Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Website Design and Marketing for Attorneys, Doctors, and Other Professionals
Below are some questions many clients have when they first contact Foster Web Marketing about the online marketing world.
The questions below may address many initial concerns you may have. If you don't find your answers here, you should contact us for answers to any questions specific to your firm.
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How can I use my website's content to build trust with potential clients?
When potential clients search for an attorney or doctor online, they are usually confronted with a problem and confused about whom they can trust. That means that the content you choose to feature on your website—and how that content is presented—can have a big impact when someone needs your help.
Does your content make you seem trustworthy? Are you offering what your potential clients need? Here’s how to make sure the content on your website is ready to make a positive impression.
Trustworthy Online Content Brings Potential Clients Through Your Door
Trust converts. Even Google has urged businesses to pay attention to what motivates potential clients when they search for answers online. If you are looking to establish your credibility and build trust with your online visitors, here are some things your online content should offer:
- Helpful answers. Most of your potential clients will find you because they had a question and typed it into a search engine. Think about the most common questions you hear from new clients, and put yourself in your potential clients’ shoes. Create content that provides answers and points readers toward the next step. If you can provide helpful and relevant answers to their questions, then they will be more likely to trust you and turn to you for advice. You’ll also be more likely to show up in search results for people who need your help.
- Relevant video. Don’t underestimate the power of video content! This is your chance to let clients know that you are a real human being who is available to them if they need help. Videos can do a lot to show clients what your brand is all about, who you are, and how you can help them solve their problems. With videos, you can get a lot across to viewers in a short amount of time, which is especially great for mobile users.
- An idea of what to expect. Many potential clients who are facing legal or medical troubles are anxious about what to expect and how long it might be until they see some resolution. Offering this information up front can go a long way toward making your potential clients feel more comfortable and in control. Let them know what your first meeting might be like. Show photographs of your office and staff. Explain what they might need to bring with them or what they might be expected to do. Explain your payment policies. Let them know what kind of timeline to expect. Being straightforward and transparent with your potential clients from the start helps them feel at home and positions you as a trustworthy professional.
- Prompt responses. You need to be quick to respond online because people won’t wait around. Your content pages should load quickly, both on desktop and mobile. If a current event or change in the law is making waves in your community, providing more information and immediate responses to questions can establish you as the authority to turn to with legal problems. If someone reaches out to you after reading your online content, you should be there to answer him. Let people know that you are paying attention and that you are there for them exactly when they need you.
Finishing Touches That Keep Potential Clients Engaged and Coming Back for More
How you present your content matters, too. Make sure that you write with the reader in mind. Make your content easy to scan and understand. Break up “text walls” with headlines and relevant images, and make sure everything looks great on the page. Your most important content should be easy to navigate to from your homepage, and it should also be easy to get to related content on your website. Overall, aim to create a positive user experience on your website that lets your potential clients know that you care about them.
If you’re a DSS user, you’re probably already taking advantage of our sidebar modules that point readers toward relevant content. For example, if someone finds an article on your website about truck accidents, they’ll also see suggestions for related content:
When potential clients first find your website, they are often confronted with a legal problem and confused about who they can trust. As an attorney, the content you choose to feature on your website and how that content is presented can have a big impact on a potential client—positive or negative.
If you are looking to establish your credibility and build trust with your online visitors, try setting potential clients at ease by providing:
- Helpful answers. Most of your potential clients will find you because they have a legal question. If you can provide helpful and relevant answers, then they will be more likely to trust you and turn to you for advice.
- Relevant video. Don’t underestimate the power of video content! This is your chance to let clients know that you are a real human being who is available to them if they need help.
- An idea of what to expect. Many potential clients who are facing legal troubles are anxious about what to expect and how long it might be until they see some resolution. Offering this information up front can go a long way toward making your potential clients feel more comfortable and in control.
- Prompt responses. If a current event or change in the law is making waves in your community, providing more information and immediate responses to questions can establish you as the authority to turn to with legal problems.
The more you are able to reach out, allay fears, show your human side, and show your expertise, the more likely it is that your potential clients will feel at ease and trust in your legitimacy.
