Potential new dental patients visiting your website (and indeed any of your online marketing activity) need to find it usable, in fact Google uses usability as part of its search algorithm… The more user-friendly your website is, the higher it may rank.
If you want to know how to make your dental practice website (and other online marketing channels) more usable from a patient’s perspective, read on…
Imagine you are a patient visiting your website, it’s important you put yourself in the shoes of a patient… Not wearing your own shoes as a dental professional!
Think about the mindset of the patient, think about how they would have ended up on your website, think about what they might want from your website.
The stages of buying
When someone visits one of your online marketing channels they will certainly be in one of these stages of buying:
- Problem recognition
- Information search
- Evaluation alternatives
- Purchase mode
Let’s look at each of these stages of buying and what you could do to assist your potential new patient in each stage.
A person that lands on your website in this stage of the buying process will have just realised that they have a problem. They may have had someone comment on their crooked teeth, they may have just been out for a meal and got food stuck between missing teeth or may have now decided that today is the day they are going to start doing something about their dental health.
Once someone has identified that they have a problem that they will begin searching for a solution, patients in this stage of the process may be searching on Google for phrases such as:
- How to straighten crooked teeth
- Ways to replace missing teeth
- How to stop my gums bleeding
A person at this stage of their problem-solving/buying process may not be thinking about treatments, they may not be thinking about Invisalign, Inman aligner, dental implants or dental hygiene… they probably are not even ready to research and gather information about these alternatives, they are simply looking for a solution to their problem… So what could you do on your website?
This is where a dental blog comes in exceptionally handy. You can title blog posts around their search phrases “how to straighten crooked teeth”, within these blog posts we are simply helping the patient identify that they have a problem and that it can be solved. You may find that a patient in this stage of the buying process immediately moves into the information search phase.
We can help patients in this problem recognition stage by providing them with useful and relevant information and content, your blog is an excellent way to attract these people to the website and you can help them move into the information search phrase by offering them a free information pack.
The preferred technique is to allow them to download a free guide relating to their specific problem “All of Your Options to Replace Missing Teeth” in exchange for an e-mail address. Collecting e-mail addresses allows us to gently build a relationship with these people in the long-term as they move through the various buying stages. Information about creating an e-mail marketing campaign.
A patient in this stage of the buying process may have already identified specific treatments to help with their problem. They may be searching for:
- Invisalign braces in << geographical location>>
- Dental implants in << geographical location>>
- Dental hygienists in << geographical location>>
In the information search phase a patient is gathering detailed information about all of their options from both a treatment prospective and possibly a specific dentist perspective. When a patient lands on your website in the information search phase we need to offer them:
- Relevant dental information, specific to their information search
- An incentive to request an appointment which will help move them to the next buying phase
Relevant dental information can be provided by way of the free guide mentioned previously, always in exchange for an e-mail address. An incentive to request an appointment seems to work best if this is offered as a refund of the patient’s initial assessment. Again, offering this on the website as a download in exchange for an e-mail address works best, it allows the person to feel as though they have partially solved the problem whilst on the site as they now have a voucher entitling them to a refund of their initial assessment.
Evaluation of alternatives
At this stage of the buying process the patient will have decided that they want to straighten their crooked teeth or replace missing teeth, they may even have decided on the specific treatment they desire (clearly only a clinical assessment can verify this for sure). To allow a patient to evaluate alternative dental practices we need to:
These are the two key deciding factors which allow a patient to decide which dentist to you attend. you can reduce risk and increase trust by demonstrating that you care for the patient above and beyond any monetary transaction, offering them a free download as already mentioned goes some way to doing this. Your active social media stream can also demonstrate that you are low risk and trustworthy alternative.
Patient testimonials on your website, especially video testimonials (as these are hardest to fake) will go some considerable way to reducing risk and increase in trust. Showing photographs of the team including your GDC registration numbers also demonstrates that you are trustworthy practice (As well as being compliant).
Offering a refund of initial assessment also reduces risk for the patient, you then have their e-mail address and can then continue to build relationships with them gently and slowly.
Once the patient is in purchase mode you need to ensure that your website has the relevant calls to action in place. If you have followed this process from the beginning and allowed the patient to download some information when they were in the earlier information searching modes then we can begin to send e-mails talking about how you can help.
My recommendations to ensure patients that are ready to purchase take action are:
- Place a call to action on every page of your website
- Have a request an appointment facility on the website (this does not necessarily need to be booking an appointment)
- Having a website which is responsive with a ‘click to call’ phone number in case this person is visiting from a mobile phone
- Having an ability for a patient to make a general enquiry to the website if they have any further questions
Understanding the buying process and ensuring that you have the possibility for a patient to engage with you at each stage is critical if your marketing is to be effective. You can’t assume that everyone that lands on your website is ready to book an appointment, if they are not, what have you done to help them?
More help and advice on making your website more useable
How useable is your website and could it be improved? This comprehensive website audit will give each of the five key areas of performance a rank so that you can take action.
What’s included in the audit?
46 individual elements of a successful website will be assessed and ranked in the following key performance areas:
Within each of these Key Performance Areas I will rank 46 Individual Elements, each element will be given a score.
These 46 individual elements will then come together to give you an overall score for each of the key performance areas.
You can then see which area of your website needs the most attention to ensure you get the maximum return on anything you spend.
What do you do with the audit?
Once the audit has been completed you can either make the changes yourself, send them to your web designer for their opinion or contact me and I can make the changes for you as part of my Light Package – I’ll then refund your £35 audit fee.
The audit forms the basis of the overall Light service. When you ensure these five key performance areas are performing to the maximum and you have an active, engaging and effective social media stream you will find that your marketing efforts begin to work 24/7/365.
Featured Image source hywards at freedigitalphotos.net