Inside A Practice

6 Tips To Improve Your Medical Practice Website

A website’s success is determined not only by how many visitors it receives but by the action you want the visitor to take and whether or not they trust you enough to provide their email address for more info.

By Editor-In-Chief, Michael Tetreault | Concierge Medicine Today

JANUARY 28, 2012 — Acknowledging the fact that doctors are either some of the first or sometimes the last to adopt new forms of media and marketing to maximize their practice, the world is constantly evolving and patient behaviors are changing. Concierge-Style and direct care practices face the same challenge. Not to mention, prospective patients are more demanding investors now adays. They want more information from you before they’ll make a conclusive buying-decision and you’ve got to build the ‘Know, Like and Trust’ factor with your web site visitors very, very quickly …

Facebook is even now … starting to replace the old-fashioned ‘word-of-mouth’ referral among the 30-50 year old female demographic in local areas and where else can prospective patients go when looking up information on a doctor? The Pew Research Center says that most of them will search on the Web.

If you’re a concierge-style medical practice doctor or just a doctor with a private practice, without a website for your practice you may be in trouble. The importance of a Web presence has never been more important than in today’s new media age … and it’s only going to intensify. This thing called the ‘Internet’ – it’s not a fad and that need to get your practice on it is only going to grow bigger. If you already have a web presence, I can suggest that there are many ways in which you can improve it – but to make it as easy and accessible to prospective patients is something you should connect with experts in the field of marketing, web design and social media sooner rather than later. Why? Because a well-designed website, when used effectively, can be your practice’s best and most underutilized marketing tool.  It’s a vital, life-giving promotional piece for your practice each and every week because visitors to your website have come to make their decision as to whether or not they will walk-in or even call your practice.

From 2009 to the writing and compilation of my most recent book, Branding Concierge Medicine published in November of 2012, I asked concierge physicians what form of marketing they found to work best to grow their patient-base. The results were as follows:

  • 7% use Facebook to grow their practice and get new patients.
  • 2% use Twitter to grow their practice and get new patients.
  • 5% use postcards to grow their practice and get new patients.
  • 5% use a letter alone, to grow their practice and get new patients.
  • 18% use a letter with a brochure about their practice and get new patients.
  • 21% say hiring a marketing/PR company that used both online and offline marketing strategies helped grow their practice and generate new patients.
  • 3% say hiring a practice management consultant to organize internal processes grew their practice and obtained a few new patients.
  • 9% participate in local area networking activities and events.
  • 16% say local area advertising combined with low-risk offers helped grow their practice; and
  • 14% say word of mouth from existing patients helped to grow their practice.

If some of you reading or hearing this audio book now presume that using a Yellow Page ad, talking to patients more and putting an ad in your local newspaper for a month is the right method of marketing and branding your practice – you’ve missed the first principle of effective concierge medical marketing which is ‘Follow Those With The Greatest Amount of Success.’ Learn from what your successful colleagues have done and blaze a trail that’s unique but similar to those with the most success.

What’s critical that we focus on when examining this data is that the MAJORITY of smart, well-educated physicians found that the best and fastest way to grow their concierge medical practice was to hire a marketing and PR company that uses both offline and online marketing strategies to grow their practice. This will include all of the following ideas as well as revisiting your practice web site, your social media strategy and developing great low-risk offers for your practice. Here are five tips to improve your practice website that will both help you get into Google’s good graces and help you attract more prospective patients:

Give visitors a ‘good’ reason to give you their email address

The biggest, singular mistake I see physicians make is…they don’t have an irresistible low-risk offer on the homepage of their web site for a prospective patient that entices them to want to take the next step and learn more about their practice, it’s products, services or people. A low-risk or irresistible offer is usually something free for the prospective patient or reader of your email, web site or advertisement. It can be a coupon, a free book, a checklist, a free DVD, and is usually a free ‘something’ that engages and entices the reader to want to know more about who you are and what you are selling. As a fundraising and marketing consultant for non-profits, one of the strategies I consistently communicate to our designers and writers is ‘give the reader something free and ask them for their money.’ It’s common sense. Just about everyone will give you their email address or call a toll-free number to get something free. If you make it easy to get ‘something of value’ for free, free being a clearly communicated word, people inevitably will take you up on it. Then, you know you’ve ‘qualified’ a lead and can start accumulating a clearer message to those now showing interest in your practice.

One of the simplest and most effective ways is to include a “low-risk, irresistible call to action” is to ask your visitor to take an action that will provide you with valuable information about who is interested in your practice or services in the form of an email and provide something of immediate value to your visitors so they will begin to know, like and trust you even more.

Tip! The words “free”, “discount”, “offer” and “sale” are frequently used to attract web site visitors to take action!