If you need help writing attorney website content that establishes your credibility, take advantage of the website content writing services offered by Foster Web Marketing. Just give us a call today at 1-888-886-0939 to get started!
There are also several ways to include in-text links that point readers toward other information on your website that helps clarify or expand on the ideas you’ve presented:
Connecting relevant content on your website helps establish your authority and lets readers know that you have much more to offer.
The more you allay fears, show your human side, and demonstrate your expertise in your online content, the more likely it is that your potential clients will feel at ease and trust in your legitimacy. If you need help writing attorney website content that establishes your credibility, contact our digital content experts for guidance or sign up for a free marketing analysis.
How do I develop a digital content strategy?
Stop writing online content just for content’s sake! You need a plan if you want to succeed.
Google has been clear that it is looking for online content that is:
- Useful and informative.
- More valuable than the content on other sites.
- Credible and high quality.
- Engaging for readers.
If you aren’t hitting the mark with your online content, then your search rankings will suffer. The good news is that you can avoid problems by planning a content strategy to help you better provide exactly what Google and your online audience want. Then, add an organized calendar that keeps you on track toward your content marketing goals. That’s it! You’re ready to create more effective content for the Web.
What Is a Content Strategy?
A content strategy is simply a plan for how and why your content will be created and managed.
It may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as it sounds. We like to break it down into a few simple steps so you can start laying the groundwork for your content strategy right away:
- Identify your perfect client. What kinds of clients and cases are you trying to attract? Who is your target audience? If you aren’t sure who you’re writing for, you can’t create an effective strategy to attract them. Want to get started? Find out how to identify your perfect client.
- Define your goals. Why are you creating content? What do you want to achieve? Some examples of common content goals include brand awareness, increasing traffic, generating leads, converting leads into clients, improving client retention, or driving new referrals. Putting a laser focus on your goals and your perfect client are the two most important things you can do for your marketing.
- Develop list of topics. The topics that you write about should be important to you and your perfect client. Think about common questions and things you’d like your potential clients to know before they meet with you. Not sure where to get ideas? Find out how to find topics for online content.
- Document your strategy. Write down your goals, topic ideas, and vision of your perfect client or clients. Keep an ongoing content calendar—we’ll walk you through that below—to help keep you on track. Check your progress by gathering and analyzing hard data on content performance. As you continue to plan ahead and adjust your content strategy, this kind of documentation will be worth its weight in gold.
Once you know what you want to achieve and why, it’s time to create a content calendar to make it all happen.
How to Create a Content Calendar to Support Your Digital Content Strategy
We recommend that you start by developing a three-month content strategy and creating a content calendar that contains all this information in one place. To help you get started, here’s an example content calendar for a personal injury attorney:
Having a pre-planned content calendar lets everyone on your team know what’s happening and when. It helps keep you organized and focused, and it streamlines the content creation process. The bonus is that it’s also easy to go back and see what you’ve covered in the past and what you need to do in the future.
You content calendar should include:
- Monthly topic themes. Choose one or more general or “big picture” topics to focus on for each month of the plan, which you’ll support with more focused individual pieces. You should also choose an appropriate call to action to use throughout the month to help encourage your readers to take the next step.
- A list of individual content pieces to support monthly topics. Variety is the spice of your online content marketing. Keep your readers engaged by creating different types of content that support your monthly theme. Decide how many pieces of content you’d like to create each month, and come up with detailed topics for each one. Along with your blog posts and website articles, you should also include a plan for any other content you plan to create during the month, such as email or print newsletters, drip campaigns, email blasts, and guest posts.
- Planned publish dates. Decide on publication dates for each piece of your content. We recommend that you schedule content evenly throughout the month so that you are consistently releasing new content and encouraging repeat visits. This is also the time to determine if and when your content will be shared on social media sites.
Once you have a strategy and calendar in place, it’s time to start writing. Be sure that you always aim to write original, interesting content that you’d want to read if you were in your potential clients’ shoes. Don’t forget to proofread and edit your content before publishing to the Web!
