As a provider of healthcare services, you know that reputation is everything. You’ve worked hard to ensure that each facet of your business reflects your commitment to reliable, quality care. Although relying on word of mouth may keep your business steady, more and more potential clients are looking for you online.
Taking the leap into the online world is daunting. And for a business in the health-care industry, which must be particularly cautious about protecting its reputation, it can be a minefield of dos and don’ts. Establishing lasting relationships with clients takes considerable time, effort and attention to detail. In the online world, that task is even more challenging.
Here’s the problem: according to a study from the Pew Research Centre, one in three adults are searching for health information online. Ignoring digital channels is not an option. In fact, the future of success as a health-care professional may lie in mastering the art of communicating across them. This is how you get started.
1. Get your message right
It takes years to develop client relationships. So when building your health-care business in the digital world, it’s more important than ever to make sure your brand conveys the message you want. This is your invitation, and you’ve only seconds to compel a customer to walk in. Be sure every item of content works to reinforce this message, and that it demonstrates a deep understanding of your target customer’s needs. A chiropractor, for example, might include details on training and skills, but also the typical complaints that bring patients to a chiropractor in the first place. Testimonials from happy customers always helps reinforce why you’re the right health-care provider for the job.
2. Use the appropriate medium
A website can make or break your online reputation in seconds. Poor navigation, slow loads or information overload (or under-load) can send visitors running. Patients looking for an optometrist may look elsewhere if they can’t easily find your hours of operation or location, for example. Your website is your virtual storefront and must exude your core tenets of quality care, reliability and professionalism, and that means having a site that’s both informative and easy to use.
For non-experts, this can be tricky. The first step is understanding what you need. Will you take bookings online if you run a spa? The answers to these kinds of questions will help determine the type of website you need and how you’ll get it built. Here are three options.
- A content management system (CMS): Computer-savvy DIYers might like a CMS-based platform like WordPress, which provides easy-to-set-up and easy-to-manage websites with templates and plugins for most basic needs, including shopping carts and search engine optimization (SEO).
- A local website designer: Business owners who aren’t so tech savvy might want to hire a local web designer to build their website. If choosing this route, be sure to spend time establishing the full scope of the project. While there are many individuals capable of building a site, building it well can be very costly. You’ll also need to understand who will handle updates to the site. If it’s your designer, ensure you understand their rates and turn-around times.
- A larger provider with more resources: A third option is to consider a larger provider that has the most up-to-date expertise and resources to manage your site effectively for you. Yellow Pages’ professional website solution brings our company’s wealth of experience and knowledge to your business, freeing you up to do what you do best – build your business!
3. Attract and understand potential customers
Once you have your site up and running, it’s time to attract the right kind of customers. Talk to your web designer about SEO options: the higher your website ranks in searches, the more likely potential customers will find your business. Getting a basic listing with local online directories such as YP.ca or with NetSync, a solution that gets your business listed on over 40 top sites, will also increase your search engine ranking. Taking the time to promote your business and understand the behaviour of your online visitors will help you target your marketing efforts effectively, such as tailoring your messages, campaigns and offers.
4. Tap into social media
The Internet provides endless opportunities for promoting your business beyond your website. Set up Facebook and Twitter accounts and link them to your site. Post content your followers will enjoy and share. A one-stop app like Hootsuite will allow you to coordinate and time your posts. Remember, however, that every medium must always reinforce your central message. A poorly populated and managed Facebook page, for example, may damage your reputation. If you don’t have the resources to keep it engaging, consider Yellow Pages’ Facebook Solution to have it managed by a pro.
Transitioning your health-care business online while protecting your reputation takes careful consideration. It also requires an integrated approach that may encompass not only a web site and listings on popular online destinations but social media marketing and other tactics. When in doubt, take the time to reach out to someone you can trust. Talk to an expert at Yellow Pages today to discuss the possibilities.