It’s the kind of question that should begin any investment decision at your practice. The question we are examining today is the difference between having just a website (passive marketing) and actually performing activities online to bring in business (active marketing). The fact is in eyecare, almost 30% of practices still do not have an online presence (true) and 30% of those that do have one, simply have a static website with no other marketing activity happening.
It appears that the word is out and more and more eyecare professionals are getting websites for the first time. But is a website enough to check off ‘marketing’ on your to-do list? Unfortunately, no.
It appears that having a website is not enough to participate in the active duel for new patients occurring online each day between you and your competitors. Savvy practices are gaining well over 100 new patients each month (our #1 practice garners over 225 new patients each month) leaving their competitors to wonder why their business is in decline. While having a website is a great step forward in marketing, the data indicates that by adding active marketing services to your online effort, you can yield almost three times the new patient appointment results.
To review the results of your online marketing, there are three suggested data points to review: online sessions or website visits, the number of appointments derived from these visits and the conversion rate which is the fraction created by these two numbers.
Website visits is an important process measure. By ‘process measure’, we mean that it is not an end in and of itself, but an indication of the opportunity you are developing. Small opportunities generally yield small results, but that is not always a 1:1 relationship. The value of this process measure is directly related to your online conversion rate which we will discuss below. We measure websites visits to understand how well we are attracting people to your website.
The average eyecare practice receives between 400 and 600 visits per month. As you might suspect, this is highly dependent on where you live – urban, suburban or rural market – but it still provides a good guide for what does ‘average’ look like in eyecare.
Our website only clients are averaging 407 visitors per month, the lower end of average. This means that these practices have posted a website online and that’s the end of their marketing effort. Imagine how easy it is to have over 400 community members looking into your practice each month simply by having a website. Conversely, eyecare practices who have made an investment in active marketing (search engine optimization, monthly campaign, social media marketing) are yielding 45% greater traffic or greater opportunity, averaging almost 593 visits per month. That’s a significant difference in this process measure and a difference which will be compounded by conversion rates.
Our next process measure on the way to new patient results is conversion rate. Conversion rate is the number of website visitors that convert into an appointment. You can have thousands of web visitors but if they don’t eventually become a patient, who cares! Average eyecare sites convert 2% to 4% of visitors to appointments and you can see that our website only practices are almost in the center at 2.89%. This means that for every 100 visitors, you can expect 3 appointments or so.
As we are able to raise this rate through optimization of your site and monthly, topical campaigns, you can see a dramatic change to over 6% conversions. Couple that with increased traffic and you have the two-step recipe for best results.
Let’s move beyond process measures to results. The ONLY result that matters in eyecare marketing is new patient appointments. Most marketing companies are afraid to take ownership over this result, but marketing without business results is just an expense. Those practices that have made the additional investment in marketing services experience high online visitors, higher conversion rate ultimately leading to over 300% greater new patient appointments than those without little to no investment.
Marketing is the investment that keeps giving. We need to recognize that the world has moved online and those practices who are taking that cultural change seriously are reaping the rewards of busy practices.