Dental Patient Reactivation: Tactics, Tricks, and Strategies

Welcome to episode 008 of The No BS Dental Marketing Podcast. Today, we talk about tactics, tricks, and strategies my company has been using successfully for over 13 years in dental marketing.

Listen as I share remarkable information about patient reactivations and how to use this type of campaign correctly to increase your bottom line.

Here’s just a taste of what we talked about today:

What is the Difference Between an Active VS. an Inactive Patient?

This depends on who you ask because if you look at the ADA, they say an active patient is one who has received care from you within the last 12 months. I realize there are certain guidelines depending on how long it has been since a patient has been there in regard to  record keeping, but in cases of marketing, that’s complete BS.

Twelve months is way too long to consider somebody an active patient. For marketing purposes, you must put yourself on the radar for any patient who hasn’t been there in at least six months, if not before that. For ADA and record keeping, that’s fine, but don’t wait around that long to try to get a new patient or a patient back in.

What is a Dental Patient Reactivation?

A dental patient reactivation occurs when somebody in your inactive patient database makes a hygiene appointment or comes to your office for treatment after a six-month period.

Other Topics We Covered on the Show:

  • What needs to be done if the patient is not on a regularly scheduled six-month treatment plan?
  • Top reasons why patients become inactive in the dental industry.
  • Some tactics we use for patient reactivation.
  • Lastly, what is a successful reactivation campaign? 

How To Stay Connected with Chris Pistorius

Want to stay connected with Chris? Please check out his social profiles below.

With that… let’s go and listen to the full episode…


[00:00:00] Chris Pistorius: Welcome to the Dental Marketing Podcast, a podcast that helps dentists win in the online world of modern day marketing. Each week, we cover the most cutting edge marketing tactics and strategies that are working right now across our client base to drive leads, phone calls, and more new patients for dentists.

[00:00:21] Now here’s your host and founder of KickStart Dental Marketing, Chris Pistorius.

[00:00:30] Hey everyone. Welcome to the No BS Dental Marketing podcast. I’m Chris Pistorius, and on this show we talk about straight to the point no BS tactics, tricks, and strategies that my company has been using successfully for over 13 years in dental marketing. There’s no fluff here. Just great information that you can start using immediately, as in today to help increase your bottomline.

[00:00:54] So if you’re a dental practice owner, a manager, a front desk professional, or whatever, be sure to click the subscribe button so that you can keep up with all of our tips and tactics.

[00:01:06] Today we’re gonna talk about patient reactivations. And really patient reactivations, when done correctly, can give you an impressive jump in bottom line revenue to the practice.

[00:01:19] And guess what? It can do it really quickly, but you’ve gotta be able to do it right? So let’s get to it. First of all, you know, I believe that, you know, and my company believes that, you know, all marketing strategies should really have a mix of things that are quick lens. Meaning when you start a campaign, you start getting results fairly quickly.

[00:01:37] And then there’s probably, you know, bigger strategies, bigger plays out there that will take a little bit longer to develop. And some examples of that would be things like search engine optimization, that just takes some time and it kind of depends on, you know, how long you’ve been around and the competition in your market.

[00:01:54] But it’s a longer play strategy for sure. But you know, having quick wins mixed in with longer return wins is really how you’ll create a very nice marketing strategy for yourself. So really reactivation campaign is what we use here to really get almost the quickest type of wins along with like paid advertising.

[00:02:15] But you know, really what is, and everybody kind of tells me a little bit of different story here when I ask them this, but what is a reactivation campaign? Right. Well, Chris, it’s reactivating my patients. Right? Well, everybody’s kind of drawn on that and they kind of ask like, well, what is an active versus an inactive patient?

[00:02:34] Well, that also depends on who you ask, because if you look at the ADA and what they say, they say that an active patient is one that’s received care from you within the last 12 months. Okay. And I realize there’s certain guidelines, and I don’t know if they’re laws, but guidelines certainly that, you know, depending on how long a patient’s been in, there’s some things you have to do record keeping wise and things like that.

[00:02:58] But in in cases of marketing, that’s complete BS. Okay? Because 12 months is way too long to really consider somebody an active patient. Right. And so, for marketing purposes, anything after six months in my opinion, is somebody you need to get on their radar, right? If not before that really, so for ADA and record keeping, totally get it. That’s fine. But don’t wait around that long to try to get a new patient or a patient back in. It just won’t work as well.

[00:03:28] So let’s talk about six months. If they aren’t in on six months of normal treatment or a normal treatment plan, we need to do something proactively to go get them. We can’t, as a dental marketing or dental professionals sit around and just wait for the phone to ring.

[00:03:42] And just to kind of, I built it, here they come type attitude. That’s not gonna work anymore. It doesn’t. Okay. You’ve gotta create your own opportunities now in dentistry, and there’s some smart ways that you can do it that are very affordable, and reactivations is certainly part of it. Okay.

