Attracting and Retaining Patients with Your Website – Part 1

modern practice podcast

On this episode of The Modern Practice Podcast, host Gary Tiratsuyan welcomes Jeff Gladnick, Founder and CEO of Great Dental Websites, to the show to discuss best practices in building an effective website.

During the conversation, Jeff shares how your practice can attract and retain patients by:

  1. Ensuring your website is constantly updated with the RIGHT type of content.
  2. Optimizing your site aesthetic and technical features.
  3. Giving patients a simple way to schedule and pay for care, online.
  4. Implementing search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure you stand out against competitors.

Looking to build a new site for your practice or overhaul your existing pages? Visit to learn more.


Intro 00:00

From Rectangle Health, this is the Modern Practice Podcast, a show that provides you with fresh perspectives and practical advice from industry experts in the ever-changing world of healthcare technology. Every episode, we tackle a timely topic to help you stay current and simplify the business side of healthcare. Without further ado…

Gary Tiratsuyan 00:21

Hello, everybody, and welcome back to the Modern Practice Podcast. Today, we’re diving into dental practice marketing, and how you can attract and retain patients with your website. In the digital first world we live in, a well-built, powerful website is essential to growing as a business. And joining us in our discussion today is CEO and founder of Great Dental Websites, Jeff Gladnick, Jeff, thanks for taking the time. Appreciate you being here.

Jeff Gladnick 00:46

Thanks, Gary. Thank you for having me.

About Great Dental Websites

Gary Tiratsuyan

My pleasure. So, I want to start by giving our dental audience not familiar with Great Dental Websites an opportunity to learn more about your company. Can you talk to me about how it came to be? What inspired you to found the company?

Jeff Gladnick 01:02

Yeah, my background was in software engineering—particularly building content management systems. So, like web publishing software. I was doing that in San Francisco for a while, and my dad who is a dentist, needed a new website. And so, I was trying to help them find bids and try to find a good company and the quotes he kept getting back were really expensive. And they weren’t good options anyway. So after enough of those, I got frustrated, and I was like, ‘I’ll just do this for you.’

So, I have eight dentists in my family. Very quickly, the word got around to the uncles and the aunts, and they wanted in on this free website deal. So, I ended up making a content management system just for dentists. The whole idea was, I don’t want to do this eight times. So, I’m just going to build a piece of software that will reconfigure for each practice. And then I’ll just have to do it once. I had learned this technology at work, and that was kind of the first iteration of Great Dental Websites. Halfway through the project, they started referring colleagues who weren’t related to me. And by the time I finished it, like six months later when I launched it, I probably had like two dozen clients. That kept on for a few years; this was like a side project. Until one day at work, I got like, four calls from new customers and I couldn’t take any of them because I was in meetings. I was like, ‘Well, I might actually have a business here.’ I kind of looked at the numbers and we figured out a way to make it work. I quit my job, and the company kind of left the ground.

Gary Tiratsuyan 02:35

That’s awesome story there, Jeff. And we all know that feeling when family comes in to ask for help.

Jeff Gladnick 02:42

Well, I’ve been going to him for years to get free dental work. So, it’s a fair trade, I guess.

Gaps in Traditional Content Management Systems

Gary Tiratsuyan 02:48

One hand washes the other. So, Jeff, as you know, there’s so many website building applications out there; too many to name. But there are gaps, shortcomings, flaws in that quick-build website platform. Did that play a role in why Great Dental Websites came to be as well? And what were some of those shortcomings and flaws that you had identified early on?

Jeff Gladnick 03:13

Yeah, there’s a couple different options that dentists have. And most dentists will get an open source or off-the-shelf content management system like WordPress. There’s nothing wrong with WordPress; it’s a fine platform. The problem is, it’s not what we would call multitenant. So, there’s no kind of central core that gets updated as Google changes the rules and requirements that your software can subscribe to.

