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, people are going to want to visit your website.
Are you making these common website mistakes acupuncturists make?
If you are actively using your website to get more patients, the site has to have some vital elements in place. Since very few people will buy from you the first time they meet you or land on your home page or landing page, if any of these elements are missing, your website won’t perform well.
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.
I know that 21 sounds like a lot, but it’s normal to make these mistakes,. You can attribute it to the inherent complexity of websites and marketing.
It’s a learning curve, for sure. I’m still learning, and I still make my own mistakes. For example, I don’t have enough images of myself. I could probably make better use of video, and I still want to refine the design, navigation, and readability of my site. Copywriting is a work in progress, as is SEO.
Don’t let it get you down. Use this guide not as a way to compare yourself with others (as in website shame) but to help you improve. I do this all the time!
Without further ado, here are the top 21 acupuncture website mistakes I see, and how to correct them in a way that makes sense for you.
1. Unprofessional looking 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.
There are solutions. Yes, there’s always Wix, Weebly, and Squarspace, They may work well in the short term, but are no substitute for a self-hosted, professional website that is a fully functioning marketing tool.
If you do go this route, at LEAST find a platform that offers clean, elegant templates to start with, especially if you are not a designer. (SquareSpace is the best choice for this)
You may also be surprised that hiring someone to build a website can be “affordable.” Raise your own vibe and rates, and see what happens when you “level up.”
It’s true that some are naturally good at building their own sites. If this is you.. and you love building websites and it doesn’t detract from working IN your business.. go for it!
However, I would recommend steering clear of having your “IT brother-in law” or “super- techy cousin” do this for you. I’ve seen some of the absolute worst sites come from this source.. unprofessional looking sites with no marketing function whatsoever.
If you want to skimp and pay $400 for a site that makes all these mistakes, you will have just wasted $400 on a site that will do NOTHING for you.
2. Sites that have not been updated since 2005
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
Due to the rise of drag and drop, fully hosted sites (like Wix, Weebly, and SquareSpace) many are taking the DIY route. However, many of these sites 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.
Not all of it is due to the limitations of these platforms. (see below)
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.
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.
They are not fully immersed in the same world we are, as practitioners. Speak THEIR language, not yours.
You can include some of this at the bottom in a short bio. This may also be a good way to get some links back to your site.
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.
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 “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.
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
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.
Below is a good example of a home page that gives visitors a reason to stick around, bookmark, and take action:
The first example probably comes from hiring a developer who isn’t clear on the purpose of a website, and practitioners who still can only visualize a website as being an expensive brochure.. or a tool to refer people to when they hand them their business card.
The second example is of a very professional, beautiful site that serves a powerful marketing FUNCTION.
Websites should be much more than an expensive brochure. Even if you are investing in the $29 monthy fee you pay to lease a site from one of those services that starts with a “W” or and “S,” (or the $300 you paid your cousin) and even IF people manage to land on your site via organic search.. you will be wasting your money if the site has nothing in it for the visitor.
In case you are thinking: “This is too much work” I invite you to re-think this. If you have a business that most people don’t understand well, it’s part of your work to educate the general public and carve out a niche for yourself. It’s vitally important to provide a way for visitors to “know like and trust” you enough to take action.
This will take work. Blog. Make videos. Start today. You have a real business.. treat it like one. You will be surprised how much you can accomplish in a year even when it seems like on a daily basis you may not be accomplishing much.
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 have a niche.
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.. 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.
For the practitioner, this makes life sooo much easier. Preventing burnout alone is worth the cost of investing in a good website!
10. A generic ABOUT page: aka, your website is NOT your resume!
Treating your website like a resume is another big website mistake. People don’t care about your LinkIn bio, or your credentials, until they want to double check on how qualified you are.
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.
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.
11. A “practitioner-centered” page
This is related to the generic ABOUT page. 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.
Yes, do include those things, but not on your home and about pages.
The home page is 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.
As far as how great acupuncture is.. 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, or book to highlight your expertise, and landing pages to promote it all. Let your patients choose.. and BUY those things. But your home page is about THEM.
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 in 2019.
13. Being afraid to push the limits, staying “in 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. No clear way to stay in touch
Yes, I’m not the only one, but if I like what I see on a website, I want to stay in touch. Maybe I’ll subscribe to a newsletter, or download a book or video. If it’s local, there should be a phone number at the top navigation bar.
If it’s global, (or I’m living outside the US) list Viber, Skype, and WhatsApp contact info.I might suggest that you even want to ditch your (exposed) email address, as the usually only attract spam. A better idea is a contact button with Captcha enabled.
