21 Website Mistakes Acupuncturists Make

“I’m not getting any new patients from my website. Why should I bother with a website?”

I still hear this from time to time from very talented and skilled wellness professionals.

Did you know that more and more health care consumers are doing extensive online research before making a buying decision?

Even if you network frequently and have a great word-of-mouth referral system in place and get great reviews, people are going to want to visit your website to help them make that decision.

Is it doing its job?

Lately I’ve been seeing some websites that are pretty bad. Just today I saw two that make almost EVERY SINGLE ONE of these mistakes. I’ve also seen some excellent websites that I am learning from.

So I came up with a list of 21 website mistakes acupuncturists make. (Note: Most of these tips will apply to all health and wellness professionals and coaches!) 

Hang in there, because I’m going to give  you some tips and resources along the way to help you create a website that will serve you in these reapidly changing times, whether you are a DIYer or need to outsource a new website. 

Ready? Let’s go. 

1. Unprofessional looking (and functioning) sites

Lets start with the most obvious.

I was inspired to update this blog because today I did some research (spying?) on some acupuncture sites, as it is interesting to see how marketing and websites in this industry is evolving.

I’ve seen great sites, mediocre sites, and some that quite frankly.. suck. (to be blunt)

 Although I understand that many holistic healers are starting out on a shoestring budget, it’s hard to get out of that place if your site looks cheap and amateurish. Most people, including myself, won’t even bother with sites like this.

It’s not just how your website looks. The user experience, functionality, and effectiveness in converting visitors into leads and paying clients and patients  is also VERY important. Many acupuncturists and wellness professionals are guided towards Wix, Weebly, and SquareSpace, These platforms may work well in the short term, but eventually you will outgrow these restrictive platforms and run into some serious obstacles.

It’s not always about the platform. Many health and wellness professionals don’t know what they don’t know (and don’t want to know or invest in) marketing their business, copywriting, branding, or basic design skills. The result is not-so-great first impression.  Design and branding DO count. Copywriting can make a difference between selling your products and services and hearing crickets.

This does not mean that you need to be absolutely perfect. That will only get in your way. My website is still a work in progress.. I cringe when I think of my first versions.  I’ll probably look back and critique the site as you see it today. That’s fine. But if you do feel over your head when it comes to basic standards, it’s ok to ask for help or if on a budget, take the time to learn. 

1. Sites that have not been updated since 2011

Surprisingly, I see this more often with established healers and coaches. Outdated sites are often hard to read, with too much poorly organized information.

This is more difficult for me to understand than the cash-strapped newbie. There’s no excuse for not keeping a site updated when you are established.  Update your site on a regular basis, for the sake of your audience.

3. Pretty sites with no actual substance or function

Some health and wellness websites may LOOK nice, but offer little more than a brochure, which will likely be seen by very few people or fail to generate any leads.

I still get requests to create “clean and elegant” websites. Great.. this is a start. But this alone won’t help you stand out from the crowd or turn visitors into leads, and leads into paying clients and patients.

4. Too much esoterica or jargon

If the name “chasing the jade tiger” (I made that up) is one you gotta have, make sure it has a purpose that fits in with what you do. Perhaps a qi gong site for those who are already somewhat savvy in Chinese medicine.

But If you want to attract people who just want relief from knee pain, stick to something a little more straightforward. At the very least, add something like: “acupuncture in Golden” as a tagline or in your URL.

I use something called the “grunt” test when I write copy for a website. In a few seconds, in the header, the visitor needs to be able to understand, on a primal level, what you do. (Example: (in caveman speak) Oh, she save time for me so I can do what I want. Mmmm. Grunt). Yep, like that. 

They are not fully immersed in the same world we are, as practitioners. Speak THEIR language, not yours.

Bottom line: People that come to your site want to solve a problem, and you are there to help them.  Save the jargon and shop talk for meetings over coffee with your colleagues. SHOW them that you understand their problem and how to solve it.

Update: I now build websites based on the StoryBrand Framework ONLY, because they simply convert well. (They do the job they are supposed to do) All the bases I mentioned are covered.

5. Cold and clinical sites

Many assume that they must wear a white lab coat, have a boring logo, and come across as dry in order to be taken seriously as a professional. Nope.

