How to maximize your lab's online presence

May 25, 2012

Internet use worldwide is continually expanding as more social media sites pop up, and companies continue to expand their presence on the Web. Smartphones are getting smarter, and many people have opted to purchase tablets such as the iPad, all of which allow instant access to the Internet and a universe of Web-based apps. This activity creates opportunities but can create a multitude of challenges for those who have websites.

Internet use worldwide is continually expanding as more social media sites pop up, and companies continue to expand their presence on the Web. Smartphones are getting smarter, and many people have opted to purchase tablets such as the iPad, all of which allow instant access to the Internet and a universe of Web-based apps. This activity creates opportunities but can create a multitude of challenges for those who have websites.

If you have a website, that’s great. But you must ask yourself, “Just how effective is my site?” What are my statistics (most lab owners do not review these or know they are available), and can my customers or prospective customers even find my site? Where does my site appear in page rankings when searched? How often are current customers using the data provided on the site? Does my current marketing strategy lead prospects and customers to my site? And once there, how long do they stay and what interests them?

These questions, and others, are all valid. More importantly, you can find answers to them. To help answer these questions, it may be helpful to look at what makes a website effective in the first place. Let’s go back to the basics of website design, functionality and purpose. You might be able to drive people to visit your site, but keeping them there and getting them to come back are key elements that make your site an effective and valuable tool in your marketing efforts.

Remember, the main reason for having a website is marketing. If you do a poor job at the beginning, you will not get a return on your investment, nor will your site give you the increased business activity you desire.

Effective website design starts at the beginning. It should contain the information and elements your customers are looking for. Your site also should provide important information supporting all of your products and services, and it needs to be a part of your overall brand-those things that your customers can relate back to you and your company.

What it can do for you

Your website should be able to deliver any type of information that is requested by your customers or prospects. It should allow for prospects to request additional information, such as fee schedules, Rx forms, shipping labels, and information on special patient treatment options. Keep in mind that your website is a 24/7 salesperson specifically designed to answer any and all questions about your company.

You will need to understand that word searches are critical to optimizing your site. The use of metatags and text that is built into your website is critical to allow search engines to find your site. Alt image tags that are built into your page descriptions also should be considered as search engines will look for specific wording relating to the search being performed.

All of your non-Web marketing materials should contain your website URL to drive traffic to your site. The use of special landing pages, with unique URLs, will go a long way to provide you with a way to instantly communicate your message to those who visit your site as a result of your direct-mail marketing or pay-per-click marketing campaigns. In addition, you will now be able to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Getting it there

Now that we have some ideas about what makes a website effective, you may have answered some of the questions in the beginning of this article.

So what do you do if your site does not accomplish enough of the above objectives? Some sites can be “re-worked” and some will need to be developed using newer language and up-to-date design features. Some Web developers won’t even mess with a poorly designed website as it is a little like trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, just too much trouble and effort and not worth the expense.

However, some websites have been developed with current technologies and can be added to and updated to provide much of the information to help maximize your website’s effectiveness. Work with a good Web developer and through that process you will know which way to go.