By Rick O’Neill, FRSA. Digital Consultant.
It was already the case that Mobile User Experience was important for businesses in the Aesthetic Sector, but now it’s going to be critical to survival and to growth. But what are the common mistakes made with Aesthetic clinic mobile experiences, and how can you solve them?
We just ‘jumped’ 5 years into the future…
COVID-19 has just propelled us 5 years into the future in terms of Digital consumption, behaviour and expectations. We were always going to arrive in a time when ordering online became the norm, when working from home took over from the commute, and when zoom catch-ups replaced the water cooler, but it wasn’t going to really bed in until 2025 according to many experts (Gary Vaynerchuk being one). But now, thanks to COVID-19, we’ve arrived there early. So what does this mean for us as Aesthetic business owners, and why is Mobile such a key part of the problem and/or solution?
Before we get into the problems and solutions, let’s be clear about what exactly “Mobile Experience” means. Put simply, Mobile Experience refers to any and all interactions between a person on their SmartPhone, and your business in the digital world. This means your Social media content, your website, your online store, your payment portal, your content, your clinic software, your email campaigns and more.
I would be willing to bet my house that you own a SmartPhone, it’s probably either in your other hand, or perfectly placed on top of this copy of Aesthetics Journal right now. It is our “go to” device for initial queries, and of course it’s where we spend our Social Media lives (for more hours each day than any of us would like to admit).
Over 2/3 of website visitors in Beauty are on their Mobile…
Statistics from Perficient.com show that over 70% of websites visitors in the Beauty sector are using a Mobile, and Google data shows that over 60% of all Google Searches are done on a Mobile (as of July 2020). The laptop or desktop are no longer the primary device for searching or browsing online.
Yet despite all that evidence and data telling us how important and dominant Mobile is, so many Aesthetic clinics and their web designers still focus the majority of their attention on the experience and look of their website, software, email campaigns, and content on a large screen, and neglect the absolutely crucial Mobile experience.
Think about your own experiences interacting with other businesses online. How patient are you if you come across a website or booking system that either doesn’t work at all, or is very slow and ‘clunky’ on a SmartPhone? Do you stick with it? Or do you move on? Amazon understood this all years ago, and one of their best examples of this was the introduction of the “Buy with 1-click” option. In that one move they saved users minutes by no longer having to complete their personal and payment details each time.
Mobile Experience: Critical for Reputation, and for Google Rankings…
Mobile Experience is important because it is often the first impression a potential customer has of your business, and it can be off-putting if it’s a slow, confusing, or frustrating experience. Over time this kind of poor experience can affect your brand reputation and customer retention rates.
Mobile Experience is also incredibly important because of Search Engine Optimisation. The “Mobile Friendliness” of your website is one of Google’s most important “ranking factors” that it uses to determine your position in it’s search results. Mobile-optimised websites hold much higher positions on Google than those that are designed only for desktops. Not only that, but it is the mobile version of your website and it’s content that Google indexes by default, not the desktop version.
So which are the most important elements of the Mobile Experience that Google look at in order to determine your “rank”? 1) the content experience – don’t hide content from your main site, on the mobile version. 2) speed! – your site MUST load quickly on a mobile cellular connection (3G or 4G), 3) the visual / interface – your mobile site needs to feel more like an App. Easy to use menu, intuitive navigation and functionality etc.
Local Search is King on Mobile…
According to data from ThinkWithGoogle.com 76% of people who search on their smartphones for something nearby go on to visit a business within a day. For Aesthetic clinics, this is absolutely vital. Therefore it’s not only vital that your website is optimised from a content, speed and interface perspective in order to rank well on Google, but it’s also critical that you ensure it is built to be easily and appropriately indexed by Google Local and Google Business listings (these are the listings that appear at the very top of Google Search results, along with a map).
So, Where to Start?
So with so much riding on your Mobile Experience and Mobile Optimisation, where should you start and how exactly is this all achieved?
Well first, it’s important to understand what state your website is in right now, and there are some free tools you can use to check this within minutes, and they will even give you some pointers as to how to improve the technical performance (Warning: it can get a bit geeky, so you are likely going to need a credible web designer/developer to assist you).
