Conversion Optimization: Is Your Site Working for You in Getting New Patients?
Does merely reading the words “conversion optimization” cross your eyes or make your heart freeze? You aren’t alone. There are plenty of doctors and office managers who avoid the topic of conversion rate optimization (CRO) the same way parents avoid giving “The Talk” to their twelve-year-old. But like that inevitable discussion with a middle schooler, CRO is a fact of life that can’t be ignored by medical practices that wants to grow.
Not understanding the basics of CRO has consequences, not the least of these being financial. If you aren’t using conversion optimization, you’re cheating your practice out of a resource that works to your best advantage and can make a measurable difference in your practice’s growth and bottom line.
So let’s start by taking a lot of air out of that CRO anxiety balloon.
We’ll tackle perceptions about limited budgets and resources, and why getting conversion optimization right can take an under-performing website and turn it into a new patient-generating behemoth. You can do this. All it takes is getting acquainted with a few of the basics.
The Whole Point of Conversion Optimization
The purpose of conversion optimization is simple and straightforward. It’s a system for increasing the percentage of website visitors into customers or clients. Specifically, in the case of medical practice, we’re talking about an increase in new patients. And that’s a major reason for maintaining a web presence for your office, right?
Like it or not, even for a thriving medical practice, a website’s traffic plays a critical role in revenue. But does that mean your practice should rely on a site’s raw traffic numbers alone? You’d think that it’s enough in today’s competitive medical fields to look at web traffic as a pure numbers game, wouldn’t you? You might, but you definitely shouldn’t.
It’s certainly true that any site built for a profession or business must attract visitors.
But it’s also true that a website with lower traffic numbers can conceivably convert more of its visitors into actual new patients than a competitor’s that logs higher traffic. Why is that? Why doesn’t a higher visitor count automatically generate a sufficient increase in new patients and revenue? A big part of the answer is conversion optimization.
Understanding How Conversion Optimization Makes a Difference
Let’s say that a website is only seeing a 5% new patient conversion rate in its traffic. Now let’s say that this website ups its overall visits, but the conversion rate remains at 5%. So, sure, there’s more revenue by virtue of the increased numbers, but the percentage itself remains pretty anemic. So much so, in fact, that the medical practice may be struggling as much as ever -maybe more- to produce a growth rate that keeps it out of the red.
The problem, then, becomes the quality of your visitors rather than sheer numbers of them.
A quality visitor differs from a random one in that a quality visitor is more likely to become a new patient. A quality visitor is like a customer who walks into a brick-and-mortar shop. A random visitor is like a customer that’s just window shopping. Attracting more quality visitors is how conversion optimization can become a significant player in making or breaking a medical practice’s bottom line.
How Conversion Optimization is Used
Two of the primary ways that conversion optimization is used are:
- Targeted traffic focus
- Current traffic conversion
Targeted traffic is a conversion optimization technique that refers to people who deliberately visit your site via a link that has determined the visitor’s needs prior to the click-through. Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns are a common way to attract targeted traffic to a website, but there are other methods as well.
When a medical practice launches a PPC campaign, a choice can be made to do one with or without conversion optimization. However, choosing conversion rate optimization significantly boosts the long-run return on your PPC campaigns.
The one-time, upfront fee for adding conversion optimization to a PPC campaign is modest and results in better ROI (return on investment).
Many people find that difficult to grasp, however, when they first look at the numbers. So they opt out of CRO. That’s a shame because the cumulative effect of conversion optimization can make a significant improvement in new patient sign-ups.
The examples below demonstrate the difference. For the sake of simplicity and illustration, a dollar amount of $20 is used in the “Value of Conversion” row rather than attempting to estimate the price of a new patient office visit.
Paying for Traffic (PPC campaign) without Conversion Optimization
Pay-per-click Budget: $1,000 per month
Unique Visitors: 1,000
Value of Conversion: $20
Conversion Rate: 10%
The above sample illustrates a gain of 100 conversions at a value of $20 per conversion. This calculates out to $2,000 in sales resulting in a profit of $1,000.
Not bad, but look at what happens after the first month when conversion optimization is added.
Paying for Traffic (PPC campaign) with Conversion Optimization Added
Pay-per-click Budget: $1,000 per month
Conversion Optimization Budget: $400
Unique Visitors: 1,000
Value of Conversion: $20
Conversion Rate: 12%
The above sample illustrates a gain of 120 conversions at a value of $20 per conversion. This calculates out to $2,400 in sales resulting in an initial profit of $1,000.
The profit appears to be identical in both examples. And it is, but only in the first month. And that’s where some people make the mistake of taking a pass on the conversion optimization option.
The cost of CRO is paid in full during the first month. But the 12% conversion rate continues every month thereafter. See below:
2nd Month of PPC with Conversion Optimization Added
PPC Budget: $1,000/month
Conversion Optimization Budget: $0
Value of Conversion: $20
Conversion Rate: 12%
Beginning in that second month, the 120 conversions at $20 each remains at $2,400, but your profit is now $1,400. That’s a 40% increase in ROI beginning in month #2 and continuing on from there.
