This article is the second in a series of three that explore how digitally savvy orthodontic practices are growing their client bases by leveraging proven online marketing strategies. In the first article, we provided an introduction to Inbound Marketing Methodology and explained how it can be applied to help growth-focused orthodontic practices attract and retain new patients.

To succeed in today’s competitive orthodontic market, independent practices must implement measurable, predictable, cost-effective, and scalable online marketing strategies to attract and retain new patients. This article will further examine why orthodontic practice owners are aggressively investing in inbound marketing to keep pace with changes in consumer behavior, increase new patient acquisition, and remain competitive against today’s ever-growing corporate dental giants.

Why Inbound? Why Now?

Within the last 10 years, orthodontic marketing has gone from being seen as unprofessional (or even unethical) to being a complete necessity for operating a successful practice. The fact of the matter is that marketing is as crucial for orthodontic practices as it is for any other type of business today. For your orthodontic practice to grow and prosper, you must find ways to reliably attract and retain new patients, month-over-month.

In addition to increased competition among owner-operated orthodontic practices, there is also increasing pressure from corporate dental giants who continue to snatch up market share across North America. Small practice marketing budgets must now compete against huge corporate budgets and full stack marketing departments.

To complicate things even further, recent shifts in consumer behavior have drastically changed how people research, evaluate, and choose an orthodontic practice. In today’s hyper-connected world, potential patients will judge your practice based on factors like:

  • The professionalism of your online presence
  • Whether your website is accessible on mobile devices
  • Client testimonials on Yelp
  • How informative your online content is
  • How easy (or difficult) it is to book a consultation or appointment online
  • And much more

These factors—among others—are forcing orthodontic practice owners to reconsider how they market their services, and inbound marketing methodology has become the go-to strategy for many successful practices.

?The Advantages of Inbound Orthodontic Marketing vs Traditional Outbound Marketing

1) Inbound marketing meets prospective patients where they naturally want to be. Rather than spending endless dollars on buying ineffective advertisements to “increase brand awareness,” inbound marketing aims to naturally attract potential patients toward your website where they can easily learn more about your services and book an initial consultation. The key difference is that outbound marketing casts a very wide net in an attempt to briefly catch someone’s attention, while inbound marketing is laser focused on speaking directly to the people who are actively seeking out information about orthodontic options.

?2) Inbound marketing is highly measurable, unlike traditional marketing. In the past, many business owners shied away from making risky investments in outbound marketing activities because they couldn’t accurately measure the return on investment. Inbound marketing is quite the opposite.

Orthodontic practice owners who are numbers-driven are drawn to inbound marketing because of its precise measurability. The engagement and ROI of every inbound marketing effort can be calculated with the help of marketing analytics tools like HubSpot and Google Analytics. With real data at your disposal, you can begin to make informed decisions about which marketing activities are most effectively attracting new patients.

3) Content marketing increases trust, credibility, and differentiation. Content creation is a core tenet of inbound marketing methodology. By creating educational content that speaks to your patients’ unique questions, comments, and concerns, you can build trust and credibility with people whom you’ve never even met as they browse your website.

As potential patients research local orthodontic practice options, they will be naturally drawn to the firm that presents the most helpful, informative, and educational information about potential treatments plans, associated costs, credentials of staff, and more. Whether you’re focused on treating adults or children, creating original content that highlights your practice’s unique positioning will help set you apart from corporate giants and owner-operated practices alike.

4) Inbound marketing provides outstanding ROI.? ?Since 2007, research has consistently indicated that inbound marketing provides a significantly higher return on investment than outbound marketing efforts. HubSpot, a leading inbound marketing software provider, publishes an in-depth annual report titled “The State of Inbound Marketing.” This year’s report highlights that companies that spend less than $100,000/year on marketing are three times more likely to see higher return on inbound marketing campaigns than on outbound.

The Future of Orthodontic Marketing Is Inbound

Given the direction of the orthodontic market and patient adoption of technology, it’s safe to say that the future success of your practice is dependent on your ability to attract and retain patients via online marketing. Today’s patients do not want to be interrupted or sold to—they want to be informed and educated. Establishing an inbound marketing strategy in 2016 that effectively attracts and retains new patients will position your practice for future growth and profitability. 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 orthodontics 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.