• Rachelle Smerhy

Want to Make Your Pharmacy Website the Best?

Here's What You Need to Know.


Does your pharmacy have a website? If so, how’s it looking? Be honest- does your website offer a clean, simple user experience? Is it easy for your visitors to view your products and services? Do you use your site to educate and inform your patients?


Do you use it to tell visitors what sets you and your team apart?


Or is your website clunky and dated? A slow, daunting experience that your visitors find frustrating.


The purpose of a website is to offer your patients a great online experience. It's to make your pharmacy look trustworthy and professional.


And if you want to succeed on the business side of pharmacy, a good website is a must.


Why?


These days, consumers want a streamlined online shopping experience.


It’s what they’re used to.


In most cases, when a consumer takes the time to go to a business website, they're looking for information. And if that business is working smart, they can get all the information they need.


Within seconds.


Then they buy. Or they come into the store. In other words, if they're happy, they convert in some way.


But if the process isn't smooth, they’ll go to another website. They’ll find a different purchasing solution.


Again, within seconds.


That's why across North America, independent pharmacies are stepping up their online game.


It’s all about trust and convenience.


But your website can also have other important benefits for your pharmacy. Your site is a great place to communicate information to your patients any time of the day or night.


You can use it to answer questions, so you don’t have to devote staff time to that. And it's a great channel for advertising your products and services.


Starting a new delivery service? Great! Throw a banner on your website to announce it; patients will see it there and take you up on your delivery offer. Want to increase front-shop sales? Perfect! Advertise specials on front shop products on your website and watch your sales grow.


To make sure you and your patients get the most out of your website, you've got to do it right.


But hey, that's not so hard.


The good news is, it’s far easier and more cost-effective than most people think.


Whether you’re updating a clunky old site or starting out with your first, it's worth the effort.


So where do you start?

How to Build a Website


So, should you build your site yourself or hire a professional? This can be a tricky decision, especially if you don’t love technology. Or if you’re pressed for time; as we all know, pharmacy can get busy.


It all depends on your own unique situation. If you’re good on time but short on cash flow, doing it on your own makes sense.


And you don’t need to be a tech genius, either.


If you've got some time to put into learning, platforms like Wix.com make building a website simple. And they're often very cost effective. So, no matter what your level of experience, you can drag-and-drop your way to a simple but well-built site.


Wordpress.com and Squarespace are two more examples of dev platforms that make it super easy.


These sites provide you with gorgeous templates that you can customize. Without knowing how to code. They also have great SEO tools built right in. Plus, easy-to-update blogging tools and solid customer support.


They’re built for business owners like you, who need an affordable and quick website solution.


But there are some situations where this may not be ideal.


For example, if you have a specific idea in mind of the site you want but no design experience. Or if there are special features, you’d like your site to have, like online refill service.


Know what you want before committing and be sure to assess your situation before you decide.


If you think a professional is the way to go, there's the cost to consider. Web development can get expensive. But there are a few ways to keep costs down, including:


· Check with any business or pharmacy organizations you’re a member of. Do they offer any discounts for web development? If so, it's a great perk to take advantage of.

· Rather than going with an online company, go local. By enlisting someone in your community you may get a lower rate than online. Not to mention more personalized, face-to-face service.

· Shop around to get an idea of the going rate. Get at least three or four detailed quotes from different sources. It's important to be sure you’re getting the best price and the most effective website.


Start with the Basics


Once your site is built, what content will you need? A good place to start is including information about your pharmacy.


You should include:


· Phone number · Email address · Physical address · Store hours


If you can also include a map that shows potential customers where your pharmacy is, even better. Patients can then use GPS to get directions to your location. And remember, when someone lands on your website, they may not start out on the homepage.


So be sure your basic info is on every page.

What else should you include?


You should provide answers to basic questions about your pharmacy; who you are, what you do and why. This is the perfect opportunity to show off a little. By letting your personality shine through, by telling readers a bit about your team and why you’re unique.


This is a good way to create trust.


It helps your viewers put a name to a face, get a feel for who you are, and why they may want to deal with you.


Your website is also a good place to educate your patients.


How?


By choosing conditions that your patients suffer from. And writing blog articles on different medications and/or products that may help. By using your knowledge to help solve real problems in their lives.


For instance, do you have patients suffering from fibromyalgia? Chance are you do, and fibromyalgia is rotten.


So how can you help? What can you recommend?


There are supplements that support fibromyalgia patients. Living a healthier lifestyle can make a huge difference. Getting enough sleep, exercise, and of course medications.


And there it is, medications. You can recommend talking to their doctor about specific medications.


Because that happens to be your area of expertise.


