Optometric Management Tip # 422   -   Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Upgrading Your Practice Website

A 2009 survey of larger optometric practices revealed that 23% do not have a website and another 17% have one, but have never updated it. That is a shocking 40%! Indeed, as I review practice websites for consulting clients, I must say most that I see are fairly boring and generic. Kind of obligatory, like “I know I should have a website so I threw this together at minimal cost.” Not one to be holier than thou, I must admit that until recently my own practice website was a rather basic template design. A case of the shoemaker's kids going barefoot.

Your practice website is a vital component of your practice marketing plan and it deserves a considerable investment in time and money. Read on to find out how to make it special and profitable for your practice.

Why does it matter?
The internet has become the primary venue for people to research where to buy services and products. Don't think about the billions of people worldwide who would not be interested in your practice, think about the thousands in your local market who are your potential patients. When they need eye care they log onto Google or their favorite search engine and type the word optometrist plus a city and state. Hopefully, your practice will come up on the list of suggested links and some people will click on your web address. This is how people of all ages today learn about a market category and this usage will continue to increase dramatically. What message are you sending to this huge group of local consumers?

Additionally, your practice website serves as a resource for referrals from your existing patient base. This is probably your largest source of new patients. Typically, a patient who has a good experience at your office tells a friend or relative. The prospect may act right away or maybe later, but eventually he needs eye care and he remembers the name of the doctor or the eye center that his friend gave him. He does a search for that name with the city and hopefully your website jumps right up! You certainly have an advantage if the search word is for your name rather than just “optometrist!”

Finally, think about how you can reinforce your relationship and build loyalty with your patients. If your website offers services and information that are truly valued, your patients will log on to your site. Every time they do so, you have a great opportunity to build your practice image and promote your services. See below for a list of some of the interactive features that can make your website a resource that your patients will want to visit.

Interactive features
There are some very cool interactive features available for your website that will really set your practice apart and drive patients and the public to your site. Some of these features are software plug-ins or links that may require a separate monthly subscription fee and some are free. Typically, you will need a web developer or web hosting company that will work with third party software vendors and will place the links for these features into your website. Ideally, the feature should be seamless and feel like it is part of your website.

Consider these web features.

Please visit my new website at www.GailmardEyeCenter.com and let me know your thoughts. More next week on designing your practice website.

Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management