By: Sandy Stark
5 min read, E-Commerce, Optometry
Just as many of us are triggered to set New Year Resolutions every January, so too are we prompted to do a little spring cleaning at the first sight of a daffodil in bloom. Also like new year resolutions, getting into the habit of spring cleaning can be as equally satisfying and productive for our businesses as it is for our personal spaces. This is especially true for an online business, including your optometry practice.
Although easy to neglect in favour of day-to-day tasks, websites and e-commerce stores are not a one-and-done project. A successful, engaging online presence requires regular maintenance. Left unattended, over time websites begin to look stale, information falls out of date, links break and images age. All these things, separately or together, can negatively impact your visitors' experience with your site. Whereas keeping your site running smoothy and current, improves patient experience and leads to conversion.
Once a year, plan a routine spring cleaning by evaluating your website and/or online store for performance and content. Don't be daunted; the better you are at keeping your site up to date, the easier it gets and the bigger the rewards.
Whether you manage your own site or outsource the work, completing this list of simple tasks, will help keep your content organized, optimized and looking great.
Spring Cleaning 'To Do' List
- Audit Your Content: Starting with a thorough audit of your site content allows you to identify which pages are working for you and which aren't. From here you will determine what content has to be revised, moved or deleted. The first goal is to improve your patients' experience, leading to better site conversions - the percentage of site visitors that take the action you are hoping for. That action can be anything from making a purchase to signing up for a newsletter to booking an appointment. The second goal is to boost your SEO rankings, making your Practice easier to find by moving you up the ladder in search engine results.
There are some powerful (free and paid) Analytics Tools out there that can quickly identify the best and the worst performing content and pages on your site. If a page isn't getting any clicks or your bounce rates are high then you know you need to address that particular content. It may be that you have great content but it is buried and needs to be moved. Or, perhaps the content is no longer relevant and can be removed or revised. Conversely, analyze your best performing pages for key words, layout, images and positioning on your site, and try to duplicate what is working on those pages, on the under performing pages.
If you choose not to use an analytics tool, begin your audit by creating a spreadsheet of your site (you can download your entire website to do this) and systematically go through page by page labelling each piece of content as Keep, Move, Delete or Edit. Then go about executing those tasks.
- Fix Broken Links: There are few things more off-putting when visiting a website or online store, than clicking a link only to receive a 404 Error message or have nothing happen at all. Immediately our experience with that site has shifted and our impression of that business is negatively impacted. In a large percentage of cases when we encounter a broken link we will leave the page altogether. Broken links are a nature of the beast; they happen among big and small, seasoned and new e-commerce sites. Fortunately, in most cases, they can be detected and repaired in a reasonable amount of time. Again, we have found a list of some tools you can use to quickly detect Broken Links. The good news is, some are even free!
- Test Site Navigation: In the simplest of terms, website navigation refers how visitors move around between the pages and links on your website. Well executed navigation is intuitive to your patients' experience and ultimately increases their satisfaction. When visitors to your site are able to find what they are looking for quickly and easily not only are they going to come away with a positive impression of your site, and by extension your Practice, they are apt to stay longer and buy more. Well structured navigation also improves SEO performance as it allows search engines to effectively crawl your site while indexing key words and metadata, earning you a higher ranking in search results.
Test your navigation from your patients' perspective. Have friends, family and staff run through as a potential customer to identify points of resistance. Solicit feedback from your existing patients to explore their experience using your site. Pay attention to menu placement, links and overall layout. Are these elements where you as a customer would instinctually expect to find them? Are they easy to see and read? Does your experience on your website yield the results you would expect from a patient perspective?
- Refresh Images: Don't let old images date you. Updating graphics and images is an easy way to freshen up the look of your site. Don't overcrowd your pages with images and graphics that can impede navigation, rather use these elements intentionally to enhance your layout, draw attention to important information and/or calls to action. Keep the look crisp and clean. Banner images, product shots, charts and graphs and staff pictures are all examples of images that can make your pages pop and convey key messages at the same time.
Manage your image file sizes. The larger the file size, the slower they load, impacting site performance. There are some excellent, even free, Image Optimization tools you can use to compress your files, making the images more website friendly.
As for storage, it does not take long to amass a large directory of photo files. Adopt file naming conventions and groupings that allow you to easily retrieve the images you will look for later.
- Evaluate Product Offering: Out with the old, in with the new. It's time to take stock of your stock and online product offering. Take a look at your sales history. What is selling? What is not selling? Do you have old inventory to clean out? If so, consider running a Flash Sale to clear it out. Review your product descriptions and names so they are identifiable, consistent and easy to search. Double check all your pricing and adjust as needed.
- Update Core Pages: Core pages are the ones that host your 'Landing Page', 'About Us', 'Contact', 'Products and Services', 'Policies', 'Social Media' links and 'FAQs'. Oftentimes information can change in the course of every day business and your website is the last to reflect these changes.
Beyond the obvious of verifying your contact information and testing your links, try conducting keyword research to find out if your written content is reaching your target audience and ranking high in searches. Semrush offers a free keyword search tool that will help you with this.
Make certain your shipping and return polices and associated costs are transparent to help reduce buyer frustration and abandoned carts.
- Freshen Up Staff Bios and Headshots: This one might hurt the ego a little bit, but not everyone wants to read your life story and that pic from 2002 is fabulous but it's twenty years old. DO include staff bios (at the very least for the Doctor(s) in your Practice) complete with professional headshots as they offer a sense of connection to your readers. Photos should be current. Bios should be concise, no more than two, maybe three short paragraphs. It is ok, even encouraged, to include some personality and personal information such as family and hobbies. It goes without saying, always be professional.
- Test Checkout Experience: Similar to testing your site navigation, run through a purchase as though you were a patient buying from your online store. Research indicates among the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment are: unexpected shipping costs, long and confusing checkout procedures, and website errors/malfunctions. Catching glitches early can help eliminate this frustration for your patients and save you from lost sales.
- Run a Test Email Campaign of Your Patient Database: Ideally, we would advise to you keep your database up to date all year long; making the changes as they occur. The reality is that is not the practice most of us adhere to, opting instead for the "I'll do it later" approach. Sometimes later becomes weeks or months. Your database is an invaluable tool for your marketing campaigns. Your spring cleaning is a great time to check in with your patients. Set some time aside to run a test campaign and watch for bounced emails. Use this campaign to get feedback from your patients on their experience with your practice and online store. Tip: For everyday maintenance ask your patients to verify their contact information when they check-in for their in office appointment.
- Change Passwords: Self explanatory. This is just good practice for security and privacy protection.
Sightly is a leader in Patient-Commerce solutions designed specifically for optometry practices. Patient-Commerce is the seamless union of e-commerce and personalized patient care. Propelled in consultation with top optometry professionals and motivated by subscriber feedback, Sightly continues to enhance their product offering with tools intended to integrate the care and expertise your patients receive in-office, with the 24/7 accessibility they have to come to expect in an online world. There are no limits to the products you can retail on your Sightly storefront. Lenses, frames, dry-eye products, accessories, cosmetics even books have been sold using the Sightly platform. Launching an online store this robust has never been easier and Sightly will guide you through comprehensive training and accessible customer service.
To book a virtual demo of Sightly with a member of our team or to learn more about how to make the most of your existing online store click here.
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