So this strategy not only promises your patient relief and shows them you’re on their side. It also positions you as part of their healthcare circle.


And when they want more information, they can come in and see you.


I promise you, they will.


This strategy works for all sorts of conditions that your patients need help dealing with.


What about migraine? In the U.S., one in four households have at least one member who suffers from migraine. And in Canada, chronic migraine affects 25% of women and 8% of men.


Topics like this can be amazing blog material; you can use your blog to educate your readers.


What do you know about your patients’ issues? What’s your advice for dealing with it? How can you improve their day-to-day lives?


Separate your content into two different streams, lifestyle, and medications. Help your patients communicate with their doctors, become a trusted partner in their healthcare.


And the best part? You are the expert in this; it’s what you do.


It's an amazing way to help your current patients and get new people into your store


Don’t have time to write your blog articles? It doesn't have to take a lot of time out of your day. Try jotting down key points one day between filling scripts. Then take a few minutes to write out the good copy over the next two days in your spare moments.


Do this and watch your patient base expand over time because I promise you it will happen.


Key Features Every Website Needs


Mobile Responsive Design


Right now the average Canadian spends 2 hours and 54 minutes on their smartphones and/or tablets every day. And by the end of 2020, there are projected to be over 31 million of us doing that.


In the U.S., an estimated 69.3% of the population has a smartphone, and they love to use them. As of 2019, Americans were spending an average of 2 hours and 55 minutes on their mobile devices each day.


Whew.


You can see why it’s important to make your website mobile-friendly. Which means your site must be optimized for mobile, so readers can view it on their mobile phones, tablets, and laptops.


It’s not just about the desktop experience anymore.


The last thing you want is for someone to get on your website on their phone and have a hard time navigating. That’s a great way to lose potential customers, and that’s not our goal here.


With a mobile responsive site, your website will fit perfectly no matter what device your patient is on. And that makes for a great experience.


Oh, and the development platforms I mentioned earlier, like Wix.com, do have mobile versions. So there’s no need to worry about that.


Another important reason for making your site mobile responsive is SEO.


As of 2015, mobile responsiveness became part of the Google search algorithm.


Which means that websites that are not responsive rank lower in search results.


Why is that important? Because some statistics here about what page you rank on and being found in results. And as of 2021, Google’s algorithm will evolve to take the customer experience into account when ranking websites.


Which is even more incentive to make your website responsive and as delightful to use as possible.


Analytics


Analytics are so important to have on your website; they help you understand how many visitors you’re getting and how people are using your site.


Google Analytics is an excellent platform for tracking your web traffic.


It’s free and easy to use, and the insights can provide you with valuable information as far as making your website better for your visitors.


If you decide on a WordPress site, there are plugins like Jetpack that track analytics.


Should you decide to build your site yourself most providers will have analytics tools built in. They’ll also provide a detailed walk-through when it comes to setting up and using your analytics.


Don’t Forget About Updates


You’ll need to keep your website updated for several reasons, including:


· Regular updates contribute to your SEO and page ranking · Updating prices and specials brings in more revenue · Keeping your blog updated helps connect to your patients · Failure to keep your site current will appear unprofessional


Adding fresh content on a regular basis allows you to show off your expertise. Not to mention helping you attract new customers. So be very sure that whatever solution you’re going with is easy to update and has everything you need for SEO.


How much effort will you need to put in?


If you’re blogging, and you should be, you can expect to post about one article per week at minimum. Feel free to post more often if you’ve got relevant information and some time on your hands.


The more content the better, but for busy pharmacies once is fine to start. Once you see your blog begin to perform, you can reassess. As you connect with more patients, you can devote more time. Or delegate further articles to staff members who love to write.


Posting specials and products should be fast; perhaps an hour or two a month at most.


And content isn’t the only thing you’ll need to update. Depending on your solution, you may also need to stay on top of updates for your theme or third-party plugins.


And any other software you may be using.


Failure to do so could lead to issues with outdated technology. Which could leave your site open to hacking and other automated attacks.


It’s a good thing to stay away from.


How long do these updates take? Not long, if you’re updating when prompted, the process should be quick. If you’ve left it a while and you’ve got piles of updates to do, it could become a time suck, so be sure to do it as they come up.


With a bit of regular maintenance and content updates, your site can take up about three to four hours per month.


And that investment will be well worth it.


Keep it Easy to Use


The best websites are easy to navigate. So what does that mean? It means colours should be simple and consistent. Your theme should be clean and your information well organized.


Clutter is never a good thing. On a website or anywhere else.


Make sure your content is simple and easy-to-read. Your website shouldn’t read like a university paper.


A great tip for this is to write like you talk; whether you’re designing homepage copy or writing a blog article. Pretend you’re having a conversation with a patient.


