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Building a dental practice and keeping your patients happy can be a huge job. Using digital content in email marketing, or focusing on customer reviews, is bareilly enough to grow your business and build your brand. Times are changing rapidly. Yesterday’s tools are today’s junk.
According to a survey conducted in 2021 among consumers worldwide, more than four in ten people often unsubscribe from brand emails. The decline in response rates and ROI on email marketing has led some brands to rethink their strategy and shift their B2C communications to messaging apps.
When we consider the younger generations, this only becomes more apparent. Gen Z and Millennial consumers would rather use messaging apps than email to communicate with brands. It’s because they feel messaging is more personal, less invasive, and makes them feel valued by brands.
Should your practice communicate with patients via WhatsApp?
Patients increasingly turn to instant messaging platforms to contact their doctor, dentist, or healthcare provider. WhatsApp is the number one communication channel in reach, engagement, efficiency, and convenience.
According to the latest statistics, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app. With over two billion people who use it daily to interact with friends and brands, WhatsApp leads the market in terms of active users.
So, let’s ask ourselves, is adjusting to a newly ‘switched-on’ audience worthwhile? And could communicating via mobile really make all the difference to your patient acquisition and retention rates?
Should you drive patient communication via WhatsApp?
Most generations widely accept WhatsApp, not just younger patients who are stereotypically “glued” to their smart phones. In general, people feel more confident than ever to engage in real-time conversations with brands, whether to ask a question, give feedback or purchase a product or service.
Considering that over fifty million businesses worldwide use WhatsApp for customer relationship management, marketing, and sales, it’s not hard to conclude that integrating the people’s favorite app into your communication strategy is beneficial.
In recent years, interacting with patients over messaging apps has become much more socially acceptable than before. For healthcare providers, and in particular dental practices, opening up the lines of communication using technologies that people actually want to use is simply a forward-thinking move.
About the WhatsApp Business app
WhatsApp Business is a free app available on Android and iPhone. It was built for micro-businesses that need a channel for real-time communication with their clients.
The features of the WhatsApp Business app include:
- Business profile to list important information, such as your clinic’s address, email, and website.
- Product catalog where you can list all of your services.
- Labels to organize and easily find your chats and messages.
- Quick replies to quickly respond to customers.
- Basic automation of welcome and away messages.
- Broadcast messages for one-to-many messaging. You can create broadcast lists with up to 256 of your patients.
The WhatsApp Business app would be suitable for your dental clinic if you’re just starting to use WhatsApp as a communication channel. Not only will it help you easily manage your communications with your patients, but it will also help you grow your business.
It’s important to note that your patients will have to have your number saved in their mobile phone’s address books to receive your broadcast messages.
If you need more than one device to manage and deal with customers, you can use WhatsApp on your mobile phone and up to four additional devices. To log in to WhatsApp on your desktop computer, you’d need to use WhatsApp Web or download the desktop application.
The best part, your phone doesn’t need to stay online if you need to use WhatsApp Web after your devices are linked. To learn more about WhatsApp Web, read our article “How to use WhatsApp Business Web and Desktop.”
About the WhatsApp Business Platform/API
The more advanced version of WhatsApp Business comes with WhatsApp Business Platform/API. You can use one of two API options: WhatsApp Cloud API, which can be acquired directly from Meta, or WhatsApp Business API, available through third-party services called Business Solution Providers.
The WhatsApp Business Platform offers more advanced features than the mobile app, such as team inbox, complex automation, chatbot building, campaigns, and more. There is also no limit on the number of teammates that can use it simultaneously.
Shared Team Inbox
Your team can collaborate with a centralized inbox, where you can assign conversations to team members, tag each other, use private notes to discuss patient queries, and more.
With the WhatsApp Business Platform/API, you can send broadcast messages to an unlimited number of your patients, not just to 256 users, as with the WhatsApp Business app. This feature is crucial for your marketing efforts. It allows you to promote your business and services with customizable message templates.
Message templates have variables and placeholders that you can automatically fill in using the data you collect about your patients, such as their names and the services they receive from your clinic. That way, you can customize and personalize your messages for each of your patients.
Message templates can have interactive elements so recipients can click a button or select one of the proposed answers, making them more engaging and effective. For more on interactive WhatsApp messages, check out our “All About Interactive WhatsApp Message Templates.”
You can build an elaborate chatbot to interact with your patients for their most common queries, such as scheduling an appointment, answering questions regarding your services and prices, and more.
WhatsApp marketing strategy
Here are some tips to optimize your marketing strategy for better results.
Opt-in is mandatory with both the WhatsApp Business app and WhatsApp Business Platform/API. Customers must give consent or permission to receive messages from a business. If you send messages to customers without permission to do this, you directly violate WhatsApp’s Business policy and risk being reported. If your business gets reported by multiple customers for unwanted messaging, WhatsApp may restrict you from using its services or completely ban your account.
To learn more about this, read “Opt-ins, consent, and WhatsApp best practices & policies.”
