In this business, we look at a lot of web pages—and we see many mistakes. Mistakes that cost physicians good money.
This post will look at just a few things that you can improve to increase the time people stay on your page, the degree of engagement and interest you’ll achieve, and the number of phone calls and consults you’ll get.
Remember, getting the traffic is only part of the equation, and usually it’s not the most important part, despite what some SEO bandit told you. The most important part is converting that searcher or browser, however he or she got there, into an interested, engaged visitor who will sign up for your newsletter, or download your “Patient’s Guide to Cosmetic Surgery”, or call to set up a consult.
It’s all part of your Sales Funnel, as it’s often called—the carefully crafted process that gets you more visitors whom you move towards a phone call or a commitment by getting them to take successive actions.
Literally, there are hundreds of things that will impact the effectiveness of your web page in getting those actions taken.
Before looking at just a few specific items . . .
Analytics and Testing
You simply must have an analytics program that will help you track visitor behavior. After all, it will be a lot easier to fix or improve some facet of your web page if you know what’s happening now.
An analytics program can tell you what parts of your page people find most interesting. You can see where people leave the page, never to be seen again. You can see where visitors are coming from. You might learn that something you thought was really powerful is really turning visitors off. And so on.
There are lots of analytics programs, including some very powerful and expensive ones. Most businesses will find that “Google Analytics,” which is free, is plenty good enough.
Once you have your analytics program installed, you want to start testing.
Often called “Split Testing,” or “A/B Testing,” you simply have two versions of something on your website, and direct traffic randomly to each of the two versions. One will do better than the other. You throw away the loser, and try a new version against the winner. Gradually, you’ll improve your performance, often by a lot.
You can test headlines, font style, font size, color, image sizes, offers, layout and lots of other things. One commonly-used example is the size, color, and positioning of your “Opt-in” button or your “Call for a Consult” button. Simple things like the order in which you put things in your headline, or in a list, can have a huge impact on your opt-ins, phone calls, requests for information, and consults. Seemingly tiny changes can have large effects. It can really be amazing.
Proper testing is a huge subject. See my post “Split Testing Leads to 300% Better Conversion Rate” for a bit more detail. For now, remember that you want to only change one item at a time. If you have more than one variable, you won’t know which change had the effect.
Okay—here are just five items you can examine and improve, and thereby get more phone calls and consults and a better bottom line. (Your staff is good at “converting” phone calls to appointments, right?)
1. Email Marketing and Followup
Google has estimated that 95% of visitors don’t buy or do whatever the website is designed to accomplish on the first visit. In our opinion, you can’t afford not to have a way to collect your visitors’ email addresses so you can continue to market to them.
If you’re not doing this, you are truly cutting your own throat. (Is that too gross an analogy for the surgeons among you?)
“Sign up for our newsletter” won’t cut it. You want to have something of value to give away in exchange for the signup, and you want to continue, via an autoresponder, to give your new signup valuable information, and an occasional opportunity to buy. See our post “What is an Autoresponder.”
Many websites have images of poor quality, that don’t pop off the page, with washed-out colors, distracting backgrounds, that are poorly cropped, that don’t really reinforce your message, and so forth.
And we think too many sites have images of such spectacularly beautiful women that it turns your visitors off, because they know they’re not that pretty, and because the images don’t say anything about the procedure or the results they’re interested in.
If you have the ability to do so, look at your images with a critical eye, and see what you can do to improve them. You do this by testing, of course, although some improvements will be so obvious that you may not even need to test.
Also, only if you don’t overdo it, having good “alt text” and having a strategy for your image naming convention can be helpful. But be careful there so you don’t trigger the “over-optimization” penalty from Google.
The smart way to do this is to assign the project to someone who is good with graphics and images. You do outsource lower-value tasks, so that you can focus on the higher-level things, right?
3. Weak Copy
This isn’t the place for a clinic on copywriting. There are countless resources, including lots of free ones, that address copywriting and persuasive writing. One thing we often see, though, is writing that tries to stuff keywords inappropriately into the page in an attempt to impress the search engines.
That’s a rookie mistake. You’ll have a much better website, with honest marketing copy that sells humans, and that has a few keywords sprinkled in where you can do so in a way that makes sense and that enhances the copy.
Headlines and sub-headlines, bullet points, and navigational links are good places for keywords that won’t mess up the flow of your good, selling, copy.
4. Busy, Confusing Pages
Your web page should be designed so that there is an easy natural flow to it—so that your visitor’s eye is guided from place to place, as you tell your story, and as you gently move your visitor to a phone call or consult request or opt-in decision. This is the kind of thing that excellent web designers know how to do.
What we often see, however, is confusing sites with far too many elements, that only the most dedicated visitor will spend any time on, while most visitors bounce off the site in a second or two.
If your site is at all like that, consider having it redone by a skilled designer, or if you can’t do that, at least simplify it.
5. Slow-Loading Pages
This is amazingly important.
Amazon recently disclosed that sales increased 1% for every 100 milliseconds it shaves off its load time. A hundred milliseconds is just a tenth of a second! How nice would a 10% bump in your sales be, just for speeding up your site load time by a second?
Another study found that 40% of potential visitors will abandon the page if it takes more than 2 seconds to load.
A Google test found that putting 30 search results on a page, instead of 10, which slowed down the load time from .4 seconds to .9 seconds, decreased traffic and revenue by 20%.
Obviously, milliseconds matter.
Admittedly, your visitors are probably a little less inclined to bounce away over a fraction of a second, but there are a lot of cosmetic surgery sites out there, and you want to be easy to get to, and you want to come across as consummately professional. Maybe it isn’t fair, but if your site loads slowly, your prospective visitor may wonder what else you don’t do so well.
There are lots of ways to tighten up your site and make it load faster. Yahoo has a good article “Best Practices for Speeding Up Your Web Site”, or just Google “decrease site load time.”
There you have it—five things you can do, that can have a major impact on your site’s results. These are just a few of the many things we look at. As a first pass, we use some proprietary site analysis software, after which we look critically for things that the software can’t quantify.
Let us know if you would like to have us take a look at your site. No obligation, of course.
Also, remember our offer to spend an hour or so with you in a Strategy Session. Not a thinly-disguised sales pitch, it’s like a free mini-consult that’s just about guaranteed to give you some actionable tips.
Nobody yet has regretted spending the time, so give us a call and set up your own Strategy Session.