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5 reasons your website visitors might not be converting into patients

Conversion rates: what they are, how are they beneficial to your practice and what NOT to do to increase conversions on your next site.

You’re planning your new healthcare website and your web designer wants to help you improve your conversion rate. So let’s talk about conversions here: what they are, how are they beneficial to your practice and what NOT to do to increase conversions on your next site.

A conversion is a successful call-to-action, meaning that someone visits your site and clicks through a link that measures a certain level of interest. If I am buying a book on Amazon, my call-to-action would be clicking on “add to cart” and I would convert when I enter my payment information and click on “place your order.” At that point, I have successfully become an Amazon customer and they can count me as a website conversion.

Conversions are difficult to compare on a practice-by-practice or industry-by-industry basis because they have no set definition. A medical care conversion could be defined as a phone call to the office, a download of a registration form, or, ideally, a self-scheduled appointment. Yet some practices could also consider the download of a recent press release on scheduled flu clinics a conversion, too.

Conversions are hard to achieve: According to most research studies, good conversion rates hover at about the 3-5% range, depending on your industry, with the best rates topping out at about 10%. The medical industry is especially tricky because your potential customer has a lot on his plate. He/she needs to consider a whole host of factors before converting:

  • Does the provider accept my insurance?
  • Do they offer evening or weekend hours?
  • Are they conveniently located?
  • What individual physician profiles appeal to me?
  • Which physicians are accepting new patients?
  • Is this practice sufficiently experienced with my particular illnesses?

Just maneuvering through these questions could take several visits to a site, interspersed with visits to and comparisons with other similar practices. A prospective patient could visit your site two or three times before even deciding whether to proceed with calling the office or submitting an appointment request. If the patient ultimately decides to be seen elsewhere, his website visits end up not even counting toward a conversion.

While you may not be able to exert a huge influence over your conversion rate, there is still a lot you can do to help nudge it upward. To get you started, I’ve compiled a list of the top five reasons why visitors don’t convert. They fall into two basic categories, which I will call site problems and usability problems. If you consider these before you get going on your new site, you should be able to make some significant gains in your conversion rate.

1. Your site is confusing.

Many of the large-practice medical sites have come a long way in recent years, with a more corporate look at feel and excellent navigation. One large site I looked at had three large navigation buttons — become a patient, find a doctor, and view our locations — on the home page, as well as a traditional menu along the top. What could be simpler? When designing your site, make sure that everything is intuitive and that the key questions your visitors have are easily answered with as few clicks as possible.

2. Your site offers an unpleasant user experience.

Your site should be attractive, easy to read, not too technical, and intuitive.

3. They can’t call the office directly on their smartphone.

More and more visitors to your site — especially millennials — use their mobile devices for everything, even to shop for physicians. They’ve come to expect that when they see a number on a mobile site, they can press it to instantly call your office. This is an easy way to help with conversions; check your site regularly and make sure links are working and are where they’re supposed to be.

Direct link to call

4. They can’t book appointments online.

Forget phone calls! Wouldn’t it be nice to skip the office call altogether and have your patients book their own appointments through your site? The ease and instant gratification of online booking often means the difference between continued surfing and an immediate conversion because you’ve reduced the amount of steps required to book an appointment with you. They can also book 24/7, rather than browsing your site at 10 pm then forgetting to call you in the morning. The bonus benefit is how much time it will save your staff taking appointment requests on the phone.

Online booking

Of course, many — particularly older — patients would still rather call the office and speak to an actual human. This option is still a must-have component of the conversion process. And, it goes without saying, don’t make the potentially fatal mistake of letting your callers languish endlessly on hold while waiting for a live operator.

5. You don’t make it easy to find you

Simply put, you need an option to contact the office on every page. It doesn’t have to claim the center spot, but it should be easily visible, perhaps at the top of each page. If your website visitor has a question, that spontaneous phone call is still probably the best way to gain a conversion. Make it easy for your visitors — and your patients — to call with questions or to book an appointment.

Contact Us Page

A separate Contact Us section includes a map and hours. The ‘Book Online’ and phone number CTAs are still prominently displayed on the side.

As an experienced marketing practitioner, I can safely say that increasing conversions is part art and part science — there is no magic solution that will work for everyone. Some aspects of the process are simple and straightforward, while others are subtle and more subjective.

Before embarking on a site redesign or enhancement, spend time researching competitor sites, taking careful note of what you like and dislike about them. Try to think like a patient visiting your site for the first time. Additionally, ask people you trust to visit your site as a first-timer and provide honest feedback about how easy it is to get to the conversion stage. And if you have the resources, it never hurts to get a formal critique from an industry professional.

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