5 Things Your Website Needs in 2017
As seen in The Hearing Professional magazine
Is your website giving the first impression you want?
If someone were to ask you how you make a great first impression on your clients, what would you say? As an audiology practice owner, you’ll likely describe your office. Since you know that creating a professional and inviting atmosphere for your clients is key, you might talk about the quality of your signage, your carefully selected location and your clean, modern decor. You might even mention the friendliness of your staff and your inviting and accessible office layout.
But in this day and age, even the most successful practice owners sometimes forget one key element of the first impression: their website. More so now than ever, your website is probably influencing your potential clients well before your office or your staff.
According to a recent study conducted by Google,
about 4 in 5 users look for local businesses on search engines, with these users searching for things like business hours, directions to your location and availability of an item or service once they arrive. In all likelihood, the new clients walking through your office doors have already been influenced by the quality of your website, regardless of how they found out about you.
The lesson is this: Your website holds the key to a great first impression. Thankfully, many savvy practice owners (and probably even you) have caught on already, by updating your website to be mobile responsive. Since the same Google research found that a whopping 88% of the recorded local searches happen on a smartphone, this is a smart move.
But in 2017, is this enough?
The short answer is no – and we’re here to show you why. These are the 5 essential elements every hearing aid center should have on their website this year.
“Your website holds the key to a great first impression.”
“without great content, your website is no more powerful or influential than a billboard in the middle of the Sahara desert.”
#1: Great content (AKA: original, robust and up-to-date content)
Spend any more than a few minutes with an SEO specialist or web developer and you’re likely to hear the phrase “content is king”. It might sound clichéd, but it’s true – without great content, your website is no more powerful or influential than a billboard in the middle of the Sahara desert.
That’s because Google uses the content on your website to decide where you land on the list for a certain search term – whether that’s number one or number 1000. Without great search engine ranking, you’ll be missing out on all of those local searches on Google (and all of those potential clients). So if your target client is searching for “hearing centers in Arizona”, your content will be what decides if that client ever sees your practice’s name and address in the results.
But what makes for great content? A few years ago, simply having something with the right keywords on your website was enough – but in 2016 that’s no longer the case. Now, great content is measured with three important qualifiers: original, robust and up-to-date.
Let’s start with original. Original content means that your content is the only one of its kind on the Internet. When Google finds your content, it should be different than all of the other stuff it finds on other websites, even if it’s about the same topic. It’s not enough to have a lot of “stock” content about hearing loss and hearing aids. You need content that’s designed for you – your practice, your service and your target clients.
Then, there’s robust. Robust means that your content doesn’t just talk a lot about one thing – it talks a lot about a lot of things. So instead of publishing ten articles about one specific topic, having robust content means you’d publish ten articles about ten different topics (even if they all fall under the same theme). Why just write about your hearing aids when you can write about the social benefits of better hearing, tips for coping with tinnitus and the top hearing aids with Bluetooth technology?
Finally, there’s up-to-date. Sometimes you’ll hear search engine experts call this “fresh” content, but what it really means is that your content is relevant to people who are searching for it now. Google decides what is “fresh” by finding out how often content on your website is published or updated. Regularly updating content signals to Google that you are committed to keeping your website relevant and useful for users – and they’ll reward you for it with higher ranking. It is recommended to add new content to your site a minimum of 2x per month.
“You need content that’s designed for you – your practice, your service and your target clients.”
“The two best methods for great hearing practice content include a client-focused blog and regular update of product listings.”
So how is it done? There are many ways to do it, but the two best methods for great hearing practice content include a client-focused blog and regular update of product listings.
Blogs are a great way to draw in clients who need your expertise (“what is the best hearing aid for iPhones?”), while regularly updating manufacturer details helps a potential client determine if you carry the hearing aid they’re looking for.
It might sound like a lot of work, but both are something that you don’t have to do alone. Getting the right team on board to help you create great content can be a game-changer for your practice.
