Drive more and better traffic to your Web site

Your Internet strategy is off to a great start. You’ve made yourself known online; your plastic surgery practice is no longer a mailbox in the desert. You’ve created a good Web site, and you use your online and offline marketing strategies in sync to drive traffic there. Now, it’s time to convert clicks into patients.

In the industry, the ratio of turning site visitors into patients is called “conversion.” You must understand different levels of conversion to get potential patients away from their computers and into your office.

There are three levels of conversion:

• Level 1 is clicks to completions of online forms—the percentage of people visiting your site who give you information.

• Level 2 is clicks to consultations.

• The highest level of conversion is clicks to revenue-generating patients.

Who Are Your Visitors?

It is important that you know where your traffic is coming from, because it is the only way to understand how much you are truly paying to acquire new patients. This allows you to calculate how much each lead actually costs and what your return on investment (ROI) is. The only way to do this is to ask your users to respond.

For example, I have a client who is listed in three plastic surgery directories and receives 80%–90% of her patient leads from the Internet. She does not know which directory her patients come from—or how much each lead costs. She has no way to determine whether she is getting her money’s worth from her Web presence.

It is important that the Web site development firm you hire teaches an in-house staff member how to compare directories, analyze the traffic (unique Internet users) to the site, and determine which strategy provides the strongest leads to your practice.

For example, let’s look at directories A and B. Directory A costs $1,000 per year and delivers 100 unique visitors per month. Directory B also costs $1,000 per year, but it delivers only 50 visitors per month. At first glance, directory A looks like it is worth twice as much as directory B. This is where you need to add conversion to the mix.

Of the 100 unique visitors from directory A, you received five completed forms. That’s a 5% conversion rate. You received 10 forms from directory B’s 50 unique visitors. The conversion rate of clicks to forms was 20%. Looking at the two conversion rates, you obtained four times the conversion rate and double the ROI from directory B, making it a much stronger choice.

Directory C provided the same number of clicks and leads (forms) as directory B. Of directory B’s 10 leads, two people scheduled consultations, whereas four people from directory C scheduled consultations. Directory C gave you a stronger ROI: You had a 40% conversion of leads to consultations instead of the 20% conversion with directory B. Similarly, directory C gave you an 8% conversion of clicks to consultations versus 4% for directory B.

Of the three directories, directory C is driving the best quality of traffic. That’s why conversion is so important. You have to take these factors into account when considering how well your online marketing strategies are working. It is the quality, not quantity, of traffic that matters.

Some Tips

Here are some tips to help boost your conversion rates and drive better traffic:

Compel your users to action. You may have a stunning Web site, but if users have no way to contact you with the click of a button, all you have is an online brochure and a hope that your visitor will be so impressed with your site that she’ll pick up the phone. This is a high-risk, dated strategy that wastes your marketing dollars. The Web is interactive; engage your potential patients, then solicit information. Use methods from 2005, not 2000!

Create a relationship. Potential patients are shopping for a surgeon who is interested in them. A lot of unrelated text isn’t going to make that happen. They want to see you and understand what sets you apart from the pack. I advise my clients to use video to establish a relationship and create a satisfying visitor experience. This creates a bond between patient and physician that can seal the deal. This cannot be accomplished with text and photos.

Lose your boring form. A whopping 96% of your users won’t fill it out. The other 4% will—then will go to other Web sites and fill out their forms. You need to change this with new data-collection methods. My clients benefit from our video-based patient evaluator, which can give prospective patients information about your practice while simultaneously asking them questions and obtaining data from them. This creates a comfort zone for patients in which they freely give their contact information, and it takes conversion rates to new heights. It’s a win–win situation for surgeons and patients.

Track, track, track. You are going to need robust Web-analysis tools to properly track the sources of your leads. You will want a system that can show visitor path, time of entry, keywords used, and length of time on the site. Also, in today’s fast-paced world, patients expect quick responses. Make sure your back end has the ability to sort, store, and automatically respond to all of your leads.

You’ve invested in your Internet strategy. Your practice is online, and you’re visible. Now it’s time to analyze where your online marketing dollars are going by calculating your conversion rates. Once you know that, you’ll drive better traffic to your Web site, attracting the right patients to your plastic surgery practice.

Jay Jackson is the CEO and founder of IBCTV, an online marketing solutions and technology company. You can reach him at (312) 738-0740 or [email protected].