So, let’s say you hire a company that builds something for you, like WordPress, and they do everything perfectly. The site is just exactly state of the art, exactly the way it needs to be. And they launch and everything is great. Well, each week that goes by, you know, there’s going to be some change, and some are bigger than others. It might be six months before anything of substance happens. Or it might be the very next day when Google just decides, like several years ago, when they said, ‘We don’t want you to have those separate mobile websites.’ We all remember this. Everybody had a separate mobile website. And it was like or something like that. And it was like this, this kind of slimmed down thing for mobile devices. Google decided one day, that’s over; you need to have a responsive website. So, throw out your mobile website, whatever investment you made, it’s junk, and you need to rebuild your whole website to work on any device.

When we got that news, we just updated our platform. And that update was given to all of our customers for free. There’s been other instances like that that happen almost every month, where we just update the core software. We’re basically a subscription software; you can think of it like dental websites as a service. And we’re just constantly trying to keep our sites and our clients’ sites at the state of the art. So you can certainly do this with WordPress, but you’re going to have to have a very good relationship with your developer. And it’s going to be expensive. Because every time one of these changes happens, you’re going to decide, ‘I’m not going to do that, and I’m going to suffer whatever penalty, high or low the Google places on the website. Or I’m going to get out my checkbook and pay for it every single time.’

After a while, the total cost of ownership of the site starts to go through the roof if you’re doing it this way. But most people don’t do that. Instead, they just sacrifice quality. And when the site launches, quality is really high, and then it just starts going down, down, down, down, down, like a stock ticker. Until finally, it’s so bad that you wake up one day, and you say, this whole site needs to be thrown out and we have to start completely from scratch. And then we have to spend thousands, or maybe even more than $10,000, to rebuild the website. And then we do the whole thing all over again, five years from then. This is the cycle that most dentists go through. You end up paying more money, and getting a lower average quality for your website, and worse average performance on Google over time.

This was the cycle that we wanted to break, we wanted to keep the cost low, we can share the cost among our about 950 or so dental practices that use our platform. And we can keep the quality high all the time. So that’s that is the customer that we’re trying to serve. And that’s the problem we’re trying to fix.

The Process

Gary Tiratsuyan 06:18

Thanks so much for that, Jeff. You know, dentists are not marketers, some of them might be, but most of them I would say are just primarily focused on making healthy smiles and keeping their patients happy and healthy in that sense. But, and you touched on this a little bit, it’s hard to have that trust between your developer and yourself or to know yourself that these changes in Google are happening that these design elements or functionality elements need to be incorporated into a site to keep it modern. And your team consists of multiple players, from the user experience specialist to the user interface specialist to the search engine optimization specialist, design, copywriting, marketing coaches, and IT. Can you walk me through the process of working with your team and how key players come into the mix at different stages?

Jeff Gladnick 07:21

Yeah, for most clients, they’ll talk to somebody from sales who wants to understand what their needs are. And we sometimes recommend a client not work with us; there’s probably like 5-10% of the market that’s a bad fit for us, for one reason or another. But most dental practices are great fits. So, once they progress through sales, there’ll be assigned a project manager, and that’s the person who’s in charge of collecting all their information and shepherding this project all the way to launch. They’ll coordinate with a copywriter who will interview them and really get to know them, because we want the copy to really sound like them. That’s usually a big mistake that dentists make, they’ll just hire a company that uses the same copywriting for everybody, and they’ll change Dr. Smith to Dr. Jones and then call it a day. But people have very different philosophies about how they practice dentistry. Some people have this very holistic approach, and they want to remove mercury amalgams. We have some have a few clients who don’t recommend fluoridated toothpaste; they’re removing fluoride from the water. We have other dentists who completely disagree with this. These are clinical decisions that are made by the dentists; we’re not qualified to make these decisions. But then other people have different approaches; there are, like, eight different types of core whitening products. Everybody’s got different reasons for picking their type of implant, they may have a really high-end lab that they like, We want to have the copywriting really express to the patient, what this dentist is all about. So, that it will resonate with the patient, and when they come in, they’re already a great fit.