#2: Social proof
Imagine you landed on the website of a business you had never heard of. Let’s assume you found this website from searching on Google, and had arrived on their homepage in search of a particular service or product you knew they offered. Their website is well designed and they have a great blog, and their location is only a few miles down the road. Would this be enough to convince you to trust them? Would you be ready to put down the computer and pay them a visit?
Probably not – and you aren’t alone. Consumers by nature are cynical, which is why we rely so much on word-of-mouth to decide whether or not a brand is trustworthy. While 10 or 20 years ago we might have relied on the recommendation of a friend, nowadays the web has allowed a whole new kind of word-of-mouth. We call this social proof.
Social proof is the term we use to describe anything that relies on the collective feedback of independent consumers to inform a client’s decision. For websites, social proof is extremely effective – statistics show that consumer reviews are 12x more trusted than manufacturer product descriptions, and that nearly 70% of online buyers refer to consumer reviews before making purchases.
Though you might not be trying to sell anything directly on your website, you are selling your service – and social proof might be the key to convincing your potential clients to click “contact us”.
So what are the most effective methods of using social proof on your website in 2016? These are two of our favorites.
“social proof might be the key to convincing your potential clients to contact you.”
“Testimonials are a crucial element of unlocking your website’s potential.”
Testimonials – They’re just what they sound like – client reviews of your service and business. Testimonials are a crucial element of unlocking your website’s potential. By strategically placing testimonials throughout your website along with an action you’d like a user to take (like clicking “contact us”), testimonials might give potential clients the push they need to reach out to your team.
The biggest mistake many practice owners will make is burying their client testimonials on a separate page – but this type of social proof is most effective when it appears just as a user is considering contacting your practice. Reading about your stellar service just as they scroll past your office phone number is a winning combination.
Social Media – Many practice owners will pass off social media as a passing fad, but with 73% of all Americans reporting having at least one social media profile in 2015, social media simply cannot be ignored.
The fact is, most consumers are savvy enough to know that a practice owner has control over what reviews actually appear on their website – so many will turn to social media to back up those claims. For service provides like your practice, sites like Yelp and Facebook are a great place to funnel reviews to build your reputation and demonstrate your trustworthiness.
#3: Great video content
Imagine the last time you were inspired by a brand or company. What made that message memorable? Was it the way it told a story, the environment you were in when you experienced it – or was it the way it captured your attention?
No matter how great your message might be, people on the Internet are impatient and difficult to engage. If you don’t catch their attention early on, you’re unlikely to grab their attention at all. As human beings, we prefer verbal explanations of things, and we prefer communicating face-to-face. But since having a face-to-face conversation isn’t possible online, what can we do to capture potential clients’ attention? It’s simple: harness the messaging power of video!
When it comes to hearing practices, your target client is likely full of questions – and these questions are best answered through a well-designed video. How-to’s, tutorials and informational videos to answer your client’s most common questions will not only be useful and engaging for your potential client – they’ll help you stand out from the crowd, too.
A great video strategy means publishing videos to a YouTube account and including them strategically throughout your website. Simply put, having videos on your website will get people to stay longer, perceive your practice as experts and build rapport even before they’ve stepped foot in your office.
“Simply put, having videos on your website will get people to stay longer, perceive your practice as experts and build rapport even before they’ve stepped foot in your office. “
No matter how well-designed your website is or how well you rank on Google, what makes your practice unique are your brand and your service – namely, your people. So why wouldn’t this distinguishing factor not be a major focus for your website?
If your goal is to entice your website visitors to pay a visit to your office – and if your practice relies on in-office services and product sales, it should be – you want to make the case for why a potential client should visit your practice, and not someone else’s in the area.
You’ve done the work of including social proof and great content to highlight your expertise and commitment to service, so now the task is to highlight what makes you different. If a potential client’s next step would be to visit your office and meet your team, demonstrate this through the design and visual elements of your website.
As more consumers shy away from big box retailers and opt for smaller local businesses (and more individualized service) instead, surprisingly few practice owners recognize that a potential client’s first look at their team’s smiling faces shouldn’t just be when they walk into an office. If your website is designed to showcase your practice’s unique expertise in the local hearing industry, including staff and office photos makes clear the connection between the great content on your website and the people who provide the service.