Do you need help planning or creating online content that will wow your perfect client and boost your success? Start by signing up for a free marketing analysis that will help you identify what’s working, what’s not, and how to create a better strategy for the future.
How should I update my marketing in 2018?
Online marketing has changed a lot over the years, and those changes can happen fast. Are you ready for a fresh perspective? With the start of the new year, here are the three things to do that we believe will have the biggest impact on your online success in 2018.
Marketing to Your Perfect Client
Over the past few years, Google has set the pace for marketers to get back to the basics with their online marketing. It’s no longer about attempting to “game the system.” Instead, Google urges marketers to create websites, content, and ads that speak directly to the people they want to attract. Everything you do should be helpful and relevant to your perfect clients. While keywords and behind-the-scenes SEO still play a part, all the content you create should be created with your audience firmly in mind. From meeting your clients in online “micro moments” to creating targeted ads on social media, it’s all about knowing your audience and delivering something that will wow them.
Your current and potential clients should be impressed everywhere they run into you online. It’s up to you to create the content they want to see and to deliver that information quickly, conveniently, and smoothly. In practical terms, achieving this goal might mean updating your website to current standards, developing a stronger content strategy, changing up your paid ads, or simply spending some extra time meditating on exactly who your perfect clients are and how to reach them better. If you aim to deliver a perfect customer experience and user experience online, you’ll ultimately get more mileage out of your digital marketing dollars.
Marketing to Local Audiences
Google has put more emphasis on local SEO over the last few years, and we expect to see that trend continue. In fact, Google has been making a lot of adjustments to local search recently. With those changes, we've seen some clients suffer from not being in their target area in Google's eyes, so they aren't showing up as often in local packs. This is definitely something to keep an eye on over the next year. Local results will likely continue to grow in relevance and popularity, especially as mobile traffic continues to increase online.
Need a refresher on local SEO basics? Find out more about how to improve your performance in local search.
Marketing to Mobile Audiences
Mobile was important last year, and it’s going to be even more important this year. If we’ve learned anything at all about digital marketing in the last few years, it’s that mobile is here to stay. In terms of specifics, we believe it will be important to continue to emphasize mobile-first development. The AMP Project, an open-source initiative that aims to provide faster and better online performance across all devices, will be a part of this. Our goal is to roll out AMP across the board in 2018.
That’s not the only reason mobile search is important, though. Google also rewards mobile-friendly sites with better search rankings. It all ties back into providing a seamless and convenient user experience for your target audiences. Whether they choose to interact with business online via desktop computer or mobile smartphone, they are looking for a consistently excellent experience. If your mobile site doesn’t work right or is difficult to use, they will tap away to competitors who can give them what they want.
Online mobile technology is moving fast. If we haven't updated your mobile site in the last year or two, it could probably use an overhaul. Reach out to us for a free website analysis with our experts, and let’s talk about what it will take to update your mobile functionality and improve your website for better leads and more conversions in the new year.
What is the difference between hard and soft 404 errors?
Sometimes, old or outdated pages on your website need to go. Deleting stale web pages or content is just part of regular maintenance, but deleting a page leaves a void on your site—and you need to take the steps to let Google and other search engines know if the content is really gone, or it has just moved. This is why it is so important to understand the different between “hard” and “soft” 404 errors.
Wait a Minute: What Is a 404 Error?
When a searcher tries to open a page on your website that no longer exists, your site generally reacts two ways: by displaying a generic or custom “Page Not Found” page and by returning an HTTP response code 404 from your server that indicates the page isn’t there. While the reader may be satisfied with the displayed message or a redirect to other content, the crawlers from Google and other search engines depend on the code returned from your server to determine if there is content on the page that should be indexed.
Why the Difference Between Hard and Soft 404 Errors Matters to You
There’s a right way and a wrong way to delete pages. Although the difference may not seem that important, especially compared to content creation and your other marketing tasks, going the wrong route means that you’re essentially wasting Google’s time and taking some of the juice away from your real pages—the pages that feature unique information and core content.
Think about it. Do you really want Google to continue to index a bunch of pages on your site that just say “File Not Found,” or would you rather let search engine crawlers focus on crawling your content that still exists?
