Your website should be a 24/7 sales engine, attracting potential patients and moving them toward scheduling appointments. They visit your site with lots of questions, and they leave with those questions answered, willing to give you their contact information in a form submission or call you to make an appointment.
Your website needs effective copy to be the sales engine it should be for your practice. From prep to placement on your site, learn how to give your prospects the information they need to become your patients.
Before You Write, Figure Out Who You’re Writing for & Why
First, discover who your audiences are. Who are you trying to recruit?
If you’re a pediatric dentist, then it’s parents. Children should have their first dental visit once their first tooth erupts, so the parents you’re recruiting are probably between 25 and 50 years old.
If you’re a dentist treating adults, then you’re likely seeing people between 25 and 65.
Do any of your products and services depend on your demographics? If you do cosmetic dentistry and dental implants, for example, you’re looking at an older audience.
Understand who your audiences are based upon your services. Who is the perfect customer for the products and services you provide?
When creating effective sales copy, this image of the perfect customer is called a marketing avatar. It’s a very concise description of exactly who will respond to the products and services you sell—in this case, procedures. This doesn’t just include demographic information such as age, gender, and income, but psychographics as well. For instance, do your patients value convenience, brand, or the latest technologies?
You should have a set of “perfect patients” for each of your services. That could mean three or four avatars. DigitalMarketer provides digital marketing training and checklists to businesses and agencies of all sizes. It have fantastic marketing avatars worksheets, both male and female, that you can fill in for your practice.
Document Your Patients’ Pain Points
The biggest mistake business owners make is not understanding that online marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) revolve around the simple concept that people use search engines because they have a problem they want solved or a question they want answered. There is a conversation going on in the mind of each of your prospects. The goal of your copy is to insert yourself into that conversation. You need to know:
• To whom you are writing
• What problem they are trying to solve
• The feeling you want them to have once you’ve solved their problem
The transformation that occurs between the before (before they find you) and the after (after you’ve solved their problem) should be caused by your products and services.
Some people may be embarrassed to go out in public because their teeth aren’t white, and they don’t feel confident. After you provide them with teeth-whitening services, they’re confident in their smile, their teeth look great, and people comment on how wonderful they look. The bridge between the “before” and the “after” is teeth whitening.
You need to understand what motivates your patients. Given your products and services, what problems can you solve, and how will they feel after you solve them?
Understand Your Unique Selling Proposition
Most dentists provide similar procedures. How are you unique? Why should a patient pick you over your biggest competitor? Most business owners say it’s because they’re better, but that’s the wrong answer. You can’t quantify “better.” Think instead about what makes you better, like features and benefits:
• Are you open later than your competitors?
• Are you bilingual?
• Do you have more payment options?
• Do you have newer technology?
These are examples of tangible things that make you better and should be part of your unique selling proposition. There are generally three aspects of a USP:
• Price: You’re cheaper than everybody else.
• Quality of options: You have more technology, bilingual staff, later service, or Saturday, weekend, night, and emergency procedures. These are quality factors you might have that your competitors don’t.
• Speed/convenience: How fast can you deliver your products or services? Are walk-ins welcome? Can a patient come in right now or at night or after work?
A business usually positions itself to do one or two of these things. It almost never provides all three because it’s really hard to be the cheapest, the best, and the fastest.
Draw Prospects In and Answer Their Questions
Thinking about and documenting these three factors makes content much easier to write. First, understand who your customer is. Second, document what your products and services can do for them, both what drives them to your products and services and how they will feel about them. Finally, get clear on what’s unique about your practice versus the competition.
Now that you are ready to write, let’s talk about structure.
It’s very important to write super-strong headlines. Your website is a 100% democratic platform. If people visit, start to read your copy, and don’t get what they want from it, they can leave immediately. It’s not the kind of sales pitch you make in a meeting where your audience is captive for 15 minutes.
