By Scott Hansen

There is a distinct line between fishing and sitting on a boat like an idiot.

One day, after dropping loads of money at Bass Pro, I high-tailed it to the lake. When I got there, I launched the boat, raced to my favorite spot, pulled out my brand new gear, and tragedy struck. I didn’t have any hooks! Because I had no hooks, for the next three hours I sat on my boat and hoped that, by some miraculous event, the fish would defy the laws of nature and jump into my boat! Obviously, it didn’t take me three hours to come to grips with my hook-less intelligence. But what did strike me during that time, was the realization that for years I had been using the same hopeless strategy on my website. You see, I had this crazy idea that if I just wrote thorough educational content and spent hours on sexy web design that patients would defy the laws of nature and just jump into our dental chairs! The reality is that good website content and design is not enough. Everybody already has a decent website.After this realization, I started making subtle, yet vitally important, changes to our website. And it worked! I changed the focus of the design to cause our potential patients to take action. We started using more calls to action, using more lead pages, and changing the content to reflect the attention span of our web visitors.

Here are three things that you can change today to convert curious web shoppers into paying patients.

  1. Have a clear call to action on every page.
  • Often, you can accomplish this in the header and footer of your webpage. If you would like more information on how to write a great call to action, this is a great article.
  1. Create an offer that must be claimed by the user offering his or her email address.
  • Try starting with something simple like, “8 Things to Watch Out For When Choosing an Orthodontist.” You can setup a free and simple campaign using You can build an email list full of people who are already interested in your service with relatively little effort.
  1. Bullet list your important material.
  • Then, expand on your list with more detail. This will help you communicate all of the important, value-building information to the shoppers skimming your site without relying on them to read every word of your content.

The results are evident. Since adding these “hookers” to our website, we are turning a significantly higher percentage of visitors on our website into actual new patient consultations. But I wanted better. That’s why I started OrthoChats. By engaging web shoppers via live chat, we are able to effectively engage prospective patients who would have otherwise left the website without taking action. Chatting with these web shoppers has successfully lowered the barriers of communication between our potential patients and our practice. Additionally, it instantaneously ascribes value to our practice, and baby-steps new patients into the office. They are interacting with a real person representing the practice, even before talking to our team on the phone. It is helping, and it will continue to help my practice, the practices’ of our clients, and any practice that is looking for innovative ways to engage their target market more effectively. There is a distinct line between marketing effectively and just informing your target market. Stop sitting in your boat like and idiot. It’s time you start using some hooks.

Scott Hansen is the founder of OrthoChats, a business that engages potential orthodontic patients via chat on websites around the country. He earned his MBA from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and actively manages a growing orthodontic practice in Kansas City.