With the first quarter of 2018 coming to a close, the top digital marketing trends of the year have started to emerge. For small businesses, the quarter point offers an excellent opportunity to reexamine yearly marketing strategies put into place at the beginning of the year, and make any necessary course corrections to get back on track.
Too frequently at Local Fresh, we hear from our dental clients that the latest technologies and innovations don’t apply to their dental practice marketing strategies. However, we believe that every business has a chance to seize upon emerging trends in order to improve business and increase their bottom line. Dentistry is like any other service orientated business, and just because a practice offers exams and cleanings rather than massages and facials doesn’t mean you can’t successfully market your brand online.
With that in mind, here are three digital marketing trends that should impact dental practice marketing strategies for the rest of the year.
LinkedIn Will Rise from Twitter’s Ashes
For over a decade after its launch in 2006, Twitter held a unique space in the social media landscape. With the platform’s limit of 140 character tweets, users were forced to creatively find short and succinct ways of making their point when posting a comment online. By limiting user interaction, the platform also made itself incredibly conducive for the rise of the smart phone, as posting or checking comments on Twitter was once far easier than trying to use Facebook on a mobile device.
Unfortunately, history in business has shown us that when the biggest fish in a particular pond tries jumping to the lake nearby, it often ends up flopping around instead. This seems to have been the case with Twitter’s decision in 2017 to increase the number of characters in a tweet from 140 to 280.
Instead of the expected grow in the user base that Twitter had envisioned, the platform grew by less than 1 percent throughout the year. Some Twitter users were even put off by the fact that the core feature of the platform was made unavailable, which could explain why there was a .3 percent drop in users between the first and second quarter of 2017. This lack of growth is in direct contrast with Facebook, who’s user base grew by 9 percent in 2017, and Instagram, which enjoyed a 12.5 percent increase in users between April and September of 2017 alone.
The end result seems to have been the elimination of the primary differentiator between Twitter and the competition, putting the platform in the unfortunate position of both losing its niche and alienating its user base.
With Twitter more focused on growing its brand rather than enhancing its product in 2017, marketers jumped from the platform to begin advertising on social media sites that were enjoying greater growth and improved user interaction. Enter LinkedIn, which had a fantastic 2017.
We’ve previously covered how LinkedIn offers a secretively sneaky way for dental practices to improve their online marketing strategies, and the platform doesn’t seem to be slowing down in 2018. With over 500 million users and growing, LinkedIn has enjoyed immense success by improving its user interface to provide additional opportunities for business-to-consumer and business-to-business growth for its users. This makes LinkedIn the most likely candidate to take over the social media market share that Twitter seems destined to lose as it desperately seeks to course correct in 2018 and beyond.
Influencer Marketing Will Only Continue to Become More Important
For the uninitiated, influencer marketing takes the age-old concept of word-of-mouth marketing and brings it into the world of social media. At its core, this type of marketing strategy tries to utilize the reach of individuals with a massive social media following to help a business grow its brand online.
When an individual with 20,000 friends on Facebook and 10,000 followers on Instagram makes favorable posts about a brand, recommending it to their friends and followers, those brands have, in essence, just received a massive word-of-mouth recommendation from a trusted source – the perfect thing needed to help grow sales and attract customers.
Influencer marketing seems poised to continue becoming a major marketing strategy for brands in a variety of industries. A recent study found that 84 percent of marketers planned on running at least one influencer marketing campaign in 2017.
The willingness brands have to try this type of strategy directly comes down to the incredible rate of return it potentially offers. Businesses reap $6.50 in profit for every $1 spent on influencer marketing, according to a 2015 study. Apparel and beauty brands were some of the first to prove just how successful influencer marketing could be, which has now caught the attention of brands like Amazon, who has plans for running their own influencer campaign in the near future.
Gaining trust is one of the biggest hurdles a dental practice must overcome to generate new patients. People want to know their oral health is in good, capable hands when selecting a new dentist. With influencer marketing, a dental practice can immediately break down this potential barrier, allowing a stream of new patients to flow in.
Bots Will Become Better at Monitoring Our Behavior Online
Marketing sites now have the ability to collect a comprehensive range of data on visitors that range from search history to page views to browsing tendencies. Artificial intelligence, or bots, can then use that information to create customer profiles and behavior marketing outlines that predict future behavior.
While this might sound terrifying – and it kind of is, just ask Facebook – this technology has tremendous marketing potential when used responsibly. Bots offer dental practice marketers the ability to create customized messages that individually target certain audiences.
Brands like Adobe believe that bots will play a vital role in influencing people’s marketing decisions. Software will have the ability to process data to develop a variety of marketing messages, as well as start and end campaigns on different platforms that are designed to appeal to certain types of users. This is exciting because studies have shown that customers are far more responsive to marketing that targets them directly when compared to generic campaigns.
As bot technology continues to advance, behavioral marketing will enable businesses to reach far more people with customized marketing campaigns that offer a higher rate of return. The most important aspect to take away from this rise of the machines is that no type of data offers the same level of return as that which directly targets customers on an individual level. And that type of data is already available to those businesses ready to adopt AI as part of their marketing strategy.
Don’t Let Emerging Dental Practice Marketing Strategies Pass You By
While the overall impact of some of these trends may vary, they have each already proved themselves in some capacity. Whether through user grow, technological advances, or the value of word-of-mouth, each of these trends has the ability to improve your dental practice marketing strategy and grow your business in 2018 and beyond.
Don’t let owning a dental practice prevent you from taking advantage of the latest marketing trends and technology. Stay on the cutting edge and always seek out the opportunities that enable your brand to grow.