The Wrong Way: Soft 404 Errors
Don't let the name fool you. Soft 404 errors are much harder on your website's visibility than a hard 404 error. A “soft” 404 error happens when the wrong code (often the 200 response code) is returned by your server when someone tries to access a page that no longer exists on your site. Even if your website displays an error page to the reader, it still needs to return the right error code to let search crawlers know to ignore the page. Or, you have deleted an old page and you redirected it to a new page that isn’t relevant to what the original content was on the old page.
When your website’s server does not return a 404 code (or a 410 “Gone” code in some cases), search engine crawlers are essentially being told content does exist on that page, and will spend time attempting to index that “content.” If the number of soft 404 errors is high, especially in comparison to the number of “real” pages on your site, it can have a negative impact on your organic search performance. Google recommends using Fetch as Google or similar tools to verify whether a particular URL on your site is using the right HTTP response code.
The Right Way: Hard 404 Errors
When everything is working the right way, your reader will see an error page, and your server will return a 404 or 410 response code. This lets both readers and crawlers know that the page doesn’t exist anymore and shouldn’t be indexed, and that page will be removed from search results over time.
This means that the possibly limited time Google’s crawlers spend indexing your site can be concentrated on the pages you really want indexed—and it helps the crawlers better hone in on what your website is really about. And, by using a custom 404 error page or redirecting readers to other relevant and helpful content on your site, you basically eliminate the potential for problems when you remove a page.
Solving the Problems With 404 Error Pages: The 301 Redirect
At Foster Web Marketing, the confusion over soft and hard 404 errors is handled automatically for our clients in DSS. By using a 301 “permanent redirect” we essentially offer an easy way to direct users and crawlers away from a deleted page and toward an updated or similar page. In DSS, you can redirect pages automatically when you delete them. However, you still need to select the most relevant new page of information to send the old page traffic to, or you could still have issues with soft 404 errors. You don’t want to be in a situation where readers are directed to irrelevant pages that don’t answer their questions or where crawlers index the same page over and over again through removed pages. So, if you have content on your website that is not relevant to anything else on your site and you want to get rid of it please reach out to our customer service team to help you figure out the best course of action.
Do you have questions about 404 errors, page redirects in DSS, or how Google indexes your website? Don’t hesitate to give our friendly SEO team a call at 888-886-0939.
Is the Cost of Zocdoc is Worthwhile for Doctors?
Zocdoc was founded in 2007 in New York City. The first version of the now-popular website covered only doctors in NYC. Now, the online physician booking and review site covers every major city in the United States, and millions of people book appointments through the site each month. Zocdoc is one of our top six directory sites for doctors, but before you rush out and sign up, there are a few things you should know about the site.
How to Determine If the Cost of Zocdoc is Worthwhile for Your Medical Practice
There is a fee to be listed as a Zocdoc doctor. Currently, Zocdoc charges doctors $300 a month to be listed. It is up to you to decide if the cost is worth the potential appointments you get. If you are considering signing up, be sure to do some research first.
When deciding if your practice would benefit from being part of the service, you need to determine which—if any—doctors in your specialty and area are listed. You also want to note how many reviews they have. Doing so will give you a good idea whether the Zocdoc system is effectively filling the appointment book for your local competitors, and if you could benefit from joining suit.
In general, we find that the doctors who benefit most from using Zocdoc are those in larger cities within a competitive market whose patients are between the ages of 18 and 35.
How to Claim Your Zocdoc Profile
It’s important that every profile you fill out is complete. However, on Zocdoc a robust, accurate profile is even more crucial. This is because people making appointments often have an urgent need; you’ll only get a minute, if that, to impress them. They are making a quick decision and will only choose you if your profile looks better, more complete and more professional than the other guy.
Your first job is to ensure that every piece of information you enter is accurate, especially your name, address, and phone number. Known as N.A.P., these key fields must be correct not only on Zocdoc but identical every place you’re listed online. For more on this (and to find out how a dash instead of a period could mess up your online presence) read our article, “Be Consistent for Better Local Search Results.”