[00:03:57] So specifically, what is a dental patient reactivation? So, a dental patient reactivation really occurs when somebody in your inactive patient database. Again, for me, it’s different. It’s anybody over six months makes a hygiene appointment, comes to your office, whatever, for treatment. That’s what a reactivation is. Okay, so, you might be thinking, and actually dental, I don’t have the numbers in front of me.

[00:04:20] I should, but dental and medical is really one of the highest industries that lose customers. And there’s a lot of reasons for that, right? I mean, insurance, things like that. But specifically, why do patients become inactive in the dental industry? Well, we always build campaigns around, you know, the three reasons people don’t go to the dentist is because of time, money, and fear, or a combination of all those three.

[00:04:43] Right? And that totally makes sense. But some common reasons why we see people initially come to you and then don’t come back is they just put it off. There’s still that time, fear, and money, right? Some people will lose their insurance. And somebody just found a new dentist. That’s probably the most painful one, but it’s true.

[00:05:02] And some people just move and unfortunately people die. Things like that. There’s some things there that’s just outta your control, right? So there’s always gonna be a certain percentage of your active patients that don’t come back for good reason, like they move or they died or something like that, right?

[00:05:16] But the other things, we can market for that. Just putting it off, lose their insurance, found a new dentist. I mean, those are all things that we can overcome doing the right kind of smart marketing. So really reactivation should be our lowest hanging fruit in terms of marketing, in my opinion. Because these are people that hopefully anyway, already know you, like you and trust you .

[00:05:41] Right. Most of them should. Okay. So these are people that should be really much easier to come back in to see you. It’s just sometimes they need some gentle nudging, if you will, to get them back in. Okay. And reactivating patients is way less costly than acquiring new patients. So that’s any business, right?

[00:06:01] Bringing back your old customers way cheaper and going out and getting a new one. Okay. Now let’s talk about the specifics behind some of the tactics I hear about when I interview potential new clients to come work with us, I ask them, all right, what are you doing for reactivations? Like, oh, Chris, we got that handled.

[00:06:18] We use Weave, or we use Dentrix or we use whatever technology it is, right? Let me just tell you now, there’s over probably a hundred different softwares out there or technologies that are capable of sending out reactivation emails or text messages or whatever it may be, that it doesn’t matter. That’s irrelevant.

[00:06:39] It’s not the technology here that’s important, it’s the messaging. The sequence of events as well. Right. Most dentists that I talk to or orthodontists or I’m talking about anybody in the dental industry, they just kind of say, hey, I use Weave. I use, you know, kind of their out of box solution.

[00:06:57] You know, it customizes their name and that kind of stuff. But other than that, we’re good to go. No you’re not. That’s bs. Okay? Because they don’t customize that for you at all. It’s not a personable experience other than switching out their first names, which sometimes they get wrong too, right? You have to do more than that.

[00:07:15] It’s just not an easy button, and all of a sudden you get 70% of your inactive patients back in. Okay? If you’re using an out of the box solution from Weave or Dentrix or wherever, Lighthouse, it’s not working as well as it could. That’s just the truth, okay? You really need to build and test a marketing sequence, not just an email or a text message, a sequence that will hit all of the right buttons, really at all the right times.

[00:07:42] And that’s not easy to do. We’ve developed ours over years, right? Of how much bugging is too much? How long should it be between, you know, messages to them? So great reactivation campaigns use a mix of really four-ish different communication methods, phone calls. Yep. Those still exist.

[00:08:03] Picking up the old phone and calling them, emails, text messages is certainly big now, as well as direct mail. And many of you know that I’m like the digital marketing guy. Most of our strategies are around digital, so you’re probably thinking direct mail. You’ve lost your mind. Well, I haven’t because direct mail can work really well when you use it smartly.

[00:08:25] Okay? I’m not saying buy a list and send out thousands of mail pieces and hope that one percent’s gonna respond to it. To me, that’s not smart money in today’s marketing world, okay? We need to use direct mail for people that are already actively looking for a dentist, which most of your other digital marketing strategies are already doing.

[00:08:43] We’re putting your ad in front of places where somebody types in my tooth hurts or how much are dental implants, things like that. Right? Well, you can still use direct mail that way as well, so it should be in this mix of how you reactivate your past patients, okay.

[00:08:59] Are you looking to grow your practice but are a little unclear on what the best way is? Let us help you out. We have over 13 years of experience in helping practices just like yours, increase new patient growth. Just go to and sign up for a free strategy session where we will give you some great insights on how to take your practice to the next level.

[00:09:26] So a good reactivation campaign will also use time sensitive promotions within this and ask for referrals. Aha. Light bulbs should go off, right? Just because you’re doing a reactivation campaign doesn’t mean it only has to do reactivations If you’re smart about it and think about it and test it and know your right sequence points, you can also use this as a way to get them to bring in referrals when they come back in.

