I think we have all realized that marketing isn’t passive. The set it and forget it advertising days have long been over. We can safely say the Groupon era has ended, providing opportunities for service-based industries like dental to thrive on branding and reputation.

Now the question we marketers must ask is what technology, industry trend, or professional influence will have the biggest impact on dental marketing this year?

I’ve compiled a short list of five items to keep an eye on as we ring in the new year.

  1. Personal marketing- On the surface, this may not feel that new since we are all used to receiving the online ads that relate to us or follow our behavior. There are certain places I will never purchase from based on how many times they retarget me. If I have to “decline to see this ad again,” it’s too many times.

What you are going to start hearing more about is data. Marketers are going to start claiming they have exclusive data to your market. It’s true they may have their own “proprietary systems” to help find people that are looking for dental services.

Not sure how much I’m buying into this yet. I have found the national networks including Google do a great job of finding these people. I could see this being more important in retail but as hyperlocal as dentistry is I don’t see the value for the cost.

Keep in mind this type of marketing is looking for people displaying a buying pattern for finding a dentist. If 50% of the population isn’t going to the dentist and the other 50% have one, how many people are actively displaying this behavior? If you want to build your brand this might not have the best value.

  1. Bots– I’m not talking about automating negative content for your competitors, I’m talking more along the lines of AI (Artificial Intelligence). These chatbots can be incorporated into your website to make the patient experience better. Some of these are very sophisticated and some are pretty simple.

In my opinion, if there’s an opportunity to make the patient experience better or make it easier for them to get a question answered I would explore it.

  1. Human Language Personal Assistant- “Hey Siri,” “Ok Google,” “Alexa,” You get the point. Those are the big personal assistants but don’t forget all the others that are coming out on numerous devices like Samsung’s Bixby. This wasn’t high on my list last year but these systems have vastly improved the past couple years and will only get better.

I personally believe this is where we are headed as marketers. I don’t think people will abandon online search by any means but “Ok Google, where’s the closest five-star dentist?” will be a thing this year. This is why SEO, Google Maps, and Reviews need to be paid attention to more than ever.

  1. Video Marketing for Treatment Planning- Video marketing for a practice video or cute social media post is not new. Using it for education and to help increase spend from current patients will be.

Think about it this way. In most cases, the dentist does a soft sell in the chair on procedures that need to be done. Then a treatment coordinator takes me into an office and gives me the assumptive close. In the mind of the patient this is the same as the heating and air guy explaining why you need a new furnace and to get it scheduled before the calendar fills up. You know they might be right and you want to trust them but since it’s not completely broken maybe I’ll wait or I’ll get a second opinion.

Delivering a video later that day with the doctor explaining the procedure in more detail and why it needs to be done now will have a much larger impact. Videos like this are also great for SEO when people are searching for specific procedures.

This is big on my list for the new year. For most of my clients, getting an extra 5% a month on treatment planning would pay for all their marketing and then some.

  1. PPC (Pay Per Click Advertising)- I know this type of advertising isn’t new, but it’s made a strong comeback. Why? In the past, once you had a solid SEO strategy and could be found easily then PPC ads weren’t as important. Now Google has changed the game. There’s twice as many ads on that first page as well as ads in the maps and reviews. This gets even more complicated on mobile. Essentially Google has made advertising a prominent part of search results.

Being present here will be more effective than trying to outsmart the market with tactics like data based people marketing.

These are just the hot five right now. This could change as the year goes on but for now, this gives you a good idea of where marketing is headed in this year!

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