Look at other successful health websites. This isn’t how they market to their audience. My dentist markets herself as a real, approachable person, and I don’t see her as any less competent as a professional.

Show how warm and inviting your office is.. how much it DOESN’T feel like a medical procedure, etc.

Keep the clinical aspect in your case studies and blogs, unless clinical nerd really is part of your persona, feels natural to you, and gets you the kinds of patients you like to work with.

Remember, more and more people are doing their research before making a buying decision. Although what a good customer journey and bedside manner means can vary from person to person, it’s generally good in today’s market to show that you care about the comfort and experience of your patients (guests).

I like to use the NEW PATIENTS section to orient my patients. Go beyond the “make sure you eat before you come and wear loose comfortable clothing.”

Give your new patients a feel for your clinic. Guide them on their journey. Inform them about traffic, parking, entrances. Tell them what’s waiting for them: A nice, comfortable waiting room with a beverage bar? A massage chair? Interesting reading materials?

Put them at ease. Help them feel like your clinic is a place where they can relax and have a great experience, even if they are getting just a simple treatment, session, or adjustment.

In an increasingly competitive market, this step could be the deciding factor on whether vistors book with you or someone else.. particularly  if your services, branding, message, and qualifications are similar to your colleagues.

6. Stock photo clichés

Oh, don’t get me started. Granted, it was MUCH worse about 5-10 years ago, with the ubiquitous “woman in wheat field with arms outstretched” or “woman laughing with salad” or (my peeve) “suburban couple riding cheap mountain bikes at 1mph with no gear or helmets laughing joyously right before falling off bikes” on every site selling wellness, insurance, or mattresses.

stock photo cliches

I know it’s not easy to find great photos. Try finding decent images of real middle aged active women and you will see what I mean. It’s hard. But your audience can TELL if you “get” them or not, and images do play a huge role.

If I’m being “marketed to” as a “woman over 50” I’m going to be turned off by an image of a 75 year old woman in conservative clothes and an 80’s headband lifting a 3lb weight.

I’m also going to pass on the service selling me anti -aging and hormone balancing packages.. the one with the website with the 25 year old model in full makeup lying on an a massage table with a needle in yin tang and a blissed out expression on her perfect face. Nope. Next, please. This isn’t for me.

But these are exactly the photos I see when un-savvy marketers target my demographic. Are women my age really THAT invisible?

Likewise, Active people in Colorado are not going to be fooled by the cheesy “mountain biking” photo. Put some thought and effort into your research, including your images, which can make or break a FB ad, costing you a lot of wasted money.

Fortunately, this common website mistake is getting easier to fix.

It’s getting easier to find better images, both for free (Pexels, Unsplash) and for a small fee (Shutterstock) It’s also worth finding stock photos or bundles specific to your industry.  If you are a coach, or even a holistic healer, investing in a professional photo shoot is highly recommended.

A great source to check out: The acupuncture photography project. 

You can always ASK some of your favorite clients and patients their opinion about your content and branding.. including photos! While you are at it, you may even be able to ask them to model for you!

7. No compelling reason to take any action/making it hard to book online

This is one of the biggest website mistakes that acupuncturists, holistic healers, and creative entrepreneurs make.

Many holistic healing sites not only all contain the same information I can find elsewhere, but there’s no compelling reason to book an appointment or consultation, download info, join a community or conversation, or subscribe to a list.

The basics you want to have in place:

1. A way to capture leads, so that the traffic to your website that you worked so hard for isn’t the equivalent a one night stand. In other words.. Get them on your email list!

Need help with this piece? You can go the DIY route here, or the Done For You route here.

2. Some CONTENT. Direct them to your blog, podcast, or other cool freebies in the navigation bar/menu at the top of your page.

Even worse than having nothing to offer (which is like going to a party where there is no food, drink, entertainment,  or conversation) is making it HARD to book an appointment with you.

How many visitors to your site WANT to book online, but all you have is a phone number and buried somewhere, a weak request to “give us a call?”

If they actually DO call, and reach your voice mail, odds are VERY good that they will move on.

