When you first built your website, did your web developer promise more clicks and traffic? They may have even shown you stats backing up that claim, but at some point you realized that you can’t contact a “click” and you don’t know who’s in that traffic!
That was the driving force behind my plan to build a better lead generation platform for my plastic surgery practice website. And you can apply it to your business too.
About a year and a half ago, I moved from Louisiana to San Francisco. I had been in practice for six years as an employed plastic surgeon in a large hospital in Baton Rouge and decided I wanted to be in a bigger city. I had a great relationship with the hospital administration so it was a pleasant parting of ways.
I found a plastic surgeon in San Francisco who was retiring and he had the type of practice that I wanted—mostly cosmetic and an accredited in-office operating room. We worked out a contractual arrangement that was mutually agreed upon, wherein he would stay for about four-and-a-half months after my arrival in June, 2013.
When I arrived, he had a total of 200 email addresses in his database. I knew that my success would depend on my ultimate competence and rapport with former and new patients but I certainly wanted to retain as many of his patients as possible, in addition to finding new ones. So I started going through old records looking for email addresses that weren’t already in his database. Humorously, I found that prior to 2001, the patient intake forms didn’t even ask for an email address, either because that was deemed too personal or because many people didn’t have one.
It was clear I needed to build my own database of new patients interested in cosmetic surgery. However, I couldn’t just build the database from patients walking through the clinic doors. I needed a way to capture new leads online in the hopes that with increased leads would come increased consults. And that’s what I did; as of this writing, one and a half years after my arrival, I’ve grown my database to over 3,000 email addresses.
How I turned traffic into leads
Prior to coming to San Francisco, I started a separate company that is essentially a lead generation platform using price transparency as the “carrot.” In other words, when I provided a list of my services on my website or Facebook page (without revealing the cost), consumers provided their contact info in exchange for pricing information—the proverbial carrot in this scenario.
By making cost information automatically available after the consumer provides their contact info, we’ve obliged their desire for instant information and received a lead in the process. In addition to following up on every one of these leads, we sync the patient’s email address to our email marketing software so each successive month’s email newsletter goes to more and more subscribers.
• Database grew from 200 to over 3,000 email addresses in 1.5 years
• In the first year alone (June 2013 to June 2014), without any advertising, we collected 412 wish lists from 208 unique consumers from one lead generation platform, with a total of 1,628 unique consumers submitting thousands of wish lists from June 2013 to January 2015 (this includes an increase in consumer engagement after we started advertising in the fall of 2014 and directed consumers to the Pricing page on our website)
• 17.8 percent of all wish lists from the first year came in for a consultation; 62 percent of those that came in booked a procedure (figure 1)
• 82.2 percent of consumers submitting wish lists learned that services were out of their budget and didn’t schedule an appointment (better to recognize their financial constraints before coming in for a 45-minute consultation!)
• The consumers that booked a procedure accounted for over $92,000 of revenue from that one lead source
• When compared to consumers who came in without knowing cost ahead of time, price-aware consumers were 41-percent more likely to book (figure 2)
Not a plastic surgeon? How can this apply to you?
You may not be offering cosmetic procedures to your customers but we’re all selling something of value. And that something has a cost, and consumers want to know what that cost is before they come in.
Therefore, consider offering hard-to-find information like cost on your website behind an “iron curtain.” The elusive information the consumer is willing to trade their identity for may be something other than cost. Your “carrot” may come in the form of a discount on a service or an online-only special.
Consumers who are interested enough in what you have will provide contact information as long as they get that information automatically (or at least quickly)—instant gratification is a corollary to this theorem of lead generation. One additional bit of advice: if you offer a special prize to one lucky online registrant, make sure the prize or product is commensurate with your line of business. For example, don’t offer a free spa treatment if you’re a clothing boutique; then you’re selecting a demographic that may be more interested in facials than fashion-forward clothing!
The secret isn’t advertising and SEO alone – that will only get you more clicks and traffic. You also need something to motivate the consumer to hand over their identity!
Dr. Jonathan Kaplan is a board-certified plastic surgeon based in San Francisco, CA and founder/CEO of BuildMyBod, an online marketplace for healthcare services that allows consumers to determine cost of out-of-pocket procedures, and purchase non-surgical services from its database of over 100 and growing board-certified plastic surgeons, dermatologists, primary care, dentists, Ob/Gyns and other health care providers that believe in price transparency.