So, you have a Web site - but is it good enough to compete in today's market? In the current environment, you simply cannot leave any aspects of your business to chance. Every dollar has to be spent in the most effective way possible.Whether you like it or not, your efforts online immensely influence the way you market, advertise and brand your practice. Simply having a Web site is not enough anymore if it does not provide a return on your investment and appropriately reflect your business to the community.
Can Existing and Potential Patients Find Your Site?
If your local potential patient types in a word like chiropractor and your city name, and your practice isn't among the first few pages of offices listed, it may be time to re-evaluate your current strategy. Phone book advertising was once the primary medium for marketing a business, whereas today, phone books have become almost obsolete - especially among certain demographics. There has been a noticeable change in the number of potential patients who are shopping for services online. Maybe it is time to re-evaluate what they see when they find your Web site.
Go to Google and type in "chiropractor in ________ (your city name)." Does your practice come up on the first page? Do you come up at all? Now pull up your Web site as if you were looking at it for the first time. Are you proud of it? Does it look sharp and provide helpful information? Your Web site is just as important as a face-to-face first impression, and it may be the only chance you get to win over a potential patient. How do you think potential patients feel about your practice after visiting your site?
If your Web site is such an important part of branding your practice and making a valuable first impression, the time and research spent choosing a Web site company should reflect that. Doctors often say, "I don't want to have to think about it - I just want to set up a decent Web site for the lowest price I can find." Instead of focusing on quality, they make the mistake of choosing a site purely based on price. That's like saying, "I don't want to think about my investments, bank accounts, stocks, or anything I own."
You cannot have this attitude about your Web site unless you don't care about your practice, livelihood and future. If you cannot spend time to invest in a quality Web site, you need to designate someone on staff to do so. In order to achieve results in the search engines, there will need to be some interaction between the practice and the Web site provider. Ignoring this area, or the Web site in general, is akin to letting the grass grow 2 feet high in front of your practice or having a sloppy waiting room. You can't afford not to care about your Web site. Like it or not, it's a vital part of having a successful practice, and will be more so with every passing month.
Two Examples of What Not to Do
Let's take a look at a couple of real-life examples. Dr. Smith is a local chiropractor who does well with his traditional marketing and advertising methods. He runs consistent newspaper ads (small but steady), television and radio spots, and has a small ad in the local Yellow Pages. His practice is fairly active and he stays busy.
Do a Google search for a chiropractor in his city, however, and his practice doesn't show up at all! Here he is, applying far more energy and money to marketing and advertising than he used to, yet to all the potential patients who shop online, he is a complete non-factor. He is completely missing out on potential patients in that demographic, they won't even consider his practice.
On the other hand, unlike Dr. Smith's office, Dr. Miller does come up well on keyword searches in his area. However, the problem with his site is that it is so outdated and useless that it creates a negative first impression. Perhaps you can find the office location, phone number and an old picture of the doctor, but reviewing his practice Web site would likely push potential patients away rather than invite them in.
Choosing the Right Web Site Provider: 5 Questions to Consider
There are many factors to consider when choosing a Web site company. It is important to remember that although price is important, it is only one factor. Viewing price as the dominant consideration is like buying the least expensive chiropractic table for that reason alone. In today's economy, it is important to consider not just the bottom-line price, but the return on investment as well. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you look to build or update your Web site.
Does the site look professional and represent your business well? Your Web site is the online representation of your practice. Like a brochure or any kind of other marketing, the quality and feel of your Web site can win over prospective patients and is often their first impression of your practice. You probably do not need to spend the time or money to build a fully customized site, at least not at first; however, going with the cheapest or most basic template will most likely not provide as sharp a presentation as needed.
Will this Web site effectively market your practice and generate new business? Whenever marketing dollars are being spent, the bottom line is always results. A Web site provides numerous advantages in terms of education and retention, but it can also be one of the most cost-effective ways of getting new patients in the door.
People are searching online more and more, and chiropractors who are not listed are missing out on this entire demographic - one that continues to grow at a rapid pace. Additionally, word-of-mouth referrals can be "won over" by a visit to a professional, informative Web site that presents the doctor as an expert in their field. There are many reasons that a Web site is a simple way to generate and convert new patients. You can expect a quality Web site to generate, on average, three to six more patients a month than were being generated without a quality site.
What information do you want to communicate and how can you become a reputable source of information? You want your potential and current patients to see you as an expert and a resource for the information they are looking for. The methods you teach in the office should be backed up online so patients know they can always visit your Web site to better understand questions and concerns they may have. The information on your Web site is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week - sometimes at times when you are not! Ongoing patient education is critical to a thriving practice. A high-end e-newsletter, one that provides relevant content and allows you to add your own content, is highly recommended. Having content provided by your Web site company takes the pressure off and guarantees consistency even during busy times at the office, while having the ability for customization ensures that only content aligned with your practice philosophy will be included.
Are you able to keep in touch with your client base effectively and easily? Keeping your name in front of your patients on a regular basis reminds them to keep coming in and gives them something tangible to pass along to their friends (potential referrals). Reminders, announcements and cards can help someone feel plugged in right away. Remembering their birthday or keeping in touch with them consistently goes a long way in building a strong doctor-patient relationship. Make sure your Web site provider has functions that allow you to correspond regularly with patients through automated newsletters and other reminders or cards.
Is it easy for prospective clients to contact you? A vital part of any strong online presence is a clear, direct way for people to locate your office, contact you or request an appointment. Often people are looking up this type of information from work or somewhere where they cannot immediately call and speak to your office. Having a way to e-mail you or request an appointment online is a convenient way to avoid missing out on these requests or potential business. Make sure your provider sets you up with a contact page containing your contact information, an e-mail link and a map to the office. Additionally there should be links allowing clients to send the information to a friend, contact your office or request an appointment from every page of the site.
Yamia Benhaim is the co-owner and director of business development of ChiroMatrix (www.chiromatrix.com). For questions and comments, contact Yamia at (800) 462-8749 or via the ChiroMatrix Web site.