Is Your Website “Alive and Well”?
Your dental practice’s most pubic “storefront” is the practice website. You want it to look alive and well. Unlike a lottery, you don’t need to be lucky to win the marketing game of getting more new patients, however; you do have to plan and execute well. As the most important foundation for maximizing your Internet presence, a killer web presence is a must to compete and stay alive and well in the current economy. That is what WebCentric marketing is all about. As you develop your Guerrilla Marketing expertise, you should focus on sending all prospects to your website so that you keep your practice alive and well. Your dental website needs to be thoughtfully designed to provide future and current patients with the information they want so you can keep them returning for repeat visits, both to the web site and to the office. As new information becomes available, the web site needs to share it with the world. One of the features on your web blog should be the advances in the Oral Systemic Connection and why members of AAOSH are head and shoulders above the rest of their respective professions in this regard.
A review of your existing website is step one. Ask yourself ten key questions:
1) Attention…what do I see first?
What grabs my attention in the first three seconds? You only have three to five seconds to capture the attention of people who come to your site. Make sure they’re seeing something relevant and significant to them.
2) Discernment…Can people identify what you do immediately?
Guerrilla marketing employs a variety of marketing weapons (direct mail, radio, TV, Google Places, Facebook Pages, Pinterest, YouTube, emails, updated content) to funnel people to your site. Therefore, make your site have clarity on what you want them to do once they get there. With only a few seconds to communicate what makes you different than anyone else, it’s critical to be clear, concise and compelling. Spend some time deciding what you want to emphasize on your main page and stick to it.
3) Visibility…Is all of your critical information readily visible at the top?
Editors of the Atlanta Journal & Constitution knew that what was “Above the fold”, that is on the top half of the page, was what sold the daily edition as it lay on the newsstand. People make a decision to pick up the newspaper, the magazine and, yes, the web site, by the “Cover” and the headlines they see on the front. What is visible is the only part you have to grab their attention. Use the same principle on your practice website. View-ability of the key info is the Gold Key Point. A compelling presence is mandatory to get you web page opened and read. Make certain that the important information that will grab your visitor’s attention is viewable without needing to scroll down the page. Use this space wisely. Don’t waste this valuable space with a big picture unless it is meaningful to the story line?
4) Benefits sell so…Are they highlighted?
Tune in to WIIFM and play that tune continually. Your website visitors want to know in a nanosecond “what’s in it for me” or they will leave. Healthy heart and stroke prevention sells, so use it. Diabetes affects millions so speak to them. Spell out the benefits of the products and services you offer clearly on the website’s first page. You can go into greater detail later as they go deeper into the site. Bullet points are critical in good web design. Pages and pages of text are only for deeper down technical aspects for those few patients who seek to know the details.
5) Next…Does the patient know what to do next in order to fulfill their wish?
Using guerrilla tactics like direct response marketing, this is known as a “call to action.” Once you have piqued the visitor’s interest, you need to give them a clear path to follow. Perhaps your headline and top of the page content captured their interest and they now want to know more, either by signing-up for your newsletter, taking a survey to get a free analysis, downloading a free report or getting a copy of a book you authored. Sleep apnea surveys, smile analysis checklists and articles on oral inflammation related to systemic diseases are part of the new era of dental marketing. Make absolutely clear what they should do next to access this types of info. A missing key to many dental web sites is this feature. Most web site creators do not have a well-thought-out marketing focus as they design their client’s web sites. Capturing the vital information of who is surfing your web site and how you can get back in touch with them is critical for you to get.
6) Pleasing…Are the colors and font distracting or the layout disturbing?
Distraction is not a marketing plus. It actually can sabotage your efforts before they even get to your excellent copy. If you interrupt a prospects casual surfing with jarring colors, quick animation, and gaudy fonts, it can really be distracting, and may I say, even disgusting. It’s the fastest way to lose a potential patient. Be especially careful of audio or video content that starts automatically when they open the site. People like to make decisions and may resent being forced to view or listen to your message. This could be the fastest way to get them to leave. It’s a fine line between good marketing and poor decision-making.
7) Connection…Do people get pulled into the site naturally and do they feel personally connected?
Be real; be yourself. People buy from people like them and from people they like. Who you are is who you want them to see. Connect with your prospects by being honest, straightforward, and using a pleasant, conversational style. Show them your true, caring, chair-side manner and your calming personality and that dentistry doesn’t have to be something to dread or fear. Paint a picture of being the expert, the understanding and compassionate dentist you are and you will be successful in connecting with 99% of those who surf the site. Because there are many personalities (i.e. DISC system) there must be content and headlines to attract each type of patient personality. As the warmth of the site increases so does the duration of time potential patients spend on them.
8) Linked…Are there easy links to social platforms, relevant articles or blog posts and examples of social proof?
Social proof should be part of your guerrilla marketing plan. This is a point all guerrilla marketing dentists know. Many patients will to do more research about you and your practice before taking the next step. By providing numerous links to different social platforms where your practice has a strong presence, you are giving your potential new patient another glimpse into your practice and into whom you are. Also remember to include links to your own testimonials from satisfied patients as well as outstanding “before and after” photos of completed cases that you personally completed. There is nothing wrong with linking to your own web page to fulfill their need to see social proof. As we deepen our websites, we also want to write blog posts on every technology in our practice, on every procedure we do to fill in the blanks in our patients’ minds. Education is a big plus for web site.
9) Vetted…Has your web site been adequately evaluated by impartial eyes?
Seek not the advice of friends, family, your staff and other dentists in marketing. That is a general rule to follow. It pays to ask people of different professions their opinion, experts in marketing as well as a panel of regular people, those not connected directly to you and the practice, those who would be the consumers of your service, not the producers. You should ask your staff for their input as well as clients and friends and family, don’t get me wrong, but place their input in the category of suspect, not gospel. That’s because they may not be able to see flaws in your practice website that others will highlight because they are too close to the profession. They may know you and they may know dentistry too well. They may overlook a vital point that could spell doom to your marketing plan. Hiring professionals is the way to go, but maintaining an up-to-date web presence takes your team input as well.
10) Implementation…Do you have an all-important implementation plan?
Your Gold Key List contains a list of “to do” items to complete, in sequence, and in order, one step at a time. Once you determine the areas that you wish to improve, your next step develop an action plan to start implementing changes. Lay out the elephant on the chopping block and begin to segment your job one tactic at a time, delegating to the ideal person on your team or in your resource group so that you get to do the dentistry while they compile of the parts of your marketing program.