Boring websites lose patients

websiteShaz Memon gives his quick tips to keeping your dental website informative, engaging and entertaining.

Not all of us are blessed with the natural ability to tell a joke. Nor are we all great storytellers. Like many clinicians, whilst you might excel in the practice of dentistry, you may feel less confident in your ability to harness the power of the written word.

In a healthcare setting, the difference between excellent and poorly written communication can be a career changer; it can mean ‘happy ever afters’ and great patient testimonials or, conversely, risks of broken dreams and lengthy litigation. Either way, positive patient engagement matters.

When it comes to your dental marketing, your choice of words, tone and content are also important considerations. It can make the difference between raising the bar with your online engagement or losing potential patients at the first hurdle. Indeed, how you choose to tell your story on your website is as important as how it is presented.

Your content needs to be engaging, memorable and entertaining. And it needs to strike the perfect balance between sharing facts and telling your own personal story.

Core principles

Like any skill, there are core principles to observe when it comes to the written word. Once you understand the rules and with some practise, your ability to reach out to patients with digital storytelling will improve exponentially.

Use your copy space wisely. The words we choose to use in our digital communications are key. Empathy and positivity are dual components of any online ‘conversations’ with patients.

Clarity, precision, the avoidance of jargon, brevity and presentation should work together to promote your business. And, whilst the imagery, function and aesthetics of your practice website is often discussed as essentials, patients still need to be informed before taking that leap of faith.

Clarity is key

Open and honest conversations are the very essence of good clinical care. They can create the perfect patient experience. They are also important in helping to avoid any litigation. Your aim is to help patients make the best decisions about the procedures they are considering. This should be your ethos on your website, too. Speak with authority, share evidence of effective care and add value to each visitor’s experience. Digitally, this might involve honing tone as well as content to ensure you attract exactly the patients you wish to treat.

Brevity is boss

Keeping your treatment pages concise and simple is essential. Why communicate with 1,000 words when 200 will hit the spot? Not only will you save yourself time, but you will also appeal to those readers whose time is restricted and who need key information ASAP. People are looking to absorb and process information as swiftly as possible. Flesh out the details at consultations.

Team profiles should also be brief. Consider keeping biographies to a few key highlights. Such as the information the GDC expects of you and a few personal titbits to humanise the page.

Opinion varies on the length of a readable blog. But a meaty 500 words is enough to add value to the reader experience and encourage them to enquire further.

Your website is most likely to be the first thing any potential patient will see of your business. They will form an impression of your practice and its team based on its content.

Clarity is king

Enthusiasm can kill coherence, so try to curb it when writing about your business. We are all guilty of excitedly over talking on a topic about which we’re passionate. This results in text losing key messages. Whilst you may love detailed descriptions of root canal cases you have carried out or the virtues of fast braces versus brackets and wires, your audience probably won’t need too much detail. Save that for the consultation. Try to clarify thoughts before committing them to your posts.

Precision is perfect

Share information that accurately reflects the services you offer, as well as details what you expect from your patients. Ditch phrases such as ‘we advise regular appointments with our hygienist’. Replace with ‘we advise you to see our hygienist every six months or more frequently if you require a little help with your oral health’. That way, you are providing patients with a more measurable and definite answer to their queries. Precise communication also reduces the risk of misinterpretation. Remember, much of dentistry can be summarised as key points and then expanded upon once in clinic. Too much information may result in confusion, so aim to keep content on your website pages simple and relevant to patients rather than fellow clinicians.

Junk the jargon

Every profession has its own language common only to those who work within it. Dentistry is a prime example, of course. Nobody who visits your website wants to read about medial, distal or buccal or needs to fully understand a BPE. Only last year, Leo Briggs, deputy head of the DDU, urged dentists to use plain English to avoid confusing patients, suggesting that ‘by making the effort to communicate clearly and concisely, dental professionals can give patients a greater sense of involvement in their own care.’

Quick guide to writing a website

Share your passion – whether it is teeth whitening or Invisalign treatment, your enthusiasm will shine through if you write from the heart.

Keep it snappy. Less is more and you can always expand upon the information on your website in a consultation.

Tell the stories of patients as a vehicle to treatment promotion. People like to read about people – it makes what you have to say about your services less abstract and more accessible.

Pepper the website copy with statistics, survey results, quotes and study references. Telling visitors that the GDC reported a 26% rise in illegal teeth whitening before explaining why it is important they seek treatment with you helps to seal the deal with prospective patients and demonstrates a desire to educate, adding value to their overall experience.

Ensure to lead visitors swiftly to the information they are looking for. Clicking through multiple pages and unnecessary scrolling is often boring and irritating to visitors. By fixing these key problems of your dental website, it will help keep visitors engaged long enough for them to consider making further enquiries.

Do not sweat the small stuff when it comes to spelling and grammar. It is important to remember that there are professional copywriters who can edit and clean up copy if you are not 100% satisfied with your own draft.

They can also tailor your website to your targeted audience and help you stamp your brand and key messaging all over it.

Be original – don’t rip off website copy from elsewhere. It’s your story and not that of your competitors. Be inspires by all means, but find your own voice.

Perfect the presentation

The aesthetics and function of your website remain key. Whilst what you write is, of course, important, nobody is going to hang around to read it for long if your pages are out-dated, poorly designed, or just aesthetically unappealing. The presentation should also give the reader a structure through which they can easily process the information.

Headings, bullet points, short sentences and easy-to-understand treatment descriptions are as important as the design considerations of fonts, font size, paragraph spacing, images and colour palettes.