Don’t make the mistake of simply burying all of these photos in an About Us page, either. Utilize this kind of individualization throughout your website to avoid it looking too corporate – a surefire way to catch a potential client’s attention and draw them into your content.
“Now the task is to highlight what makes you different.”
“If someone on your website is scratching their head wondering what to do next, then you are losing out on potential clients you never knew you had!”
#5: Conversion Opportunities
We’ve talked a lot about what a website looks and feels like – the content, the videos, the individualization and the social proof. All of these elements are crucial to having a successful website and making that all-important great first impression. But none of it is worth all of this work without keeping one very important thing in mind: conversion.
MarketingSherpa defines a conversion as “the point at which a recipient of a marketing message performs a desired action” – which is quite a mouth-full. In layman’s terms, a conversion is when a user (in this case, a potential client) does something you want them to do on your website. That could be a click to buy, entering their email address or requesting an appointment. So, simply put, a conversion is your end goal. What do you want a user to do?
So many practice owners put so much time and effort into making a website look great that they lose track of their goal – and forget to make that the focus of their website design. Many practice owners will only go so far as to include their contact information somewhere in their website. If you really want to bring new clients to your office door, this probably isn’t enough.
What a potential client who lands on your website needs is a lot of opportunities to do what you want them to do. This could be a button, a contact form or clicking to a ‘contact us’ page.
If someone on your website is scratching their head wondering what to do next, then you are losing out on potential clients you never knew you had!
There are a lot of ways to get potential clients to give you something that you want. These are a few of our favorites:
Customized contact forms – One great way of generating leads (that is, potential clients) is to gather their contact information for follow-up early on. When people are visiting your website, you need to make it clear and easy for them to find the information they need.
The best way to do this is to create a custom contact form for your landing pages. Your landing pages – or the parts of your website that visitors can see – have different purposes and will attract different kinds of leads. Naturally, you want to customize the contact forms for each page so that they feel simple and clear for a user.
So, on a landing page that is talking about in-office hearing tests, your contact form might start with the phrase “Contact our front office team about our hearing tests”, and include a space to enter a name, phone number and appointment date.
On another page talking about your range of Siemens hearing aids, your form might instead ask for a visitor’s email address instead of an appointment date, and include the phrase “request for us to send you more information about Siemens hearing aids”.
This way, when a visitor to your website sees your contact form, they know exactly what information they should enter, and what they should expect to happen when they do.
Clear Calls to Action – Not every visitor to your website will be ready to contact your office for an appointment – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a lead worth keeping around. If you want a visitor to your website to stick around (and if you care about conversions, you do) you need to give them opportunities to keep interacting with your website and your content.
The best way to do this is with a Call to Action, which can be anything from a link, a button or a sign-up form. We call this the call to action because it tells the client to actually do something beyond just read or watch. These usually include a very simple command to do something, like “sign up”, “read more” or “visit our office”.
Depending on what your goal is for each landing page, you will want to include Calls to Action throughout your page. That way, your website makes it easy for a visitor to stick around and learn more about your practice – which will eventually convince them to make an appointment.
Make sure these calls to action are easy to find and plentiful. You’ll be rewarded with more time spent on your website and a greater chance of winning that new client.
Easily located contact information – At the end of the day, your bread and butter are your clients who come to your office – so your website should make this easy. Contact information like a street address, phone number or business hours should never take more than a few seconds to find. That’s why having them in only one place isn’t a great idea.
Your practice’s contact information should be easily found on every page a visitor might find on your website. That way, a potential client who first lands on your homepage is just as likely to find your contact information as one who finds you through a blog post they searched on Google.
“When people are visiting your website, you need to make it clear and easy for them to find the information they need.”
“Contact information like a street address, phone number or business hours should never take more than a few seconds to find.”
So there you have it – the five essential elements of your website for 2016. With these helpful tips, you can bring your great first impression into the 21st Century and set yourself apart from the competition. Your best year in business could be just around the corner, and your website can (and should) be a part of it.