How to Get More Dental Referrals

You know that word-of-mouth marketing is a sure-fire way to get new dental patients. And, it’s working! You’ve had a handful of new patients drop by your dental practice recently. All of these new dental referrals came from the anxious lawyer you performed a root canal on six months ago. She raved about your patience, […]

You know that word-of-mouth marketing is a sure-fire way to get new dental patients. And, it’s working! You’ve had a handful of new patients drop by your dental practice recently. All of these new dental referrals came from the anxious lawyer you performed a root canal on six months ago. She raved about your patience, attentiveness, and compassion to her friends and family. 

Word-of-mouth marketing is when customers or clients tell other people about your services. This form of social advertising is effective. So effective that a Harvard Business Review study found that clients obtained through referrals are more loyal and valuable than any other type of client. 

While it might seem like referrals are out of your control, think again. There’s a lot your dental office can do to drive more dental referrals as a part of your overall dental marketing strategy. Patients who are happy with your services want to recommend your dental practice. You just need to give them the motivation and the tools to do so.

Woman shouting into megaphone

Let’s look at three types of dental referrals—internal, external, and online. They can help you gain more endorsements from your dental patients, local businesses, and the internet. 

How to Get Current Patients to Refer Your Dental Practice 

Internal referrals come from existing dental patients telling other people about their positive experience with your dental office. Internal referrals are powerful because they have a high conversion rate for new patients. People are more likely to trust a dental practice recommended by people that they know. Typically, a high-performing dental practice should be seeing 50-60% of their new patients come from internal referrals. What can you do to encourage your current patients to spread the word about your dental office to their social circles? 

Ask for Referrals

Don’t be afraid to ask loyal patients to refer you to their friends and family. You may feel uncomfortable being so direct, but dental patients who are pleased with their whitenings and dental implants will gladly share your dental practice with their colleagues. Consider the timing of when you choose to ask for a referral. If a patient is particularly pleased with a filling or extraction or has been coming to you regularly for cleanings, simply ask them if they know of anyone else who needs dental services. 

Another strategy is to give patients a branded gift. Perhaps a pen, a snack, or water bottle or a tote bag that has your dental practice’s logo. Then when they take these items to their place of work, other individuals like them will become familiar with your dental practice. 

Create An Internal Referral System

Make it easy for patients to refer you by having a dental referrals section on your dental website. This “Refer a Friend” page can explain how your dental referral program works and give patients an easy way to share the link to your dental practice with their colleagues. Add a form on your website that invites people to make referrals directly and allows for personalized messages. For a more traditional approach, consider handing out a paper or iPad survey after the dental work is completed asking patients to share their experience with your dental practice. For those that have a positive response, tell them more about your dental referral program and any incentives that you plan to offer.

Hand out a brochure that patients can refer to, as well as cards or a form for them to write down the names and contact information of any people they think might be interested in quality dental work. Be sure to thank them for making time to refer you in follow-up correspondence such as a handwritten note, email, or phone call. Always show your appreciation for their patients’ support. 

Implement a Rewards Program

Give your dental patients a reason to want to recommend you by offering them an incentive. People are busy and naturally caught up in their own lives and concerns. Why not offer them a reward for sharing your dental practice with others? While you should not pay customers to provide referrals, there are several incentives that you can offer patients, including a free cleaning, credit towards their next dental procedure, or a dental gift card.

For pediatric dentists and orthodontics serving many adolescent patients, this strategy can be particularly effective. Give out free merchandise with your dental practice’s logo, such as t-shirts, and encourage kids to wear them to their dentist appointments in a point reward system. When they wear their t-shirts to school that day, other kids and parents may inquire about your dental practice, creating more brand awareness. 

Boy wearing braces, smiling

How to Partner with Businesses and Organizations

Another way to bring more awareness to your dental practice is through external referrals. External referrals come from other partners in the community, such as businesses and organizations. The best way to partner with another business is to give something to get something in return. 

Host a Giveaway with a Local Business 

Host a social media giveaway or raffle with a prize from local businesses. Tag those local businesses on social media in any promotional stories, feed posts, or reels, and when you announce the winners. Not only will the giveaway generate its own leads and give your current patients a reason to want to follow your dental practice on social media, but it will also put your dental practice on the radar of other businesses in your area. Then, those companies might return the favor by reposting you on their social media and exposing you to their customers and clients. 

Build Relationships within Your Community 

If you want other businesses to share your business, offer to do the same for them. Exchange dental pamphlets and other merchandise that complementary businesses can keep in their lobbies and offices, and ask for some in return from them. You can also partner with other organizations in a referral program that promotes each of your services to your respective  employees. Always provide value to get value in return. Offer to share online reviews of local businesses in the community. Promote them on your social media. These businesses will be more likely to return the favor by referring your dental practice to their clients and employees.

How to Leverage Testimonials and Social Media for Online Referrals

Another way to use word-of-mouth marketing in your overall dental marketing plan of attack? Online referrals. Your ability to establish credibility and social proof online can help to generate new patients as people read reviews and look up information about your practice from strangers.

Get Reviews on Google

Some clients might be uncomfortable directly referring people to you. That’s fine! They can still share their  positive experience and 5-star recommendation of your dental services online. Online reviews of your dental practice can be equally valuable in generating new referrals. 63.3% of consumers check out online reviews on Google before deciding to go with a business. When potential patients learn about a dental practice, they will do their own research and Google you. Once your Google My Business page is set up, encourage your patients to leave reviews on Google. 

Make sure you let your patients know where they can go to leave positive reviews of their experience with your dental practice to drive more referrals. You can also reach out to patients that have left positive reviews to include in your referral program. If you get a bad review, click here for some tips from the Pain-Free Dental Marketing team. 

Use Social Media for Dental Referrals

Encourage patients to publish reviews of your dental practice on Facebook. That way, their friends and family can typically see these public posts. You can also have a widget that allows people to send dental referrals to your dental practice via email or social media such as Facebook, and Instagram with a customized message. Lastly, tell patients to share their new smiles on Instagram and to tag your dental practice.

Gain Local Patients on NextDoor

Nextdoor is a valuable platform for local businesses to receive referrals. The platform is a social networking app for neighborhoods. Neighbors can share community news as well as local recommendations, which is why it works so well for local businesses when it comes to creating brand awareness. Many of your current dental patients will most likely be on the platform. Create a Nextdoor profile for your dental office and share it with your staff, friends, and family. Nextdoor members can then tag your dental practice in posts and mention you, and you can engage in conversations with your local community. By using social media to answer questions and connect in a personal way with both current and potential patients, you can establish rapport and trust for your dental practice.

Girl in dentist chair looking in mirror and smiling

Increase Dental Referrals with Pain Free Dental Marketing

Need a partner to implement these programs? Look no further. Reach out to our team at Pain Free Dental Marketing. We can share more about the ways referrals factor into our holistic dental marketing strategy.