What would you say so they understand your advice? What would your tone be like?


What words would you use?


And once you're done writing, read it out loud.


Does it sound like something you'd tell a patient? Is it easy to understand?


Great, that will help cut communication barriers.


One more important thing; every website needs a strong call-to-action, or CTA.


What’s that?


It’s the part of your site where you tell your patients exactly what you want them to do next.


For example, “Call today to get free prescription delivery right to your door.”


CTAs are best when simple and straightforward. Keep them clear and uncluttered.


That way your patients will know what action to take to get on board with your amazing offers.


Have Fun With Your SEO


For your website to rank well in search results, you’ll need to do a bit of search engine optimization, or SEO. While SEO gets a bad rap for being tricky and time-consuming, it can actually be very simple.


Why?


Google loves authenticity and user experience. Who doesn’t? Which makes things easy. Because it means your SEO strategy should fit well with your day-to-day content.


That is to say, if you’re posting helpful and authentic content for your patients, that’s half the battle.


About Keywords


Keywords are such a simple thing. They're just words or phrases that line up with the search terms that people are entering into Google when trying to find information.


Say you have a customer with diabetes who is researching local pharmacies online.


They go to Google and search the term, ‘diabetes care pharmacy’.


If you’ve posted content for those keywords on your website, you’ll have a good chance of ranking for that keyword.


Looking to target specific keywords? Run a blog campaign where you publish several articles on the same topic. Make sure they’re all unique and helpful; that’s the key.


Use the keywords you’re looking to target for your articles. And when Google crawls your site, you’ll be indexed for those keywords.


You can also post links to your articles on social media, which is great for SEO.


So what keywords should you use? There are lots of great tools out there that give you search volume and other valuable information on what keywords to choose.


First off, there’s the Google Keyword Planner, which is free to use and can give you great insight. I personally like Ubersuggest because I’m a Neil Patel fan. But a simple

Google search on keyword planners will give you lots of results.


Linking to Other Sites


Building links is another great way to boost your search engine rankings. And it doesn’t need to be difficult.


So how do you do it?


First, take stock of all the sources that refer patients to your pharmacy. Doctors and clinics are a great place to start. I bet you can think of several off the top of your head.


Next, contact their offices and ask that they put a link to your site on their website and/or social media pages.


Why is this important?


Because these kinds of referrals boost your credibility in Google’s eyes. The more that credible sites link to you, the better you'll rank in search results.


Which makes asking your professional contacts for links is a great strategy.


Advertising Online


Online marketing makes it easy to advertise to very specific groups of people. From Google Ads to Facebook and other platforms, targeting specific demographics is easier than ever before.


For example, say you’re looking to drive traffic to your website via ads. You can target people within a certain geographical area. Think city, town or even as micro as zip or postal code.


You can even target people in certain groups for specific products you carry. This works for vitamins, meal replacement supplements… anything.


It’s the beauty of online advertising, and once you’re up and running with a great site, it’s easy to put it to work for you.


Keep Promoting


To get more people in the door, be sure to stay consistent. And promote your pharmacy across all your digital channels.


Try including your website on flyers you tuck into bags, so patients always have it on hand. Include your website on your store window, your signature and in all emails.


Get your social media up and running. And make sure it’s all connected, so your website is on your profiles and vice versa.


Want to read more about promoting your pharmacy on social media? Check out

our article on How to Promote Your Pharmacy on Social Media.


With consistent promotion of your website, you're sure to get more people in the door.


Getting the Most Out of Your Website


Having a great website helps you stand out in the crowd. And that's important, given that there are a lot of other pharmacies out there.


So how can you use your website to stand out?


By using your own unique talents and skills to highlight how you’re different; better.


And by giving your patients easy access to useful tidbits of information when they need it.


Do you have a specialization that might be helpful? Be sure to highlight that in your blog, your website and all across your social media.


What are your patients asking you about most? What are they interested in? Your blog strategy should position you as an expert. It should make your patients feel confident coming to you.


Another important way to define yourself is through endorsements and testimonials.


Having others tell the world why you’re the best just works.


People trust recommendations from others, especially those they consider credible.


Adding that social proof to your website will boost your credibility. And bring more people through your door.


Which is what your website is for.


So don’t let the idea of getting (or making) a new website intimidate you.


Yes, you'll need to make some decisions. Yes, you’ll need to put some effort in, which may mean shuffling your schedule a bit. And hey, if you’re not up on technology, there can be a bit of a learning curve.


But once you get going, putting a site together can be fun; it's a creative expression of your business. And the more people you connect with, the better time you'll have.


Let us know how it goes!

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