It’s the 2020’s! Make it easy for people to book online and manage their own appointments. A good patient management app, such as Jane, Acuity, AcuSimple, and PracticeBetter are great options for 1:1 services or booking time slots. 

PracticeBetter and Kartra are good choices if you are moving from strictly 1:1 and into “one-to-many” offerings. 

You can easily sync these calendars with your own Calendar (i.e. Google) so that you don’t have to worry about double-booking.

Now, a tip from the StoryBrand framework:

Include more than one CTA (Call to action) on your home page (and other pages)

This can be as simple as a Book Now button linking to your booking calendar or practice management booking calendar.

Want to see what this looks like? Click here.

8. Missing the mark with the target audience

This is a tough one for many, and it’s one of the worst (as in potentially business-killing) website mistakes acupuncturists make. It’s hard to think that you might actually be repelling some people, but that’s exactly what you have to do if you want to stand out from the crowd and attract YOUR ideal client or patient.

I talked a bit about this with images, but it applies obviously to everything about your site.. the content, the look and feel, the social media channels you use, and your branding.

You want your ideal client or patient to almost say:

My god.. that is sooo me” when they see your Pinterest post leading them to one of your epic blogs about adrenal fatigue.. (this will repel conventional types that would rather just go get a pill from the doc than make lifestyle or dietary changes, which is GOOD.)

“My goodness, I feel so blessed to know this acupuncturist.. I want to join her group and talk to other women like us” (this will repel those who might call your site too “airy fairy,” but who cares)

“I’m so freaking sick of these hot flashes.. god, she’s hilarious and I like her… I’m signing up for her newsletter for sure” (this will repel those who take everything super seriously, or are afraid of cuss words, but oh well)

“I’m so stoked that I found someone who can help me keep riding those sick trails, I’m spreading the word on Instagram and telling my racing buddies about her” (this will repel, or likely perplex, your older and less active patients, and that’s ok)

“Wow, she really knows her stuff when it comes to functional medicine and can back up her claims by citing her sources. ” I’m looking forward to a deeper conversation than I can get from my current health care provider.. I’ve got a TON of questions.. I just set a reminder in my calendar for her next webinar. (This will repel those who have the attention span of a gnat and have never read a book in their entire life.. let them go. You get the idea. )

Now, picture if you did NONE of the above.

Your message would be watered down.. and almost everyone would respond with a mild “meh, maybe. How much does it cost?”

The idea here is that seeing yet another picture of “balancing rocks in a zen garden” and using the same language is starting to get boring and repetitive.

DON’T listen to anyone who tells you which one of the above scenarios is the “correct” way to present yourself! Even zen gardens could be your thing.. take a picture of your own!

Playing it “safe” only shows that one is more concerned with creating a prize-winning acupuncture site for nobody, (except for maybe your web developers portfolio) rather than building something useful and engaging for the ideal patient or client.

Good news: Your ideal client or patient is often very much like YOU! This makes it feel more easy and natural.

9. Lack of a pre-qualifying process

For the patient, it’s good to know right away if it’s going to be a good fit. What is expected of me, beyond the usual “wear loose clothing” and “make sure to eat before the treatment?”

This may seem counter-intuitive at first glance, but obvious when you think about it: IF you want to attract clients who are committed and responsible for their own health, DO be transparent and craft your new patient page to “weed out” those who are clearly not interested in those things. Your ideal clients will love you for it. I’m serious.

My patients place MORE TRUST in me when I lead and expect them be a full participant, which is how I operate. I do this out of respect, because I have faith in their success.

You can do this by clearly stating what is a “good fit” and even “not a good fit” so that potential patients can either say “YES I am SO ready” or self-select out of the process.

This is a fantastic tool for managing expectations. (and keeping your sanity!) Here’s a screenshot of my old page:

Why is this important? Let’s say you wanted to learn a language, which takes more than just showing up for a few lessons to master. Would you sign up for a class that was vague, required very little of you, had very little substance, and promised that you could “get by” in 6 lessons?

Or a solid, substantial, content rich program that involved inspiring, daily work on your part, in addition to great teaching? AND an online continuing course to go with it? Maybe even something you have to apply for? For me, that’s a no-brainer. I’m gonna be FLUENT! I’m so excited..sign me up!

