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Published 9.20.2022

As I speak to practices, two concerns often rise to the top: finding new patients and making sure current patients purchase at the appointment (capture rate). When addressing these concerns, a solid online presence can be crucial to success.

For the new patient, the journey to your office often begins with an internet search that hopefully leads them to your office. For the existing patient, the journey may be similar. Since optometry offices are only visited every 1-3 years by even the most loyal customers, they often don’t remember many details about the office or even the exact location. This makes every online visit a chance to make a memorable first impression.

A good exercise

Put yourself in the place of the consumer who needs to find a new office or locate their existing office. Imagine that you have broken glasses, but you know nothing about the selection at the office or what is involved in getting glasses. You have questions like: “How long does it take?” or “Do they carry frames I like?” Chances are that your front desk fields questions like these every day.

Today’s rushed consumer is trying to figure out if they can accomplish what they need to at your location in what they’ve defined as a timely manner. Now having imagined a scenario like this, visit your own website to see if it answers these likely questions.

Any web developer will tell you to create a website that, above all else, can be easily found. Once they land on your homepage, can they easily find what they need? Customers often call the office to see if you carry a particular brand. Consider the question behind the question: what they are actually asking is “Do you have glasses that I will like so I can accomplish what I need during this visit?”

Simple first steps

Having an online frame inventory or virtual try-on is an ideal way to answer this question as well as relieve some phone traffic to your office. Not only will this help set the customer at ease, it will also increase capture rate by engaging the patient to explore their new look and purchase. Having these tools available to your prospective customers also tells them that your office is modern, convenient, and concerned with their experience before they even have to call your office.

Purchase anticipation is a powerful capture rate tool and effective marketing approach. We see this in ads from restaurant commercials showing savory steaming dishes to vehicles strategically parked at car dealerships to stimulate emotions of fun and adventure. Sometimes you even see an SUV up on a pile of rocks so the customer can imagine the joy of owning such a vehicle before the purchase. The salesperson then seals the deal with a test drive.

Your website doesn’t need to be the world’s most robust compendium of eye care conditions or list everything your practice could do, it needs to provide the patient with just enough information to schedule an appointment. Think about how your website can create positive anticipation regarding your products and services and provide a sense of how convenient the experience will be as a patient.

Features such as online appointment scheduling, virtual try-on, or easy payment options all signal a positive patient journey.

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Mark Clark
Mark Clark, Vice President Digital Services
Mark Clark is Vice President of Digital Services at Modern Optical International and manages OCHO Vision, Modern’s virtual try-on platform for independent ECPs. He has been in the optical industry for over 20 years working in offices, laboratories, and wholesale. A former practice owner with an MBA in Healthcare Administration, Mark is also an ABO Certified speaker who enjoys giving lectures on practice management and digital marketing.

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