Next, choose your profile picture. This should be a professional grade headshot, not a quick snapshot from your phone. After this is done, it’s time to strengthen your profile by adding additional images. All other images should be of your office, your staff, and any other high-quality images that will give potential patients a good feeling about your practice. Your goal is to show them just how professional, welcoming, and modern your office is.
You also need to be thoughtful in the information you post about yourself and your practice. Remember that this is the patient’s first introduction to you, so keep it professional yet warm—and, as always, get someone to check your writing for spelling or grammar errors.
Next, you’re going to have to decide how you want Zocdoc to book appointments for you. While doctors do this in different ways (such as updating open appointments daily) the easiest thing to do is sync your office’s appointment schedule with Zocdoc’s system. This way you offer patients the soonest possible appointment.
How Reviews Work on Zocdoc
Zocdoc has a unique review system: instead of anyone with a computer being able to write a review, only verified patients can leave reviews. This means no faking reviews and no random accidental reviews. They call this a “closed-loop” system. Also, unlike other review sites, you don’t have to do any legwork to get reviews (aside from being an awesome doctor with an amazing staff, of course). This is because Zocdoc does the asking for you, prompting patients to write a review after each of their appointments. This leads to a greater-than-average volume of reviews, a good thing for both you and would-be patients.
How to Improve Your Rating on Zocdoc
Since the review gathering process is out of your hands on this site, your only job is to do what we hope you’re doing anyway: offering excellent, on-time healthcare.
The only other suggestion we have is to make good on the appointments you offer on Zocdoc. Not only can canceling or changing appointments garner bad reviews, it can get your Zocdoc account locked. So only list appointments which will you have reserved for Zocdoc referrals or link your appointment booking system directly to Zocdoc.
Don’t miss a thing! Follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn for the most current advice on how to improve your medical marketing so that it finally put you ahead of your competition.
I may have been a little impolite when I began my practice’s social media outreach. How can I repair the poor customer relations label I’ve stuck on myself?
It’s remarkable how quickly one boorish social media post can ignite a “flame war.” Rather than embarrass one of our law firm or medical practice partners, let’s take an example from college sports. An exchange between rival fans might go like this:
- Michigan Wolverines Official Site of Awesomeness: “Way to go U of M for your non-stop determination and drive. There’s definitely a reason we’re a Big 10.”
- Buckeyesforlife83: what are you even talking about? Wolverines? You should be called the “Woeful Latrines.” #Ohiorules
- MWOSA: We’re sorry you feel that way Buckeyesforlife83, obviously you’re confused on where you need to be. Go home and take your attitude with you.
- Buckeyesforlife83: figures. You can’t even come up with a decent response. Just like a Michigander to take their ball and go home.
- MWOSA: Whatever, at least we’re not from Ohio. Where do you think the toilet water goes—South. #mittenslap #FootballersGoHome-We’llTakeItFromHere
Does this type of banter look familiar? How many times have you seen similar posts on the social media pages of friends and colleagues? How many times have you engaged in a similar (yet I’m sure more eloquent and grammatical) debate on your own site?
Probably way more than you’d like to admit.
Unfortunately, many businesses allow personal feelings and opinions to outweigh the purpose of their networking sites. As a professional, you don’t want to attract social miscreants to your site as if it were a cage match. Sure, your page’s popularity may increase as a result of curious readers coming to see what low blow you may deliver next, but they’re not going to respect you as a professional. If they can’t respect you, then they’re definitely not going to hire you, so what’s the point?
Thankfully, even if your reputation may be tarnished from past posts, tweets, or memes, you can still dig yourself out of the rubble and rebuild a mature and successful social media platform for your businesses networking needs.
The Tools to Rebuild Your Social Media Reputation
Social media is an excellent way to promote yourself and your business. Unfortunately, it’s also an excellent vehicle to advertise your flaws. It isn’t as forgiving of the latter as it is of the former. It can be difficult to build your reputation as a smart and focused professional in a place where kitten videos and trolling are the norm. Thankfully, by knowing how to combat negative situations and baited comments, you can not only showcase your strengths, but also build a strong and supported networking platform for your business.