The worst thing that can happen is you have this very humorous writing, that’s very colloquial and jovial, and then the patient comes in and the dentist is very, buttoned down, and down the business. And they’re like, ‘Well, who is this? This is not what I thought I was getting.’ So, we really want to use media and the copywriting to communicate with patients as much as we can. And we sometimes get feedback from practices that a patient will come in and they’ll tell them, ‘We read every word on your site.’ Some people are really nervous about going to the dentist, and they really want to get to know them. And that’s what the copywriting team will bring out.

The UI team and graphic design… we want the design to reflect the practice and the branding. The UI team spends tons of time A/B testing various landing pages. We really want to have the landing page for dental implants convert somebody who is thinking about it, and we’ve done psychological testing with users and eye tracking with random people that we hire to try to improve conversions by 2-3%. And then when we find out something that works, we push that update to everybody’s landing page. We’re using this process of UI design to push everything together.

The marketing team has a veto over all new design elements. So, if somebody from the SEO team is sitting in on these product design meetings and saying, ‘No, we can’t do that, it’s going to hurt our performance on Google.’ And sometimes engineering rolls their eyes and is frustrated. But that really drives a lot of the decisions. Engineering plays a part in this too; they’re constantly trying to speed up the sites. We have this huge distributed system of patching on various Amazon servers spread around the country and the world. A bunch of our clients are from Australia, so we have to cover there and Canada, as well. So, we’re constantly trying to improve the speed; the slower site loads, the more likely somebody is to leave, and the lower Google scores it. Speed is a factor for ranking sites. So, everybody plays a role in putting all this together to give a fantastic experience to the user and to the Google search bot too.

Gary Tiratsuyan 11:10

And the website is, ultimately, a tool to convert and capture business, depending on that specialty, their focus and the core audience that that dental practice wants to attract. What are some of the best practices your team implements to make the website effective in capturing and converting that business outside of homing in on the specialty?

Jeff Gladnick 11:40

There are a couple of things; a lot of it is supporting media and content. Whenever we bring on a client, we really want the dentist to become a partner in the marketing. They don’t need to really think about the strategy. They can do that as much as they want to, and we welcome their advice. But what we need them to do is produce some content. So, we want to have a video of the dentist explaining the service or procedure in like 30 to 60 seconds. Like, you walk up to the guy or gal on the street and ask ‘What exactly is Invisalign? How is that different from normal braces? What would you say to a patient?’ We’ll give them a prompt like this, because we want their personality to come through. That’ll help inspire confidence for people who have a dental phobia.

We also want them to take pictures of their work—their before and after cases. A lot of dentists are perfectionists, that’s kind of the hardest thing to break. Because you know they’re good enough—those pictures they send—they’ll go get some better ones. But those already look great. Dentists are obsessed with making it look perfect. But that shows a patient, ‘Hey, I have that problem; that’s what my mouth looks like now. And I’d be very happy if I got ended up with the after picture.’ So it shows proof that they can do the work.

We also like them to get video testimonials. That’s more social proof that other people like them. Oftentimes the patients will surprise you and speak to a fear or concern or a benefit that you hadn’t initially considered as a marketer. And then that works its way into the copywriting or the FAQ or something that dentist will say to reinforce it. So, if we can get all that content and put it together on a page, then we have a really effective landing page that’s answering all of the objections that a patient might internally hold in order to move forward with booking that procedure.

Gary Tiratsuyan 13:23

But it’s not set it and forget it right? How often are you reaching out and requesting some new content, whether it be video, a written piece, reviews…things like that?

Jeff Gladnick 13:35

Oh, we will attempt to politely harass our customers every month. We’re like nagging personal trainers, trying to make sure that your website is and your marketing are in the best shape they possibly can be. It’s really up to the practice owner how much they want to engage with us on that. Most of our clients do; I think it’s like an 85% compliance rate the way we track this internally. But some clients are really busy, because they have a lot of patients. So, that’s a good excuse. I understand that. But when they have time, they’ll come back to it and we’ll pick up where we left off. But yeah, we do want them to be thinking about this, have a review strategy in place. And other people in the practice can participate in this. Some dentists outsource all this work entirely to their team. So, somebody else is taking the before and after case, somebody’s asking for video testimonials. They might record the videos once at the beginning, but then they leave that day-to-day stuff to the team. Somebody at the front desk will ask for online reviews. And sometimes they’ll give away like Starbucks cards or something to incentivize their staff to do this.