The good news is that you can TOTALLY justify charging the full value of something that delivers like this does.. rather than having to fuss about what’s an appropriate hourly rate. AND.. much of the value added content only needs to be created ONCE.. but it will work for you forever.

True, you may say.. but others may just want to provide an opportunity for newbies to dip their toes in and explore. Or maybe their prime mission is to have a clinic which is open to anyone at anytime, unconditionally, which is also great.

But this was not in alignment with who I am and who I work with.. providing value and delivering results, and teaching people how to take responsibility for their own health.

The bottom line isn’t about what worked for me.. but what is in alignment for YOU. So whatever that is, be VERY CLEAR about it, and spell out who your clinic or program is for, and who it is NOT for.

10. A generic ABOUT page: aka, your website is NOT your resume! 

In your about page, avoid rambling about your modality, where you studied, who you were mentored by, listing your credentials, and using trade jargon. (see #10) Visitors don’t care about any of this. They likely have no clue about that prestigious school you studied at or the famous acupuncturist or functional medicine practitioner who mentored you.. or how many certificates you have.

I can almost guarantee that the first thing a potential patient is searching for is NOT how many clinical hours you logged or where you went to school. None of this, on its own.. makes you special or uniquely able to solve someone’s problem.

The best place for your bio, including the flowery credentials, modality, etc.. is on a separate page, with a link in the footer of your website. You want it to be there, just not cluttering the prime real-estate of your site, which is designed to take the “hero” on a journey.

Also: Despite what you may have heard about what an ABOUT page is, don’t ramble on about your own story, about how you overcame some kind of adversity, to the point where you lose the “plot” of the story, which is about the HERO, (them) not the GUIDE (you) Weave this in sparingly. 

Nobody cares about how “passionate” you are. I think this word deserves to be archived for a while. It’s lazy. Take some time to journal about your unique experiences and how you have touched the lives of others using real life examples. SHOW them, don’t TELL them.

Your ABOUT page is a combination of empathy and authority. For more about how this works, read Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. 

11. A “practitioner-centered” or “modality centered” website

This is related to the generic ABOUT page and the “hero’s journey.”

I am still surprised that with all the courses people are taking about marketing, all the talk about avatars and copywriting, that people still don’t grasp that the website is there for the client or patient, not to show how much you know about what you do or how great the acupuncture tradition is or about the latest “cutting edge” technique you are using. 

Yes, do include those things, but don’t put them on the center stage on your home and about pages.

As they say.. nobody cares about how much you know, or about the history of acupuncture or your new technique (especially if it sounds like something spat out of a new-age bullshit generator to their ears)

The “hero” (your ideal client or patient visiting your site) wants to know how much you care, and they want to TRUST you. That’s it.

Once they do, THEN they will reinforce it by checking out your bio and your intellectual property (blog, podcast, book, free workshops, etc)

I know it’s tempting to want to shout from the rooftops about all the things you are geeking out on. Do that! Write a blog or ebook about it from your own perspective. If that isn’t an option, direct them to a resource page and introduce them to some great intro books such as the Web that has no Weaver.

As far as your doctorate degree.. You’ve got an entire blog, podcast,  book to show them that you know your stuff.  But your home and ABOUT page serves a different purpose in the flow and narrative of your website. 

Remember, the home and about pages are where you connect with the potential client or patient, and make them feel as if you get them, the problems they want to solve, and how much better their life will be when their problem is solved.

This is why I now base ALL the websites I create on creating a Story about the client or patient. THEY are the hero of their journey, not you, as the practitioner.

12. Using same info everyone else uses on your home page

I’m talking about Qi, meridians, acupuncture is an old practice, acupuncture doesn’t hurt, wear loose clothing, etc.

Put all this on one patient orientation page, along with parking info, download for intake forms, insurance, etc. This info doesn’t belong on the front page anymore.

13. Being afraid to push the limits, staying “in the box.”

look outside the "box"

Many holistic practitioners are still developing confidence, so instead of being bold enough to state who they really are, are playing it safe with their message and branding.

The ironic thing is that when everyone does this, acupuncture starts to look like a cheap, generic commodity. The same issue that many massage therapists have.

Don’t be afraid to be different, or worry about what your peers might think.

