What is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Do you want to attract more patients to your practice? If so, conversion rate optimization is a must. In this article, we'll explore what conversion rate optimization is and teach you how to use it to make your marketing easier and grow your practice.

2 months ago   •   4 min read

By Crawford Ifland
Table of contents

Do you want to attract more patients to your practice? If so, conversion rate optimization is a must. In this article, we'll explore what conversion rate optimization is and teach you how to use it to make your marketing easier and grow your practice.

What is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) refers to the process of improving your website's "conversion rate" – the percentage of website visitors who take an action, such as filling out a self-test, requesting an appointment, or calling your practice.

CRO can be performed on any type of website, but it has proven particularly effective in industries such as healthcare, where CRO techniques have been shown to increase conversions by up to 400%.

Especially in medical subspecialties with high gross margins, a 400% improvement conversion rate can mean six or seven figures added to the bottom line.

Conversion rate optimization is all about testing and experimentation.

CRO is based on a concept called "A/B testing" where a marketer will make a hypothesis and then set up an experiment to test that hypothesis.

One variant ("A") will test the original hypothesis, while the second variant ("B") will test a slight variation: changing the color of a button, editing a sentence slightly, or swapping out a different image.

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don't know which half.”

In an A/B test, half of all website visitors are shown the "A" variant, while the other half are shown the "B" variant. Data is then collected to see which variant "wins" and produces better results. Sometimes the original hypothesis is proven correct, while other times, the new variant wins.

It's All About the Data

Data is the most important piece of conversion rate optimization.

Rather than making guesses about marketing, conversion rate optimization is all about collecting data to "back up" one's decisions. Without data, conversion rate optimization is just a guessing game.

And if you're playing a guessing game with your website or ad spend, there's a 99% chance you're throwing money down the drain.

As department store magnate John Wanamaker once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don't know which half.”

If Wanamaker was alive today, he wouldn't have that problem. Today's tools and techniques for measuring conversion rates make it much easier to run experiments, optimize marketing messages, and reduce wasted spend.

But do the principles of conversion rate optimization apply to doctors?

Why Does Conversion Rate Optimization Matter for Doctors?

Healthcare providers see a lot of patients, and for many elective surgical practices, gross margins are high. This can make conversion rate optimization seem less important – but that's not the case.

A change in the number of patients filling out a form from 2% to 4% may seem insignificant, but it's a 100% change.

And if double the amount of patients fill out an appointment request form, that can lead to significant practice growth.

Double the amount of patients.

Double the amount of revenue.

100% growth year-over-year. That's powerful stuff.

That's why conversion rate optimization is so powerful: it's simple, it's free, and anyone can use it to improve.

The "stakes" are also low: if an experiment doesn't work, you don't have to change a thing. But if an experiment increases conversion rates, that could mean exponential growth.

And even if you aren't making any noticeable changes, CRO still matters. Consider "bounce rate" (the number of people who leave your website without clicking through to other pages): even the smallest of tweaks to make your site load faster or perform better on mobile devices can reduce this number.

Patients may never notice, but it can have a huge impact on your bottom line: when fewer prospects "bounce", more of them stay on your site. And the more people who stay on your site, the better chances you have of converting some of them into patients.

Reducing bounce rate alone – without making any visible change to your website – can help your practice grow.

Ideas for Experiments Doctors Can Run on Their Websites

There are many experiments a doctor can run on their practice website to increase conversions. Before you run experiments though, you should know the answer to the following questions:

  • What is my website bounce rate?
  • Are there any obvious issues with our site that could be improving patient experience and lowering bounce rates (slow page load times, low-resolution images on mobile devices)?
  • Do we have Google Analytics or other analytics software installed on our website? If so, are we tracking important metrics like conversion funnel steps, conversions by source, or goal completions?

Assuming you have the necessary tools installed on your website, it's time to hypothesize and run a few experiments.

Examples of experiments you can run on your website include:

  • Testing images on your homepage to see how patients respond to different imagery
  • Testing the size, language, color, and placement of "Call to Action" buttons to see how patients respond
  • Testing the order and size of navigation menus to see how patients interact
  • Reducing the number of "required fields" to see if simplifying your contact forms increases conversions
  • Testing technologies like Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages to see if traffic to your content marketing increases

These are just a few examples of experiments you can run with conversion rate optimization tools, but the sky is the limit.

Now that you've run through conversion rate optimization fundamentals, it's time to get your hands dirty and start testing. Expect a bit of trial-and-error as you test different configurations and run experiments.

Some of your hypotheses will be correct, but others may be wrong.

The key is to be flexible and adaptable to change. CRO is meant to test your hypotheses and assumptions, so do your best to embrace humility. Remember, it's not about whether you're "right" or not: it's all about the data.

How Do I Get Started with Conversion Rate Optimization?

Lots of doctors and healthcare marketers are surprised when they first start with conversion rate optimization, but the data tells the story. Even the slightest improvement can have a noticeable impact on your practice growth. Conversion rate optimization is one of the most cost-effective ways to grow your practice.

If you want to improve your website and convert more patients, reach out to our team – we can help you set up experiments, test hypotheses, and give you the tools you need to grow your practice.

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