How Dental Patients Find and Choose a Dentist

It’s recommended that dental practices have a goal of at least 15% growth. Considering most dentists have a 10% loss through normal attrition, this is a reasonable number to make up for the loss and to generate decent revenue.

However, most things in life go, this is easier said than done. While you may be a fantastic local dentist, perhaps you’re not getting as much income as you’d hoped.

But if you want to gain more dental patients, you have to first understand how they find and choose dentists. Read on to find out their thought process for finding a dentist.

Typical Reasons Why People Search for a New Dentist

First, you must think of the why. While the reasons why patients search for dentists may seem painfully obvious, you may be surprised at what you’re missing in your marketing. Here are a few things to consider.

They’ve Moved

One of the biggest reasons why patients look for a new dentist is because they’ve moved. This can either be to a different part of a town, city, or even country.

They’re Not Happy With Their Current Dentist’s Work

Maybe they’ve been to their current dentist a few times, but keep having to have work redone. Or they may be unhappy with the quality of the dental services.

They’re Not Happy for Personal Reasons

The skill of the dentist is just one part of the equation in what makes a dental office successful. The other part is customer service. Dental patients may seek out other practices if they’re unhappy with rude staff or long waiting times.

Their Current Dentist Doesn’t Offer the Treatments They Want

Some dental patients may be restricted to dental practices that have limited services. This can cause them to look elsewhere for their dental care.

What Does the Typical Decision Journey of Dental Patients Look Like?

Now that you know what causes patients to search for new dentists, the next step is understanding their decision-making journey. Once you understand what their thought process is from consideration to final decision/action, then you can tweak your marketing strategies to be there for them, every step of the way.

Here’s the typical decision-making journey of dental patients.

1. Recommendations From Their Own Network

Typically, patients seek out recommendations from their own networks first. This includes their partners, family, friends, and colleagues. They turn to these people because they have their best interests at heart and won’t have a vested interest to suggest certain dental offices.

This is a great starting point for them because the majority of recommendations will be local. However, because personal networks are relatively small when compared to other resources, they’ll move onto other factors in decision making.

2. Subconscious Knowledge

Unbeknownst to them, many people already have choices in their heads. There are several ways they get this subconscious knowledge:

  • Location: While running errands or driving back and forth from work, people may notice a dental practice that’s nearby to their home, office, gym, or children’s school.
  • Offline advertisements: Again, people will take notice of the things they see while out and about. So they may spot various forms of offline advertisements, such as print ads, flyers, city lights, and billboards. Because these things may be on a regular route they walk or drive, certain local dental offices may become cemented in their minds; this is called staying top of mind.
  • Online advertisements: In conjunction with offline ads, online ones are served to consumers as well. These online advertisements and banner ads can appear on a number of sites they frequent.

3. Online Search

Armed with a little bit of knowledge on which local dental offices may be good for them, patients will do an online search next. They usually put in a generic search of “dentist + city” or “dentist near me.” This generates a list of options that are closeby.

Some people prefer to click on the ads that appear at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). However, others may prefer clicking on local pack results or classic organic search results.

To accommodate both types of people, you should strive to dominate SERPs by being visible in paid ads, local pack, and organic results. This can increase your dental office’s level of trustworthiness and brand awareness as well. As a result, this will significantly increase the chance you’ll receive a click to your website.

4. Online Reviews and Websites

The benefit of online searches is you get reviews from tons of previous customers. While you can trust recommendations from your personal network more, the feedback is limited.

At this point, dental patients will see what the general consensus is from previous patients through dentistry portals and healthcare directories. They’ll also take a quick look at their websites to see if they get a good first impression from them.

5. Comparison of Online Search Results to Recommendations

Since online searches are quick and easy to do, this gives patients a chance to compare whether or not the recommendations from their personal network match up to the ones listed.

6. Comparison of Distances

Patients want their dentist to be located in a convenient place so they don’t have to waste hours on their appointments. They’ll compare the distances of each dental office to their home or office, then narrow their options down.

7. Check the Services

Some patients may have certain dental services in mind. If so, then they’ll double-check that the dental practices on their list do indeed offer what they need.

7. Comparison of Prices

Right before making a final decision, dental patients will compare prices. This may cause them to cross even more practices off their list.

8. Making a Final Decision

Finally, dental patients will make a final decision based on the above factors. They’ll contact them through either a call or email.

Grow Your Dentistry With This Knowledge

When you can put yourself into your dental patients’ shoes, then you can truly understand why and when they look for new dentists. By understanding their pain points, you can step in and present your dentistry as the solution to all their problems.

When you can strategize your digital marketing in this way, then you’ll see your dentistry grow.

Would you like to improve your dental practice’s digital marketing strategy? Then get in touch with me today! I can help you with both Google Ads and SEO.

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