Patient Websites: Elements of Design and Marketing
While some businesses remain firmly based in the real world – dental practices, private medical centres or chiropractors to name but a few – the reality of doing business in today’s world means having a sound web presence. For health practices, or clinics, a website is just as essential as it is for any other company and creating a good site can improve your patient list no end. However, not all firms have the skills required to create, maintain and promote a web presence and an effective marketing strategy. Here are a few of the basics to evaluate what you need to know and what your choices are when it comes to creating the perfect practice website.
Understanding Your Needs
The first choice is whether you will do the work yourself or hire professionals. The latter is the best option for those with little or no experience of creating effective websites. You can choose one firm to cover all aspects of the work, including marketing in the future, or you can choose a series of professionals to work on different aspects of your website and on marketing your services. Understanding the basic elements of successful online presences will help to establish what is the best route for you.
Design and Web-design
Design has been with us for a very long time indeed. Web-design is a specialist sector that incorporates some of the basic principles of design alongside some technical tricks and design features. One important aspect of web-design is the usability of the site and this factor is influenced by the demographic that fits your customers. Some age groups are more knowledgeable than others when it comes to all things online, and this is serious factor to consider with the design of your site. For health practices the site should look clean, professional and work smoothly. Professional is the key word here as it helps to create trust with potential patients.
Any old content won’t do, nor will badly written content. A good website should contain a balance of images and text, both should be simple, speak clearly to your target groups and be simple to follow. Creating effective content is an art in itself and websites that combine quality design principles with professionally written and presented content are crucial. In order to optimise your web presence the written content (copy) will also need to utilise some elements of search engine optimisation (see below).
This field is an ever changing arena. Your site and marketing materials need to be ‘optimised’ to attract the attention of search engines. While attracting their attention is good, retaining the attention of human users is also essential. SEO professionals create copy and campaigns that are likely to be picked up by the main search engines, so that your site appears high in search results. By ensuring that your site is relevant, up to date and utilising words and phrases that are appropriate, your chances of appearing higher in the organic search results are increased.
Surveys and Mailing Lists
Two useful tools in your marketing efforts, these can be especially useful to those work in health related fields. Both act to remind your customers of your services and keep you at the forefront of their minds! This can be useful in generating new customers as well, through word of mouth referrals.
Bundled Services of One-off Services?
Each of these elements can be sourced from different companies offering specialist services in each area. They can also be found bundled together (firms like Perfectpatients.com specialise in the health sector, for example) with some companies offering different options. For those new to the world of online marketing and web-management the option to outsource the whole of website and marketing management is attractive and can be a cost effective way of building new business. While many firms offer all of these services few offer it to specific sectors, however for medical based practices there are companies that specialise in building patient websites and these are a good place to start your search for a partner.
Patient Friendly Sites
While a web presence is essential for all businesses today, it’s important to remember the value it has for patients or clients. The former, particularly, respond well to the access to information and advice that a website offers, allowing them to make decisions in their own time, rather than feel pressured into booking appointments. A good website in any health related field offers advice, information and education, all of which contribute to the perception in potential clients’ minds of trustworthiness. This can be an essential ingredient in growing new business and building a patient list.
Ben Grant works in as a freelance marketing professional and writer. Here he examines the benefits of patient websites and how best to create effect, user-friendly sites to grow your patient lists.