After examining the results of hundreds of chiropractors taking a seven question quiz about their practice website (take the quiz yourself), a surprising trend emerged. Before I share it, and what it means to chiropractors who want new patients from the Internet, consider the car in your garage.
You bought (or leased) your car as a product. You chose the make, model, color and features. Because you purchased it as a “thing,” it’s your responsibility to maintain it, fuel it, insure it and employ measures to extend its usefulness.
Now, imagine buying a car as a service. You’d still choose the make, model, color and features, but someone else would maintain it, fuel it, insure it, clean it and even pay to park it.
Unless you regularly hire a private limousine service, you can’t buy a car as a service.
This best exemplifies the difference between buying a website as a product, versus buying a website service. After all, you don’t want a website, you want the new patients a website can produce.
Which leads back to questions 5 and 7 on our website quiz.
It was astonishing to see how many answered question “5. Our website ranks well in the major search engines.” as true, but answered question “7. Our website produces a constant flow of new patients.” as false.
This is akin to a surgeon observing, “The surgery was successful, but the patient died.”
A False Proxy
Actually we’ve known for several years that high search engine ranking has little correlation with a website’s new patient performance. Even before confirming it with our little quiz.
Because from time to time we would have website clients leave our service, even though they were in the top position on Google. They left us because their website wasn’t producing new patients, even though we had optimized their site so as to have the most coveted position on page one of Google.
That was a profound wake up call that led us to discover the art and science of conversion.
Conversion broadly covers the many elements of a practice website that either persuade a visitor to schedule their first visit and begin care, or cause them to hit the back button and keep searching.
Two Important Questions
Granted, it’s convenient to fire up Google, search “chiropractor+city name” and see how your practice website ranks among other chiropractors in your area. If you see your ranking slip, you may have an explanation as to why your new patient numbers are down.
But what if you’re at the top of page one and your new patient numbers are down?
Clearly, there’s more to new patient generation from a website than ranking!
Granted, if you’re doing research on the Internet or searching for a piece of trivia, clicking on the first, most likely search result is pretty common. We all do it. But searching for a chiropractor is different. With a chiropractor on every corner these days, someone searching for one is trying to answer a very specific question: Are you the chiropractor for me?
Search engine ranking doesn’t answer such a personal question.
Herein lies the very foundation of conversion. Something that discount website providers who sell their wares as products 1) largely ignore, 2) find too difficult to pursue, and 3) are hoping their low price will cause you to overlook this critical shortcoming.
While the list of components that affect new patient conversion is too extensive for an article like this, here are a few of the most important.
Design – In a split second a website visitor sizes up your clinical skills by your website’s design, color palate, use of white space and ease of navigation. It’s not fair, but that’s what happens. Like buying a necktie or a pair of socks, many chiropractors make the error of choosing a design that appeals to them, instead of their ideal patient who is likely female.
Photography – If your website features only stock imagery you’re not helping your prospective new patient answer their question, “Are you the chiropractor for me?” Granted, stock photos are cheap and easy to get. But they’re a form of fakery that does little to help convert visitors into new patients. You and your practice are the “product.” Make sure prospective customers can see what they’re buying.
Browsability – In short, how easily can a visitor scan a page and find what they’re looking for? This involves over a dozen different considerations including topography choice, font size, paragraph length, readability, use of subheads, bullet points, internal linking and other nuances.
Call to action – Every page should direct the website visitor to take the next step – call for an appointment, click on a link, subscribe to your newsletter, call with a question, meet your team, tour your practice, etc. That requires that your Webmaster understand the typical “new patient journey” through your practice website.
Getting Visitors to Choose You
Second only in importance to your home page (the “reception room” of your online practice), is your “Meet the Doctor” page. It’s more than a biography and far more than a vitae.
It’s the weak link of most chiropractic websites.
And for good reason. Chiropractors, who find themselves in the unfamiliar role as a copywriter, discover that it’s difficult to write about themselves. Which gives the wooden result the emotional connection of a term paper.
Which is why Perfect Patients records a brief telephone interview and has our professional writing team craft your doctor profile as well as the practice content.
Digital Billboard or Marketing Tool?
Back in the day, simply having a website was enough to tap into the growing use of the Internet to find a chiropractor. Later, having your website in the top two or three positions on page one of Google was the key.
Today, that’s not enough. Because all your competitors have websites and each is in a constant bid for the top slots on page one. However, all things being equal, what trumps Google ranking is the experience prospective new patients have when visiting your website. Do you present yourself authentically? Do you anticipate and answer a prospective new patient’s questions? Does your website lead visitors through a discovery process and urge them to choose you?
Unless you see your practice website as merely a digital billboard, it needs to produce new patients to earn its keep. And while ranking is important, it’s only the “first right answer.”