I would also strongly consider adding a chatbot to you website (like the one you can find on the bottom right hand side of this page) to answer some of the basic questions visitors may have.
These days, it is important to respond quickly to questions. Realistically, if you don’t have a paid staff, it can be very difficult and time-consuming to answer every question via phone or email.
A chatbox will not only provide a much more immediate way to get information, but will be much easier on you, once you get the hang of creating auto-replies to answer basic questions like hours, where to find pricing, basic info on acupuncture, etc.
A chatbot can also be a fantastic lead generation and marketing tool.
15. Relying solely on a contact form
These days, consumers are empowered to perform in-depth research on their own before ever contacting you.
None of my clients contacted me because I gave them answers to just basic questions, (and certainly not through a contact form) but because I provided high quality and in depth information, little by little, and made it super easy for them to book an appointment or consultation with me.
Not to mention that booking apps now allow you to ask helpful pre-qualifying questions so that by the time you meet to talk, you can dive right into their specific needs and not waste time with basic questions that should already be answered on your website.
Contact forms are annoying to me as a user, because honestly.. I’ve never had anyone ever respond. Do I feel like filling out a whole form, waiting a few days for a response, or most likely, wondering IF there will be a response?
They are also annoying as a website owner because they tend to be spam magnets. This could be the reason for the low response rate. Contact forms to me are an overrated and default tool that I stopped using long ago.
16. Navigational 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)
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. If a page is experiencing a high bounce rate, can you tweak it to make it more engaging?
When your bounce rate is high, this means that people leave the site quickly. This can affect your SEO.
For better or for worse, people are trained to look for:
• Blog pages
• CTA (call to action) buttons
• Side bar navigation
• Opt ins with free downloads
• Regularly posted videos, podcasts,etc. (Think Marie Forleo, and podcasts you have “binged” on)
IS YOUR site “binge-worthy?”
You WANT to keep people engaged on your site, encourage them to come back, and take action!
Do you have website that you have bookmarked or return to on a regular basis? If you did, chances are it is because it is loaded with lots of educational, useful, relevant, entertaining, and/or enlightening information. Think of Marie Forleo’s videos, or your favorite blog.
Next time you browse the internet, pay attention to the sites you linger on. The ones that feel like a virtual buffet of all kinds of juicy info you can’t wait to come back to for seconds.. and thirds..
Is the “buffet” easy to find?
Note: Be mindful of social media links, even if much of your cool stuff is on your social media channels. Do you really WANT to navigate them off your website? The answer COULD be yes.. as in directing them to a Facebook community, where you can easily lead them back to your site and other goodies.
But if they are just browsing and the first thing they are compelled to do is navigate off your site for no good reason.. this is not such a good thing.
If anything, you want to use social media to get people ONTO your site (Think Instagram feeds) rather then navigate them OFF your site.
17. Lack of 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 blog, or only a few blogs
I’m gonna be blunt. Without a blog, you are shooting yourself in the foot.
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. If I want to know how to prevent back pain, or natural recipes that help restore yin and reduce hot flashes, the first place I’m going to look is your blog, unless you are killing it with videos like Oprah or Marie or I’m addicted to your podcast.
As a website owner, your blog is likely your biggest asset. 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.
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
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. Unfortunately, the only fix is to dive into CSS.. which seems a little odd for something so minor. It’s not that bad.. and if you need to know how you can ask in my tech and marketing café.
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:
Don’t make your visitors work this hard. Make it easy and compelling to read!
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 seem to like car analogies) someone calls you to ask how much it costs to fix their car, and you specialize in rebuilding transmissions. So the first question out of their 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 they are shocked because they were expecting a quick fix by replacing the transmission fluid. (and you honestly know they probably need a new transmission)
But if they have NO clue that there is a big difference between changing fluid and overhauling a transmission.. and have NO interest in getting an honest opinion or diagnosis to see what might be their best option, (sound familiar?) they 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.
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 postural assessments, e-stim, and ART body work at the end of each treatment, work with elite athletes, and are present in the room for the whole hour, unlike your colleague down the street who will needle 4 gates and a few back points and walk out of the room to do the same for the fertility patient in the next room for $20 less?
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, 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? One way around this is to list your prices as a menu, incorporating flat rates, per treatment rates, value-added package and program rates, or even listing “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)
I hope this information is useful to you. Again, you are the boss of your own website. YOU get to decide what works for you and what doesn’t, but the above list of the most common 21 website mistakes acupuncturists make is usually about how website owners build without a goal or intention in mind.
Still need some help with your website? Click on the burgundy button below and let’s talk!
I also offer one-on-one coaching that may help you address some of these areas.