An effective website will help bring new customers into your independent pharmacy and keep current customers connected and engaged. Brad Shorr explains…
A poorly executed website will drive business into the hands of competitors, of which there are a lot to choose from in any urban or suburban market. So how do you make an independent pharmacy website effective? Here are 10 of the most important ways to make yours stand out.
1. Present your brand with power and passion.
Customers are attracted to independent pharmacies for many reasons, but chiefly among them are a desire for a personal relationship and supporting local business. An effective pharmacy website, in its design, content and imagery, conveys a personal touch and a comfortable, caring attitude. If your website conveys the true personality and passion of your business rather than merely being a stripped-down imitation of a chain pharmacy website, you’ll build interest among prospective customers and remind your current customers why they are doing business with you.
2. Make your website mobile-friendly.
Giving mobile visitors a great website experience is becoming more important all the time. For local businesses especially, people use mobile devices to find and research products and services. If you already have a responsive website (one that adjusts automatically for different screen sizes), then look for ways to improve the mobile experience even more. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, get the ball rolling to make the shift now.
3. Add appealing offers.
Does your website give users reasons to visit your store or inquire online right now? Special offers such as flash sales, loyalty programs and free services give people a reason to take action. Ideally, these offers should change, both to keep the website fresh and to have maximum appeal. For instance, late fall and winter months are ideal for offering flu shots; springtime is perfect for offering specials on sunscreen.
4. Use age-appropriate design features.
Are your customers primarily elderly? If so, your website should have easy-to-read, large fonts, simple navigation, and prioritize phone contact over filling out forms. On the other hand, if you are serving primarily younger people and families, you can use more complex navigation and content, and put more emphasis on contact forms and online services such as auto prescription refills. If you serve people of all ages, then it’s very important to display content and navigation that makes it easy for all users to find what they need — this may involve some very thoughtful research and testing to get right.
5. Add credibility elements.
One potential weakness for an independent pharmacy is establishing credibility. Rightly or wrongly, people may assume a national or global enterprise is more competent and efficient. Thus, it is imperative to let website visitors know you are an organization that can be trusted. There are many ways to establish credibility, including:
• Bios of owners and pharmacists that highlight education, certifications, training and recognition
• Endorsements from customers
• Highlighting years in business
• Discussion of the pharmacy’s history; links to mentions of the pharmacy in online press articles
• Highlighting participation in community charitable activities
6. Easy-to-use, mobile-friendly contact forms.
The fewer required form fields, the better — website visitors are reluctant to spend time filling out complicated forms or ones that require a lot of personal information. Forms should be tested on mobile phones, to ensure the field boxes are large enough for mobile use. Another key element of a contact form is a privacy statement that assures visitors that their information will not be given to third parties.
7. Prominent display of phone number.
Your main phone number should appear prominently in the upper left portion of all pages in desktop view — this is customarily where desktop users look for phone numbers. In mobile view, a phone icon with click-to-call functionality should be fixed in the top navigation, so it remains in view as the mobile user scrolls down the page. Bottom line: Site visitors should NEVER have to hunt for your phone number. (Incidentally, you should make sure phone inquiries are handled professionally and efficiently. Poor execution on the receiving end nullifies all of the great design work you’ve put into your website!)
8. Embed a Google map with your location on the Contact page.
Naturally, you want people to be able to find your pharmacy easily whether they are in a vehicle or walking. A Google map with a marker to your location embedded on the Contact page is a widely used, effective and easy-to-implement way to do it.
9. Keep navigation intuitive.
In web design, it is often a mistake to get too creative, because creativity confuses visitors. Site navigation is one area where it’s best to keep it generic, with links to Home, Contact, Services, About, Health Information, etc. Sub-navigation menus can be more extensive than top-line navigation, but it pays to have an experienced B2C web designer create and test navigation.
10. Test and tweak.
Speaking of testing, it is always wise to test and tweak the site. Here’s a simple way to do it: Ask customers what they think of your site — in a week you’ll know all of your site’s strengths and weaknesses.
Brad Shorr is director of content strategy at Straight North, a privately held online marketing and web design firm headquartered in the Chicago area.