Making the practice website pay

July 24 2015

Tips on how to make practice websites and Internet marketing pay were given by Paul Clare, co-founder and director of OptiCommerce, at 100% Optical. OT’s Robina Moss reports

Business speaker Paul Clare (pictured) warned practitioners at 100% Optical: “The majority of optical websites are not of a high enough standard compared to other industries.” 

Emphasising the importance of the Internet, Mr Clare quoted an Internet influence survey of 10,165 adults conducted by the Vision Council market research team, pointing out that 28.4% of respondents used the Internet to some extent when buying contact lenses, 19.1% used it when buying prescription spectacles and 19.5% used it when buying sunglasses.

“There has been a steady increase in sales online since 2007,” stated Mr Clare. He explained: “Mobile phone users are booming, with 90% of customer journeys starting on the phone and 40% of all emails being opened on the phone first.”

However, “less than 5% of optical websites are mobile-friendly,” warned Mr Clare. Turning to how practice owners could improve things, Mr Clare shared his top five tips on how to make a practice website and Internet marketing pay.

STRATEGY
“Determine a strategy for ‘omni-channel’ marketing,” urged Mr Clare, pointing out that consumers take a multi-device path to purchase; 65% of those looking to buy a dress start on a smartphone, with 61% continuing on a PC or laptop and 4% continuing on a tablet. For those buying a car, 25% start on a PC or laptop, with 19% continuing on a smartphone and 5% continuing on a tablet.

For practitioners considering omni-channel marketing such as using websites, online catalogues and social media, Mr Clare first recommended: “Look at what your objectives are.”

He explained that some things to consider for the marketing strategy were whether the practice wanted to sell frames online or offline? Was it aiming for more patients, or higher value patients? Or was the practice keen to promote clinical services? 

Giving an example of how website marketing could work, Mr Clare said that if the aim was to sell frames online these could be put on the website homepage, or if attracting more patients was the aim, offers could be promoted.

ATTRACT
Giving his second tip, Mr Clare told practitioners: “Put some wow into your website so you can attract more high-value patients.” He encouraged practice owners to bear in mind how much they had invested in their practices, for example, on much they had spent on window displays, signage and the interior.

“You make the practice look nice but what’s the first point of contact for most new customers? Your website,” he emphasised.

Mr Clare added: “First impressions count: 80% of new patients will look you up online before they contact you.”

“Embrace technology,” he urged, suggesting online appointment booking as a valuable option. “E-commerce is working in every other industry,” he added. “It’s easy, convenient and very powerful.”

He asked delegates to consider: “Is your website mobile-responsive? Is it difficult to browse or read on a tablet? And does it have a connection to your practice management system?”

He also urged practitioners to consider their website’s general layout. “Google can only read text, not pictures. It’s a formula which good advertising agencies follow,” he explained.

Mr Clare encouraged owners to drive targeted traffic to their practice website. “If you build it they won’t come unless you do something about it,” he emphasised.

He recommended marketing across social media, and “not just once a month.” He also advised in-store marketing. “Your practice window, receipts and recall letters should all feature the website address,” he advised. 

Offering his final tip, Mr Clare encouraged practice owners to track enquiries in the practice and online to spot potential opportunities and to update their website content, for example with seasonal topics, case studies and practice news.

Testimonials and reviews on Google for specific services and brands were also recommended. Mr Clare said that pay per click advertising was also “very important.” 

Concluding his presentation on making practice websites and Internet marketing pay, he urged practice owners: “Don’t miss the boat.” 

To watch the full presentation filmed at 100% Optical, visit www.opticommerce.co.uk/5toptips

For more advice on website and digital marketing strategy, visit www.opticommerce.co.uk

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