As long as you get the smooth-running machine going on, then the marketing is just constantly refreshed and updated and added to because people will look at how recent reviews are too. My wife will not book an Airbnb, unless there are reviews from like the last three months that confirm that the place is clean and there’s not mold and other serious problems. And people do the same thing, looking at dentist. So, if you just have lots of reviews, but they’re all from five years ago, it’s not good enough. People will look and see what’s going on lately.

About Our Partnership

Gary Tiratsuyan 15:14

So, shifting gears here a little bit, Jeff… the practice Bill has the website built and now it’s time to scale business. And as you touched on reviews play a key part in the decision making. Just like your wife, myself, in any business I choose to work with, I’m looking at those reviews, the quality of the reviews and the recency of them. But I want to talk more along the lines of the cash flow and revenue. Can you talk to me a little bit about how Great Dental Websites and Rectangle Health partnered up and what value that partnership brings to your clients?

Jeff Gladnick 15:47

Yeah, one thing that consistently comes up is, ‘Well, how do I pay for this (financing the procedure, paying for a bill)?’ And we just constantly got questions from clients, who were like, ‘Do you guys have any service to add, like Bill Pay, to our website?’ And I think that was the first spark of like, ‘Well, we need some kind of partner for financial services and payments.’ And we started looking around and eventually found Rectangle, you guys had a good reputation. We had some customers that were already using you who are happy; you guys would meet the needs of our customers. And it was very easy to integrate into our system and our software. So yeah, that was a natural partnership that fulfilled a need that our customers had. And I think we’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback so far.”

Gary Tiratsuyan 16:39

And as, as a website developer, the owner of the company and CEO, what kind of impact does that payment link on a site have on the patient experience, and also on the staff? Because when we look at modern day retail experiences, we convert on Amazon every day, we convert on Netflix every day. We’re making payments digitally in most of our buying experience. What would you say is the importance of that on a dental website?

Jeff Gladnick 17:14

Yeah, just having easy payments makes such a difference in your cash flow. And I don’t have any staff; this isn’t my primary business. You guys can probably speak better to this. But I can tell a story that just happened to me. This past month, I owed a bill to one of our vendors, they sent it to me in, I think, February. I got it on my phone. And I was like, ‘Oh, let me let me go take care of this now.’ But they needed me to like set up an account. It was some clunky thing that I had to do to pay the bill online. I’m like, ‘I’ll deal with this later.’ And then I forgot. And so, they politely reminded me earlier this week. And I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m pretty sure I paid this back on the first of March.’ I have a reminder to my accountant, sending them, ‘Hey, I just paid this, this is what it’s for.’ So, when the bookkeeper classified it, and I looked through my credit card records, and finally confirmed, no, I actually have forgot to pay this. And so I finally paid it last week. But they’re fine; we’ve had a relationship with this vendor for years. They weren’t upset. It was just a mistake. But little things like this can happen, and then the patient moves when they decide they’re unhappy, or they switch dentists and then you never hear from them again. You really have to give your patients options for paying as quickly and seamlessly as possible. This should be the easiest interaction with the practice they have. Because honestly, it’s the most painful, or perhaps the second most painful, depending on the procedure. But you don’t want to have the payment part be a pain in the neck.

Gary Tiratsuyan 18:51

Yeah, absolutely. And from our end, we hear it all the time. It’s not only on the digital side, but many practices are still mailing out paper statements and waiting for that payment to come inbound from the patient. It gets set aside with a bunch of mail and forgotten about, especially if it lands in on a Friday; you’ve got the weekend coming in. So, the last thing you want to do is pay bills over the weekend. So we do hear that.