Here are some ways to get you started on rebuilding an otherwise tarnished social media reputation:
- Start fresh by refocusing on your ideal client. Making some questionable mistakes in the past doesn’t mean you need to continue upsetting or belittling your viewers. Take a step back and focus your social media encounters on those you want to help. By streamlining your focus, you’ll not only speak to your target audience but you’ll minimize the risk that unwanted viewers will leave negative comments.
- Stay calm. The odd negative response or poor review is bound to occur—don’t let it get to you. The fastest way to ruin your reputation is by addressing a problem when you’re ill-prepared. Take a moment to calm down before you decide how to approach the situation or comment.
- Respond positively. When and if you choose to respond to a negative remark, do so politely. Although this may be difficult, stooping to a Neanderthal level of namecalling and insults will only hurt you; you’ll give other readers the impression that you can’t be professional when confronted. However, if you take the high road and simply thank the negative commenter for taking the time to write, you’ll showcase your maturity…with the added bonus of preventing the curmudgeon from baiting you further.
- Use hashtags judiciously. When you choose to hashtag (#) a phrase or word, make sure that tag doesn’t mean something disrespectful. Otherwise, you’ll end up looking insensitive, cruel, or out-of-touch.
- Use information, not threats, to encourage likes and shares. When you include informative and entertaining content on your site, viewers will naturally like and share it. There’s no need to bait “likes” and “shares” by deceptively promising good fortune or threatening bad luck. Stand behind your content and trust your viewers to know what they like and what they don’t like
Wrecking Balls: Actions to Avoid
As long as you stay calm and positive when maintaining your social media sites, then successfully rebuilding your reputation should only be a matter of time. However, one false-sounding comment or ill-conceived post can reversing your progress. This is why it’s important not only to know what to do, but also what not to do. When updating your posts or checking your tweets, stay away from these common faux pas:
- Piggybacking on negative news. Stay away from using someone else’s tragedy as a way to promote yourself. For example, refrain from posting a story about a celebrity’s car accident with the remark, “He’ll be needing help from us.” Not only is this tactless, but it could also snarl you in legal trouble.
- Falling for the baited troll post. You need to remember that a lot of people on social media have way too much time on their hands. Many of them pass their time by “trolling” websites—posting outrageous comments in the hope of starting a fight. Don’t encourage this practice. If someone leaves a ridiculous comment or opinion, either ignore it or politely respond; anything else is just a disaster waiting to happen.
- Edgy humor. Although you should try to add appropriate wit and humor throughout your website and posts, make sure you stay mature and respectful. Everyone has their own trigger points. If you’re unsure of whether a joke goes too far, it probably crosses the line for some of your readers. Use a different joke instead.
- Shaming potential clients. Everyone has the right to his own opinion and the right to express that opinion. Although sometimes you may not agree with a comment, you need to respect the exercise of free expression. Refrain from belittling reader or starting a fight just because you disagree.
Above all, don’t try to turn negatives into positives; looking on the bright side of things is a useful tool, but should not be used to call extra attention negative comments. If you’re getting a lot of negative remarks or disinterest, don’t point that out to future clients. Instead, root out the problem and fix it. Once fixed, you can then politely draw attention to the fact that you were made aware of the issue and had the good grace and ability to right the wrong.
Sailing the seas of social media can be a perilous journey. We’d be happy to help you navigate those treacherous waters. Contact our social media marketing team at 866-460-3724, and let us map you out a course to the destination you desire.
Does the domain extension for my website affect my search engine rankings?
Domain extensions can be helpful in giving consumers basic information about a website, such as .gov for municipal sites and .edu for online homes of schools and universities. However, there is no ranking benefit for using .edu over a .com—and Google won’t be handing out any bonus points for newly-minted domain extensions, either.
You may remember from our previous blog posts on domain extensions that many new domain extensions are becoming available. In addition to .com, .gov, .org, and .edu, we may soon see .app, .radio, .help, and nearly any other extension imaginable. These new extensions are called Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs).
