By Nancy Rausman, Managing Editor, EyeCarePro
While a significant focus of online marketing is toward obtaining high rankings and getting seen by potential new patients, this is not the only audience you need to attract to your website. Far too many ODs forget about their existing patients when it comes to their website success in particular. But if you are only getting traffic to your website from new patients, and not from existing ones, you are doing something terribly wrong.
This begs the question, “If I am doing a good job of interacting with existing patients in person and keeping up with them through Facebook, texts, phone calls, emails etc., why do I need them to go to my website? From an ROI perspective, why does an existing patient need to visit my practice website?” If you don’t know the answer to this question, you are missing a huge part of understanding why your practice needs a website in the first place.
Your optometry practice website is more than an online billboard – it is essentially another staff person that works for you 24/7, never taking any breaks or going on holidays, and is quite reliable at helping existing patients get the information they are looking for. This extra “staff person” is available to service your existing patients by offering assistance, time-saving conveniences, information about services and products and your professional expertise by way of vision-related content, on their time even when the office is closed. It can also help your practice run more efficiently in the process.
Internet users these days prefer to have information at their disposal to pull up when needed without having to pick up the phone. Your patients have a lot of reason to visit your website and you want to ensure you are providing them with the value and information they are seeking such as:
- Directions & office hours – now with mobile GPS technology, this feature has become a major reason current patients will visit your website.
- Finding answers to medical questions and treatment recommendations – your website can be an invaluable source of information and education for your patients and potential patients to turn to in times of need when you might not be available.
- Completing patient forms before an office visit- giving patients the option to schedule appointments, fill in history forms ahead of time and order contacts for example saves your patients’ time and cuts down on wait time in the office. It also increases efficiency of your own staff and practice management flow.
- Educational content and practice updates. You want to keep your existing and prospective patients up to date with what is fresh in your practice as well as in the world of vision care. Let your patients know that you are up to date with new technology, medical research, developing product lines and events in your community to keep your clientele ‘in the know’. Educate patients on your website by regularly posting articles, photos and videos.
So how do you send your patients the message that your website is there for them day and night to help them find answers? Incorporate these best practices into your office procedures and marketing efforts to drive existing patients directly to your website on a more regular basis:
- Add your website address to every online and printed mention of your Practice including business cards, mailings, forms and promotional flyers.
- In general, encourage patients to book appointments, register and order contacts online and promote your educational content there. Talking about your website and all that it has to offer will help keep it in the minds of your patients when they do need something.
- Include links in your email marketing. Whether you are sending out emails reminding patients about upcoming appointments, announcing a new staff member, a sale or a trunk show, include links to your website bold and clear. Link to the appointment scheduling form, your products page, contact lens order forms, or educational content.
- When introducing new products through email, social media, postcards, flyers etc. include links to your products and information pages for further reference.
- Include direct links to your site on all Facebook posts, blog articles, press releases or any other online marketing or media mentions.
Without driving existing patients to your website, you are missing an opportunity to provide valuable (and constant) customer service, cut down on actual staff work and phone calls, improve practice flow, and the chance to keep the practice more front of mind with existing patients (which brings more referrals!). Your patients like being able to save time and find answers to their questions when it is convenient for them and often they simply need some help remembering that your website is there for exactly this reason.
Photo: Copyright: bloomua / 123RF Stock Photo
Nancy Rausman is Managing Editor of EyeCarePro. EyeCarePro is a leader in digital innovations for Optometry employing a global team of Web Development, SEO, Marketing and Sales experts who are dedicated to helping Optometric Practices achieve growth by attracting new patients and building engaging relationships with existing patients. EyeCarePRo offers value through results-driven marketing programs and employs proven, powerful and effective online marketing strategies in social media, search engine optimization, traditional offline marketing and sales growth initiative. To date, EyeCarepro has built over 1200 optometric websites.