I have never been a person that tells people or clients what I think they want to hear. I tell them what they need to hear. Not everyone who speaks to me about what my company can do for their dental marketing appreciates my approach to frankness, and that’s OK.
I have worked with my dental clients to improve their marketing for over 30 years. What worked then, or even just a year ago, might no longer work today.
When I look at dental websites today that are ten years old and more, I wonder if their owners don’t realize they are no longer fit for Purpose. Even many brand-new dental websites lack what it takes to become the successful marketing tool their new owners hope they will.
I had the opportunity to see hundreds, and I mean hundreds, of dental websites over the last 30 years. I learned that dental websites today (not all of them but a lot of them) are just as bad as the ones I looked at in 1997.
Before I start, I want to make one thing crystal clear. I am NOT here to sell you a website. Yes, we develop websites, but I am not fishing for business. After you finish reading, if you think it is time to wake up and make your dental practice web presence competitive, go and take action. Go to someone who can take care of your problems. It does not matter who you go to as long as they can deliver the solution to your website’s problems. If you don’t take action, your site’s problems will spread to your entire business, and your dental business will slowly but surely decline, no matter how good a dentist you are.
Let’s look together and run through the most common issues that severely hamper business growth.
- The website provides no direction and does not give a feeling of purpose. Because a user can see it is a dental website does not mean it meets the requirements of having a “purpose.”
- Most Dental Websites I visit are, well, they are just there.. staring at me. They are almost akin to a sales catalog or an office brochure; they don’t tempt a patient to pick up the phone and call the office.
That is how it should be
You visit a website, start reading a little, and feel that the content seems to have been written just for you.
In particular, dental office start-ups’ websites are often dead on arrival.
Why? Because the dentist’s dreams took over, the designers tried to satisfy the clients by developing a site that met the new dentist’s ambition rather than designing a website that fit the job it had to do. Achieving both is almost impossible because the “dreams” usually get in the way of practicality and PURPOSE. There is only one definition of what constitutes a good website. “A good website is a website that makes money” There is no room for interpretations, no ifs or buts.
Most dental websites’ content follows the same path of inadequately structured and poorly written information. It usually shows the doctor’s bio and the list of the dental services the practice offers its patients. Sometimes the site visitor is assured that the dental office has a friendly team, that the doctor takes good care of the patients, and that he is a great specialist with lots of experience.
What does that say about the practice? Not a lot.
In essence, the site visitors of such websites, and let’s not forget that they are potential patients, are being told: “Hello, this is a dental office, I am the dentist, and here you have the list of all the things I can do. Now you can read it all if you want, and then it’s up to you what you do with the info we gave you. You can also visit the websites of other dentists if you like. Good-by and have a nice day.”
Most dental websites are guilty of two very significant blunders.
- The website sends its target audience to sleep instead of making them excited.
- The website has no idea (mainly because the web designer/web developer had no idea) how to nudge the target audience toward taking a predetermined action.
Check out your website site. Can you see what I have described on your site? Maybe a little? If you are serious about improving it, ask yourself:
“What is my website supposed to do? What purpose should it have? Why do I have a website?
The answers I got when I asked dentists in the past these very same questions surprised me repeatedly.
The two most common responses have been:
1. Every dentist seems to have one, and I thought I also should have one.
2. I have a website because every business has one.
Most dentists have websites because they know that a website is essential in new patient acquisitions.
The “funny” part is that while many dentists know that websites help get new patients, they have websites incapable of converting site visitors to patients., They don’t take any action and make no attempt to make changes. The mind boggles. I have concluded that Dentists often think their websites are super great when they are a long way from being even average. It seems they don’t want to face up to the facts.
Let me put it all together.
Why do you have a website? The primary PURPOSE of having a website, and most dentists, I hope, will agree, is to get as many new patients as possible.
And if this is your website’s primary purpose, why would you just put some information about your practice on it.?
You would move heaven and earth in motivating your potential patients to come to your office Now. Do you agree? But that is not what’s happening.
I have a little more bad news. What you like about your site is not all that important. (That is a significant obstacle to overcome because many egos are involved.) Your site needs to persuade people to pick up their mobile and call you for an appointment.
How can you make that happen?
Through promotion and special offers.
Everybody wants to get “a little bit of a deal.” Make your patients feel special. The purpose of the offer is not even to give a “freebie or discount.” The purpose is to provide your potential new patient with an opportunity to communicate and get in touch with your office.
Or to say it differently.
Let’s assume that I ended up on your site somehow, and let’s further assume that you had one of those sites that talks about how great the office is, how excellent the dentist is, and not to forget the friendly staff. I now have to decide why I want to call YOU! Unless a good reason (or service) prompted me to visit your site, I wouldn’t contact you.
But, if I visit your site and see that you have a special deal on exams or specific checkups for mouth cancer, I find out one thing because it’s in my face. I should be doing something. I should be calling the office. I should get myself checked out. That special offer “asks and pushes for a fast response,” and I will likely respond with a phone call!
I don’t want to go into the nitty-gritty of what to offer. How to structure offers and which page or pages are best suited to show them is something for another day. Much more goes into the entire subject of how to make a website more successful. I hope you got some initial insight and, as I said earlier, “Take Action.”
We have worked with different marketing agencies over the years. We have not met anyone who could rival the level of marketing and SEO expertise Max and his team have brought to my dental practices for the last ten years. They have increased our results year after year.
Shankar Iyer DDS,MDS,FDSRCPS (Glasgow)