I recently saw a new patient in one of my offices and I asked him how he found out about my practice. His reply was very interesting. He found me on his insurance plan but also noted that I was the only one on the list that had a Website. He picked me from the list solely because of my practice website.
Do you have a website? Do you think it is vital to your practice? How many new patients are you losing a month because you do not have a Website? How much money are you ultimately losing due to this?
“Most of my patients are elderly. How many of them really use the Internet?” In regard to this common sentiment, the Pew Internet and American Life Project, “Generations Online in 2009,” revealed that age 75 and older Internet use in 2005 was 17 percent and subsequently increased in 2009 to 27 prercent. For the age group 70-74 years old, 26 percent used the Internet in 2005 and this increased to 45 in 2009. This is a large group of potential patients and the number of Internet use for even younger age groups ranges from 56 to 93 percent.
Do you still think a Website is unnecessary?
Let us face it. Not having a Website makes you seem out of touch with the needs and habits of your patients. This is a place that brings all other marketing, both online and traditional, to a unified content-rich location.
You are what you publish on the Web. This is why it is critical to have a Website that is informative and educational. Content is much more important than design and layout. When you provide something of value to a potential customer (in this case information about this or her condition), you build a relationship. This relationship leads to an appointment that the potential patient can schedule over the phone or, even better, through your Website.
When putting together a Website or revamping an existing Website, focus on the needs of the patient and forget about how great you and your practice are for a second. On your site, it is important to provide information about yourself and your practice, but strive to build the relationship first. Answer questions patients has about their foot/ankle conditions. Be specific about your information. Do not try to cover too much so your Website does not stand out above everything else out there. Do you have a nice practice or specialty? Great. Let that guide your site content.
I currently use Podiatrists.com* for my site and have been very happy with my relationship with this organization. Podiatrists.com is currently coming out with new site designs and digital marketing programs that can take your practice where you want it to be.
Once you have a Website established, that alone does not mean people will visit it and make appointments because of it. You have to drive traffic to your site. How do you do that?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is imperative to moving your site up the local search engine results for your area. This can be very technical. Like me, you will probably need help with this. I hired a virtual assistant to do my SEO for me. I use an overseas company called TasksEverday*. You can hire a virtual assistant for as little as $4.99 per hour. Having someone working in the background to move your site up the search engine rankings will more than pay for itself. If you do choose to use a virtual assistant (VA), make sure you research the company first. You should also have very clear, concise projects for a VA. My VA checks in, logs in and out with me everyday, and provides a detailed description of what he did that day.
A final resource I would like to recommend is a book by David Meerman Scott called New Rules of Marketing and PR. This is an excellent resource and will be very helpful in establishing your digital marketing program. For those of you that already have a Website, take a look at it from the patient’s point of view. Are you providing outstanding content and informing patients about their conditions, or are you talking mostly about yourself and your practice?
For those who do not have a Website, what are you waiting for? The Internet is here to stay.
Editor’s note: Dr. DeHeer notes that he has no conflict of interest with Podiatrists.com or TasksEveryday. He recommends them solely on his current experiences.