Google has recently confirmed that websites with new gTLDs will be evaluated based on the same geo-targeting settings as other sites, and will not be given any more or less weight when the search engine crawls, indexes, or ranks URLs. In short, using a new gTLD will not give your website any advantage in search results.
How Can I Be Sure My Domain Name Isn’t Working Against My Marketing Strategy?
As long as all domain extensions are treated equally by search engines, businesses have the freedom to choose and create a domain that best fits their brand. The SEO strategists at Foster Web Marketing can help you find the domain extension that makes the most sense for your long-term goals. Call us today at 866-460-3724 to find out which domain names and extensions would be best for you, or browse through our links to learn more about how to apply search engine optimization to your website.
What should I include in my email signature for the best client response?
Email signatures are meant to show your readers who you are and how to get in contact with you and your business. Although the signature is a crucial aspect of a letter, all too often it is neglected and inserted more as an afterthought than anything else. However, a good signature not only secures the reader’s attention, but also allows you the opportunity to gain more traffic to your site. On the other hand, a poor signature can make you look bad while also costing you a favorable response.
The trick is knowing the difference.
Signature Flair…Without Going Too Loopy
Email signatures should be concise, informative, and unique. Regrettably, many people focus on being unique above all else. The result: a mess of graphics that overwhelms the senses (not to mention the message), or a long-winded novella. Remember, the signature shouldn’t distract from the body of the text...it should enhance it by making the reader want to contact you (not grab a bag of popcorn or snuggle up for a long read).
In order to show professionalism without going overboard, you need to be able to find a balance between personal flair and necessary information. You need to know what your signature should include, and what needs to be dropped before it distracts and alienates business.
Items to Include
- A distinct separation from the body of the text.
- Your name.
- Position: managing partner, M.D., D.P.M., etc.
- Contact information: phone number, email, etc. Don’t go overboard! Your clients don’t need 50 ways to reach you; one or two will suffice and allow them to get in contact with you through your preferred medium.
- Trackable links to your professional website.
- Trackable links to your business’s Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ profile. Remember, less is more—choose one and stick with it.
- Design flair. Make your signature unique by adding your own personal touches to the closing (“Cheers”…“See you soon”…“I’m here for you,” or something similar) or by adding a small image or logo.
Signatures for private and some public organizations may require more information, such as company telephone number, or business address. You should be alert to local regulations.
Items to Drop
- Your resume, skill sets, or life achievements. When your signature is longer than your email, you have a problem. Leave the CV for your bio.
- Home phone number or address, unless your work is your home.
- Personal Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram details. Although it’s nice to share your vacation photos and memes with your friends, clients and other businesses don’t need to follow your personal life.
- URLs other than your business home page.
- Random quotations, jokes, or proverbs. There’s just too much risk of offending clients.
- Animated images.
- Logos that attempt to cram all the signature information into it. Small logos are fine and can showcase your personality, but a single image that replaces your signature isn’t wise.
Umm…Not So Much
Foster Project Manager Director
Facebook | Blog
Director of Everything
Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Upright
I’m Completely Awesome
10555 Main St., Suite 470A
Fairfax, VA 22030
…and about ten more lines of text!
The next time you’re writing an email, before you click SEND, remember to check your signature lines to make sure they’re exactly what you want them to be. Otherwise, you could jeopardize the entire point of the letter.
For more information on correspondence and content formatting, feel free to browse our highly informative (and often uniquely chuckle-worthy) blogs.
How can I create better website content to attract the patients I want?
Most medical professionals who develop websites want content that attracts the perfect patient and presents their practices in a positive light. They want content that sounds professional, yet personable, and they want their staff to appear knowledgeable and skilled. Writing in a way that accomplishes those goals can be challenging and requires language that “hooks” a potential patient and keeps him reading about your professional intelligence and expertise.
Because people come to your website seeking information, you want to provide content that offers that information in a clear and understandable way. If potential patients are confused by your content, they may be less inclined to contact you for an appointment. Writing in a way that builds trust and showcases your experience can help attract the patients you want most.
