In a digital world, the effectiveness of your orthodontic practice’s website has a direct and measurable impact on the success of your business. As we outlined in the first two articles in this three part series, digitally savvy orthodontic practice owners are increasingly investing in strategic online marketing activities to attract and retain new patients. More specifically, Inbound Marketing Methodology has become the go-to strategic marketing framework for many of today’s most successful orthodontic practices.

This article will outline eight foundational website elements that are prerequisites for successful orthodontic marketing in 2016. With these items in place, your practice’s website will become a significant and reliable source of new patient inquiries, positioning you for future growth and digital dominance over your competition.

1. Responsive design

With mobile device browsing now accounting for more than 60% of internet usage, it’s imperative for your orthodontic practice’s website to be optimized for mobile. Responsive design is an approach to web design that aims to deliver a consistent user experience no matter what size device the visitor is using—from smartphones to desktop computers. Potential patients could be coming to your website and assessing your practice while standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for the bus, or sitting on the couch. If your website is not mobile friendly in 2016, you are simply turning potential patients away at the door.

2. Proper search engine optimization

Despite the fact that every marketing consultant has been beating the search engine optimization (SEO) drum for the last 10 years, it’s still more common than not for orthodontic clinics to get the basics wrong. Influential SEO factors like page title tags, H1s, meta descriptions, website architecture, and on-page content should all be properly optimized to attract new patients via organic search.

3. Patient-specific content

The key to writing effective web content is to write for specific patient types, rather than trying to speak to everyone at once. For instance, rather than talking about the general benefits of braces, it would be advisable to write a more focused piece about the benefits of braces for children aged 12 to 18. This piece would target parents, since they will ultimately decide whether or not their children will proceed with the treatment. You may also want to produce content that speaks specifically about advancements in Invisalign® treatment for adults who’ve put off an orthodontist visit to avoid “train track” braces.

4. Calls-to-action & conversion opportunities

Every great piece of marketing content has a clear and compelling call-to-action. When potential new patients visit your website to evaluate your practice, what do you ask them to do? Most orthodontic practice websites simply ask visitors to pick up the phone and call to make an appointment, which is a very bottom-of-funnel activity. To convert more nameless website visitors into potential new patient leads, orthodontic markers can encourage top-of-funnel activities like downloading free eBooks about treatment options, braces success stories, or recipes for foods you can eat with braces. Once you’ve captured a potential new patient’s email address, you can begin to market to them in a much more personalized and meaningful way.

5. Interactive cost calculators

After working with numerous orthodontic practices to accelerate their inbound marketing strategies, we’ve come to learn a few tricks for converting a far-above-average percentage of website traffic into new patient inquiries. In our experience, interactive treatment cost calculators are the most effective money path for converting website visitors into new patient leads, initial consultations, and ultimately loyal patients. By offering website visitors a simple and easy-to-use treatment cost calculator in exchange for their email address, orthodontic marketers can significantly increase the amount of new patient inquiries generated online.

6. Patient nurturing workflows

The buyer’s journey (or, in this case, the patient’s journey) for orthodontics is quite similar to most carefully considered purchases. Automated email nurturing workflows can be incredibly effective for telling potential patients why they should pursue orthodontic treatment, what makes your practice different or better, and why they should choose your practice. Email nurturing paired with well-written, patient-specific content is a powerful marketing combination for orthodontic practices that want to compete in today’s market.

7. Client testimonials

It’s no secret that referrals and testimonials can be powerful sources of new business. From an inbound marketing perspective, surfacing client testimonials on your website is an effective way to build trust and persuade website visitors to take your desired marketing action—whether that is downloading an eBook, calculating the cost of treatment, or calling to make an appointment. Additionally, automated email workflows can be set up to encourage patients to provide feedback about their in-clinic experience or refer your clinic to friends and family.

8. Closed-loop analytics

The true power of inbound marketing lies in its measurability. With the help of marketing analytics tools like Google Analytics and HubSpot, orthodontic marketers can optimize the results of their efforts to systematically increase new patient inquiries and improve patient communication based on real data. The key is ensuring that your patient data is connected with your marketing platform so you can easily measure marketing’s true impact on the business. Orthodontic practices typically use a system like CS OrthoTrac (Carestream Dental) or Dolphin (Dolphin Imaging & Management Solutions) for patient records management. Since these systems don’t currently provide a seamless integration with many (if any) marketing platforms, the synchronization of marketing and patient data typically requires a bit of administration. Don’t be discouraged—a bit of work to keep your marketing and patient data in sync can reveal a ton of insight about the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

With the implementation of these eight foundational website elements, you can be well on your way to establishing a healthy flow of inbound inquiries, new patients, and sustainable practice growth. OP

Jesse Mawhinney is the director of marketing at Kula Partners—an inbound marketing agency based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

If you’d like to learn more about how inbound marketing can be applied for orthodontic practices, you can download a FREE copy of Kula Partners’ white paper: Inbound Marketing for Orthodontists—5 Key Strategies to Take a Bite Out of the Competition.