[00:09:52] Okay? That’s what ours does, right? So you can think of it as a sequence. All right? Day one, you pick up the phone and call them. Okay. No response. Day four, you send ’em an email, right? A sequence like that. Text message. Well, the way you build it out by testing it is okay if they haven’t responded in four times.

[00:10:10] Right? Maybe we should give them an offer. Right, like a discount or a free teeth whitening or, you know, there’s a hundred different things that we use here. Just kind of depends on what kind of practice you are. But you can also mix in a referral with that as well. Hey, and also by the way, if you bring in your friend, we’ll do your next cleaning for 50% off.

[00:10:27] Or we’ll give you a free sonic air toothbrush, top of the line, $200 value, right? You have to get creative like that. You’re not doing Groupon type things, right? Because they’re bringing in another new patient, so you don’t have to worry about loyalty. They’re gonna keep coming back and they’re gonna keep bringing their friends, right?

[00:10:43] So be smart when you do these reactivation campaigns and you can knock off a couple of marketing birds with one stone. So time sensitive promotions. Ask for referrals. Be personal. Don’t just switch out the first name and then that’s it, right? That’s not enough. Everybody does that now. That’s an out of the box solution.

[00:11:01] You’ve gotta be more creative than that. Create a sense of urgency when you do this, right. Time sensitive promotions, time sensitive everything. Otherwise, they’ll just keep putting it off. Putting it off. Putting it off, okay. Know your patient’s appointment history. If you’re gonna pick up the phone and call them, make sure you’ve got in front of you the last time, where they were in, what they were in for, all of that.

[00:11:23] That may sound like, well, yeah, no kidding. We always do that, but not everybody does. Right? Don’t half-ass this thing. It’s too important. This is too much quick revenue that you could bring in just to, you know, kind of, huh, whatever, if we get them, we get them. If we don’t, we don’t. Okay. You should really run a minimum though.

[00:11:39] Going back to the sequence of this, you should really be running a minimum of an eight week campaign. With several different touch points, right? So that’s kind of that sequence I was talking about. Start with a phone call, then go an email, a text message. Send a direct mail piece. Follow back up with a phone call, start an offer.

[00:11:58] Ask for referrals. Again, stay on them. Harvard Business School study showed that kind of overall in sales, right? It can take up to six to nine of reaching out to someone to actually get them scheduled. Okay. This is no different. I hate to break the news to you guys, but the dentist is not always the number one place people are just excited to go to, right?

[00:12:22] So you’ve gotta kind of stay on them about it. So definitely something to think about there. Okay. Several touch points. Over eight weeks would be preferable. Okay.

[00:12:32] Now what’s a successful reactivation campaign? Well, for us, we would like to see, and what we strive for is about 70% of activatable, is that a word?

[00:12:43] I think I just created a new word. Activatable. I like it. Sounds like a cool word. But anyway, a successive campaign should bring in about 70% of activatable patients, right? So these are people that aren’t dead, right? They haven’t moved, right? They still qualified to come see you. If you can get close to that 70%, you’re doing really well.

[00:13:04] Okay? Track everything and test everything. Okay, so that means that you know, these softwares that you use, whatever you send out, you need to track. So if you send out a hundred reactivation emails, track how many of them were opened, and test different versions of it and see which one gets to better open rate, test what the subject lines on the emails are.

[00:13:26] Text your text message return rate. Test all of that, track all of that. And then over time, once you track that, you’ll be able to identify what’s working best and what hasn’t. That’s what we’ve done over the last several years to come up with our kind of perfect sequence of follow ups and getting close to that 70% reactivation rate.

[00:13:46] Okay, so that’s a lot of information there. It’s all really good information that you can start using today to actually get these patients reactivated back into your practice and bringing in revenue very quickly. Now, as always, If you need some help with this and you don’t have the time to maybe test it and track it and you know, figure out the best sequences for your practice, well that’s where I can help you out or my company can help you out.

[00:14:12] You just go to KickStartDental, I’m sorry,, there’s a free strategy button right there at the top of the page. I do all of those strategy sessions myself, and I’d be more than happy to give you great information specifically about your practice. And how potentially we could do a reactivation campaign plus anything else marketing wise that you may need.

[00:14:32] So feel free to do that. I’d be more than happy to take you through all of that and customize it for your practice. Well, this has been another episode of the No BS Marketing podcast. I’m your host, Chris Pistorius, and we can’t wait to talk to you next time.

[00:14:46] Thanks for joining us this week on the Dental Marketing Podcast. Make sure to visit our website,, where you can subscribe to the show in iTunes, Spotify, or via RSS so you’ll never miss a show. While you’re at it, if you found value in the show, we’d appreciate a rating on iTunes, or if you’d simply tell a friend about the show. That would help us out too.

[00:15:10] If you are ready to grow your practice, then you might want to schedule a free strategy session with us. Just go to and click the free strategy session button and give us 15 minutes of your time to change your practice forever. Be sure to tune in next week for our next episode. And thanks for listening to The Dental Marketing Podcast by Kickstart Dental Marketing, where dentists go to win online.