14. An “island” website

In a nutshell, this means that your website isn’t connected to the other branches of your marketing strategy: Social media, email marketing, collaboration with peers,  etc.

Most of this is really about sharing links.

This does not have to be complex, nor does it need to happen in a week. I’ve got more to say about holistic marketing here. 

15. Relying solely on a contact form

You can still use them, of course. I’ve just found better ways of keeping in touch and being accessible than having a website visitor fill out a contact form.

I’ve found that very few practitioners respond in a timely manner to these forms, and that most potential clients or patients  prefer to book an appointment via one of the options I mentioned above.

16. Navigational dead ends

website navigation dead ends

Many holistic healers miss out because they simply don’t provide any direction on their website or ask people to click around. (See #7)

Often, visitors end up on a HOME or About page that leads nowhere. There is no “call to action” or invitation to take the next step. It’s assumed that the visitor will “make a phone call.” They probably won’t, especially if this is their first visit, or if they would rather book online. (most people would)

Remember, not everyone who encounters your brand is necessarily ready to buy. Some are in a different stage in their journey, including the buyers journey. They will need guidance too.

Solution: have some friends, clients, and patients test your site. What do they click on? Are they engaged or bored? Are they curious, and if so, about what?

USE your Google analytics information to determine user info: as in who, what, where, why, and how they are visiting each page on your site.

For better or for worse, people are trained to look for:

• Blogs and podcasts
• Easy ways to get started engaging with you: A book, a course, a workshop, etc.
• CTA (call to action) buttons
• Free downloadable info they can access by providing an email address (see opt in form above)

The goal as you grow:  Your visitor/ideal client or patient is the hero of the story on your website. They are your Luke Skywalkers. YOU are the guide, their Yoda. It’s your job to lead.

Keep people engaged on your site, encourage them to come back, and by all means, encourage/ask them to take action!

Next time you browse the internet, pay attention to the sites you linger on. and the ones that spell everything out SO clearly that your brain doesn’t have to “consume too many calories” or think too hard about taking the next logical step.. whether it’s subscribing to a list or booking a discovery call or diving into a podcast.

I would be my passport that it’s not the ones that are not client-centered and lead you nowhere.

17. Lack of internal links

You may have noticed that I include a lot of links in my blogs that take you to other pages or resources. Not just on other websites, but my own.  These are called internal links. 

There is a reason why Google rewards internal links on your site. It helps the user find what they need in a logical manner. As the owner of a website, having great content buried in the black hole of your pages, it’s a waste.

But it’s also disappointing for the user to not have access to what could be THE thing they are looking for, that didn’t turn up in their first pass at a Google search.

I know this has probably happened to you. Count how many tabs you have open right now. There’s your evidence that internal links ARE useful!

18. No free content, such as a blog, podcast, video trainings, etc.  

This is one of the most common, but easy to fix website mistakes acupuncturists make. As a user, this is where most of the juicy information is.

As a wellness entrepreneur,  your intellectual property is one of your best assets. It is a way to describe in depth what it is that you do, showcase your expertise, educate the public about your industry, region, or modality. It’s an essential part of SEO.

It’s a way of showing that you care about what you do and the people you treat.  Statistically, a percentage of those who consume your content (intellectual property!) will be very interested in working with you on a deeper level.

19. Clicking on links that don’t open a new browser tab

As I mentioned earlier, internal links are grand, but you don’t want to navigate people off into a rabbit hole of info they can’t get out of even if they try.. let alone remember. This is pretty easy to do in your WP dashboard.

20. Hard to read/Poor experience on mobile devices

Ok, I admit I’m farsighted, and now one of those “old people” who have a tough time reading small print, even with my glasses. This is even more of a problem on mobile devices.

Some themes also come with teeny tiny grayed out fonts as the main body text style, which may need to be modified. Also avoid light type on dark backgrounds, as they can be headache inducing and hard to read. Same goes with fancy, cute fonts… save those for headlines only.

• Avoid large blocks of rambling text.

• Break it up into smaller pieces.

• Add bullet points

This particular page is a good example of a generic page, practitioner-centered, jargon-filled and hard to read copy. It’s hard to keep people interested when your about page looks like this: 

(intentially blurred)

Don’t make your visitors work this hard. Make it easy and compelling to read!

