We’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of progressive orthodontic marketers, implementing inbound marketing and conversion rate optimization best practice to grow consultation flow and fuel new patient acquisition. In that time, we’ve found a number of patterns in our work with orthodontists – both the common pitfalls that seem to be almost universal as well as some opportunities that persist across differing practices, markets, and regulatory jurisdictions.
If you’re an orthodontic marketer just getting underway with an inbound marketing strategy, here are three key things you need to be mindful of as you get started:
1) Know Your Patient Personas
Every orthodontic practice attracts a different mix of new patients. Some practices really focus on kids and early intervention, in which case – talking to parents directly is obviously key. Others find themselves with 50% or more of their client base being made up of adults. For these practices, understanding that you’re speaking to adults—many of whom may have recently undergone a significant relationship status change that is sparking their renewed interest in orthodontics—changes how you market.
As you get underway with your inbound marketing plan, it is critical to assess your current patient flow and craft accurate personas that reflect your unique market situation. From that foundation, you will be well positioned to craft meaningful top-of-funnel content that drives the right kind of traffic and converts high-quality leads.
For example, one orthodontist we worked with found significant new patient flow with content targeted at teens doing their own orthodontic research. While many orthodontic practices do not find this a particularly large target audience, this particular ortho knew from their existing client base that a good number of new teen patients were asking their own questions and doing their own research. Through leveraging this understanding, we were able to create a profitable online lead flow that could be further optimized and refined to deliver even more new patients.
2) Find Your Money Path
As you build your inbound marketing strategy, you’re bound to find one or two key conversion paths that drive a disproportionately high share of quality leads and new patients. A critical step to accelerating your inbound results is identifying this path early and prioritizing its optimization.
Most often, we have found that pricing-focused interactive calculators become THE essential asset for orthodontists, creating a conversion path that consistently outperforms. Even the least price sensitive shoppers among your prospective client base still want to know the answer to a very basic question: “How much?”. Of course, we both know that the real answer is, “It depends”. Interactive calculators give you the opportunity to ask the questions that can help in formulating an answer— while simultaneously allowing you to illustrate to prospective new patients various payment plan scenarios, terms, etc.
Once you have someone’s name and email address, permission to market to them, and knowledge that they were interested enough in orthodontics to ask “How much?”, you can quickly turn that focused attention into a new consultation and patient. In fact, we have found that this conversion path can perform at more than twice the rate of more educationally-focused content conversion paths. That’s not to say you shouldn’t create educational content that converts—you should—but it does mean that if you’re only doing that, you’re leaving a lot of new patients to your competitors.
3) Commit to the Closed Loop
You will want to make sure you have the right processes in place to close your customer loop if you want to extract the most value out of your investment in inbound marketing. As prospects enter your top-of-funnel and move from being nameless prospects to consultations and new patients, inbound marketing software like HubSpot lets you track their entire customer journey. But you can only get the real benefit of this information if you tell HubSpot when a prospect turns into a patient.
For many businesses, closed-loop analytics can be setup automatically by connecting HubSpot’s marketing automation platform to the business’s customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Salesforce, for example, connects seamlessly with HubSpot, as do many other leading CRM software solutions. Unfortunately—for orthodontists—this is not always so easy.
Orthodontic patient management / practice management software isn’t always a shining example of the latest and greatest in software-as-a-service technology. This is common in many relatively niche industries – CRM software is introduced that solves specific niche industry problems, and as it evolves it does so at a slower pace than the category does generally, often succeeding more because of its industry focus than ease of use.
For orthodontists, this has meant that systems like OrthoTrac and Dolphin, while essential for running your practice—may not integrate as seamlessly with your marketing automation platform. In this case, it is essential that you structure a continuously performed administrative process to close your customer analytics loop on, at minimum, a monthly basis. We have standard processes that we have developed for our clients who use OrthoTrac, for example, helping to keep administrative time to a minimum. For whatever system you’re using, you will want to match your administrative workflows and timing with your persona nurturing sequences to be certain that your marketing automation platform is getting the information it needs to keep the messages it sends in sync with your prospects journey to becoming a patient.
Ready to learn more about inbound marketing for orthodontists? Download our new guide, Inbound Marketing for Orthodontists: 5 Key Strategies to Take a Bite Out of Your Competition. In it, you’ll find the our top tips for creating an orthodontic inbound marketing strategy that can deliver 10, 20, even 30:1 return on investment.