By Rick Kleban
The right site tells prospective patients what makes your practice special and gets site visitors to want to contact your practice, says Rick Kleban, co-founder of Radiant Strategy, a marketing consulting firm. He recommends seeking the services ofa marketing specialist to help determine the right digital strategy and what is needed from the website to make all of the marketing effective. Together, you can assess what changes are required for your practice’s website by looking at the following criteria.
Red Flags–Warning Signs that a Web Site Falls Short
Web site with a no clear message. That’s a sign you need guidance. If a prospective patient who’s never heard of you before isn’t able to breeze through your site quickly and figure out what your specialty is, your style (formal or casual) of dealing with patients, and why they should give you a chance (evidence of your professionalism and achievements), your site isn’t communicating the information it should.
Site doesn’t communicate doctor personality and approach. In a glance, can someone look at your web site and get to know the personality of the practice? With the abundance of doctors in the marketplace, and information at the fingers of patients, people are looking to see how your practice is different from all the rest. And just looking pretty is not the answer, as so many other doctors are making their sites look pretty, too. Prospective patients are looking for a practice that fits their personality and/or style. They want a practice in which they can feel comfortable. Your web site should communicate that. Working with a skilled marketing professional can help tease out what makes your practice “your practice.”
Search engines aren’t finding you.Your site probably isn’t optimized for search engines to pick it up, meaning its pages don’t contain key words and phrases prospective patients would type into Google when looking for you. Let’s say you’re a pediatric optometrist located in St. Petersburg, Fla., with a specialty in progressive myopia. Is your web site showing up near the top in the search engines when people type in “pediatric optometrist in St. Petersburg” or “children’s progressive myopia in St. Petersburg”? Would your site be listed near the top of the search results?
You don’t know how to track your site traffic.A marketing consultant can use analytics to track who’s visiting your site, how they found your site, how often they visit your site, and how long they linger over which parts, and which parts they click on to drill down deeper. More importantly, they can tie those analytics to the number of calls and e-mails you receive from prospective patients, and the number of new patients you accumulate. The strategist also will do an ROI calculation to figure out how much you can spend to win each new patient, which will guide web redesign budgeting and all of your marketing. The key lesson is you don’t know until you start tracking. Every practice is different, and a good marketing consultant will make sure analytics are brought in to help determine what is needed.
Turning It Around: Working with a Digital Strategist
Stay involved in the process. I liken a doctor who hires a marketing consultant to redo a web site to a doctor who hires a builder to create a custom home. If the doctor only met with the builder once, before architecture drawings were rendered, and came back after it was built, odds are he or she would not be happy with the result. You also won’t be happy with a site you turn over to a consultant without staying involved in the redesign process.
Plan weekly phone or in-person meetings with your consultant.Discuss what the consultant learned that week by analyzing your practice. Discuss how that informs plans for a new site or revised site.
Carefully outline your dos and don’ts for the new site.If, for instance, you want to send a signal that you’re friendly and open, and are the type of doctor who wants patients to join your personal Facebook page and to call you by your first name, be clear about how informal you’d like the site’s language and the images to be.
Don’t let the marketing consultant turn you into something you’re not on your site.If you don’t see yourself as cool and hip, don’t allow a marketing strategist who thinks he or she is doing you a favor to create an avant-garde web site that creates a false picture of your personality and the spirit of your practice.
Push your strategist to give you benchmarks by which to measure the new site’s success.If your consultant doesn’t offer the information to you on his or her own, ask how the ROI of your new site compares to that of his or her other clients. Benchmarks don’t only answer the question, “Is this working,” but “Am I making as much money as I should given the field I’m in?”
Ask how the new site ties into your other marketing efforts.Ask how the new site can work with other marketing efforts such as print ads and e-mail marketing campaigns to boost your practice. Should you, for instance, use print ads to drive patients to the web site? A marketing strategist with digital acumen and experience can tie your marketing strategy, web, and otherwise, together to grow your patient base and long-term profits.
Rick Kleban is a co-founder of Radiant Strategy, a digital marketing company providing strategy, analytics, SEO, and design services to doctors and attorneys. He is a 10+ year veteran of the Internet marketing industry and has worked with clients including Coke, Procter & Gamble, Sebastian, Fekkai, Pantene, Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, The Limited, Highlights for Children, Hewlett Packard and The Home Depot. He holds a finance degree from Georgetown University and a masters in sociology from Ohio State University. He resides in Columbus, Ohio. Contact:firstname.lastname@example.org.