In my last post, I addressed the need for marketing medical practices online with properties outside of your website. While these have become very important, this does not give you license to neglect your website. The danger in focusing on other properties is that many practices forget to keep their own website updated and rely on properties such as Yelp, Healthgrades, or Facebook to give necessary information about their practice. Going the other end of the spectrum is just as detrimental.
Your Practice Website Is Like a First Date
Your practice’s website is a reflection of who you are. It’s very much like a first date. You dress up nice, show off your best qualities, and woo someone into a second date. Your website is very often the first thing people see when they’re learning about you. It doesn’t matter if it’s a referral from another doctor or a prospective patient that landed on your site through a Google search, someone will come to your website before they give you a first phone call. They want to find out:
- Who you are – Qualifications, skills, etc.
- How you can help – What is it that you do, and can you alleviate their condition
- If you are a fit – Without realizing it, most patients are also looking to see if this looks like a place they’d feel comfortable
Your website is a direct reflection of who you are as a practice. Make sure you treat it that way. When you’re looking to create, redesign, or modify your website, keep these ideas in mind:
Make Sure Your Website Looks Professional
Just like you make sure that you look presentable when you’re meeting with a new patient, make sure that your site looks presentable when someone comes to see it for the first time. A poor looking website is the equivalent to wearing sweatpants to meet a new patient. You want to put your best foot forward. Ensure that your website looks professional and leaves the prospect with the feeling that you know what you are doing and that you handle yourself in a professional manner.
Know Your Audience
What your website looks like and the elements it has are going to depend on your clientele. For example, we have several clients in the New York Metro area. The patients they have come from high-income areas and are accustomed to the highest quality in most of what they see on a day to day basis. If they come to a cheap looking website, or one that caters to lower income, it will be a turn-off almost immediately. Practices like these need a high quality website that reflects “high-end.”
Conversely, we have a client in an urban area of another region of the country. Most of this client’s patients are low income and are looking for low cost healthcare. A very different approach is needed. Their website is also high quality, but at the same time it does not have the same “exclusive” theme as our previous example. This is represented by everything from language to image to presentation. It caters, in a very professional way, to a lower income audience.
This also goes beyond income – it has to do with age, geographical region, and a host of other factors. The bottom line is that you need to design and communicate to your audience.
Show Your Knowledge
Your content matters. A lot. You need to show that you are an expert with the content that you write. Yes, professional content writing costs can add up, but it’s worth every penny. If someone comes to your website and you haven’t demonstrated significant knowledge in procedures you perform and conditions you treat, it makes you look average at best. Show off your knowledge. Tell people everything that they want to know. Will everyone read it? Probably not. But, if someone comes to your website and sees one brief paragraph on their particular condition, does that fully convey the expertise you have? Most often, patients then continue to look around to see what other information and specialists are out there. They may come back, but I wouldn’t risk it.
When you’re writing content for your website, also keep in mind that you want to target your writing to the 8th grade level. Certainly, there are times that you want to write to another level, but this is a good rule of thumb. The reason is that you want to make your content as easily accessible to the widest audience possible while still writing in a way that is professional and does not sound juvenile (remember some of the classic books that you had to read in middle school – they weren’t all fluff. The reading level is higher than it sounds, but does not use a lot of technical terms, at least without explanation).
Highlight What Makes You Unique
With some minor exceptions, the chances are that there are other doctors, likely within traveling distance, that do exactly what you do. There are a lot of orthopedic surgeons and chiropractors that people can choose from. Why would they choose you? Communicate your benefits very clearly. Are there certain unique qualifications that your doctors have? Are there procedures and methods of treatments that won’t be found in other practices? Do you have a stellar reputation? Do you have any accreditations that set you apart from your competition?
Also remember that on almost every medical practice website, the three most visited pages are the home page, contact page, and about page (which typically includes info about the practice and doctors). Utilize these pages to communicate and reinforce what makes you unique.
Take a Look at Your Site
If you take an honest look at your site, what do you see? Usually it’s best to have someone else take a look since you are a little biased. A family member or friend is typically a good bet (one that will give you their honest opinion). What do they see? Think about what you are communicating and how you are communicating it both in content and in image. You should be relevant to your demographic and keeping up with modern trends. The Internet moves quickly, and you should review your site yearly to see if you need to make any updates. Remember, the first iPhone was released less than 7 years ago. Now, a mobile site is standard as significant amounts of traffic are coming from mobile. Technology and web trends move quickly. Make sure you are keeping up.
If it’s time for one of these annual reviews, give us a call, and we’ll give you some ideas to improve your image online.