If you’re like most dentists, you’re focused on fulfilling dental services, not finding new ways to build a dental marketing strategy. But how can you attract new patients to your dental practice?

There are many dental marketing ideas, both digital and offline methods, that can help grow your practice. With the right one, you can generate more interest and attract new patients.

What are ways you can promote your dental office? In this article, we cover 20 of the most popular dental marketing ideas, the best practices for implementing them, and how to measure their effectiveness.

Getting started with your dental marketing strategy

Before you decide on marketing ideas for your dental office, it helps to determine which strategy will be the most effective for you. Here are three fundamental marketing steps to help you get started:

1. Set practice and acquisition goals: How many new patients?

Start by outlining the goals of your practice. This allows you to better target and measure your marketing efforts.

  • What is the specific mission of your practice?
  • Which of your services do you want to focus on?
  • What objectives do you want your office to meet? (For example, do you aim to offer affordable cleanings? Or, do you want to be the best cosmetic dentist in your area?)

Next, determine how many new patients you’d like to acquire. Don’t just make your customer acquisition goal “as many patients as possible.” Rather, set a realistic goal for the number of new patients you want to acquire per month. Remember, there may be other dental offices in your market and neighborhood, so be realistic with your number. Choose a target you’ll be motivated to achieve and makes a difference in your overall growth, but not one that will drain your energy and kill your spirit.

2. Build a customer profile: Who do you want to target?

After you’ve set goals for your practice, the next step in your dental marketing strategy is to determine the type of patients you want to target. In general marketing practice, this is known as creating a customer profile or buyer persona.

You can build multiple profiles, but all should be based on the specific customer needs you will meet through your practice.

Your customer  profile should include basic information, like your ideal customer’s income level, age, profession, etc.

  • Does your dental office plan to appeal to large amounts of patients through competitive, accessible pricing? If so, then your ideal target customers are probably middle-class families and older citizens who are on a fixed income.
  • Do you want most of your income to come from cosmetic surgery? Do your intend on becoming a dentist primarily for upper-middle-class patients?  If so, you’ll want to target professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, and executives.

Once you know what you want your patient profile to look like, you can then target them through relevant branding on the marketing channels they frequent most.

When determining your ideal audience, don’t forget to look at what can’t be easily changed, such as your location. If your practice is close to a residential area, it’s probably a bad idea to target businesspeople.

3. Test your dental marketing ideas: What’s working?

Now that you know what market you’re going after and what goals you want to meet, it’s time to figure out what to measure to see if your marketing strategy is actually working.

Testing is a continued process, but it’s best to know what numbers you’ll need to look at before you begin.

Customer lifetime value (LTV)

How much is each patient worth over time? Understanding your customer lifetime value will give you an idea of how much you can spend on acquiring a customer.

This is typically calculated as an average. If you end up with a wide range of individual customer lifetime values, however, you can also segment groups into separate customer profiles and create an average customer LTV for each group.

Remember: The longer a loyal patient stays with your practice, the higher their customer lifetime value becomes.

Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

How much does it cost you to acquire a customer? This is different from your operational costs (i.e.,  salaries, utilities). Rather, customer acquisition costs are what you spend on all marketing efforts made to get an individual dental patient through the door.

Although you won’t be able to calculate the actual CAC until after you’ve implemented marketing strategies for a while, it’s best to keep this cost in mind as you implement your dental marketing idea.

It’s best to measure every dental marketing idea so you know what’s most effective for your practice. Ideally, your average customer LTV should be 3x more than you spend on CAC (meaning, you’ll only spend a third of the customer’s LTV in acquiring them).

Tracking success of online and offline efforts

If you do online marketing, you can use web analytics tools, like Google Analytics, to monitor the traffic and reach of your website. You can even make use of landing pages, use digital marketing campaigns that lead potential patients to those pages, and track traffic on those specific landing pages.

Offline marketing is harder to track, but can also be done with promotional codes. Read more more tips on how to track offline marketing efforts.

The best marketing ideas for dental offices that work

Now that we’ve covered the foundations of your dental marketing strategy, let’s dive into specific tactics for dental offices to add to a marketing plan. Here are 20 of the best dental marketing ideas to promote your practice and attract new patients:

1. Build an online presence

Having a digital presence is key for any business to grow, including your dental office. Here’s an overview of the major pieces needed to build an online presence (we’ll cover some of these in more detail later in the article).

