites take into account common practice management tasks, and integrate them with online tools that not only create a marketing presence but also empower the practice in its daily operations. Specific tools include keeping in touch with patients through email newsletters, greeting cards, and special promotions.

The companies that specialize in dental websites compile newsletters that they prepare and deliver automatically on behalf of a dentist to his or her patient database. Such dental newsletters, which can be updated on a regular basis on the website and automatically emailed to patients, are extremely helpful in keeping in touch with patients that do not come in as often. Additionally, patients who subscribe may forward it to others, which could serve as a form of referrals.

Another useful feature of custom dental web sites is the ability to easily send out pre-scheduled email cards for birthdays, appointments, various holiday, etc. Such e-cards, with fun, professional designs, provide another great opportunity to keep in touch with patients and improve patient relations, while minimizing the cost of traditional cards and postage, not to mention save time.

Dental practices should also consider providing potential patients with an incentive to visit the office by having printable promotions or coupons on their website, where allowable by law. After all, the hardest part is getting the patient to come in for the first time.

Dental websites can also offer patients the ability to schedule appointments, access patient forms, and even verify insurance. This way, rather than request patients to come in fifteen to twenty minutes early, practices can post their forms online and request patient go online, print and complete them before coming in.

The opportunities for dental patient education are almost limitless; a dentist can provide informational resources on preventative care and exercises, explanatory diagrams and illustrations, and descriptions of the unique services of their practice.

A dental website can also assist the practice in selling dental products to anyone, anywhere, and any time—not just to the existing patient base of the practice. Dentists should not limit their opportunities — current studies show the public is looking for dental information, by the millions. Having an online presence now is crucial, not only in reaching new patients but also retaining existing ones. By not being online, a dentist misses out on 100 percent of the Internet-derived business he or she could see.

These days dentists are expected to have a presence on the Internet for potential patients. Instead of people running their fingers through the Yellow Pages, many now click with their mouse through their browsers to practices near them. The key to bringing in new patients who are searching online for dental providers and information lies in search engine placement. Who would want a website if no one can find it? Dentalmatrix.com excels at creating a search engine and marketing campaign aimed at excellent placement with search engines and directories, and uses both innovative and standard Search Engine Optimization techniques. More traffic means more patients, a better bottom line, and a dramatic return on investment.

Whether you have a current dental web site that isn’t high enough quality, or if you have no web site to speak of, the next decision is who should you turn to for the creation of your professional website? In terms of working with a freelancer versus an established company, as a general rule, it is usually best to work with a company that will provide the necessary customer service and support. Even if your “nephew Jimmy” or “nice kid down the street” can build you a professional website to begin with – and that’s a big “if” – will they be around when you need to update your website, or will they be off to college, or what have you?

It helps to find a company who can identify with the practice and even specializes in dental websites. A company or freelancer that does not specialize in the dental field will require significant amount of time from the dentist in developing the content and educational materials for the website.

There is probably no need to dump $10,000 into a dental website, but an investment of about $2,000 should be expected. A dentist can no longer maintain the mindset that “the computer is just for my kids.” A practice without a professional website will be an immediate turnoff for more and more potential patients each and every day.

Yamia Benhaim is the founder of Dentalmatrix.com, A design firm specializing in custom website design and consulting for the dental community. She can be contacted at 800.398.3933 or through the website dentalmatrix.com

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Yamia Benhaim
iMatrix
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