At Zipline, we spend a lot of time testing new ways to generate more business for healthcare practices. While there are always some sort of hot new method to experiment with, if you are really looking to generate new patients, conversion optimization is the first place we recommend you focus.
What is Conversion Optimization?
Conversion optimization is the process of making minor changes to a website to see if they increase the percentage of traffic that contacts you or make a purchase. This can be a difficult process for an inexperienced marketer but it is very much worth the effort. If you are new to conversion optimization, there are a variety of tools like Google Analytics, CrazyEgg, and Optimizely that can help.
Can you explain it in a way I can understand it?
Many practices aren’t excited by the idea of conversion optimization, but I guarantee if you spend the time to optimize your site, you will be excited by the results. Every dollar spent optimizing the conversion rate of your website amplifies the value of each marketing dollar spent afterwards. Say for example, you have a conversion rate of 2%. If you spent $500/month on marketing and got 1000 visitors that would translate into 20 patients, not bad. If you wanted to grow to 40 patients you would need to spend $1000 dollars each month. You might say, not a big deal if the revenue from the patients is covering the cost. But let me show you what you can expect from a good conversion optimization campaign.
So what should I expect?
Imagine if you spent some time optimizing the conversion rate of your website. A well-optimized site could have a much higher conversion rate. What if we spent time optimizing the conversion rate of the site increasing it from the 2% to 5%. In one month, with the same exact marketing budget, the website would generate 50 new patient leads. If you doubled your marketing budget as mentioned previously, you would reach 40 new patients. After spending time executing a conversion optimization strategy the same increased budget would yield 100 new patients in the same amount of time.
In this example, with a non-conversion optimized website you would spend $12,000/yr in marketing and generate 480 new patients, not bad. If you optimized for conversions, you could spend $6,000 and generate 600 new patients. So if you were to spend $12,000/yr after optimizing, you would pull in a whopping 1,200 new patients with the same exact marketing budget as if you didn’t optimize.
If it’s so easy, why doesn’t everyone do this?
Because it isn’t easy and most people don’t know about conversion optimization or its compounding effects.
So where do I start?
There are a number of great articles on conversion rate optimization online. Take a look at some of those and don’t worry if they aren’t healthcare specific. While there are some healthcare specific conversion optimization practices, many of the methods you’ll find in these blogs span multiple industries and will work for any website. Also, if you would like assistance with your conversion optimization, we can help. We even offer a a free healthcare website conversion rate analysis that you can take advantage of. It will help you identify low hanging fruit you can focus on immediately. During our free consultation, we will provide you with a list of tools you can use to better track your conversion rate.
At Zipline, we are firm believers in the importance of branding for a healthcare practice. In our opinion, every aspect of your marketing and patient experience should work together to create a consistent flow and image of your practice for your patients.
We have seen many healthcare practices who have a beautiful, modern website which creates the impression that you will be visiting a high-end health spa. But when a new patient arrives, the office is in a strip mall in the bad part of town and the interior of the office looks like a dirty old retirement home. This same disconnect can also occur in reverse. You could spend a great deal of money creating a luxurious office with high end service, but your website or marketing material fails to convey that to potential patients.
Both of these scenarios are likely to result in a negative impact to your practice. In the first scenario, you are likely to lose the customer because they thought they were buying a Lexus and got a rusty Schwinn. In the second scenario, the rare customer that makes it to your practice will be pleasantly surprised but the bulk of the people that visit your website won’t bother to give your practice a try, instead, opting for the provider down the street.
How do we know if we have a problem?
Be honest with yourself. Is your office visually appealing? Does it feel clean? Does it feel safe and inviting? If the answer is no to any of those questions, you need to address the problems immediately and then move on to the next advice. If you answered yes, then you need to examine your marketing to make sure that your website and other collateral material convey the same message. If your office has a rugged outdoor feel, then your website and marketing should mimic this experience pulling the colors and design elements from your theme. Or if your office is modern and techy, then your website should have the same modern feel. This helps patients select a healthcare experience that is going to be a good fit for themselves and/or their families.
Does it really matter?
Setting expectations is important. A patient that enters your office with realistic expectations is much easier to please. We recently encountered a practice who was not setting realistic expectations for her patients. This resulted in some really awful online reviews. One of the reviews said, “xxxxx dentistry looks good online, but my visit was worse than going to Tijuana to see a dentist.” The review went on to describe how the office was dirty and the staff was unprofessional. Online reviews like this can be incredibly damaging. Each month, over 150 people were viewing the profile for which you could find this embarrassing review. This 150 people is a mixture of potential patients and existing patients both of which can be easily convinced to go elsewhere for care.
To make matters worse, this review was just one over nearly a dozen similar reviews that all indicated how horrible the office experience was at this healthcare office. At this point, burying these reviews will be difficult. The negative patient experience has caused long-term damage to the marketing of this healthcare office that will be very, very difficult to repair. Don’t put yourself in the same position.
How do we fix it?
For each practice, the steps are a bit different. Start by analyzing your office experience. Ask for feedback from patients and listen to the feedback they are already giving you. Invest in creating a consistent experience at every touchpoint between your practice and your patients.
Most importantly, make sure that what you are marketing is what you are providing. Don’t have a spa-like website if that isn’t the type of care you provide. Make sure that your website and marketing materials match closely with the experience patients will have at the office, and make it personalized.