Mobile searches offer risk, reward for your practice

September 16, 2014

Adoption of mobile technology is the future of your practice’s ability to stay connected with your patients.

The modern patient’s acceptance and use of mobile technology is growing faster than ever before. But we all know that, right? For the purpose of this article, let’s define mobile as any device other than a laptop or desktop computer (i.e. tablets and smartphones).

Consider these statistics:

  • Forty-six percent of online searchers now use mobile exclusively to research (start their search) on the Internet;

  • According to Google’s new Multi-Screen Study, 65 percent of all online searches began on a mobile device;

  • In the first 10 quarters after Apple introduced the iPad, it shipped nearly 100 million units, nearly four times more than the first 10 quarters after the introduction of the iPhone.

This is crystal clear proof that adoption of mobile technology is the future of your practice’s ability to stay connected with your patients. But as I said, everybody knows that, right?

Knowing and doing aren’t the same

In speaking with physicians across the country, it is obvious to me that as a group they understand the impact of mobile search trends on their ability to find, serve and keep new and existing patients. Physicians by nature appreciate innovation and possess an above-average understanding of technology.

If we can all agree that the math and science support the hypothesis that the majority of future, present and past patients utilize a mobile device to search for a local practice, and we agree that inexpensive technology exists to build highly effective mobile responsive web platforms, then there is a strong research based case for widespread adoption (Let’s define mobile responsive as any website, email or other online marketing message that automatically formats to the screen size of the user’s device, i.e., iPhone, iPad, Android, etc.).

It would therefore be a reasonable assumption that every medical practice either is now or has in the recent past taken the time to integrate mobile responsive technology into their online marketing efforts.

You either believe it, or you don’t. There is no in between.

NEXT: Patient mobile statistics

 

In the patient's shoes

Clinicians must put themselves in the shoes of the patient. What are reasonable expectations/intentions of someone launching a search from a mobile device? Consider these statistics:

  • Fifty-seven percent go directly to an app or the website being searched;

  • Sixty percent expect to be within walking distance or local driving distance;

  • Thirty-three percent search specifically for contact information (i.e. maps, directions, phone numbers);

  • From a conversion perspective, 80 percent (4/5) local searches launched on a website result in a conversion (purchase of the searched product/procedure).

These are not “tire-kickers.” Most know exactly what they want and when they want it. This represents highly qualified traffic for your practice.

The risk, the reward

Mobile searchers will be quickly turned off by a website that it is not easy to find, navigate or does not quickly provide the information they are looking for in the exact format of their screen. There is nothing more disappointing to mobile searchers than to find the site they’re looking for only to discover they have to tap, expand, pull, pinch, squint and scroll to find what they want. We have all been in that situation, and it is not pleasant. Lack of an effective mobile responsive platform will absolutely negatively impact your ability to convert searchers to paying patients. This is a risk not worth taking.

A well thought-out mobile responsive platform combined with a solid local search strategy can dramatically increase your ability to attract and convert mobile searchers. Hint: the No. 1 influencing factor on a patient’s decision to choose a provider is the amount of experience of the physician.

So, in addition to all relevant contact information, what would be something to consider in the navigation of your mobile site? Exactly!

By the way, your mobile site alone has a 9.2 percent influence on the searcher’s decision to contact the practice. This translates to big rewards given the volume of mobile searches conducted daily. They are rewards worth pursuing.

NEXT: Opportunity in harnessing mobile search

 

 

The bottom line

Acceptance and wide spread adoption of mobile search technology is here to stay. And no, it’s not just kids playing on Twitter and Instagram. In the 30-49 age bracket, 74 percent own a smartphone. From 50-64, the number is just under 50 percent. And they use them for everything. The demographics line up well - for people with incomes over $75,000, the number is 81 percent.

The reality is mobile searchers pose an incredible opportunity for physicians to increase market share. Consider the success of the iPod. Nearly 13 years after being introduced in 2001, the good, old iPod still controls 90 percent of the market for hard drive-based players. The lesson there is that those who are first to market usually win.

The million-dollar question is: Now that you know it, what are you going to do about it?