Test 1: Google’s Page Speed Insights Test (Found at https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/)
Test 2: Google’s Mobile Friendly Test (Found at https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly)
In terms of your website’s design and build – it must be “Responsive”. A Responsive site changes it’s layout, content order, and navigational elements according to the screen it’s being viewed on. When you get beyond that basic premise, there are a number of elements of your design that you need to consider carefully to ensure a strong Mobile Experience:
Make navigation easy and intuitive – consider a consolidated menu structure, and look at how Apps work for the ultimate in User Interface design principles. Everything should be designed for “touch navigation” (remember, Mobile users are not pointing and clicking with a Mouse, they are using their fingertips). This can also include making sure that phone numbers are “tap to call” (meaning when tapped, a phone call is instantly initiated on the user’s SmartPhone).
Keep a safe distance between functional elements to allow enough space for fingers and thumbs. Neither Users (that’s You and I), nor SmartPhone screens, like it when two functions are too close together. It can get very frustrating when you think you are tapping one thing, but something else happens instead!
Design a “lean” site and make sure that your Web designer or Agency are optimising the code, theme, templates, functionality, imagery and videos for SPEED.
Use short forms – you can always ask for more information in a follow up. The key is to make the visit as convenient and efficient as possible for the user.
Highlight your calls to action (links, buttons, forms etc) – make it easy to identify them on a small screen, and for a finger tip to tap.
Make sure text is a generous size and legible. Keep to just 1 or 2 text sizes on the mobile version of your website’s design. Keep it simple.
Break the text down into bite-sized chunks, and use bullet lists and pull-out quotes to make it easier for the eyes to ‘rest’ on each section. Large blocks of text are unpleasant to find your way through when staring at a SmartPhone screen.
Avoid pop-ups, unless legally necessary. They are just annoying on a Mobile website.
Images and Videos are of course fantastic content and marketing tools, but be careful how these are implemented when it comes to optimising for Mobile. Your video player should be Responsive (change shape on smaller screens), use current technology (no Flash!), and be served by a fast video hosting platform (such as EOOVI.com or Wistia). Ensure images are optimised in terms of their file size and format. Avoid large JPG files, and instead look at SVG formats, or even CSS icons and sprites as alternatives to keep the site very “light”.
Keep the elements and layout super clean and free from clutter. I always ask myself, ‘What would Google do?’ (just look at their homepage – it’s one of the most complex websites in the world, and yet it just has a single word, and a search box. Beauty in it’s simplicity – apply this principle to your own Mobile Experiences wherever possible, whether it be your website, your next email newsletter, or your next Instagram Story.
And Mobile Experience Doesn’t End With Your Website…
Mobile Experience is also your booking software, your eCommerce store, your Social Content, your email Campaigns, and more. So don’t stop once you’ve mobile optimised the website, make sure that optimised user experience designed for the small screen continues through every part of your customer’s journey with you, from when they find you on Instagram, through to booking a consultation with you, through to purchasing skincare products from your online store – the entire process should be an absolute joy and all from the convenience of a SmartPhone.
Make sure your next email campaign is built using a Responsive template. According to data from HubSpot, Mobile accounts for 46% of all email ‘opens’, so don’t risk annoying half of your recipients by not delivering them a beautiful experience of your email content.
Make sure your booking software is not causing unnecessary “abandons” by being a frustrating experience on a SmartPhone, and costing you lost Consultations.
Audit each of these areas carefully. Test them for yourself on your Mobile, and ask a select group of trusted partners and customers to do the same. Take the feedback to your Digital Consultant or Web Agency and carry out a Mobile Optimisation project to sort out the whole lot.
I cannot stress enough the importance of this work, and the ROI it will bring you in the coming months and years. It is vital for any “4th Era*” business to have this level of Digital maturity in order to survive and thrive in the Aesthetics market of 2020 and beyond. (*If you’re not sure what a 4th Era Aesthetics Business is then follow “The Aesthetic Entrepreneurs” on Facebook to find out).
Good luck, and remember to think “Mobile First” with everything you do in your Digital Aesthetics business.
About the Author.
Rick O’Neill, FRSA, is a Digital Consultant to the Medical Aesthetics, Cosmetic Surgery and Pharma Sectors. With over 20 years experience in Digital Marketing, Rick is the Founder and owner of the award winning Digital Agency ‘Look Touch & Feel” based at Silverstone Race Circuit (and who specialise in Web Design and Digital Marketing for the Medical Aesthetics, Education and Legal Sectors), a Founding Partner of The Aesthetic Entrepreneurs, investor and advisor to several other Digital businesses (including EOOVI Consult – a Video Consultation software platform) and is currently Digital Consultant UK & Europe to Allergan Aesthetics. He is currently writing his 2nd book, “How to Create a Digital Aesthetics Business” which will be available soon via Amazon.com