One more thing.. 

Even though most themes are “mobile responsive” these days, some things don’t translate as well for tablets and especially for phones.

One example is using images that include text, as in a meme. If the user is unable to enlarge it, they may not be able to read it.

There is a quick fix for this so that the user can “pinch to zoom.”

This isn’t the only example, but a common mistake that even I have made.

Be sure to test each page of your site in all views: desktop, tablet, and phone.

21. Debatable: Not posting rates and pricing

I’ve seen both arguments: One is for transparency, and the other arguing that without context, listing prices is counterproductive. 

This depends, I think, more on your audience and the types of services you provide. If I’m on a budget, I may be frustrated if I can’t get a clear idea of what I may need to budget for.

If the service is pricey, but of value, at least I know how to plan. I would rather avoid the embarrassment of asking a real person, only to find out that I may not be able to budget for a particular service this month. I admit it.

On the other hand, for some services, listing prices may not be appropriate. For example, in digital marketing, which is based on a lot of custom work, listing flat rates can get you into trouble, and it’s better to talk to the client first and give them a quote and a proposal.

It’s also true that many holistic practitioners probably undercharge. If you are charging more but offer more value than your peers, listing your prices could also possibly be counterproductive.

An analogy I like to use: (I seem to like car analogies)

Let’s say a guy calls you to ask how much it costs to fix his car, and you specialize in rebuilding transmissions. So the first question out of his mouth is how much you charge, which puts you in a position of lesser power, unless you are skilled at this conversation.

If you are not skilled and don’t quickly put yourself back in a position of balanced power, of course he will be shocked because he was expecting a quick fix by replacing the transmission fluid. (and you honestly know they probably need a new transmission)

But if he has NO clue that there is a big difference between changing fluid and overhauling a transmission.. and has NO interest in getting an honest opinion or diagnosis to see what might be his best option, (sound familiar?) he can counter with “but the guy down the street can “fix” my transmission for $19. Thanks, bye.”

Listing your prices without having a way to define your value can also hurt both you and your potential client or patient.

pricing your acupuncture services

Is this built into your website so you can use it to back up what you do? Does your website make it clear that you do either fluid changes or rebuild transmissions, or have a price for each service? Do you also make it clear that you know the difference and that you are willing to refer them to someone else if it’s in their best interest? 

Do you spell out that you provide more than the commodity service your colleague down the street offers? If you don’t, you’ll get that same dreaded question before you even get a chance to say “how can I help you:”

“How much do you charge to fix my back?” And that sucks.

Are you also honest with people and refer them to someone who really doesn’t need the equivalent of a transmission rebuild, or the other way around?

When you list your prices as most do, (selling time for peanuts) your services become little more than a commodity, which re-inforces the price shopping and tire kicking that many holistic health practitioners are tired of.

You also do the patient a disservice because you aren’t giving them the information they need to make a good decision.

Do both your patients and the industry a favor and be clear and intentional about your prices, and clear about the services you provide other than just another acupuncture treatment. Your clinic is not an airline.

Still not sure? I’ve got 2 secrets, both based on the “power of 3”

• Bundle your offerings into packages and offer 3 price tiers: Basic, Value, and VIP/Premium. Statistically, most people will choose the middle option.

• Use 3 little words: “Prices start at.”

Example: “Prices start at_____ per_____. Call for a free consultation so we can discuss your needs and find a solution for you.” (Even if that means referring them to the acupuncture school or low cost clinic)

There is more I can say about pricing and positioning, and how undercharging hurts everyone, but I’ll save that for another time.

Need help with your website?

Today, you have a lot more choices than you did even a year ago.

Before, you had to choose between doing it on your own with Wix or Weebly,  or even SquareSpace, which can be VERY limiting.

Or paying out the arse for a web developer who has no clue about  marketing.

This is why I help DIYers. You CAN build your own website using WordPress and DIVI and achieve the same results that I did.

You can also have someone do it for  you, and create a website that you OWN and have full control over.

Need some guidance on how to get started, and why the next logical step might be?

Click here or on the burgundy button below to book a free consultation.