Integrate a WhatsApp chat button or Widget into your website
A WhatsApp chat button is a simple widget that acts as a link to WhatsApp with no interactivity or interaction support. It’s simply a WhatsApp link in the form of a click-to-chat button with your logo. When someone clicks on it through your website, their WhatsApp app will automatically open a chat window where they can start a conversation with you.
Invest in your WhatsApp Product Catalog
A carefully designed catalog would be more likely to increase conversions and win patient loyalty. Instead of listing services alongside unattractive photos with poor quality, hire a professional designer to craft a visually appealing catalog for your services. In addition, the marketing expertise that a designer can provide will give you a competitive edge over other clinics in your area.
Deploy a WhatsApp chatbot for appointment booking
Chatbots are highly efficient and beneficial to both your dental practice and your patients because they are a massive time saver and do not require human intervention. As I mentioned earlier, bots are available only through WhatsApp Business Platform/API.
WhatsApp chatbots are built to handle thousands of inquiries simultaneously and can scale your communication without compromising quality. You can deploy a WhatsApp chatbot that can handle appointment booking and give your patients the option to be reminded of their regular dental visits for checkups, teeth cleaning, and more.
Here’s an example of how a chatbot might work in your clinic when a new client contacts your WhatsApp number:
Patient: Hello! I want to do a dental checkup.
Chatbot: Hello! I don’t have you in our database. Can you please tell me your complete name?
Patient: Robert Smith
Chatbot: Thanks, Robert! You can come to our clinic on Friday, April 6, at 10:00 AM.
In this case, the chatbot handled the entire process, so connecting to an active agent wasn’t necessary.
If you want to learn how to build your own WhatsApp chatbot, read our article “Chatbot logic: How to create a WhatsApp chatbot that works.”
Promote your dental clinic with click-to-WhatsApp ads
You can reach a wider audience with click-to-WhatsApp ads. These ads are a practical and effective way to increase visibility and drive awareness for your dental clinic.
Click-to-WhatsApp ads can be displayed in:
- Facebook news feed
- Facebook Marketplace
- Instagram feed
- Instagram explore
- Facebook stories
- Instagram stories
Customers just need to click on the button embedded in the ad and don’t have to type in your number to start a conversation with you.
To learn how to promote your dental clinic with click-to-WhatsApp ads, read our article “How to Create Click-to-WhatsApp Ads to Grow Your Business.”
Marketing ideas to get you more patients for your dental clinic
Here are some ideas you can use to make the most of the WhatsApp Business account.
Schedule automated messages
If you use WhatsApp Business Platform/API, you can take advantage of different forms of automation. Automated messages can be a great way to increase retention. When a patient visits your clinic for dental cleaning, you can schedule a message to be sent automatically after six months and prompt them to schedule their next appointment. The same can be done for regular dental checkups and other recurring appointments.
Promote your services with broadcasts
Providing helpful content to your patients will help you promote your brand and services while increasing engagement and customer loyalty. Here are some ideas you can use to craft high-engaging content for your broadcast campaigns:
- Create how-to guides about proper oral hygiene and healthy dental habits
- Address common dental issues and provide solutions
- Analyze dentistry trends or explain new technologies
- Share before and after photos of procedures or treatments to showcase results.
- Use video and create content detailing your services or patient testimonials.
Take advantage of WhatsApp Status
Status allows you to share text, photo, video, and GIF updates that disappear after 24 hours, just like Instagram stories. Design eye-catching flyers, videos, and graphics to spread awareness about dental health and promote your services via WhatsApp status. This is only possible on the WhatsApp Business mobile app.
Here’s how to create and send a status update:
Open WhatsApp > STATUS.
Text to compose a written status update. You can tap Emoji to add emojis or GIFs, T to pick a font, or Color to pick a background color.
Camera or My status to take a photo, record a video, or GIF or choose an existing photo, video, or GIF from the picker. You can also add a caption or make edits to the photo, video, or GIF.
Use WhatsApp to ask your patients to post a review on your website as soon as they leave your clinic. If you’re using WhatsApp Business Platform/API, you can automate an interactive template with a message like this:
“Thank you for visiting Clinic Dental! We’d love you to share your experience with our new and current patients. Tap the button below and leave your review.”
If you reached this section of the article, it’s safe to assume you’re close to making a decision to use WhatsApp for your dental practice. I can assure you there is great potential in integrating the most popular messaging app into your marketing strategy. Not many clinics leverage the tools and features WhatsApp has to offer, so adopting this new communication channel will give you an edge over your competitors.
If you just want to experience the possibilities of WhatsApp Business, I’d suggest you try out the free app. However, if you want to unlock the full potential of WhatsApp Business, the platform/API is the way to go.
If you’d like to learn more about how WhatsApp can help you grow your business, please reach out to us on WhatsApp at +13024070488.
We also offer a free consultation session where we review your use case, answer any questions about WhatsApp, and help you build a strategy to make the best out of the platform. Book a call with us here. We’d love to speak with you: