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Conversion Optimization Best Practices for Healthcare Websites

Claire Fitzpatrick  |  March 20, 2017

What is CRO?

Conversion Rate Optimization is the practice of making strategic website changes to improve user experience in order to increase the rate of response (conversion rate).

CRO & Healthcare

Healthcare sites pose a unique optimization challenge. This is because the website must communicate multiple messages simultaneously and effectively. It needs to introduce the healthcare provider, establish expertise and an emotional connection, and also appeal to the prospective patient in a highly competitive digital landscape while also navigating insurance coverage issues.

There is a saying in the digital marketing world, “Websites are your online office.” Your website is a digital property and a representation of your actual office space. In the vast majority of cases, it will establish the first impression potential patients have of your business! When looked at this way, the critical role of CRO is essential to maintaining the health of a medical practice.

For every CRO client, we start by defining key performance indicators or success metrics to gauge our efforts. For physicians, success is typically defined by the volume of appointments they are scheduling at a specified time. As healthcare providers or digital marketers representing them, we obviously cannot force people into the doctor’s office to hit target KPIs. But we can leverage everything we know to optimize the website experience to encourage more visitors to schedule appointments.

CRO is focused on increasing the percentage of website visitors that convert. We rely on our excellent PPC and SEO teams to drive qualified traffic to the site from paid and organic search. Then our job is to facilitate engagement of those visitors with relevant CTAs that will encourage conversion. Based on our experience with many medical and healthcare clients, we have compiled CRO best practices for healthcare providers.

Top 6 Best Practices for Healthcare CRO

1. Establish proximity

Many medical practices overlook this fundamental best practice. An integral part of conversion rate optimization is understanding what site visitors want or need to convert and then helping them find this information with little effort. When navigating a site, visitors expect a degree of ease-of-use to enable them to find the most relevant information quickly and effortlessly. 

Specifically, the phone number and address are two of the most valuable items that can be surprisingly hard to find. Visitors will experience frustration very quickly if these two elements are not clearly visible immediately when landing on the site. In addition to visible information, having the phone number be clickable on mobile devices enables the visitor to instantly call without the hassle of typing the number on their phone. 

It is a simple best practice, but one that is often overlooked. When contact information is prominently displayed on a healthcare site, we have seen that it often increases conversions.

CRO Results of implementing this best practice

One of our clients, a bariatric surgeon, saw a significant lift when this best practice was implemented on an A/B Test variant:

A/B Test Results on Mobile Phone:

+100% increase in conversion rate for Appointment Requests

+124% increase in conversion rate for Phone Calls

This test reached a statistical significance of 90% with 1,626 unique visitors.

A/B Test Results on Desktop:

+80% increase in conversion rate for Contact Us pageviews

This test reached a statistical significance of 90% with 1,267 unique visitors.

2. Convey compassion

Healthcare site visitors are looking for answers and relief from their ailment. When individuals are seeking information, they are usually already experiencing symptoms or have a loved one who is suffering. It is very rare for people to search out a physician without having an existing issue. Knowing this about the visitor means that healthcare sites need to be empathic of what the visitor is experiencing. Having a key message that conveys compassion will help establish trust in the visitor’s mind.

This site conveys the surgeon’s compassion and commitment to helping patients find pain relief.


3. Establish expertise

Many healthcare providers neglect to establish their expertise on the homepage. A healthcare website must first establish relevancy with the first-time site visitor, then follow with credibility. This best practice ensures that visitors know the physician or surgeon is well qualified to treat them. Make sure to provide information such as the number of years in the field, surgeries performed, patients and/or success rate.

Expertise of the physicians at this practice are featured prominently on the homepage.


4. Make a connection

Show the physician with a patient

Many healthcare sites will showcase a beautifully shot picture of the physician(s) front and center on the homepage. Although photos of attractive healthcare providers have come to be a standard practice on many websites, what potential patients really want to see are images of a physician providing care to patients. This portrays, not only expertise but also warmth and personal connection.  This type of image gives visitors a feeling that the physician cares for their wellbeing, and helps a visitor visualize themselves with the physician.

This image of this surgeon with his pre-op patient conveys a sense of genuine compassion which increases trust.


5. Let the patient's voice be heard

Showcase patient testimonials

Testimonials are one of the easiest ways to engage visitors and add credibility to a site. Visitors love reading about others’ success stories and how they overcame adversity. Ideally, we recommend an entire page on the site dedicated to testimonials by patients, but at the very least there should be a section on the homepage showing before and after pictures (if applicable) and a short description of the patient's experience.

CRO Results of implementing this best practice

One of our clients, a hospital, saw a significant lift when this best practice was implemented on an A/B Test variant:

A/B Test Results on Mobile Phone:

+101% increase in conversion rate for Appointment Page Pageviews

This test reached a statistical significance of 90% with 7,752 unique visitors.

A/B Test Results on Desktop:

+116% increase in conversion rate for Appointment Page Pageviews

This test reached a statistical significance of 90% with 2,582 unique visitors.

This before and after image of a dental procedure is a powerful way to help visitors imagine their own success story.


6. Meet Potential Patients Where They Are

Invite site visitors to communicate in a variety of ways, especially early in the decision-making process

Having clear and eye-catching CTAs is a best practice for your website, but if the site only has one type of CTA—such as making an appointment—you might be leaving conversion opportunities on the table. If the visitor is still in the early stages of their journey of information gathering and seeking relief, they may not be ready to make an appointment. Take advantage of the opportunity to connect with this early stage visitor by offering different options for visitors to respond. These initial touch points set the foundation for the connection and help to build a relationship. For example,  physicians can offer free phone consultations as a precursor to an in-office appointment. Live Chat is also a tool physicians are starting to utilize to foster communication with potential patients who are visiting their websites. By creating an opportunity for each encounter (micro conversions), physicians can foster more relationships, and site visitors will be more likely to ultimately schedule an appointment and become patients.

CRO Results of implementing this best practice

One of our clients, a surgeon, saw a significant demand for phone consultations when that option was offered on the website alongside office appointments.

  • 175% more requests for phone consultations over in-office consultations

This orthopedic surgeon offers telemedicine visits, which many patients find convenient in today’s busy world.

Dr. Robert Berry, SPORT - Sports Physicians Orthopedic Rehabilitation of Texas


Conversion rate optimization is vital to all types of websites from lead generation to e-commerce. Using these CRO best practices can create a more positive user experience, establish connections, develop relationships, and build trust all through a digital experience.

Healthcare sites can benefit from implementing these six best practices to increase conversions:

  • Establish proximity
  • Convey compassion
  • Establish expertise
  • Make an Emotional Connection
  • Let the Patient’s Voice be Heard
  • Meet Potential Patients Where They Are

Ultimately these will help more patients find the answers they’re looking for quickly and easily.


Written by Claire Fitzpatrick, with additional contributions to by Jae Chung, Conversion Optimization Specialist and Star Reedy Bradshaw, Conversion Optimization Director.

Claire Fitzpatrick

Claire Fitzpatrick

CRO Specialist

Claire started out with Vertical Nerve as a Digital Optimization intern in our CRO department while pursuing her Masters of Marketing at The University of Texas at Dallas. Since graduating in December of 2016, Claire has transitioned to CRO Specialist. In her free time, Claire enjoys reading books about psychology and riding horses.

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