That means you have to give them a lot of value up front to keep them interested and involved. The longer they are on your site, the higher the likelihood that you’ll convert them to patients. That’s why it’s best to have strong headlines that really encapsulate your USP throughout the copy.
Most people come to your website because they have a question they need answered. Knowing that, the meat of your copy should consist of taking the “before,” the way people feel and the problems and fears they have, and turning it into the “after” by way of your product or service.
In dentistry, you’ll get questions like:
• What are my options for a broken tooth (or teeth whitening, tooth pain, etc)?
• What are the risks associated with those options?
• What type of insurance do you take?
• How do I get started?
You need to be able to answer these questions. Start now by writing down the problems your patients have and working on how to answer them.
Next, get prospects to book services with calls to action (CTA), which get someone to do something. For dentists, I like to have a minimum of three CTAs on procedure pages:
The first and most important CTA is “Call Us Now to Set Up a Consultation.” Calls convert extremely well because they come from prospects at the bottom of the funnel, those who are near the end of the buying process and very close to booking an appointment. Put this CTA at the very top of your site on every page.
Second, include a form fill. Create a simple form that prospects can fill in with their information to get a call back. This is for people who are interested but need a little info before they schedule an appointment. Include as few values as possible, such as their name, phone, and email. Place this form in the upper-right rail or the upper-right corner of the page.
Finally, to get people who aren’t ready to buy right now but are somewhat interested, use offers. They could include a sign-up for deals, coupons, and other special offers. Potential patients will provide their email address, which you can add to your contact database and use to reach out to them later.
Your copy also can include product demonstrations or pictures, or something that shows what a product or service looks like and what to expect. Third-party validations are helpful as well. If you are a member of the ADA or have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, say so! They’re important validations.
Plus, I strongly suggest that you add a satisfaction guarantee with highly visible placement. Testimonials embedded in copy do really well too. The most valuable are video testimonials, followed by pictures accompanied by words, and then written testimonials.
If you have strong CTAs and USPs, you answer the questions of your prospects, and you display product or service demonstrations, third-party validations, and testimonials, you will have a great page!
Take Your Copy to the Next Level
Longer copy tends to be better, not simply because it’s long, but because it’s thorough. Aim loosely for 900 to 1,600 words. But, again, it’s more important to provide value than hit a certain wordcount. Focus on answering all your prospects’ questions so they’re comfortable scheduling with you.
I also like to use two tools in concert to make sure my readability is good, at a sixth-grade level or so. This isn’t because your patients can’t read above a sixth-grade level. But if they’re on their cellphone, have two kids screaming at them, and they’re in line for coffee, you don’t necessarily have their full attention.
Healthcare providers sometimes write as physicians and medical personnel, which tends to be at a higher reading level, not realizing that the people to whom they’re writing are not physicians. The easier your copy is to read, the higher the probability that prospects will stay on your site. The Hemingway App does a great job of finding complicated sentences and helping you rewrite them more simply. It does a pretty good job of grading readability too.
Want to get a little more precise on your readability? Check out Readability Score for a Flesch Kincaid readability score between 0 and 100. We like our writing score to be 60 or better.
As you read over your copy, ask yourself if every sentence provides value to users and answers their questions. If it’s fluff, kill it. If it adds true value, keep it.
Don’t add videos directly to your website. Host them through YouTube, Vimeo, or Wistia. If you’re adding imagery, make sure the images are not scaled. Save the image in the maximum size for the page and then compress it. Use a tool like compressor.io to strip images down to the bare minimum size. Each of these tips will make your site super-fast and easy to read.
If you follow these guidelines before you write, as you write, and while you structure your site, your pages are much more likely to do what you need them to: convert prospects to patients.
Mr. Johnson is the founder of Frontier Marketing, a Premier Google Partner and BingAds Partner advertising agency located in North Texas. He focuses on providing strategic direction for clients and has deep industry experience in healthcare and technology.