I have spent the last 6 months looking for an Online Marketing Agency with whom to partner. My goal is a simple one: just like every other dentist on planet earth, I would like more traffic to my website so that I can gain more new patients and grow my practice. I have spent over a hundred hours reading articles, blogs, and research papers regarding effective search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and website conversion architecture.
What is conversion architecture? Well, from what I gather, you want visitors to your site to take certain actions toward becoming a new patient. You want to create a funnel that guides them in the direction of joining your practice. The design of your site, colours, shape/contrast of clickable buttons, arrangement of content, etc., can all contribute to good or bad conversion architecture. If a potential patient loves your site and visits it many times in a given day, week, or month to gather information about dentistry but never contacts you to become a new patient, then your site has failed to achieve it's fundamental purpose. If they refer 20 friends to your site and they all benefit from the information and content on your site but never convert to new patients, then your site has failed to achieve it's fundamental purpose.
Why I am I dwelling on the importance of conversion architecture? I have had interviews and repeated contact with many of the big Online Marketing and SEO specialists for Dentists in past 6 months. Some are awesome. Some didn't seem so awesome. Many are willing to chat and share useful information. The most important thing that I observed was this: ALL OF THESE AGENCIES ARE PRIMARILY CONCERNED WITH DRIVING TRAFFIC TO YOUR WEBSITE (this is both necessary and awesome) BUT MANY ARE NOT FOCUSED ON OPTIMIZING YOUR WEBSITE TO CONVERT NEW VISITORS INTO NEW PATIENTS. Building a website that converts a high percentage of visitors to new patients should form the first step and foundation of your online marketing efforts. Also, as site construction is, for the most part, a one-time fee, it can serve as an extremely cost-effective means for increasing the number of new patients you gain from your online efforts. Keep in mind that SEO, PPC, and social media marketing are ongoing expenses and, while they can drive more visitors to your website, can be comparatively expensive.
Now, I am nowhere near an expert on this topic. But sometimes, the non-experts can offer a unique perspective that somebody working as an online marketing Guru for Dentists cannot. So, if you are looking to partner with an online marketing agency here are some things I would do toward evaluating them:
If they design websites, look at their portfolio. You are looking for somebody that designs sites that are not cluttered. You need lots of white or "negative space" so that the elements of your site that you want visitors to focus on STAND OUT. If they are focused on converting a high percentage of site visitors into new patients, they will effectively design "Call-to-Action" buttons (i.e. "Book and Appointment" or "Meet our Dentist") that are well placed, have a high contrast against your background colours and content, and that draw a visitor's eye toward them over and over again. A great article that I read suggested that your call-to-action buttons should pass the "squint test" - that is, if you squint to dim and blur the site in front of you, the call-to-action button should still be very visible. The websites in their portfolio should include high-quality photos of the Dentist(s) and Team. Photos of the dentist and their team, their family, build trust and familiarity before a patient even enters your office. Stock photos fail to deliver the same result. High-converting sites will minimize or eliminate the use of stock photos of random families. Their site portfolio should include webpages with video or text patient testimonials.
Also, evaluate the number of clickable or "actionable" buttons on the sites they design. Too many options will confuse visitors and divide their attention. You want them soaking in content related to your office and then having a "book an appointment" button at their fingertips once they are ready to convert and contact your office. Your site should have some information to demonstrate your expertise and your practice's vision for patient care but it shouldn't be an encyclopedia and it shouldn't offer so much that it detracts from your site's ability to drive new patients into your treatment chairs.
In my next post, I will share some super-helpful online resources that helped me to learn more about what factors improve how your website ranks on Google. I will also discuss things that you can do that are simple and can contribute to the success of your webpage.
Good luck with your hunt.
Kyle Hornby, DDS
Danube Dental Clinic