How Conversion Rate Optimization Boosts Current Page (Untargeted) Traffic
Conversion optimization is not relegated to targeted traffic campaigns alone. After all, your practice’s website is already getting traffic whether targeted or not. It’s safe to assume that 80% of your current traffic is already -at the very least- curious to learn if your practice is the one for them. Conversion optimization can more effectively transition them from simply doing a physician search to actually becoming new patients.
Let’s take a closer look at how conversion optimization affects the quality of current site traffic.
Whether addressing the topic of attracting a targeted audience or improving the quality of current traffic, search engine optimization (SEO) plays an important role in conversion optimization. But it is especially crucial in boosting the quality of current traffic.
SEO is a method used to increase a website’s page ranking on Google, Bing, Edge, and other search engines. For example, medical practice websites that appear on the first or second pages during a search for say, “primary care clinics,” are far more likely to be viewed and attract new patients than those appearing on pages 3, 4, etc. Think about it: when was the last time you scrolled beyond the second page during any Google search?
Conversion optimization utilizes SEO to hone the quality of current or untargeted traffic.
Tools like search engine optimization are designed to help potential customers, clients, and new patients find what they’re looking for more efficiently. These tools also help to pull forward the sites that are most relevant to the searcher. An experienced integrated marketing agency that manages a business or medical practice’s web presence will always include techniques like SEO.
Most search engines have a “sweet spot” when it comes to determining the relevance of a website to the searcher. When an agency really knows its stuff, that agency can help a medical practice leapfrog over the competition and climb to the uppermost rungs of page rankings.
Once there, conversion optimization continues to utilize sound site management methods to keep the potential new patient exploring your practice’s website.
The longer someone stays at a site, the likelier he or she is to convert from someone who is browsing to one who clicks through to the “contact us” page for more information or even to set up a new-patient visit.
So promoting reader engagement is also crucial in conversion optimization. Webpage content that has relevance and quality, website articles that are informative, and a site design that’s both attractive and easy for the new patient to navigate are all essential in improving the overall growth and quality of current traffic.
The Importance of Analytics in Conversion Optimization
Analytic tools, like Google Analytics, are absolutely essential in understanding how well your practice’s website is hitting the mark with your target audience. These tools allow tracking of visitor behavior patterns on your site according to age, interests, and more.
Analytics also keeps track of which pages, articles, and other aspects of your site are most viewed, how long visitors linger on specific pages, how many visitors are “unique” (first time) and how many are repeat visitors, among other valuable data.
As with the tools of SEO, any agency worth its salt will have the most updated and well-honed analytic tools available. Google Analytics remains at the pinnacle of these tools, but any agency of quality keeps its pulse on analytic tech and keeps its clients well-informed.
The 5 Essential Elements of Successful Conversion Optimization in a Nutshell
The more you know about how your practice’s website works the better, of course. But you and/or your office manager are no doubt juggling plenty of balls as it is. That’s why you have an agency managing your web presence or are looking for the right one for your practice.
Below, then, are 5 essential elements about conversion optimization that should help you better understand how well your site is being managed.
- Value proposition. What key elements of your practice does your website focus on? These elements don’t have to be the only ones presented on your site, but highlighting your practice’s particular strengths presents its value to the site’s visitors, attracts the right traffic, and improves your new-patient conversion rate.
In other words, why should a new patient choose you? Does your site communicate this in a clear, concise, and highly visible manner?
- Relevance. How well do your site’s analytics, SEO, and other conversion optimization tools present its relevance to potential new patients? How well does your site’s relevance pair up with your value proposition?
- Trust. Certainly, no one has to tell you how crucial patient trust is to your practice. But do the elements on your site evoke trust in potential new patients? One of the main ways that conversion optimization is boosted is by making sure the tone, mood, and visual elements of every page on the website reflects your practice’s superior ethics, methods, and patient-friendly atmosphere.
- Sales Funnel. This generic term can be translated to “new patient funnel” for doctors looking to grow their practices. Take a good look at your home or landing page. Is it eye catching? Does it help new patients navigate easily? Is it too cluttered or too minimalist? Does it convey the primary specialities of your practice? Is the content interesting, to the point, and help keep visitor attention?
In other words, does it “funnel” potential new patients to the right page for requesting a first appointment or getting your practice’s contact information? All are absolutely crucial in building a solid conversion optimization framework.
- Social Proof. This term has to do with demonstrating to your site visitors that your practice is well established and has excellent patient ratings. No one wants to be your first patient! So when your agency recommends a testimonials page and posting patient reviews as part of a strategy for conversion optimization, listen to them.
More than ever, new patients are conducting physician searches and paying close attention to the comments, ratings, and reviews posted by people who are already patients of the practices the new patients are considering. Likewise, be sure visitors can easily navigate to your office’s social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. All of these interconnect to boost your site’s CRO.
Every medical practice’s website is different. But conversion optimization works for everyone. CRO methods are tailorable, boost site traffic, and -most importantly- can significantly turn visitors into new patients.
Adding conversion optimization to your website helps you grow your practice and provides precise, measurable data that you can use assess goals for the future. How’s that for a sound ROI?