Website: Think of your dental website as a virtual business card or your office’s main salesperson. Make sure it covers the basics: your office address, phone number, other contact information, and the specific services you offer. The language of your website copy should also speak to your ideal customer. Dental patients are especially discerning, so if your site doesn’t give them the information they need, you may be overlooked no matter how amazing your practice is.

Keep in mind that most people search for information on their phones, so you’ll want to make sure your website is optimized for mobile. 

Search engine optimization (SEO): SEO is often considered the holy grail of online marketing. When people are searching for specific services, they usually won’t look past the first few pages of Google results. By observing the best practices for SEO, you’ll have a better chance of ranking highly on the first pages of a potential customer’s search.

One key SEO tip is to optimize your website for the keywords “dentist” and “dental office,” followed by your city, town, or region. For example, “dental office Boston” or “dentist Short Hills New Jersey.” This is known as local SEO, and will put you closer to those who have the most potential to become patients.

If you’re interested to learn more about SEO, here are some top SEO blogs: MozSearch Engine Journal, and Search Engine Watch

Social media profiles: We can’t leave out social media when it comes to creating brand awareness. Time and time again, social media has proven to be a powerful dental marketing tool. Dental practitioners are now able to build brand awareness and communicate with potential patients around the clock through social channels.

If you’re interested in using social media to market your dental practice, Facebook is a great start. It’s where most consumers are, and if you create engaging posts or take out social media ads, there’s a good chance you’ll show up on their feed. Plus, Facebook has a ‘Recommendations’ feature, so existing patients can share your information with others directly.

Facebook can help with lead generation in many other ways. Here are some ways to maximize Facebook to promote your dental office.

  • Post engaging content. People go on Facebook for entertainment and communication – not to see ads. Think about how you can make the content you post on Facebook more fun. Use engaging images, infographics, quotes, surveys, statistics, and even hold contests.
  • If you use Facebook ads, give readers something informative, as well. Offering interesting statistics, images, or dental tips can help reel people in.

Aside from Facebook, focus on the social platforms your audience uses most. As long as you post engaging and useful content in an authentic way, social media can be a great tool to help generate word of mouth and grow your dental practice.

2.  Get involved in your community

Simply being active and involved in your community is an effective dental marketing idea. Giving back is a great way to go beyond the standard dental service, and earn the community’s trust and respect. It also ensures your practice will be at the top of their list whenever they need a dentist.

Here are a few ways to get involved in your community:

  • Sponsor a small local sports team
  • Sponsor a local fundraiser (i.e., a bake sale, a fun run)
  • Hold a themed art, essay, or poetry contest in your school district
  • Offer educational sessions or career talks to elementary schools
  • Perform local volunteer work
  • Start a community referral program

Why is this such a vital strategy? The dental care industry is a business of trust. Most people will only entrust their dental health to someone who has a good reputation or they feel they know personally.

3. Generate customer referrals

Many small businesses, including dental practices, thrive on referrals. However, it’s often hard to track and understand where these referrals are coming from.

Creating an incentive-based referral program makes tracking your growth much easier. While you may already be using a physical referral card, a digital referral program is even more effective and easier to measure. With a platform like ours at Referral Rock, you can easily set up a program, automatically track all your results, and instantly reward a customer when they successfully refer a friend.

Check out our interview with Watkin Dental Associates on the benefits of referral marketing for dental practices. It may help you with some dental referral program ideas.

Need more? Read our list of customer referral program ideas and our complete playbook for starting an effective referral program to help you get started on your own dental referral program.

4. Use email marketing

Getting your patient’s email address gives you a direct line to help grow your business. Just be sure to send the right emails at the right time.

You can start by asking for a patient’s email addresses to send them appointment reminders.

You can also invite people to sign up for your email list, where they can get useful information, like a guide, video series, or webinar. A catchy title, like “3 Steps to Bright, White Teeth” can be a great way to get people interested in your dental services. Then, once someone accesses the item, you can send a follow-up email asking for their feedback or offer a discounted cleaning or whitening service.

Once someone’s on your email list, the goal is to remind current and potential patients about your practice. Keep them engaged and updated with a regular newsletter. Include items, such as:

  • Dental hygiene tips
  • Feel good stories about your customers (with their permission)
  • An invite to your referral program
  • Contests and offers
  • Your involvement in the community
  • Any relevant office updates (i.e., new location, new services, new equipment)

If you really want to master email marketing, you can check out Vero Email Marketing Blog and Vertical Response Email Marketing for more great tips.

