Growth June 28, 2017 Last updated June 18th, 2017 2,018 Reads share

How to Effectively Merge Your Online and Offline Presence

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You’ve probably noticed that driving foot traffic to your store isn’t easy. When they can make purchases in a few clicks, time-stretched millennials would rather shop online than go to a physical store. In fact, the

Yet rather than your online presence eradicating the need for your offline (and vice versa), the most successful businesses are merging their physical presence with their digital one. Let’s take a closer look.

#1. Design a Space That Makes Customers Want to Come Back

Want to compete with laptop and mobile? Design a space that’s worth visiting. Choose natural, soothing tones that encourage your visitors to relax and give them a break from all that screen-time.

If you have changing facilities or a waiting room, don’t cut your customers off from the thing they love most. That means providing free WIFI and maybe a plasma television or two. While you’re at it, try offering some coffee, iced water, and snacks.

Luke Kervin, CEO at PatientPop, a marketing platform for healthcare providers, explains, “comfortable waiting rooms enhance the patient experience, which leads to great reviews. And one great online review represents infinite referrals.”

Your physical and digital presence should always be intertwined, with one encouraging traffic to the other. Great reviews lead to more views, higher ranking in search engines and positive social proof.

#2. Create an Online Presence That Inspires Customer Confidence

71 percent of consumers begin their customer journey with a search engine. Which means that almost three quarters of your store traffic started finding out about you online. Here’s where your digital experience needs to complement your comfortable seating and soft lighting.

Offer site visitors a hard-to-navigate, incomplete, or broken webpage and they’ll simply go elsewhere. Says Kervin, “potential patients form their first impressions of you and your healthcare practice online. Dazzle them immediately with a user-friendly, informative website that allows them to find the information they need easily, book an appointment quickly, verify their insurance and read honest reviews.”

Millennials demand transparency and emotional connections with their brands. So, work customer reviews into your website. Don’t be tempted to offer a doctor/patient monolog or lengthy product pages.

In fact, 88 percent of customers care more about whether another customer liked your product or service than how long your company has been in business, or where their doctor practiced medicine. Welcome to 2017!

#3. Stop Being Afraid of Yelp!

According to Kervin, “More and more potential patients – especially millennials – search for their doctors on review sites like Yelp.” So, make sure that your profile is visible and up to date.

If a customer sees that your data is incomplete or you haven’t updated in the last twelve months, that doesn’t create a good impression. In fact, they may even think you’ve gone out of business.

If you have an awesome website and extraordinary physical location, the great reviews should roll on in. If a patient or customer tells you how much they love you, use that information. Thank them right away. Then encourage them to spread the word by reviewing you online, too.

Submitting your business for review can be a little daunting. Kervin admits, “Many doctors worry about using these review sites, convinced that negative feedback destroys practices. Fear not! If a poor review pops up, address it head on publicly without violating the reviewer’s privacy, and respond politely and promptly.” We’re all human and no one expects perfection 100 percent of the time.

#4. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of SEO

By the time a doctor completes their education, they’ve been through almost three decades of schooling. The same may apply to your business. You may know everything there is to know about automobile accessories and performance. But, in the age of search engines and speed of purchase, your knowledge may not be a factor.

Kervin explains, “unfortunately, a fancy diploma does not an expert make. Search engines want optimized content, not degrees.”

So, once you have your enticing website and good reviews in place, don’t stop there. There are many ways you can drive more traffic to your website, and in turn, your store. Start by working to establish yourself as an authority in your niche.

Create a weekly blog that discusses the various health issues you treat, or solutions that change customers’ lives. Make sure that your content is primed with the keywords that your customers or patients are actually searching for.

Humanize your brand and adding pictures of your employees, rather than stock images. Create a Q&A on your website that not only answers important questions, but also makes use of keywords, H1 and H2 headers and metadata, to raise your visibility.

#5. Be Authentic

You’ve probably heard the word “authentic” 100 times lately. In fact, it’s almost losing its authenticity! But with millennials ruling the roost, authenticity and transparency are qualities they demand. So, be yourself, don’t try to project an image that’s at odds with your business or core values.

Kervin advises, “Don’t be afraid to show some personality. So many men and women become doctors because they really want to help people. The stresses of running a practice often obscure that desire. Leave that tension behind when interacting with your patients. Ask them about themselves! Write down a few notes so you can follow up the next time you see them. Remain professional, but let yourself shine through, too”

So, if your store traffic is taking a hit and you’re wondering how to stay relevant in a world that moves increasingly online, remember you have powerful tools in your box. It’s not about your online replacing your offline, or dazzling storefront not needing a digital boost.

Create a welcoming space, be authentic, provide friendly customer service and be open to reviews. Then effectively merge your online and offline presence and beat the digital giants at their own game.

Christina Comben

Christina Comben

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