User Behavior and Conversion: Is Data the New Way To Get Patients?

By the time that the Affordable Care Act goes into full effect in 2022, an estimated 30 million Americans who were previously uninsured will have access to health insurance. These same Americans will flood the healthcare market, looking for the right primary care physicians and specialists to attend to their health needs. The right search engine optimization technique may get you visitors, but how do you translate that into a full waiting room of patients?

With nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants taking on more active roles in primary care, medical practices are becoming larger, and thus more capable of handling a large patient load. However, attracting these patients is a multi-disciplinary endeavor, one that requires exemplary patient care, as well as the help of a well-trained information technologist.

Rand Fishkin recently predicted that user behavior would be an important trend to watch for in 2016. He and other experts posit that tracking user behavior can have conversion applications, turning website visitors to patients in your medical practice. But how can you tap into this reserve of potential customers? It requires little technical savvy, and might be easier than you think.

Click-Through Rate

The easiest way to convert your potential website visitors into patients is to improve your click through rate. It’s common sense: if you don’t have many people who actually click through to actually visit your website, you can’t compel them to make an appointment.

To evaluate your click-through rate, take a look at how your website looks on a search engine results page (SERP). If your site is ranking well, but you don’t get many actual click-through’s, you may want to consider changing your meta-description and title tags. Consider the following examples:

A great example of a health care meta description

A poor example of a health care meta description

In the first example, the meta description provides a more compelling explanation for the services rendered in the office. The average user is more likely to click on the first link than the second one. Google thinks so, too, so it lists the result first.

Attract Social Media Users to Your Content

Once you get visitors to click through to your site, give them an avenue for sharing the content that’s on your site. Installing social media widgets is a simple way to expand your outreach. Not only does this have the potential to increase traffic on your site, it will also escalate the number of citations you receive in social media, which experts believe will play a larger role in search engine rankings in the future.

In order to get people re-posting information from your website, you need to create original content that’s worth sharing. Tracking your user behavior patterns can provide you with valuable insight in this regard. If your visitors leave your page after a few seconds (known as the “bounce rate,”) then you need more persuasive copy. Consider using one of the following examples to create content that is sharable and establishes you as a voice of authority:

  • Case studies
  • Patient testimonials
  • Health infographics that are easy to absorb (find some royalty-free or create your own)
  • Videos
  • Medical breakthrough procedures or medications
  • Point/Counterpoint pieces about current health topics
  • Interviews with doctors or other medical professionals

If, on the other hand, you have a relatively low bounce rate, but your visitors still aren’t converting, you may need to look at other avenues.

Optimize Your Page’s Usability

In order to successfully convert visitors to patients, you need to increase their dwell time as much as possible. The longer users spend on your site, the more likely they are to make an appointment.

Research suggests that most users come to a website looking for something in particular, and that we’ll skim for a short period to find it. At best, the average user only reads 28% of information on a webpage. This makes optimizing your website for user-friendliness a top priority. Observe some general guidelines:

  • Make your “above the fold” content count. Include important takeaways and strong CTA on the homescreen, visible without scrolling.
  • Use your visuals strategically. Studies indicate that interesting graphics can entice visitors to stay on your page, but only when they enhance your content. Stock photos or meaningless graphics, by contrast, can have the opposite effect.
  • Use chunking techniques like bulleted lists, bolding, and italics. The eye is drawn naturally to these differences in typography.
  • Even the sizing of margins can make a difference in reading speed and comprehension. Have your IT team examine aspects of your website that affect the spacing of your text.

Curate Convincing Calls To Action

As a website manager, it’s your job to create calls to action that are easily accessible and provide visitors with ample opportunity to convert. These CTAs should be located somewhere near the top of the page, and again at the bottom.

Cleveland Clinic CTA

In this example, the website offers a simple way for visitors to request appointments and ask questions. You could even go a step further than this to make your CTAs more attractive or event specific. Instead of simply saying “Request An Appointment,” for example, you could say, “Register For Our Free Bariatric Surgery Informational Seminar.”

Any of these tips can be customized to fit your particular niche, whether it’s surgery, family medicine, dentistry, or podiatry. Tracking your visitor behavior can provide you with valuable insight that can increase your patient base. It’s not enough to aim for the top search engine result spot, you also need to pay attention to your bounce rate, number of click throughs, and of course, conversions.

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Sarah Voightman

Sarah is a displaced Michigander who currently calls suburban Cleveland home. When not reading or writing, she can be found navigating the tumultuous waters of parenthood and dreaming of returning to her beloved Mitten State.

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