Don’t spam your clients. Only send your patients relevant information. Sending messages too frequently can cause your patients to ignore your emails or completely turn them off.

5. Show off your results

Everyone talks about their services, but not everyone talks about their results. If you show off the results of your patients’ happy, healthy mouths, others will be more interested to try your services. Yes, people know dentists clean teeth and fill cavities, but seeing the end result of these labors can be especially convincing.

Kick this strategy up a notch by creating a “photo booth” for social media. Offer to take pictures of patients and their clean teeth once a procedure is finished, and encourage them to share the photo on their social media pages. Don’t forget to create a unique hashtag for your business so they can use it in their caption. This is a great way to build up social proof.

6. Join an online community or group

Wherever you live, there are social media groups and community forums your practice can use for promotion. Search for your city or town + “forum,” and Google will guide you to ones where you can interact and build relationships with people from your community.

You can also check for local Facebook or LinkedIn groups. If you choose to join, make sure to be helpful and contribute to the conversation. It’s okay to passively promote yourself or your practice by putting your website in your signature, but in settings like these, helpful tips always work better than overt promotions.

7. Partner with other businesses

You may know another business that can benefit from your business and share a similar target market. Why not form a partnership where you refer potential customers to each other? This is known as a partner program (or partnership referral program).

Forming these types of partner relationships is a great way to find new patients because it generates leads directly to your practice. The key is to make sure you’ve chosen a business or professional who isn’t a competitor and one you truly trust. Otherwise, the partnership may damage your reputation and your social currency could plummet.

Here are some suggested businesses you can consider forming referral partnerships with:

  • Orthodontists: If you don’t offer orthodontics yourself, a local orthodontist is a great potential partnership. After all, dental cleanings become even more important when a patient has braces. Plus, you’re likely recommending orthodontists to some of your existing patients already.
  • Other non-competing dental practices: As long as they don’t directly compete with you, you may want to link up with a dental surgeon, pediatric dentist, or other professional. You can mutually agree to refer patients to each other  as a way to grow your practices together.
  • Local realtors: While outside your industry, these professionals work with newcomers in the community. Who better to introduce you to a new market? In return, you can offer service discounts and other benefits to referring realtors.

If you want to know how well your partnership is doing, our platform can also help track the referrals you get from partner programs, as well.

8.  Send out neighborhood welcome packs

Once you’ve gathered lists of new community members from a realtor, community association, or other source, think about sending out “welcome to the neighborhood” cards to make sure these new arrivals are aware of your service. You can even include a coupon for a discount off their first cleaning or a small gift with your office name.

If a community or homeowner association already sends out welcome packs, offer a coupon and/or gift from your practice. This is another effective way to build community and trust with potential patients.

9. Do something press-worthy

The hard part of marketing yourself online as a dentist is making sure your efforts reach the local market. If you can attract local press, however, you will receive direct, targeted attention to your business online and offline.

One of the best ways to do this is with guerilla marketing tactics. Guerilla marketing uses unconventional, surprising methods to promote a product or service. By doing something that stands out, local media will be more inclined to include you in an upcoming feature. Here is some examples of guerilla marketing inspiration.

stand-out-ads

10. Tap into content marketing

You’re here, which means you’re reading our company’s blog. Why not attract visitors to your own blog? Create quality content, including blog posts sharing dental tips and patient updates. (This also helps your website’s SEO!)

To align content marketing with your dental marketing ideas, you have to stay consistent. It’s also best to write about relevant topics your audience is interested to read. Check out the Content Marketing Institute to learn more about blogging best practices.

11. Turn marketing into a team effort

Instead of relying on just one person to get the word out, it’s a good idea to get your whole team involved. When more people are actively talking about your practice, it’s a lot easier to reach potential customers.

Another reason to enlist your team is it helps generate new dental marketing ideas. This can be especially helpful when coming up with blog and social media posts. You can then have your whole dental team help share your website content and social media pages to others. Most of your team is likely utilizing some form of social media, which makes this a good way to be seen by hundreds of new people.

When suggesting ideas to your team, be sure to mention it’s optional but would really help out the practice. Here are are a few things you can do to make team marketing easier for everyone:

  • Create some canned social messages so your team members can easily pick one and share it.
  • Email all new content to your team members, whether it’s a new infographic or blog post. If your team knows about your resources, they’ll be more likely to share.
  • Encourage your team members to share new content or suggestions.

