Sunday, April 15, 2012

The reasons you have a love/hate relationship with your website

So as not to let the obvious go unstated, New Patients, Inc. has a world class internet division. Over all of the years of testing dental consumer tendencies, their website preferences, and tracking their interaction, it has become statistically clear to us why some websites work and some just look nice. The purpose of this article is to communicate to you, the tested steps necessary to build an effective internet presence in your market.   If you find you have a love/hate relationship with your website after you read this article – just let us know.

The love part
What’s not to love? It’s easy for you to love your website. You probably had a hand in directing its look/feel/navigation/maybe even wrote some text for it. The design probably has your logo, and the color palette probably matches some of your other promotional materials. You probably showed it to your spouse, your sister, the in-laws, and the people that work for you. They all loved your website. Your own patients may have commented that they like your website.  These are all good reasons for you to love your website.

The hate part
Over 80% of the dentists out there also hate their website. For all of the time/money they’ve invested in their website, precious few quality new patients have come through their front door directly because of their website. How can that be? How can something they love so much, work so poorly?

Problem Identified: Your love and your hate are misaligned
Let’s flip this scenario around. How many dentists out there would absolutely LOVE their website if it consistently generated say 10 new patient calls each month? We assume all of you are raising your hands right now. What we are trying to get you to realize is, the actual beauty (your personal opinion of style) of your website has almost ZERO impact on helping you toward what you really want - which is a steady provider of new patient phone calls.

Your new mindset
After reading this, hopefully, you will LOVE a website that generates consistent new patient phone calls. You will HATE any website that does not generate consistent new patient phone calls, no matter how wonderful you, your family, your friends, and your co-workers think your website looks.

Which brings us to – what makes a website really work?
Well, we’ve already told you that it’s not the logo, font, color, or any single physical appearance feature. So, get those out of your mind. What really makes a website consistently produce new patient phone calls can be broken out into several categories.

1.     Proper Navigation/Organization: Go look at your website. Do you have an all encompassing “Services” link on your home page? Did you bury all of the benefits of the dentistry you provide under a redundant link called “Services”? Don’t go home and kick the cat. 90% of the dental websites out there make the same mistake. Look at your website like a windowed store front. In the window (home page on a website), you get to present the most attractive products (in your case, services) within your store. People passing by on the sidewalk (people visiting your home page for the first time) should be able to visibly see your best offerings to spark their interest. What does your website show as visitors pass by? For most of you, what your website developer did was put aluminum foil OVER THE WINDOWS! If your website has your best services buried under redundant links – you have effectively put MORE distance between the website visitor and them being interested in you as their dentist.

2.     Proper headlines & words:  Without rewriting our entire latest book in this article, you have to know how dental consumers think before you write anything. You have to know how much they will read, before you write too much (or too little). You have to know how they process choosing a dentist, so you can lead them in the desired direction. What we can do in this article is offer you a summary of what we’ve learned through all of the years of testing. Get them interested (see #1 above). Explain the benefits of the service in AS FEW words as possible. Position the visitor as a possible candidate for the service. Then, invite the visitor to call and come in to see if they are a candidate for the service. Mini summary: Interest them, explain simple benefit statement, tell them they may or may not be a candidate, invite them to find out if they are a candidate (usually as a complimentary visit).

3.     Proper SEO/Social Media Management:  We could fill five of these articles on this topic alone. But again, we will summarize. We have dentists all over telling us they are spending $1000, $2000, or $3000 per month trying to position their website. Most are trying to position BAD websites! Ugh. So, the first step is to have a well done website. It doesn’t make any sense at all to pay to get more visitor traffic to a bad website. Second step is to get the SEO started in the right direction. Third step is to know on a monthly basis, EXACTLY what you are getting for your SEO money. You can see an example of a monthly SEO report here. Fourth step is to establish solid social media platforms and connect them all back to your website. Anyone that tells you that good SEO doesn’t require social media, doesn’t know what they are talking about. Anyone that tells you that SEO and social media management don’t require monthly labor/effort on a continual basis, doesn’t know what they are talking about. Anyone that is trying to sell you SEO and social media management for $1000, or $2000, or $3000 a month – doesn’t have your best interests at heart. If you are paying for services each month and you do not know exactly what they did for that money and see the results of their work – move on. If this part of this article sounds slightly angry on our part – it’s because we are seeing boatloads of cash being needlessly wasted out there. You could be using that cash for other promotions!

4.     Shoot for the stars: Before you invest in anything to promote your practice, you plan to dominate that medium. The internet is no different. You might not be able to dominate your local internet market this month, this quarter, or maybe even not this year – but that should still be your objective. Why invest in a medium if you do not intend to eventually dominate it? Do you think the dentist down the street doesn’t want to dominate the same local internet? Dominating the internet market is when your Places page, your website link, and your various social media links OVERWHELM the first page of a Google search. It is possible for one dentist to own 30%, 40%, or more of the entire first page of a Google search. But not for just one search term. For NEARLY EVERY popular search term used by consumers, in the local area, to search for dental services! You don’t go into investing in the internet to show up #7 for just one search term. You go into investing in the internet to DOMINATE! The internet is the new Yellow Pages on steroids. Many of you used to spend $2000, $3000, or even $4000 a month on Yellow Page ads and you still didn’t dominate that medium. For a FRACTION of what many of you used to spend on Yellow Page ads, you can certainly develop an effective local internet presence.

5.     Never underestimate the dental consumer’s interest in YOU!
The #1 page visited on dental websites is the “Meet the Dentist” page. While many of you have a page where visitors can meet the dentist, the content of that page tends to be dentistry related. What the consumer really wants is to learn about the dentist as a PERSON. The majority of this page should be public relations oriented – not only about dentistry or the CE the dentist has taken. In competitive internet markets, you can take this powerful opportunity a couple steps further. Taking it further will improve your visitor conversion to phone calls. The team is also important to the website visitor. Make sure (at a minimum) you have friendly photos of your team, a short bio, and preferably a short message from each team member to the website visitor. If you want to go all out, you will have a series of carefully crafted web videos produced where the dentist and team actually appear on the website to discuss various attributes of the practice. This has proven enormously successful at generating more phone calls, from the same amount of visitor traffic (improved conversion).

This isn’t the entire list of what it takes to truly take advantage of the internet when promoting your dental practice. But, this list is certainly a great start and should apply to at least 90% of the dentists reading this newsletter.

It appears dentists believe that website visitors either visit their site and call, or, visit their site and do nothing. No! That’s not true!

Dental consumers visiting websites, before making their final choice, will visit several local dental websites. Those consumers are not making their choice based on what you like. They are making their choice based on what interests them. Some dentist in your area is getting the majority of the calls. If that dentist is not you, it doesn’t matter if YOU like your website! The consumers are telling you that they like the other website better!

Mark Dilatush is the President of New Patients, Inc.
New Patients, Inc. is the marketing firm exclusively for dentists.
Mark can be reached by calling 866.336.8237 or by email at