Every patient of your practice went through the same four steps before becoming your patient. First, they became aware of you. Second, they became interested in you or something you offered. Third, they decided to interact with you. Fourth, they took action to become your patient.
Typically, this happens either through personal relationships and referrals or through traditional advertising.
When it happens organically through personal relationships and referrals, patients get to know you because of a relationship with you, a team member, friend, or other patient. That relationship causes them to become interested in you or your services, decide to become your patient, and take action to make an appointment and come to your office. Organic practice growth through personal relationships and referrals, while important, only expands your practice to the extent of your ability to build personal relationships with people who refer others or become patients. And we all know our time is limited, which means our time to build relationships is limited.
When it happens through traditional advertising, people get to know you through a paid advertisement on radio, TV, direct mail, phone book, or other traditional way. Generally, these people become interested after repeatedly seeing advertisements or looking for referrals or reading reviews of your practice. They make a decision based on additional interactions with you, often either through more advertising or by calling your office to ask questions about your service or business practices. Finally, after all those advertisements and interactions, they either become a patient or they forget about you.
Traditional practice building is expensive, time-consuming, and ineffective.
If you only attracted new patients with whom you have a personal or referral relationship, your practice would grow very slowly. It would also grow with little patient-demographic control because the common thread across your patients is who they know, not who they are and what services they want.
If everyone beyond a personal and referral relationship required traditional marketing and personal attention, you would spend a lot of time and money attracting people into your patient-acquisition process.
Advertising to people in traditional ways like radio, TV, phone books, direct mail, and newspapers is expensive and inefficient. Even if prospects respond to an ad, you then have to take time away from serving patients to answer questions, follow up, and build relationships with a number of people, many of whom will never become patients. You could pay a team member to do some or all of the intake, but that would be an additional out-of-pocket cost without knowing the return.
Funnels solve all three problems.
Building your practice through funnels is the best way to experience real practice growth. Funnels solve the time and cost problems with traditional practice building because they get better prospects to you by more effectively targeting prospects, automating and optimizing much of the interest, decision-making, and action-taking process, and do so at a fraction of the cost. In other words, funnels are both better and more efficient.
The term funnel evokes the visual of a funnel used to pour liquid into a container. If you picture this tool, the general population of prospects is represented by the space outside of the funnel. The top of the funnel represents the process of attracting as many ideal prospects as possible. A little lower into the funnel is the generally smaller number of prospects who become interested. The middle of the funnel contains the even smaller number of people who decide to engage with you. Finally, the smallest part of the funnel represents the people who take action by accepting your offer to become a patient (or to take advantage of a more specific promotion offered).
How to design a high-performing funnel for your dental office.
Funnels can be created for any number of purposes. For example, you can use a funnel to get people into your office for a specific high-value procedure. You can also use a funnel to build an email list of people to contact if you need to fill a last-minute cancellation. No matter what your goal, you can design a funnel to attract prospects to you and turn them into action takers.
No matter what your goal, here’s what you need to do to build a basic funnel:
1. Attention: An online ad to get the attention of your ideal prospect for the goal of your funnel
Most of the time, this is a Facebook ad that offers something of value to a prospect in order to get them to pay attention. Facebook ads are currently the best and most efficient use of your ad spend because they’re very inexpensive and have the most sophisticated targeting capabilities in the market. That means you can target your ad to a group of your ideal prospects for less money than you would spend on less-targeted ads.
For example, you can target existing patients. You can target people who Facebook knows to be like your existing patients or like people who interact with your Facebook page, which is known as a lookalike audience. The options are almost endless.
For example, you may want to promote teeth whitening to a lookalike audience of your patients with the goal of getting new long-term patients by offering 50% off teeth whitening when someone books a cleaning by a certain date. We did this with someone in my Inner Circle Mastermind, who saw great engagement.
Your ad has one goal: to get a prospect to notice you and click on a link in the ad, which will automatically send them to the next part of your funnel, which is your squeeze page or landing page.
2. Your squeeze page or landing page
A squeeze page or landing page is a single page on a website designed to collect contact information from a prospect, otherwise called “opting in” to your offer. It then triggers the next step of your funnel.
This is often done with squeeze-page software like ClickFunnels, which makes it easy to set up landing pages to collect information and trigger the next part of your funnel, delivering on your ad’s promise.
3. Delivering on your ad’s promise for people who opt in on your landing page
When people opt in on your landing page, the next step is to deliver on your ad’s promise. Depending on your funnel’s goal, the next step might be to automatically email the prospect a checklist or guide, a link to a video you recorded, a sequence of messages answering common questions about a procedure, a promised coupon, or even an appointment scheduler.
Using simple-but-sophisticated software like ClickFunnels makes this easy, but no matter what software you use, once someone opts into your squeeze page or landing page by giving you their contact information, the next step is to deliver on your ad’s promise.
4. Reconnecting with (or retargeting) people who don’t opt in on your landing page
When people click on the link in your ad but don’t opt-in on your landing page, chances are they were initially interested in your offer but either lost interest or got distracted. This is natural because it often takes multiple touches to attract people’s attention and get them to accept an offer. In fact, the typical landing page only collects information between ten and twenty percent of the time.
Because of that, the best practice is to use another ad to target the people who click on the first ad but don’t opt in on the landing page. This second ad is often a reminder to take advantage of the offer that appeared in the first ad.
This is called “retargeting” and is simple to set up with Facebook and software like ClickFunnels. Essentially, the way this works is you place on your landing page a small piece of code that Facebook provides. The code gets read by Facebook and tells you who landed on your squeeze page but not your confirmation or thank-you page.
You then target that group of people with a new ad. The new ad acts similarly to the initial ad, asking them to click a link to land on your squeeze page, where you ask them to opt in again.
5. Ask your prospects to take action.
Once someone opts in and you deliver on your ad’s promise for a guide, coupon, or other piece of value, your funnel software will email them to complete the patient-acquisition process.
For a simple goal such as getting people to come in for a cleaning and teeth whitening, you could ask them to take action in the email where you deliver the coupon. For more complicated or higher-ticket items such as dental implants, before asking them to make an appointment, you might send them a number of emails introducing them to your practice, answering frequently asked questions, and delivering a video where you compare the differences between a bridge and implants.
6. Retarget those who opt in but don’t take action to become patients.
The best funnels are the ones that build on themselves based on the actions of your prospects. One way to make sure your funnel works for you is to export a list of people who made it to the end of your funnel but didn’t take action, and send them a different sequence of emails to build a deeper relationship with them and retarget them with Facebook ads to stay top of mind and encourage them to take action.
Do you have funnels working for you?
The most effective and efficient way to build your dental practice is to design a funnel and have it working for you 24/7. It’s the best way to fill your schedule with ideal patients whom you choose, rather than relying on personal or referral relationships or expensive, inefficient, and time-consuming traditional advertising followed by a manual patient-intake process.
For more help and training on building funnels to work for your dental office, sign up for your 14-day trial to Delivering WOW U and join thousands of other dentists helping each other in my Free Dental Marketing and Profits Facebook Group!