Content That Attracts Potential Patients to Your Website and Keeps Them Reading
Here are some important points to help you provide content that attracts potential patients to your website and keeps them on the page long enough to read your material:
- Remember that the attention span of the average person is eight seconds. Like most people, web users want to find information quickly, so you want your content to get to the point. Put the most critical information up front, and leave the details for later.
- Make it personal. Tailor your message to your perfect patients. For example, if you’re targeting people with diabetes, be sure your headline and subheads pose a question or address an issue that diabetics may be dealing with.
- Use the ‘less is more’ rule. When people search for information about a medical condition, they don’t need a lot of content—they just want the ‘right’ content. Avoid presenting an overload of generic medical content or a ‘wall of text’ that makes it a challenge to read through. Use short, focused pieces of text that present your information in small, readable chunks.
- Use bullet lists. Help your website visitor stay on your page by giving information in quick, brief statements that capture a specific point in a clear, succinct way.
- Use headlines to your advantage. Speak to your desired patient. Pose a hypothetical question or address common issues. Use your headlines and subheadings to capture the readers’ attention by letting them quickly know, “What’s In It For Me?”
What Not to Do
You can also keep a potential patient on your website and interested in your content by avoiding certain techniques, including:
- Being clever or anecdotal. Telling long stories, being cute or clever, or providing unrelated information are sure ways to lose your website visitor.
- Using jargon and complicated medical terms. You want to educate your website visitors, but be sure you’re not talking over their heads. Write to potential patients the way you would speak to them in your office if they were your patient.
- Using too much background information. Stay away from text that gives broad background information or long narratives that bury the point or never get to it.
Writing for Your Perfect Patient
Some medical professionals want to attract a generic set of patients; but most want to attract their perfect patient. Ideally, your website should speak to those people directly. The words you choose and the approach you take in presenting yourself and your practice are critical in keeping potential patients at your website and turning them into actual patients.
If you’d like more information on how we’ve helped many medical professionals provide effective website content, feel free to browse our testimonials page.
I found a company that is offering to send followers to my social media pages. They say that the extra interaction will improve my Google ranking. Is this a good investment?
Not really. This tactic was adopted in the early days of social media as a fast way to make a new enterprise look more established. Unfortunately, many firms are still buying into this ineffective advertising trick, suffering the loss of their marketing capital and no real gain.
Before you pay to add followers to your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or YouTube pages, you should be aware that these followers are:
- Not real people. There are companies that exist solely to create false online identities—complete with email addresses, social media accounts, and even phone numbers—that are then sold to digital middlemen, which are commonly called “click farms.” These identities are then sold by the bundle to unsuspecting companies looking to pad their online audiences. Put simply, your 1,000 new followers are no different than the spambots that plague an unprotected comments section.
- Unable to engage. Although your new followers are not real people, some can be used to go beyond a one-time interaction—liking a new post or even commenting on a thread. However, these robots can only talk, not listen, making any engagement they do with your website generic and irrelevant. You have paid to perform to an audience of imaginary friends (who will never hire you) instead of finding a local, interested audience.
- Throwing off your marketing numbers. Buying social media followers can turn your marketing data upside-down. From location (many “click farms” are based overseas) to age and income, you will no longer be able to trust any of the demographics collected by your social media accounts, making your real customers lost in the crowd.
These “click farms” stay in business for much the same reason people who sell fraudulent diet pills do—because desperate people can be conned into taking the easy way out. A few thousand “likes” on your Facebook may boost your self-esteem, but if nobody knows who these people are, they’re not likely to trust your business any more than if you had three followers who are actual human beings.
What Else Can I Do to Get People Interested in My Business?
There are nearly limitless ways to interact with your flesh-and-blood followers on social media—and best of all, most of them won’t cost anything. Simple actions such as “liking” other neighborhood business pages, responding to inquiries and comments on your posts in a timely manner, and posting information to entertain and inform your audience are great ways to engage with your target audience: actual people.
When it comes to social media, quality will always trump quantity. To find out how to interact with your audience in an effective and organic way, download a free copy of our our social media guide or contact us today at 866-460-3724 to discuss ideas for a robust social media strategy.
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