Tracking the Value of Social Media Marketing

Discover how to update the questions you ask on new patient referral forms to better track online referrals and improve your social media marketing strategy.

Updated 6/30/20

It used to be easy to track the value of practice marketing. Before websites came along, most practices only advertised through yellow page ads and the occasional postcard campaign. When new patients called to make an appointment, it was easy for them to remember exactly where they found you. At that time, patients often wouldn’t have access to your phone number if it weren’t for the phone book or postcard advertisement.

Today, we have a variety of social media and online marketing tools at our disposal. Along with those tools comes an array of online locations where patients may have discovered your practice. In fact, research suggests that new patients will rarely visit your website and call you directly. According to Google’s commissioned study, Zero Moment of Truth, in most cases consumers are more likely to first visit a website, seek online reviews, watch video, and check social networks before making new product or service buying decisions.

In turn, today’s new patient online journey makes tracking more complicated. One of the most common concerns I hear from dentists and office managers is their frustration in tracking the source of new patients–not only related to social media, but all marketing sources.

The good news is that you can see how well your current marketing plan is working by taking our free practice marketing assessment. You also have the ability to track where new patients have seen you online with the customization of your Dentrix intake forms.

Tracking Practice Marketing

Many practices already track new patient referrals by asking, “Whom may we thank for referring you?” However, that question alone is as outdated as marketing with yellow page ads. Instead, consider the following intake form questions:

In addition to the questions above, specialty practices should also add the following question:

Typically these questions are asked near the top of the first intake form. Beyond these “referred by” questions are the patient registration and health information questions. I suggest you also add the following question and options to the very bottom (last question) of your intake forms.

Include check boxes next to the list of marketing options so patients can easily check the location(s) they have seen you online (and offline, in the case of television or local magazines).

The reason this additional marketing-related question is asked at the bottom of the intake forms after the registration and health information is to convey to the patient you are first and foremost concerned about them and their health. While this level of information gathering is new to many practices, those using this format to track are finding most patients are consistently answering the marketing questions.

An alternative to intake form tracking is simply asking patients where exactly they found you online. While this interview method is fine, it isn’t always as consistent as the Dentrix intake form process that automatically collects the information for you. The added benefit of asking patients whether they’ve seen you on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. is that you are also informing patients you have a presence on those social media sites–increasing the possibility they may follow or like you there.

When patients fill out their forms, make sure you are entering ALL of the online (and offline) sources they listed in their referrals in the Family File. For example, if Maria Lopez fills out her intake forms and marks that she heard about your office on Facebook, Google reviews, and your practice website, open Maria’s Family File record, double-click the Referred By block, click Add Referral, and add all three of those referrals individually. That way you’ll be able to track the effectiveness of each of those referral sources.

Whether your practice is already established on social media or just getting started, it’s important to track the results of your efforts. Add these specific questions to your intake forms and you can begin to collect data to support (or question) your social media efforts. Over time, if you are actively marketing on Facebook, you should notice a portion of your new patient population reporting they’ve seen your practice there. If not, you may need to reconsider your social media strategy.

Analyze Your Marketing Strategies in Dentrix

To analyze the effectiveness of your social media efforts in Dentrix, from the Office Manager click Maintenance > Reference > Referral Maintenance. Select one of your social media sources in the Referred By list and click Analysis. The Referral Analysis dialog box will open, which will show you the total number of referrals from this source, the names of patients who marked this as a referral source, and the production generated from this referral. You can use that data to determine the effectiveness of your social media campaigns.

Are you currently collecting this level of data through your Dentrix forms? If not, when will you commit to implement this level of tracking? There is a saying, “Knowledge is not power. Applying what you’ve learned is.”

Find Out How Well You’re Doing

Knowing exactly where your new patients are finding and researching you online will help you make smarter marketing decisions.

Henry Schein One has service options to help you create a multi-channel marketing approach to recruiting and retaining patients. Are you spending your marketing dollars wisely? Find out how to attract new patients online by taking our free practice marketing assessment. It only takes a few minutes to see how well your current marketing plan is working.

Learn More

Discover all the practice marketing tools you can use to improve your marketing strategy at

Read Social Media Marketing: It Starts with Facebook to get more ideas about social media marketing.

To learn more about tracking referrals in Dentrix, read Manage Your Patient Referral Information in Dentrix or see the “Referral Maintenance Overview” topic in Dentrix Help.

By Rita Zamora, Social Media Consultant

Rita Zamora is an international speaker and published author on social media marketing and online reputation management. She and her team offer experienced social media training, mentoring, and support. Their healthcare professional and corporate clients are located across the globe. Rita graduated magna cum laude from the University of Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing and has over 20 years experience working in the business of dentistry.

Originally published in Dentrix Magazine, Summer 2015