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Six fixes to make your website better at winning new clients

by
01 January 2015, at 12:00am

PAUL GREEN believes websites are very important in attracting new clients and urges practices to devote more time, energy and resources to ensure they catch and hold the attention of people logging on

MORE than a quarter of a million searches are made every month for a veterinary practice in the UK.

That’s not people who are typing in your practice name. Those will be existing clients, or people told about you by friends and family.

I mean those people typing in “vets (yourtown)”, or even just “vets”. They’re looking for a new practice, and anyone could win their business.

Google the phrase “Google keyword planner” to see exactly how many searches are made in your area every month.

Once pet owners land on your website, you’ve got seconds to catch their attention, then develop their interest in your practice, their desire to be clients, and get them to take action and actually register with you.

Your website is so important in converting traffic to clients that it needs more of your resources. Spend more time, energy and cash improving your website – making it convert better – and you will ultimately see greater net profit in the practice. Yes, it really can be that dramatic.

Here are six fixes I recommend you focus on.

Make sure you instantly stand out

It’s crucial that instantly – literally within a few seconds of landing on your home page – people know who you are, what you do and, most importantly, what you can do for them.

Your logo, tagline and imagery should all complement each other to say the same thing: you are a trusted vet who will care for the wellbeing of that visitor’s pet, just as you have cared for animals in your town for so many years.

You’ll be surprised how many websites don’t make that obvious. You can’t afford to be covert online. You have to give people what they need and want quickly. Otherwise, they’ll just hit the back button.

Don’t focus too much on a swish, glossy design. You don’t want the look of your site to outweigh your content or marketing message. Get your balance right – you’re a veterinary business, not a high-end web design studio or advertising agency.

Make the site easy to read

When most people are online they rarely have the patience or willpower to read anything of great length.

They’ll scan the text and maybe scroll down a screen length or two if they’re really interested, but most will just run their eyes over a page looking for things that stand out.

So no big blocks of text, it puts people off and intimidates them. You need to make it easy for them.

Present copy in short paragraphs, insert plenty of headlines and subheadings wherever possible as well as hyperlinks that can easily send people onto further relevant info.

Other ways to break up text include using photos and short videos.

Don’t let your home page be too cluttered

You’d be amazed by the number of practices that fall into this trap. When it comes to the home page, using one thing to get straight to the point is crucial.

Use one big picture that best represents your practice. Perhaps a team shot with you front and centre and with everyone smiling, and your team holding their own pets.

Have just one logo, one tagline, one main story. Many practices make the mistake of using several elements on their home page to say the same thing.

And there’s nothing wrong with leaving white space – an uncluttered feel is the way to go. Like with many things, less is more.

Make it easy to find information on your site

Your website makes it easy to put hundreds of pages of information in front of people who want it.

Navigation is key to making this easy. What many independent practice owners (and some web designers) don’t get is that a small business website needs to be as simple to navigate as possible.

This isn’t the thing you mess around with by experimenting with something fancy, dynamic or different. Not all of your visitors will be techsavvy, and you don’t want to lose them by making things unnecessarily difficult for them.

Most people have a low tolerance for anything difficult online.

Put things in obvious places – your logo in the top-left corner where people can always click to land back on your home page; your contact details (e-mail, telephone number, practice address) displayed clearly in the top-right corner; and a simple and informative “about us” page.

Make sure your site looks great on a mobile device

Use of mobile devices has surged dramatically over the last five years. Up to 40% of your traffic could be coming from mobile devices.

So not only do you have to make sure your site looks as good on a mobile, you should also ensure mobile visitors have access to all your information. A streamlined, cut-down version of your full website is no longer good enough.

Don’t waste your time and money on gimmicks

It’s best to avoid gimmicks like popups on your site. That’s so 2005! A good web designer will know more effective ways to catch someone’s attention and direct them to the thing you want them to do.

Slow-loading widgets are also things that bog down too many websites and compromise the visitor experience. Some sidebar widgets can be useful such as social media share buttons. But only put widgets onto your site that actually take the user somewhere useful – there’s no point having a Facebook button on there if you never update your Facebook account, for example.