12. Make an offer customers can’t refuse

Providing an exclusive offer from the get-go can help get people through the door – and encourage them to keep coming back. In the dental industry, there are only a few things you can offer for free or at a discounted price. But these are all you need. Think about what you can offer and send it out to your target market. To make it interesting, you can even switch up the offer every quarter.

For first-time patients, you can offer a complimentary service, such as free cleaning or teeth whitening. Both can be done fairly quickly and inexpensively, and usually invites them to opt for another service or come back again.

For existing patients, you can offer a discount on new services, such as $20 off an at-home cleaning system or 15% off Invisalign. This is a great way to show patients you appreciate their patronage and invite them to try some new services.

13. Create engaging videos

You don’t have to use YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram’s IGTV for your dental practice. But there’s no refuting just how engaging video marketing can be. Why not use videos to present entertaining content that makes dentistry feel more relatable and human? Here are a few video ideas:

  • Give a tour of your practice
  • Answer patient questions
  • Share patient testimonials
  • Offer dental hygiene tips

You can share these videos on your website, social media accounts, and even include them in your email newsletters.

Need inspiration? Orthodontist Dr. Ben Winters (aka TheBentist) has used TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube videos to become a social media star. Check out his Instagram and YouTube.

14. Keep your Google My Business page up to date

You may already have claimed your Google My Business Page – if so, that’s great! This is an effective way to increase presence in your local area. Make sure to keep the listing up to date, with your address, phone, and emails. You can even add images.

The more complete your business page looks, the more reputable you’ll seem to potential patients. It’s a good idea to also allow reviews on your Google Business Page. Reviews are a recommended way to build trust – which brings us to our next dental marketing idea.

15. Get positive reviews

Enlist your current patients to recommend others to you. Most new patients will likely research and read a ton of reviews before choosing a dentist (or any service for that matter). If you have positive reviews online, on locations such as Yelp and Google, people will tend to trust you more and will feel more comfortable booking an appointment.

It’s important to ask for reviews at the right time. You can email your customers a link after their appointment (through a thank you email), or include a request for their review as part of your checkout process (through a POS kiosk or tablet). Here’s more information on how to get positive reviews.

16. Send a postcard

Yes, postcards have been around forever. But that’s because they’re easy and they work. Postcards and mailers are a relatively cheap option, and best of all, they end up directly in front of prospective patients.

An updated version of this strategy is sending a postcard coupon. Here is a great example created by Impact Mailers.

dental marketing ideas: impact mailers with coupons

Consider sending a postcard to the neighborhoods near your office. People move all the time, so your postcard may end up in the hands of someone looking for a new dentist. And since you’re in their neighborhood, you’ll be an easy choice once they need any dental work.

17. Retarget your previous visitors

Retargeting is a marketing strategy that involves targeting Google Ads only toward those who have already visited your website. This method reminds people who you are, and encourages them to return to your site after they’ve left.

Retargeting is especially effective for potential patients who are comparing you to competitors (and therefore, going back and forth between dental practice sites) or looking for a dentist, but then leaving to perform another task.

Since you’re sending a reminder to someone who already knows who you are, retargeting makes it much easier to convert them into a patient. You can even take the opportunity to send them a valuable discount using a retargeting ad, effectively putting you ahead of your competitors and “sealing the deal.”

18. Establish yourself as an expert

At the end of the day, patients just want to know they’re in good hands. Give them the assurance by showing your expertise. Contribute articles in notable publications or send in helpful expert advice in other media channels. By establishing yourself as a trusted expert in your field, you’ll build your reputation and gain the trust of both potential and existing patients.

19. Include call to actions (CTAs) where you can

Make it easy for people to contact and connect with you. By placing a call to action (CTA) on your website, blog page, and/or  email, you’re making it that much easier for potential patients to reach you. Some useful CTAs are “book an appointment,” “ask about a service,” or “refer a friend.” Here’s more information on designing effective calls to action.

20. Keep your branding consistent

The best foundation for any marketing strategy is to have consistent branding. No matter what dental marketing idea you use, having a strong brand ensures your dental practice is memorable and in line with your image, mission, and values.

For a deeper dive into building your brand identity and conveying it effectively, our brand strategy guide has all the information you need.

Dental marketing idea takeaways

We hope you found these 20 dental marketing ideas helpful. If you want even more options, here are some more resources you might find useful: