As a dental professional operating in today’s digital age, it’s a plain and simple fact that most patients will find you by your website before they walk-in or call. Therefore, your website should be an extension of your office environment. It should offer the same look and feel, and the same level of superior patient-service. Just as your receptionist is trained to smile and greet every prospect who steps into your lobby, your website should greet every visitor with the same warm welcome. This is known as patient-engagement, and it’s a must if your website is going to be successful.
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The Science of Patient Engagement
According to Chartbeat, the average website visitor will remain on any given page for about 15 seconds. You have exactly that long to ‘wow’ and encourage each person to stick around and stay awhile. The longer a person remains on a page, the more likely they are to call, walk-in, send an email or contact you via web form – let’s call this ‘making contact’ for all intents and purposes.
Another solid reason to improve patient engagement is because of your bounce rate. This is the rate at which web visitors will land on a page and immediately leave. If your bounce rate is high, say 70% or more, Google will not like your website and your search rankings will suffer.
What’s the solution? Improve patient engagement, of course. The following fifteen-point checklist will help you do just that.
1. Headlines that Focus on Needs
People visit individual web pages because they have certain needs. They may need to contact you or they may need a dental implant. Therefore, each page should be labeled appropriately. Instead of naming a page ‘Implants’, a much better idea is to label it ‘Need a dental implant?’ or, even better, ‘Replace Your Lost Tooth With a Dental Implant’. The closer you are to matching your patients’ needs, the more successful you’ll be at keeping your patients engaged.
2. Each Page Should Focus on Problems and Solutions
Similar to needs, most of your patients will seek out your services because they’re experiencing certain problems, such as yellow teeth, a toothache or maybe they’re typing with one hand while holding half a broken tooth in the other. Each page needs to focus on these individual problems, then it needs to offer one or more solutions.
For yellow teeth, maybe discuss how having a discolored smile can affect one’s social life. Then go right to the fact that teeth whitening services done by yours truly will help them meet more people, or even the man/woman of their dreams.
A broken tooth is terrifying. Show the person that you understand what they’re going through. They’re scared that their smile will be forever affected, and they may be experiencing immense pain. Then go right into the fact that visiting your office for emergency dentistry services will eliminate that pain and get them right back to smiling, with a brand new and more complete smile.
3. Use Simple Language Anyone Can Understand
Most people don’t know about a bicuspid is, or periodontistry, and even fewer are going to know what a malocclusion is. This means that you need to explain things in plain and simple terms throughout your website. Imagine that you’re explaining things to an eighth grader. That’s the level most web pages are written at – the eighth grade level – and incidentally this is also the level with which the President recites his State of the Union Addresses.
In other words, don’t force your web visitors whip out a dictionary just to understand the information you’re putting out. Plain and simple are the words of the day if you want to keep your web visitors engaged from the first page they visit to the last.
4. Sprinkle Your Pages with Relevant Keywords
Think about the keywords people might use to find your dental services online. ‘Dentist in Austin’ is a good example, as is ‘need a dental implant’. These are the word and phrases that people might type into Google to have your website show up in their results pages. Make a list of these keywords and use them throughout your site and sprinkled throughout every page. Not only will this keep your visitors engaged, as it shows that you’re listening to their needs, but it also appeases the search engines, ensuring that your site shows up in the results whenever those keywords are used.
5. Educate, Inform and Entertain
If you can teach your web audience at least one new thing with each page, you’ll have done a great job at keeping that audience engaged; but don’t stop there. Use pertinent and updated information, but also try to entertain. Pretend you’re speaking to one of your patients chair-side as you explain the dental implant procedure or what goes into placing a set of orthodontic brackets. Use your chair-side manner and a little of your personality. The more of yourself you can inject into each of your pages, the more engaged your web visitors will be.
6. Make it About Your Patient, Not You or Your Practice
It’s a common mistake to constantly talk about you and your web practice when writing the individual pages for your website. Stop that. People visiting your site don’t really care about you and your business. They want to know what’s in it for them. How do they get rid of their bad breath, the plaque on their teeth or the pain that’s keeping them up at night. Think of your patient when writing each page and you’ll improve engagement ten-fold.
7. Encourage Your Visitors to Contact You Via Email or on Social Media
While improving patient engagement is your primary goal, the end goal is to keep your patients engaged for the long-term. To accomplish this, do your best to carry that engagement over into other channels, such as email, Facebook and Twitter. This can potentially create a ‘web relationship’ that can eventually translate into a long-term patient-doctor relationship, which is always good for business.
8. Collect Your Patient Contact Info
If you are going to encourage your patients to email you, you may as well ask for their email addresses. Go ahead and ask for their phone numbers while you’re at it. As long as you promise never to send spam, having this information will allow you to A) track your leads and B) nurture those leads so that they can be enticed to schedule appointments sooner rather than later.
9. Use Internal Linking to Keep Patients Engaged Longer
Every page should include at least one internal link, which is a link that leads to another page on your site. For example, a page about tooth loss might link to a page discussing dental implants, which is a solution for tooth loss. Think of various ways that you can link your pages together, then use internal linking to keep your patients constantly reading (and engaged).
10. Calls-to-Action on Every Page
Your patients should always be encouraged to call or walk-in at every turn. To do this effectively, place a call-to-action at the bottom of every page on your website. “Call now,” is a good example of a call-to-action. “Walk-in today” is another. You should also include CTAs on all web forms and anywhere else you want patients to make contact or otherwise take action. Tell your web visitors what you want them to do, and they’ll be more likely to follow-through.
11. All Claims Should Be Backed by Proof
Engagement will always improve if you can back up your claims with solid evidence. Instead of telling web visitors that you’re the best dentist in the land, offer them a testimonial by one of your patients testifying to that fact. Instead of claiming to be the best at dental implants, offer a downloadable case study proving that your dental implants improved a patient’s life. And instead of claiming that your patients love you, post one or more videos on your site depicting actual patients gushing over how much they love you and your services. This proof will convert to trust which is a great way to get new patients to call or walk-in to schedule their very first appointments.
12. Offer Skimmable Content
Most people aren’t going to read, view or watch all of the content on your site, and they’re especially not going to do so in a single sitting. Therefore, break up your content and allow people to skim to the good parts. Short paragraphs with bolded subheaders to break the content up will give skimmers plenty to devour, as will bulleted or numbered lists. Think of these as stepping stones to your calls-to-action.
13. Check for Typos
You want to know the fast-track to losing engagement? Stuff your web pages with tons of misspellings and grammatical errors. Ditto for images that aren’t clear and other errors that will make your website look like ‘amateur hour’. To remedy this, go over your site once, twice and even three times if possible. Go page-by-page and word-by-word, then let someone else look at your website to potentially catch anything you might have missed.
14. Trim the Fat
When you’re going through your website, see if there are any words or entire sentences that can be omitted to make your web content more streamlined for easier absorption. This will help to engage those with even the shortest of attention spans.
15. Include a Variety of Content
When you think of web content, don’t automatically think ‘text’. You should also stock your web pages with images, video and even audio. The more varied your content, the more chances you have to engage different types of people. Some people like to read, some like to watch and some like to listen. Appease everyone who may visit your site and you’ll provide plenty of engagement fodder for those looking for the quality dentistry services you offer.
Put this checklist into action, make your website more patient-friendly, then watch your engagement rates rise and your bounce rates plummet. And remember, if at anytime you need help, contact Firegang Digital Marketing. We know how to keep patients engaged online, which will translate into more new patients and a full-time appointment schedule that lasts long into the future.