Marketing consultant Adam Hampson outlines seven common aesthetic website mistakes and how to correct them
Why is it that some aesthetic clinics attract a steady stream of new and repeat patients via their website while others struggle to be seen? For a website to perform well, and consequently, for a clinic to flourish, the devil is in the detail. When new clients come to me, I always begin by looking at their current website. Without exception, most aesthetic websites that are failing to attract patient enquiries are making one or more of the following seven common mistakes. If your website isn’t attracting visitors or new patient enquiries, even if you have a steady flow of traffic (the figures used to measure this will vary from one practice to another) it could be that you’re making these mistakes too:
When your latest website was created by a design company or if you have just used a wordpress site to create a free website, you may have used a content management system, (CMS)1 i.e software that allows you to add fresh pages and content without their input. Although this is great in theory, it can be a disaster in practice. Some CMS can provide a lot of freedom in terms of layout, style and website structure/navigation. This freedom can potentially lead to the addition of pages that all look different and are at odds with the website’s design and branding at large.
An appealing design is about small touches; the spaces on the page as much as the images and text, a choice of font that reflects your brand and is easy to read, the design and position of calls to action. A CMS must be properly set up, including style sheets – a coded piece of information about the main design elements of each web page, such as the fonts and colours – to ensure that any new content fits within the overarching design of the website. Style sheets are used to add layout and formatting to your templates and are created through your website settings.2 Overall, a site that looks messy, inconsistent or is hard to navigate from one page to another is going to cause people to leave your site and look for a better user experience elsewhere.
If you’re having a new website built, discuss the CMS with the developers from the outset to ensure that it will help you maintain long-term consistency across the design. Also, talk to them about navigation and how you can provide the best user experience if you add new pages in the future. If you have an existing website, you may need to discuss with the web developers whether the CMS can be improved, which, of course, may involve cost but, in my opinion, is well worth it in the long run.
We consistently see websites that are all about marketing, often with multiple marketing messages per page, but aren’t set up for conversions. By this, we mean getting visitors to take a measurable action such as filling out an enquiry form. It’s better to promote one or two focused marketing messages and make sure that every page has a conversion mechanism rather than overwhelming website visitors with content that screams, ‘Buy Everything’. Such conversion mechanisms might be an enquiry form visible on any page, a ‘Book now’ or ‘Request a call back’ facility.
Many aesthetics websites are built around a widely available template design and feature stock images, i.e. royalty-free professional photographs that can be used and reused for commercial design purposes. You may have opted for this approach to keep costs down, deciding that it would be cheaper to use a template design and pay for an annual stock photo subscription than to build a bespoke website or hire a photographer. However if multiple clinics are using the same stock images or website template, it may not be as effective, because the website ends up looking and feeling generic. The decision to have any sort of aesthetics treatment is hugely personal, so a marketing-by-numbers approach that’s the same as the clinic down the road is likely to drive potential patients away. When potential patients view your website, they want to have a sense of what it will be like at your clinic. They want to be able to visualise stepping into the reception, talking to you, and what they will look like post treatment. They want to understand what makes your clinic the right fit for them. One of the ways to achieve this is incorporating video content on your website that contains imagery of your clinic that you can use as a marketing tool to attract potential patients viewing your website.
Feature images of your clinic’s interior and exterior, show your staff giving treatments, and showcase genuine before and after images as it will help people to connect with the reality of your clinic. Ultimately, you want to make a patient feel comfortable the first time they step through your door.
People may find you initially on their mobile phone but, before they decide to go ahead and book a consultation, they’re likely to spend some time on their laptop or desktop carrying out research. An aesthetic treatment isn’t something people take lightly and booking probably won’t be spontaneous. Knowing this, it’s essential to make sure that your website provides an equally excellent experience across all devices and that the desktop user accesses your website information with ease to assist them in choosing your clinic for a treatment. The first step is to view your website on different devices to see how it looks.3 Do the menus display properly? Is your enquiry form visible? Does the content display in a logical, easy to read way? What do the images look like on a large screen as opposed to a mobile screen? If you spot any problems, make it a priority to discuss them with your web developer.
