When it comes to Internet marketing, the main goal is to rank high on search engines through search engine optimization (SEO) or search engine marketing (SEM). Appearing at the top is synonymous with success.
However, this method of measurment has a major flaw: Your practice may not be able to fully benefit from site traffic if your site has a low conversion rate.
What Is Your Conversion Rate?
A conversion rate is the number of new patient contacts (leads) you get from every 100 visitors to your site. For example, if you get 1,000 local visitors to your site and 50 of them decide to contact your office, then your site has a 5% conversion rate. For a cosmetic practice, a 5% conversion rate is the minimum you should expect.
If your site has a 5% or higher conversion rate, the return on investment (ROI) for your Internet marketing efforts will be high. But measuring ROI is only the beginning. There are countless ways a marketing director can use the conversion rate monitoring (CRM) system to grow a practice. For instance, you can monitor each of your campaigns’ conversion rates separately to determine your most effective marketing messages, or tie in social media marketing efforts by tracking how many patients call the office and/or visit your site from your Facebook page.
Measuring Conversion Rates
The most important application of CRM is to understand how well your site is performing. For most practices, there are two ways that site visitors “convert.” They either call the office or fill out the “Contact Us” form.
Call conversions: There are two ways to gauge how a caller finds your practice. Your practice website can feature dynamic phone numbers that change based on where visitors accessed the site. For example, if one of your patients visits your website by clicking through a Google search, one phone number will appear on your site. If another visitor enters your site by clicking on an Adwords link, a different phone number will show up on your site.
Once the visitor calls the number they see on the screen, the system forwards the call seamlessly to your main office number while recording the call and tracking the person back to where they originated from (i.e., Google or Adwords).
The call tracking system is not 100% accurate by itself. This is because many referral patients type in the doctor or practice name to find the office they’re looking for. Initially though, you can simply record them as new leads from whichever search engine led them to your site.
To narrow down the point of origin, receptionists should ask patients how they found the office. If they say through a friend, family member or another doctor, then remove them from the list of those who called from the organic search or pay-per-click search. This will result in much more accurate data.
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Website “Contact Us” forms: If you receive a completed Contact Us form from your website, you know how the individual found your practice. But you can take this a step further by tracking the keywords the person searched for prior to finding your site. Internet marketing companies can even set up your site to include these keywords on the completed form you receive.
To calculate your site’s conversion rate, add the calls received from the web-specific phone numbers and the number of forms received from your site. Divide that number by the total number of visitors to your site: (Call Leads + Form Leads)/Total Number of Visitors = Site Conversion Rate.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
Regardless of your current conversion rate, it’s always possible to improve your numbers. Following are some strategies for increasing your practice’s website conversion rate.
Build a responsive site. A responsive site is one that will adapt to the size of the device and monitor used to access it. On average, 52% of plastic surgery site visitors are using mobile devices to access practice websites—if your site is not compatible, you are losing a big chunk of these visitors to competitors with more mobile-friendly websites.
For example, we recently rebuilt a website for Associates in Plastic Surgery in a responsive format, and the practice immediately saw an 84% increase in their conversion rate (from 2.85% to 5.23%).
Go flat. Avoid image-heavy or artistically sophisticated websites—they not only load slowly, but the beauty of the design distracts the audience from taking action (calling the office).
A flat design incorporates a minimalistic approach to both design and text: The use of colors, fonts and text sizes is minimal, and there are no shadows or other kinds of gradients. The site may look dull to you as an aesthetic practitioner, but your visitors will feel much more comfortable and will be able to more easily navigate the site.
Build a fast-loading site. According to studies conducted by the Huffington Post and other institutes, audiences’ attention spans on the Internet have shrunk from 12 seconds in 2009 to merely six seconds in 2013. That means you have less than six seconds to grab visitors’ attention. If your site takes 10 seconds to load, potential patients will leave your site before you have a chance to engage them.
Time how fast your site loads on your computer and mobile device. If it hasn’t loaded in six seconds, work with your site designer to improve load time. Note that, by nature, flat design sites load faster than traditional sites.
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Include a strong call-to-action. Having a strong call-to-action on your site—such as “Call for a FREE consultation”—helps guide your audience to take the appropriate action. Do not include more than one call-to-action per page. Asking your audience to do more than one thing at a time may confuse them, and confusion won’t help them convert. For example, do not advertise newsletters or webinars on your homepage (unless that’s your main call-to-action).
Run A/B testing for new changes. To increase your site’s conversion rate on a continuous basis, consider implementing A/B testing each time you want to make a design, layout or call-to-action change. In A/B testing, you have two versions of your site running simultaneously but randomly for different site visitors (version A and version B). Then you measure to see which version has a better conversion rate. Once established, you can implement that change for all visitors.
Ali Husayni is the founder and CEO of Millionairium, an online marketing firm for medical professionals. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.