This article originally appeared in the April/2022 issue of the Academy of General Dentistry’s AGD Impact magazine.
How AI is Transforming Dental Marketing
By: Jackie Ulasewich Cullen
AI is not just a concept for big companies. In fact, small companies everywhere use AI to enhance their marketing efforts, including independent dental practices. It may also be surprising to learn that some of the marketing tools that dental practices use regularly are based on AI.
The term Artificial Intelligence applies to any computer technology that employs logarithms to “learn” like humans do, i.e. make decisions based on data patterns. It sounds complicated, and at its core, it is, but thankfully there are highly intelligent people out there who have done all the hard work and made it easy for us to take advantage of AI as a way to enhance our marketing efforts.
How does AI apply to dental marketing?
If a practice uses any type of analytics program, for example Google Analytics, it is already using AI. Basically, the analytics program takes data from all over the internet and uses it to not only analyze past and current trends, but also predict what will happen — it’s called predictive analytics. This type of AI is highly useful in planning future marketing endeavors. It looks at the data for the particular dental practice and compares that data to a much larger data set, taking into account internet traffic from a much broader market. Using an analytics program can help a dental practice more precisely target its marketing to attract the ideal potential patient.
Predictive AI used in analytics software also helps dental practices take what they already know about their ideal patient and customize marketing campaigns that will resonate directly with that type of patient. In essence, AI uses existing data from the practice’s past marketing successes and compares it to information on the internet to predict what will have the greatest chance of increasing engagement with potential patients, but not just any patient, the exact type of patient the practice wants to attract. With the help of AI, marketing can be a precision tool, increasing accuracy and speed of results, because a computer learns and reacts much faster than any human could ever do.
Another important AI application in dental marketing is chatbots. A chatbot is a computer program that simulates human conversation. When it comes to dental marketing, chatbots can be extremely useful because a dental practice has set hours and cannot respond to inquiries 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Even when the practice is open, the phone lines can get quite busy and voicemail is not always the ideal way for a patient to communicate a specific need. Chatbots can fill in some of the gaps when staff is not available to respond to patients, especially when inquiries originate from online. When a chatbot is paired with other customer management technology, it can seem like the practice is actually available when no one is physically in the office. In a world where 24-hour availability is increasingly the expectation among consumers, this perception can make a dental practice stand out among the competition.
AI may seem like science fiction, but the truth is, we’re all interacting with it in some form on a daily basis. It has become increasingly important in marketing in a very short period of time, and will only become more prevalent as technology advances. This is a good thing when it comes to marketing because it means that a dental practice that properly takes advantage of AI can more precisely focus its marketing efforts to ensure increasingly beneficial results.