Jeff Gladnick 19:18

I think the other thing that has to be considered is that some people will prefer checks because there’s no transaction fee. But there is; you’re just paying somebody differently. Your staff has to sit there and cash it; that takes a minute. Sometimes it gets rejected by the bank like, ‘We can’t read the signature or ike you know, the amount seems different.’ We’ve all had that experience, trying to digitally cash the check with your phone and you’ve got to send it back like five times. My God. It ends up wasting like 40 minutes to cash a check for $70. And then you still have to get the money and properly put it in the right account with the accounting software and work it into the bill. And that was the other reason that we really liked Rectangle Health; you guys have some kind of bridging tool that would help automate that. And so, there’s still a cost to processing checks that we have to bear and the practice will have to bear too. It just doesn’t seem like it because you don’t get an itemized bill for it. But you’re just taking away from the time that your front desk could have made a great patient testimonial video for you.

What to Do Before Overhauling Your Dental Website

Gary Tiratsuyan 20:24

Absolutely. And last question here, Jeff, before I let you go… I’m a dental practice looking for a brand-new, modern website, or I need an overhaul. What do I need to do to prepare before working with you and your team to get that amazing output?

Jeff Gladnick 20:40

Yeah, and this would be helpful for working with any company. What we’d love to see if a practice has come to us—and this is the wish list and the ideal—is that they already have like all their before and after cases that they that they’re really proud of, and if they have a couple for every single service. They’re all neatly organized in folders. There might be a little description of each before and after case, because some people just send us pictures, and we don’t know what happened. We can see the teeth got less yellow, but like there’s been a bunch of teeth moving around. Is that an implant? Did they have orthodontic work? What’s going on? So, you know, we want to know a little bit about them.

It’s also nice to tell a story about what motivated like: This is Gary; he was unhappy with his smile. He’d been drinking coffee for a long time. Then he just woke up one day and decided, ‘I really don’t like these yellow teeth.’ I’m sorry, I’m picking on you. ‘And then he decided to do something about it today. And so, he came in, he asked Dr. Smith for options, and gave him these, and Gary couldn’t be happier with his white teeth, and his wife likes it too. These little things like help tell a story and help let people at home resonate with it. ‘Oh, that’s actually sounds a little bit like me.’ It’s the same thing with patient testimonial videos; if you’ve recorded a couple of those, even on an iPhone, that’s fine. If you’ve thought about the various services that you’re offering, and you just write five or six bullet points, like ‘This is our approach to doing implants; we use a CEREC machine. This technology is quick and fast; we have lots of experience and the quality is really good. And the dentist has done tons of continuing education is really good.’ Those five or six bullet points really help the copywriting team come up with something unique that’s tailored to the practice.

So, getting your content and your media organized in advance will make the project go faster. It’ll improve the quality, you’ll be much happier with the result, and it’ll take less of your time overall. So, if you’re thinking about updating your website—and you can do that at the same time; we have clients that start working on that the day they reach out to us—because we tell them when we’re on the first call, this will this will be great if you have this. It’ll make the project better. But the sooner you do that, the better.

Gary Tiratsuyan 22:54

Thank you for that, Jeff. I think it’s that storytelling approach. If a dental practice asks, ‘What kind of content do I produce? Where do I start?’ Tell that story of the before and after—how you’re helping, what the outcomes were. It’s really positive and strong there. For our listeners tuning in today. If you’re looking to revamp your existing website or have a new client converting one built from the ground up to cater to your practice’s unique offerings, I encourage you all to visit I will have that link in the episode description below, as well as a link to Rectangle Health’s Practice Management Bridge page to learn how you can reduce accounts receivable and make it simple for patients to pay for care quickly. Jeff, thank you for the laughs. Thank you for taking the time. I love learning from you and hopefully we can get you back on the show again real soon.

Jeff Gladnick 23:48

Well, thanks for having me on Gary; it was a pleasure. I hope I was helpful.

Gary Tiratsuyan 23:52

My pleasure. One final note for our audience, we’ve got some great episodes lined up in the upcoming days and weeks, so be sure to subscribe and leave your comments and feedback. We always appreciate it. Thanks for tuning in. Until next time, everybody.

Outro 24:04

Thank you for listening to the Modern Practice Podcast. If you enjoyed today’s conversation, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, or SoundCloud for new episodes and follow Rectangle Health on social media for more helpful information news and event details. Thanks for tuning in.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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