Tips: Only put one or two “calls-to-action” on your homepage. Have a qualified, web site designer and marketing strategist help you if you need to change your current web site or start fresh. Click Here to connect with a Medical Web Site Marketing Agency that can help you at our ‘Endorsed Local Providers’ Section of our web site at: http://wp.me/P2Y9ja-dF

Invest In SEO

So you have a website. You are making an effort or invested funds to help draw in visitors like advertising in Facebook and Google AdWords and increasing your SEO. That’s great. High traffic is important but all your efforts will be for naught if your visitors don’t find you when using important keywords and phrases – and NO, they’re probably not going to Google Search the name of your practice – they’ll most likely search your name, city and read online reviews, even if they’re inaccurate. Granted, there will definitely be those hi-and-bye types of visitors on your site but the trick is to reduce this percentage and increase the number of pages your visitors click on when they search for you.

Why is this important? Well, the longer they stay:

  • The more traffic and pageviews you get
  • The higher your chance of monetizing from their visit
  • The higher a possibility they will return
  • The better your SEO will be

Invest In Backlinks to Boost Your Practice On Search Engines

This is the highest quality of off-page search engine optimization for the price. For as little as $200-$600 per month (average) — the purpose of this SEO (Search Engine Optimization) service is to get your website showing up as high as possible when your current patients (and potential patients) are searching for your practice on a search engine (Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Aol, Dogpile, etc). So, which package is best? It’s all about speed; the larger the package, the quicker the results. SEO is a service that you will want to continue on a monthly basis to increase your rankings and maintain and it typically yields great results in as little as 90-days. Why 90-days? Well, because your competing for top ranking on page 1 of the search engines and believe it or not, this is very competitive online realestate. It takes work to get there and once you’re on top…you’ll want to stay there.

Load Time Matters … get rid of the FLASH Movie!

You have between 3 and 5 seconds for your web site homepage to load. Visitors judge the value of your practice and business in a matter of seconds. The commonly accepted 35 seconds during which a visitor lands on your website, you need to grab their attention, get your professional message across to them, and spark interest in your services thru a great ‘call-to-action.’ Keep in mind, the more you add to your site, the longer it takes to load. The amount of visibility you’re losing with a Flash movie on your homepage makes it more likely they’ll take flight from your web site rather than fight with the hassles of adding a Java download to speed up their viewing. It’s a painful truth for some, but you shouldn’t bat an eyelash when told to get rid of Flash. What was popular a few years ago in technology is considered outdated garbage today. Remember Windows XP?

Google doesn’t read Flash script either so it won’t help you climb up the SEO ranks either. You’re simply relying on the popularity of your domain name for visibility – and most people won’t find or trust your domain name.

Go mobile

Since a multitude of people research local businesses “on the fly” with their smartphones and tablets. If you’re not on their radar, don’t expect them to even step up to your service window or call your practice for more information.

Since 2009, Concierge Medicine Today has been asking doctors in these offices two important questions. First, ‘how long does it take to recruit or persuade a new patient to become a patient in your practice?’ Second, ‘what form of marketing is most productive when trying to attract new patients to your practice?’ The answers to these questions are very important. (Source: AskTheCollective.org, 2009-2012)

How long does it take to recruit or persuade ‘one’ new patient to become a patient in your practice?

  • 49% – Four or more months
  • 23% – Three to four months
  • 4% – One to two months
  • 13% – Two to four weeks
  • 11% – One to two weeks

What form of marketing is most productive when trying to attract new patients to your practice?

  • 16% – Hire a Marketing/PR Firm
  • 14% – Letter with Brochure
  • 13% – Word of Mouth Referral

Convert to HTML-based menus

People using Apple’s iOS and other mobile platforms might be annoyed by the fact you have a menu in PDF format. Create an HTML menu and scrap the PDF one, or run them side-by-side to allow for choices. People generally don’t like having to download a file to see something.

Use Widgets on your site to promote your social activity

While this is advice that every business should follow, the medical doctor industry needs to follow it more tightly. Post things on your Facebook page such as news stories and articles about better health related to your niche of the local healthcare marketplace and highlight events and important reminders you think your patients would appreciate.

The above strategies and tips are only some of the actions you can take to increase the “stickiness” of your website. A good combination of web design, regularly updated and relevant content (i.e. stories, articles, blog posts, etc.) and plugins are able to make your website more interesting and thus, your visitors will stay longer, interact with you and return for more. Do remember to constantly check to ensure that your website is updated and optimized to welcoming your visitors to stay rather than sending them away! As long as your site is dynamic, your customers will always have something new to come to. Google also gives websites that keep up to date some recognition with higher rankings in their results pages. There are many ways to make your website dynamic without having to put up much effort, such as a well-designed WordPress theme.

As long as you follow through these steps, you’re likely to create a more engaging environment for your patients and prospective patients which will help you maintain your focus on the offline side of your practice. For more business tips, articles related to the concierge medical marketplace and trends, visit our TRENDS Blog at www.ConciergeMedicineToday.com.

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