As a dentist, you are a specialist in top-notch oral care. But if you have your own practice, you’re also a business owner. That means that patient acquisition and patient retention are goals you spend time thinking about.
And in that process, referral promotions have probably come up. The big question here is about your return on investment (ROI). For example, do referral promotions, and other investments you might make in referral processes, really pay off?
Today, we’re going to answer that question and give you some new referral-related ideas.
The Return on Referral Promotions
First of all, let’s touch on the ROI of trust. Actual numbers aside, you also want good long-term patients who appreciate your work and return to your practice again and again -- in other words, patient loyalty. Referrals are one route to attract those loyal patients.
According to Practice Builders, “Patients are four times more likely to consider a dental practice when a close family member or friend refers it.”
Sure, your social media ads with geotargeting are useful. But patients are actually more likely to pick up the phone to schedule an appointment after they go to their friend’s house for lunch and discover that their friend visits (and loves) your practice too.
This mutual connection gives that new patient confidence in their choice to schedule an appointment with your office. It also results in more commitment from that new patient. A study from Hubspot notes, “Referred patients have a 16% higher lifetime value, convert 30% better, and have a 37% higher retention rate than other leads.”
We like those numbers, and we think you will too.
How to Respond to the Data
You might now be thinking, “Okay, great. And how do I force existing patients to tell their family and friends about our dental practice over lunch?”
Jedi jokes aside, force is not the way here. But referral promotions and marketing can help to encourage patients to become advocates for your practice. And these strategies are worth the investment.
Alongside the aforementioned research, a study by Heinz Marketing found, “Companies with formalized referral programs experienced 86% more revenue growth over the past two years when compared to the rest.”
The answer is clear. Are referral promotions worth it? Yes.
Now it’s time to establish a referral program and lead some effective promotions.
Programs, Promotions, Marketing
If you don’t already have a referral program in place, you can create one relatively easily.
First, consider the appeal of a referral program for your existing patient. What will they receive in exchange for referring your practice?
If you have a dental membership plan, you may consider offering a discount, such as, “10% off of your next three months of payments.” If your practice doesn’t have a membership plan yet, you can offer a discount on their next cleaning or on a restorative procedure you know is popular with your crowd.
If you do have a dental membership plan, but don’t yet have many patients subscribed, consider levels of referral benefits. For example, “Get 15% off your next cleaning when you refer a family member or friend to our practice. If you’re a part of our dental membership plan and also refer them to join that, make it 20%!” This strategy entices current patients to both refer new patients to your practice and join your membership plan themselves.
The main distinction between programs and promotions is longevity.
The aforementioned strategies are more indicative of limited-time promotions, such as a promotion you run during a slower time of year to help fill your appointment schedule. But we do recommend having another referral program option that patients can benefit from at any time, such as an offer of 10% off a cleaning for any completed referral throughout the year.
The trick to succeeding in all this is, as usual, effective and strategic marketing.
Here are our top tips for how to market your referral program:
- Create a banner at the top of your website that showcases the referral program. During a specific promotion, just switch out the copy to highlight the limited-time discount. Link this banner to a landing page where patients can learn more about the referral offer.
- Design and write eye-catching content about your referral program and promotions for social media and email newsletters.
- Publish a few blog posts on your website that inquisitive would-be patients will find interesting, such as, “X Reasons Biannual Cleanings Are Essential to Oral Health” and “The Science Behind Going to the Dentist.” This way, when they visit your website at the recommendation of a friend, they’ll be more motivated by the idea of attending an appointment.
- Place a small sign with referral program and promotion details at the check-in and check-out desks.
- Include brochures outlining the details of the referral program and promotions in the waiting room and at check-in and check-out desks.
- Update hygienists and dental assistants on current referral programs and promotions so they can share that information with patients.
CommunityCONNECT Is the Perfect Referral Promotions Partner
While we’re on the topic of referral promotions, CommunityCONNECT is one of our exclusive marketing tools here at DentalHQ. CommunityCONNECT allows you to add groups into your DHQ database and provide a custom link or code–or referral promotions code–to the administrator of that group.
If you have CommunityCONNECT as an option, you could establish a referral program unique to it. So, not only does that group get to take advantage of the group discount that comes with a CommunityCONNECT program. Now, their members can also get a unique referral discount for the whole group if they refer another group.
The result could be two or more groups of tens (or more) of people joining your practice all at once. Yes, please!
Referral Promotions Are an Important Tool
In summary, here are the steps we think you should take to expand your practice's revenue via referral promotions:
- Establish a referral program.
- Plan out some special referral promotions.
- Market referral programs and promotions thoughtfully.
- Consider CommunityCONNECT as the next big step in your referral-focused game plan.
Not only do referral promotions provide a return on your investment. They are an invaluable tool for the longevity and stability of your practice.