10 signs your website is costing you patients

Aug. 26, 2015
Last month I played a little game of "good postcard, bad postcard" and discovered that even seemingly small design details can have a gigantic impact on the results of your direct mail campaign.

Why do some dental websites produce leads while others waste space?

Joy Gendusa

Last month I played a little game of "good postcard, bad postcard" and discovered that even seemingly small design details can have a gigantic impact on the results of your direct mail campaign. With just a few tweaks (emphasizing benefits over services/features and changing up the colors and offers), one dental practice nearly doubled the number of calls they received per 1,000 postcards mailed.

For August, I want to delve into dental websites, because there is still a lot of misinformation and confusion floating around about website design.

Let me be clear: a great dental website accomplishes two goals, in this order:

• Accurately depicts you (the doctor) and your practice so you can build trust

• Gets visitors to pick up the phone and call to make an appointment

The biggest mistake I see dentists make on their websites is that they're so focused on accomplishing the first goal that the second goal-the one that gets the phones ringing-goes by the wayside.

Here are 10 signs your dental website isn't optimized to bring in new patients:

1. You are not USING the top of the page effectively.

In the upper left-hand corner should be your logo (which links back to your homepage from every other page) and in the upper right-hand corner should be a two- or three-word call to action with your phone number.

This is what modern Internet users expect (visit any of your favorite retailers online right now and you'll see what I mean), and any deviation can lead to a few seconds of reorienting for your visitor-and though they may be slight, these seconds have an effect on the impression of your homepage.

2. On the homepage, it isn't immediately obvious what type of dental practice you are.

Confusion is the ultimate web experience killer. Don't leave anyone guessing and don't try to be too clever. Just make it clear what your practice does and use subtle design details to reinforce this-a white background with clean, soothing colors (blue, green), happy families if you're a general dentist, plenty of perfect smile close-ups if you're cosmetic, and so forth. You get the idea!

3. You don't have a clear call to action (CTA) on your homepage.

What is the number one action you want visitors to take when they come to your website? Get off that website and call, am I right? So tell them. Have a large CTA that pops off the page and people will be reaching for their phones. Bonus points if your CTA is a completely different color from the rest of the page. (One study showed this technique improves conversion by 35.81%!) For example, if your homepage is all white, blue, and green, consider a magenta or orange with white type call to action form. (It might sound scary but we have it on our homepage and it works!)

4. You don't have a CTA on every single page of your website.

I can't emphasize this enough. You have to tell people what you want them to do. They probably aren't going to waste time figuring it out themselves until they break a tooth and really need you. Make sure each page has a CTA to ensure that, when they make up their mind and like you enough to choose you, the directive to "call today" is already there.

5. Your "About Us" page lacks real pictures and bios.

It's a very personal service that you offer, so building trust is vital in the early stages of a prospect's buying cycle. Featuring pictures of yourself, your background, and the activities you enjoy (not just the letters behind your name and your education) increases the trust and affinity visitors feel for your practice. Personally, I also like to see pictures of the entire staff, so I know who I'm talking to when I call.

6. Your copy emphasizes features rather than benefits.

Make the benefits of your services and practice amenities immediately obvious to visitors.

Here are a few examples...

Feature: digital X-rays

Benefit: more accurate diagnostics and less radiation

Feature: extended hours

Benefit: evening and weekend appointments

7. You're missing some subtle trust-builders.

Ratings, reviews, and third-party logos from a well-known source (like the BBB or the American Dental Association) go a long way in increasing the trust prospects puts in your practice. If you can, go with ratings and reviews over testimonials, which can at times feel a little too perfect. Know what I'm saying?

8. Your page titles are not keyword-optimized.

Dipping into the more technical side, a page title is what appears at the top of your browser's window or tab. The terms you choose for your page titles matter to Google, which will give a favorable ranking to sites with page titles that are relevant to the terms being searched.

For instance...

Search query: family dentist in Clearwater 33765 offering braces

Good page title: Family Dentist in Clearwater, FL

Bad page title: John Doe, DDS

9. The information provided about your services is too clinical.

Yes, we know dentistry is a medical field and can be difficult to understand-which is why you may need to hire a copywriter to ensure the writing on your website is educational and easy to understand. As the dentist, it's important to ensure you're the authority figure on dentistry, but being approachable and personable is what motivates people to pick up the phone. Keep the writing at the consumer's level.

10. Your website isn't responsive/mobile friendly. I'll explain. . .

A responsive website automatically converts to a mobile version when it detects that a visitor is viewing the site on his or her smartphone. This used to be just a nice usability perk, but since April 21 (when Google changed the way it ranks websites to hurt those that aren't responsive), this has become a big deal.

If you haven't already, you should check today to see if your site is responsive. Just google the phrase "mobile-friendly test tool-Google" and enter your URL. There should be a Google Developers logo in the top left corner of the page.

And just one more tip-don't get attached to your website's design. It's a marketing tool. I've lost count of how many new iterations of PostcardMania.com-beautiful designs-we have ditched in favor of whatever works best.

Ensure you aren't making any of the 10 mistakes discussed here, and you'll be on your way to more patients (and revenue!) in no time at all.

If you'd like me to personally review your website, feel free to email me at [email protected]!And don't forget: as a Dental Economics reader, you are entitled to 5,000 free dental postcards, printed by PostcardMania, as well as free samples of postcards that are working right now for other dental practices. Redeem online or call (844) 269-1836 today—free marketing advice for your practice is also included!

JOY GENDUSA is the founder and CEO of PostcardMania. Using just postcards, a phone, and a computer, Joy built PostcardMania from a one-person startup into an industry leader serving over 67,000 clients and more than 4,000 dentists! Need help turning your website into a patient-generating machine? Call one of PostcardMania's dental marketing consultants at (844) 269-1836 or email Joy for a website critique at [email protected].

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