The opening date is set! So begins the tremendous pressure for de novo offices to be profitable from day one. And one of the main challenges to ensuring early profitability is visibility. Unlike an acquisition, which might have some existing awareness and traffic, a new office has no digital presence at all. As such, some extra legwork is needed to keep the patient pipeline full from day one.
With respect to marketing strategy, what can private equity firms do to drive profit immediately for a new medical practice location? One of the most effective methods to drive initial patient volume is to increase visibility on high-intent local channels, like search, before the new office opens.
What follows is our five-part search marketing strategy to help de novos begin generating appointments. Not only will these strategies help establish a digital presence, but they’ll comprise a pre-open marketing plan that lays the groundwork for profitable expansion.
1. Start By Listing the Office’s Name, Address, and Phone (NAP)
It’s so simple that it seems stupid, but an office’s NAP is a vital data point that both patients and search engines value. There’s no reason to wait to list the de novo office’s NAP onto the location’s website (or location page, as it were). In addition, you can post your expected opening date using an update or banner.
Here’s an example of NAP from Smiles of La Mesa at the footer of their homepage:
Additionally, you’ll want to include all of this information on the new office’s Google My Business listing, which your team should establish and verify immediately. If you don’t have hours established yet, you can add them later. Add your website and a scheduling option to your GMB listing, too.
Next, establish listings on other citation networks that all point back to the de novo’s website. Make sure that your NAP is consistent across all listings.
Again, this can all happen before the opening date. Once you have your NAP and digital listings established, including a way for patients to contact you, you’re already creating “live” paths for new patients to not only discover the de novo office, but to contact it for an appointment.
What Is NAP and Why Is It Important in Digital Marketing?
A de novo office’s name, address, and phone number comprise their NAP. Because Google and other search engines scan business listings for NAP, a consistent NAP across all of your listings can actually affect your site’s local search performance. Why? Because Google is using NAP data to connect people with the right services during geo-specific search experiences.
2. Establish a Location Page for Each De Novo
Your de novo office should have its own location page, with its own URL, living somewhere on either its own or the group’s website. As you build out this location page, here’s a handy checklist of things to include:
- Unique URL that has the location in it (for example, /spring-cypress-eye-center).
- Brief header and overview including location keywords
- Embedded map, hours of operation, and reviews
- Scheduling options (phone number, email, or online scheduling)
- Photos of the location
- Staff bios and headshots (optional)
Some of our clients will embed video introductions from the lead provider. Whatever brings value to both prospective patients and search engines is suitable. Here’s a strong example of a location page for one of Made Ya Smile’s many Texas locations:
Why establish a location page for each de novo office? A location page can help your de novo office:
- Appear in local search experiences
- Guide website visitors to an office in their area
- Build authority on search engines
- Begin ranking for high-intent locale-specific searches
- Give people an easy way to contact the office for an appointment
3. Start Generating Reviews Immediately
Another way to build digital authority and win over new patients is through reviews. Most people check reviews on Yelp, Google, and other sites before booking an appointment with a dentist (I know I do). A healthy portfolio of reviews and ratings signals to both prospective patients and Google that your de novo office is a quality provider.
Did you know? 94% of consumers “say a bad review has convinced them to avoid a business” (ReviewTrackers)
So, get your digital reputation management program up and running as soon as possible. We’ve mentioned the need to establish profiles on Google My Business, Yelp, Dentistry.com, and other important review sites. Consider investing in some kind of review generation tool so that you can encourage every new patient to leave a rating or review.
Some common review sites for de novo offices to consider:
- Google My Business
- Facebook Business
- 1-800 Dentist
As we’ve said elsewhere, the idea here is to generate a consistent influx of quality reviews over a long stretch of time. That said, the sooner you can bring in that first batch of reviews, the better. Look at the quality of reviews for one of our own clients, Home Care Assistance:
A 75% increase in total patient volume from PPC with just a 10% budget bump
That’s the kind of efficiency you’re looking for when using paid search marketing for a de novo office. Sage Dental achieved these results with the help of a locale-specific PPC strategy—one that incorporated many of the strategies we’ve detailed here. To see exactly what Sage Dental did to drive thousands of new leads to its locations, read the full Sage Dental case study.
To Be Profitable from Day One, Get Going Before Day One Arrives
You’ve got to prime a pump before it begins producing water. The same goes for the patient pipeline of a de novo office. The five best practices detailed above—NAP, location page, review generation, paid search marketing, and local audience research—are the most reliable ways to generate demand before the new office even opens.
Typically, these strategies generate results for the initial 30-, 60-, or even 90-day period after opening day. Eventually, these marketing strategies will need to be expanded and refined based on the performance data they generate. Still, this ought to serve as a trusty marketing framework to help get de novo offices off the ground.