Have been thinking about comments patients have made to Barb. Particularly by new patients. I should note that every once in a while a new patient calls or wanders in because they liked what they read on her site. Huzzah! Isn’t that what we hope our web sites will do? Bring new patients through our door?
Maybe not. Here’s the question I’m grappling with after listening to Barb’s patients: Is it possible that in our field, new business should be the secondary goal of our on-line efforts?
I have come to believe our primary goal is to reassure patients who have already scheduled an appointment that they weren’t flat-out stupid for calling you. Before you dismiss the idea as bat-shit crazy, consider how behavioral studies have proved over and over that we make decisions emotionally, then search for rational reasons to justify our decision.
I have no empirical evidence to prove the studies correct, but there is abundant anecdotal evidence provided by Barb’s patients. The trickle of new patients who find Barb is overwhelmed by the sheer number who visit her site after scheduling their first appointment. Why would they do that, and so consistently? Sounds to me like they are searching for the justification. They worry their doctor or friend who referred them to you has missed something important about you that makes their suggestion worth dog poop. Or they worry about whether you can handle their problem. They worry if you are just minimally competent. Worry about finding your office, and what will happen when. Or, and this is a biggie, they worry about whether you are trustworthy. So many possibilities.
Looking at Barb’s site, I can see no obvious path for new patients to find the justification they seek. What they are finding is being discovered on their own. Maybe building a mini-site is in order, then sending each new patient a link to the site. What do you think? I don’t know of anybody who has tackled this area but listening to Barb’s patients, there seems to be a need and opportunity. Has anybody looked into this area, or built something for patients?
On a related note, do you ever wonder what visitors to your site actually do?
The site stats provided by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com where Barb’s site is hosted, are pretty useless for a hyper-local practice like Barb’s. There is no way to know how much traffic is coming from her geographic area. So those daily visitors and page views? Looks like something useful should be coming from it, but why would Barb care if somebody living in Switzerland really likes her? Here is 30 days worth of her most recent stats.
Sure there are also other stats telling you what pages are most popular and a bunch of other stuff **, but what I’ve always wondered about is where are visitors lingering and what do they skip? How do they move through the site? I would think knowing how visitors interact would be a lot more useful than the information that most stat packages provide (granted, Google Analytics is much better than Automattic’s but wordPress.com doesn’t allow embedding the necessary code).
If you wondered the same thing, check out Lucky Orange. I have no experience with the service beyond glancing through the site (because it likely couldn’t be installed on Barb’s site unless her blog was moved to a different host) but it looks like a neat tool if you want to get into the spooky art of heat maps and mouse tracking and stuff like that. Lucky Orange provides a way to see how visitors are interacting with your site. Cost is reasonable, too, for a small practice to get access to tools that have previously been out of our price range. $10 to $30 per month, depending on how white label you want to go. There is one question in the Common Questions (scroll to the bottom of the page) that gave me pause. “Will this hurt my search engine rankings?” Answer,”It shouldn’t. Our software doesn’t do anything illegal.” That’s one hell of a way to begin an answer before explaining more. Just a warning to be aware of should you decide to look into this package. As long as you aren’t thrown into jail or patients start sending you death threats, this tool may help you build a better web site.
** One thing I can glean from Barb’s stats is if you simply want traffic to come to your site and you don’t care who it is or why they are visiting, write posts about the Lyric hearing aid and hearing tests that can be done from home. Month after month those are the two posts that consistently generate traffic. Of course, one shouldn’t stop there and call it good but rather, consider why ARE those two the most popular? Says something about our patient’s expectations that is only barely revealed and the real reason goes much deeper?