Dental Referrals and Loyalty Programs: Why They’re Worth It

Let’s face it, dental referrals are the bread and butter of your practice. In fact, referral marketing is still critical to small businesses. 

dental referrals

Why not give your patients some incentive to spread the word about how excellent your dental practice is? Frankly, it’s a win-win for both for the practice and the client. 

As a matter of fact, the conversion rate from referral leads is 30% higher than leads from any other channel. And, consumers who are referred by friends are four times more likely to buy.

Adding to that, establishing a referral reward program is a great way to differentiate yourself between the competition. Plus, word-of-mouth is known to be a powerful conversion tool for medical and service industry businesses.

To begin, you should brainstorm with your staff or marketing team about the best type of dental referrals rewards program to offer at your practice. 

After that, you need to figure out the reward. It doesn’t have to be complicated, you can offer them 10% off of a popular service, a free cleaning, or even a gift card. Whatever you end up choosing, just make sure your reward also benefits your practice. 

In order to make the process easier for you, listed below are three types of patient loyalty programs to incentivize dental referrals. 

3 Types of Patient Loyalty Programs to Incentivize Dental Referrals 

1) Points Programs

Points programs are quite common, and people love signing up for them. They’re a win-win program to attract more dental referrals, so it’s worth trying it out. 

Besides low barriers to entry, points programs function on the simple premise of accumulating points for dollars spent. 

For example, you could offer 1 point per $1 spent at your dental practice. Once patients reach 200 points, they receive a $5 credit to use to pay for products or additional services.

Best of all, you can highlight that there’s no expiration date to use the credit. This is a huge benefit for patients who may be loyal, but not come as often as you want them to.

2) Punch Card Programs

Just like points programs, punch card programs have low barriers to entry. Plus, if you make the rewards enticing enough, you may also be able to drive reappointment rates at your dental practice.

If your practice offers additional, unconventional, yet trendsetting services such as botox and dermal fillers, then it’s a great idea to utilize punch card programs. 

The easiest way to create punch cards is to design a business card with your practice information and 10 numbered circles that can be punched out every time a patient visits. 

As for the reward, you can present them with 10% off of their 10th visit. It’s a ten for ten as they say!

dental loyalty card
Pictured is the On Time Ortho Loyalty Card by SmartPractice, which can be tailored to your practice.

3) Tiered Loyalty Programs

Tiered loyalty programs are the equivalent of hybrid points programs. They focus on an exclusivity factor by offering better rewards to high spenders as they reach certain milestones. 

Ideal for practices with high reappointment rates, tiered loyalty programs provide value to top tier customers, making them more likely to become brand advocates and ambassadors. Thus, accounting for more dental referrals.

For popular dentists who perform non-invasive cosmetic enhancements, tiered rewards can look something like this: 

  • Tier 1 – Sign up for free and get news of specials directly to your inbox.
  • Tier 2 – Spend $500 and get access to free dental products and one free cleaning. 
  • Tier 3 – Spend $1000 or more and get one free teeth whitening session.

Keep in mind, the rewards you come up with should not affect your bottom line, and you must work out the average spend for your most frequent patients in order to come up with monetary milestones like the ones mentioned. 

Maintaining Patient Loyalty Through Referral Marketing 

Truth is, a special offer could end up being the deciding factor between you and the competition when it comes down to patients choosing which dentist to visit.

What’s important to keep in mind is that patient loyalty programs should benefit the patient and the practice. That’s why you must know your numbers. 

Your rewards program, in addition to leading to greater reappointment rates and higher profits, should also foster patient loyalty.

An easy, yet personable way, to keep patients coming back is to show them they are valued. To that point, after a referred patient has completed their first appointment, send them a thank you card (physical or digital, it’s your choice).

More importantly, don’t forget to utilize email marketing to get the word out about your referral reward program.

To learn more about incentivizing patient visits and outlining a loyalty program to accelerate dental referrals, go to