Success at web-based marketing means implementing strategies, both conventional and Internet-based, which direct qualified prospective patients to your website. It also means having a website that encourages visitors to willingly share with you their contact information. Finally, it means giving the market segment we call Caterpillars and Tire Kickers the means and motivation to remain in communication with your practice. This represents an especially fertile opportunity for practice growth because few of your colleagues bother to keep in touch with this market segment. By capturing visitor information and communicating with them over time, you are, in essence, bringing your website to them, offering you the potential to dominate this highly profitable market segment.
Remember: today’s Tire Kickers are tomorrow’s Trigger Pullers!
Generating the Qualified Patient Lead (QPL) and Converting them into a Patient
As we have discussed, a good looking website and qualified visitors are certainly necessary, but insufficient, to success with web-based marketing. Even if your Internet Marketing Performance Assessment (IMPA) confirms your site is doing a good job attracting, and impressing the visitor with its content, it must also generate Qualified Patient Leads, that is, motivate them to contact you or, at least, request to be contacted by you.
Of Tire Kickers and Trigger Pullers?Studies* have shown that first-time website inquiries may be classified as follows:
- 20% will take action immediately (we call these the ‘Trigger Pullers’)
- 20% will not buy at all (the DNRs for ‘do not resuscitate’)
- The remaining 60% will buy from someone within 12 months. We call this group the ‘Tire Kickers.’
Many people are surprised to learn that this third category is every bit as important as the first, because, if they are treated correctly, they represent a highly profitable source of new patients. The key is to run the race at the patient’s pace.
Generating The Qualified Patient Lead (QPL)
The homepage of your website needs to cater to the Tire Kicker as well as the Trigger Puller. For those visitors who are ready to appoint, be sure you have a Request an Appointment Form on your Home Page and a Unique Telephone Number. Both allow you to track the new patient as originating from your website, which aids in evaluating your website marketing investment.
Converting Tire Kickers into Trigger Pullers
To capitalize on this segment of your market, your website must offer opportunities for the visitor to learn about your practice without having to commit to a visit. Offer special content conveying a high perception of value to your website visitors. In so doing, you convert anonymous surfers on your website into valuable QPLs. To achieve this use sign-up forms and graphics on your home page and throughout your website encouraging visitors to complete a Form to receive information of interest and value e.g. special reports, audio and video emails, tips on achieving and maintaining optimum oral health, etc.
Once you have delivered on your first promise to the QPL, that is, the Special Report, continue to deliver timely, valuable, and frequent (but not too frequent!) communications. This is often referred to as your drip marketing campaign.
Here’s a sample schedule:
- Day One – E-mail Special Report
- Day Five – Audio Post Card
- Day Fourteen – Email #1
- Day Twenty-Eight – Video Postcard
- Day Forty-Two – E-mail #2Day Fifty-Six – Email #3
- Day Seventy – Mail Invitation: Special Offer
- And so on for the rest of the year…
We recommend a combination of invitation and post card style mailings. The design should be similar, so you reinforce your practice brand in the mind of the QPL. The key to success with this is memorable simplicity.
Emails should include links to your photo gallery, testimonial pages, and other compelling reasons to keep in contact with you, such as attractive Special Offers. Audio postcards are colorful emails that also include a recording of your or a staff member’s voice. This is another way to subtly create a sense of familiarity and comfort in the mind (and emotions) of your QPL.
Communications should continue for up to a year, as it can take that long ‘for a caterpillar to metamorphose into a butterfly’.
By regularly and professionally following up with your website visitors, you have positioned yourself as a trusted expert in the field so, when they do decide the time is right, it’s you they’ll call.
By the way, if you already have a website, all you need to do is add contact forms to it then, just feed the visitors who complete the forms into your communication campaign.
Daniel Bobrow, MBA, is president of the American Dental Marketing Company, a dentistry marketing and patient communications consultancy. He is also Executive Director of Dentists’ Climb for a Cause™. Readers interested in learning more about integrated marketing and patient communication products, systems and services are invited to contact Mr. Bobrow at 312-455-9488 or