In the digital age, online reviews have taken an important place as the modern form of ‘word-of-mouth’ recommendations. According to research, 89% of patients trust online reviews for dentists. Furthermore, a lot of potential patients proactively look for online ratings and testimonials before choosing a new dentist. This noteworthy trend indicates the huge potential of reviews as a referral marketing tool. And, you can take advantage of this for your practice and bring in more new patients.
To make your online reviews work to your practice’s benefit, let’s look into:
Why strong reviews serve as referrals
When patients share their positive experience at your dental practice, their feedback acts as a recommendation of your services to anyone reading the review.
The impact of reviews can be explained with the principle of social proof, which is widely used by marketing professionals. According to Robert Cialdini who coined the term in his book “Influence”:
“It states that one means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct.”
As one of the main forms of social proof, positive reviews give the signal to potential patients that visiting your practice is the right choice. With this in mind, note that reviews can have greater credibility than paid advertising. People simply trust more the opinion of others who were in a similar situation rather than promotional slogans.
Also, ratings on popular and – more importantly – trusted websites and platforms can help you reach more potential patients. When website visitors are looking for a dentist in a particular area or specialized in specific treatments, they may come across the ratings for your practice. And, it not only impacts on the likelihood of a user to click on your profile from search results but can also improve your rankings in local search on Google.
How to enhance the referral aspect of reviews
Reach out to patients and invite them to write a review. According to research by DentaVox, 58% of patients say a request from their dentist will motivate them to leave a review. Still, many patients simply forget about it or don’t find the time to do it. So, the quantity of invites is important to generate a good amount of testimonials. As a first step, inform patients that their feedback is important to you and guide them to a preferred feedback platform. One easy way is to automate this process by sending email invites directly from a review platform.
Make sure that you ask patients for their feedback regularly as you need more than a couple of reviews to support their trustworthiness. To put it simply, the credibility of high ratings highly depends on their number.
Offer incentives responsibly
Rewards provide extra motivation for patients to share their opinion. However, they should be used carefully. It is unprofessional to give out rewards based on the star rating, nor to people who are not real patients.
There are ethical ways to incentivize genuine feedback, though. For instance, Dentacoin Trusted Reviews is a specialized platform with embedded rewards for authentic reviews, regardless of the rating score or content of the testimonial.
Share remarkable reviews on social media platforms
As already mentioned above, you should look at reviews as recommendations. The bigger audience they reach, the more people can be potentially referred to your practice. Besides sharing individual testimonials, you can add a tab to your Facebook page to display reviews from a preferred review platform. This is highly recommended if you are using a platform where reviews from real patients are distinguished from unverified feedback.
On most general directories and social media platforms, there is no option to verify if the author of the rating has used the services of the dental practice. However, research shows that people are suspicious of reviews from unverified authors and believe it can be a sign of fake ratings. With this in mind, you should extend the reach of genuine feedback to make the most of it.
Referrals are one of the oldest ways to promote a dental practice and attract new patients. With the use of digital communications, online reviews have become a valuable tool to utilize the power of social proof and a great way to grow the patient base organically. An active approach with invites for patients and small incentives for their feedback can encourage patients to rate your practice. In addition, patient testimonials should be actively promoted on social media to reach a wider audience and further enhance the referral aspect of reviews.