Against the General Medical Council’s (GMC’s) guidelines,4 some clinics may still choose to promote time-limited treatment deals on their websites. If you’ve ever received a Groupon or Wowcher email, you’ll see that they’re peppered with aesthetics offers aimed at people who are shopping solely on price. If your website reflects this approach, it could be seriously damaging to your long-term conversion rates, as someone who is seeking the cheapest deal is unlikely to form a long-term relationship with just one clinic. They will most likely go where the next offer takes them. Although this may at times occur in the aesthetics industry, it is important to emphasise that promoting time-limited treatment deals within the aesthetics industry is against GMC guidelines and vehemently discouraged. In my experience, I found that the clinics that concentrate on adding value rather than lowering price are usually more successful in the long run, and so are the websites that communicate this. Instead of talking to your potential patients about the money they might save by coming to you, talk to them about what they will gain.
It is important for businesses to have a social media presence, especially on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter as they are the three largest platforms.5 Many clinics know they should have a social media presence but are not sure what to do with that presence or how to grow it once it’s created. This can result in a lack of strategy and consistency. It’s also common for clinics to be active on social media but to forget to link this activity to their website. Simple touches such as featuring icons linking through to your social media pages in your website’s header, or including ‘social share’ buttons to let people share your content to social media, can help to build engagement with your audience. You can use widgets to add your latest Facebook and Twitter posts to your website. A widget is an application with limited functionality that can be embedded within a web page they are allows you to turn your personal content into web apps that can be shared on websites.6 It’s also a good idea to feature Facebook or Google reviews, according to recent findings in 2016 by The BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey where a US based consumer panel of 1,062 individuals competed a survey that revealed revealed 84% of people trust as these types of reviews as much as a ,personal recommendation.7
Who is your website for? It’s amazing how many businesses forget to ask this crucial question and therefore fail to implement marketing strategies that focus on their target audience. When creating a new website, it’s advisable to highlight the credentials of your clinic to show potential patients what you offer, but only to a point. If the content is all about you, it can come across as intimidating. Talk to ‘your’, reader, and focus on how visiting your clinic will benefit them, instead of saying ‘this is who we are and why we’re great’. Someone who is familiar with aesthetic treatments, having had some in the past, probably has an established relationship with a practitioner and is unlikely to be your main target audience. This is unless they are unhappy with their current practitioner or seeking a treatment that their usual clinician doesn’t offer. Many of your new patients will be people who lack confidence about one or more aspect of their appearance that they might be seeking to correct through treatment. This may be the first time they’ve actively looked for a treatment and they may not know a lot about the treatment protocols.
On the flipside, they may have researched one treatment in depth without realising that another treatment may be more suitable for their needs. These people may be seeking advice on the best course of treatment. They may feel vulnerable about venturing into the unknown and will therefore be looking, not just for your qualifications or industry accolades, but for a clinician who is approachable, professional and trustworthy.
You can communicate these qualities by providing clear, jargon-free information about your treatments. Be realistic about the results and transparent about potential side effects. Use your website to answer common questions about each treatment. Most importantly, let them know that you will listen to them and give them appropriate advice.
One of the most significant things you can do to correct mistakes on your website is to take the time to consider your target audience and their behaviour. It isn’t about you or your clinic but about your potential patients and what you and your clinic can do for them. Keep in mind the design of your website and maintaining a structure for your content throughout your pages that is clear and concise, user friendly and easily accessible to your existing and new users.
1. Business Dictionary, content management system (CMS) definition, <http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/content-management-system-CMS.html>
2. ‘Stylesheets’ CMS Made Simple, 2017 <https://docs1.cmsmadesimple.org/layout/stylesheets>
3. Nimrod Flores, 8 Free Online Tools to Test Your Website on Different Screens & Devices, (2013), <http://nimrodflores.com/web-dev/8-free-online-tools-to-test-your-website-on-different-screens-devices>
4. General Medical Council, ‘Rules about advertising cosmetic procedures’, (2013) < http://www.gmc-uk.org/guidance/ethical_guidance/29191.asp>
5. EBiz MBA, Top 15 most popular social networking sites, (January 2017), <http:/www.ebizmba.com/articles/social-networking-websites>
6. htmlwidgets, ‘Creating a widget’ 2014. <http://www.htmlwidgets.org/develop_intro.html>
7. Bright Local, Local Consumer Survey Review 2016, (2016)<https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey/