The most important things to know about how you can apply website marketing strategies to your acupuncture practice are the following:
The idea that a website full of information about Traditional Chinese medicine can earn money surprised me. I thought, like most people, the only way to make money from a website was to sell products, like ebay. After some research, it makes perfect sense when you ask the question, what are people doing on the web in the first place? They are actively searching for information, services, products, and resources. As an acupuncturists you are providing all of these things to your patients on a daily basis. Imagine expanding this information into website form, then positioning your website (and there are rules about how to do this) so that people who are searching for information about acupuncture can be directed to YOUR acupuncture website.
According to Google, there are tens of thousands of people looking for "acupuncturists" and "acupuncture" on the web every month. With over 20 million web pages containing these terms, you have to understand the simple techniques to help your website rank up near the top so that these customers can find you and your business. They do not have to utilize your acupuncture services in person to benefit from the information you provide. People half way around the world can learn about acupuncture from YOUR acupuncture website and at the same time provide you with income.
Simply by writing valuable information about the wonders of acupuncture and oriental medicine, you can attract new patients, strengthen your relationship with returning patients, and earn money twenty-four hours a day. (I love the idea of earning money while I sleep!)
Done properly, an acupuncture website has the potential to bring you new patients, deepen the trust of returning patients, be an easy tool for word-of-mouth referrals, provide valuable information and resources to your customers, and allow you to earn an additional income. No Yellow Pages Ad can do all that.
Unlike a Yellow Pages listing, information on your acupuncture websites is flexible and easily updated and modified. I learned this the hard way when in my first year of practice the Yellow Pages printed my clinic's FAX number in place of the phone number. If this was an error on my acupuncture clinic's website I could correct it instantly.
When a phone book makes an error you are stuck with it for a year, but the repercussions ripple for far longer since people often continue to use their old phone books. I will never know how many potential patients hung up in disgust after having an annoying FAX beep in their ear.
Advertisers pay Google to find relevant websites for them to place their ads on. For instance, lets say an advertiser wants to advertise their Special Business Plan Templates. They ask Google to find a website where people are likely to be interested. Since I have a section in my website about Business Plan Resources, Google "sees" the 3-way match of (1) my relevant information, (2) the advertiser's product, and (3) the customer's needs, and places the ads on that page.
The advertiser is happy because people who are already learning about business plans are on that page and therefore more likely to click on their Special Business Plan Templates. Google is happy because they are getting paid by the happy advertisers. The customer is happy because there is relevant information and good quality products to choose from.
I am happy because my customer is happy, and therefore more likely to return, and I have added value to my website by providing more information and resources to choose from. And I am even happier because Google then pays me a "finder's fee" of sorts every time a customer looks at an advertiser's site. That's right. All the customer (i.e. web surfer) has to do is LOOK. The person does not have to buy anything.
As the website owner who provided the "pathway" for the customer to look at the advertisement, I get paid. Everybody WINS!!
My family lives on the east coast and I live on the west coast. Recently I searched on the internet for a local flowershop to deliver flowers to my mother. I found the website of a family run flower shop very close to my mother's home and decided to call. I ended up having a great conversation with the person taking my order. We chatted about the local weather (hot and humid!) and I was happy to hear the familiar accent of my home town. I now have BoydsFlowerConnection.com bookmarked on my computer and will use their company any time I want to send flowers or gift baskets to my family.
I could have easily used a national flower delivery service. Many people are like me and prefer the local touch. A website can be that interface between mass marketing where everyone is an anonymous number and the individualized home town feel where you feel seen and heard.
I think acupuncture is about building relationships and your website can be that warm and friendly "face" that puts your customers at ease, alleviates their fears, and welcomes them through your doors.
Getting patients to find you and receive your acupuncture services is a huge part of your business success. The other significant part of your success depends on keeping them as loyal customers, even after they are well and no longer need your treatments.
Having a website that builds a client email list for you to send out E-zines, announcements, product specials, articles, and any other pieces of valuable information is a great way to market your practice without it costing you any additional funds for direct mailings or advertising. Even if your patients do not need your "specials", you can make it easy for them to pass along your information to friends and family.
Think about how easy it is for your patients to forward your E-zine or send an email link to their friends. And think about how much easier it is for their friends to click on the link to your website and read all the wonderful things about you. Compare that to the business card that patients forget to give their friends and that friends lose in the bottom of their bag. And when they find it they "chicken out" and don't call. It happens and it does not have to.