The top 10 mistakes aesthetics businesses make with their digital marketing

The top 10 mistakes aesthetics businesses make with their digital marketing

As a digital consultant (20+ years) specialising in the medical aesthetics sector (13+ years), i have pretty much seen it all in terms of mistakes and misguided strategies when it comes to websites, search optimisation, content, advertising, social media and email marketing.

I’ve compiled here what i believe are the top 10 mistakes made by aesthetics businesses, the potential damage they can cause, and how to avoid them or undo them!  Ensure you are not making any of these 10 mistakes, and you will be well on your way to having a much stronger digital marketing approach for your aesthetics business in 2020 and beyond.

So here they are, in no particular order…

Mistake 1: poor mobile experience

Mobile optimisation. It’s a huge issue in digital marketing and web design today. In the aesthetics market, over 85% of your users will be viewing your website on a small screen (a tablet or mobile). If your website gives them a poor, frustrating experience, what do you think they’re going to do? Go to your competitor instead!

Even today, in 2022, a lot of websites are still not fully mobile optimised. Instead they look just like the desktop site, only from 50 yards away, and nothing works. Infuriating. You’re spending all that money and time marketing online and on social media, yet well over 85% of the people that click through from those marketing efforts to the site will have a terrible experience, and they will leave the site not having managed to find what they were looking for.  If your website is not fully mobile optimised, then stop spending money driving people to it today, and sort it out first.

My agency (LTF) take the approach of “mobile first”. It makes sense that if more people are going to access the website from a mobile than they are on a laptop or computer, then we should design the mobile experience and layouts first, and the rest second. It gives you a far cleaner, leaner, faster website, with a much better user experience for everyone.

Take the opportunity to tailor the mobile navigation experience to suit your particular users: use analytics and session cams to understand how they use the site when on a mobile and cut it down to the important actions / functions.

Mistake 2: lack of social proof

In the aesthetics industry, social proof is everything. Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behaviour for a given situation.  There are many types of social proof, from reviews, to testimonials, to before and afters, to expert opinion, to the opinions of your own friends etc, and there are many ways they can be leveraged on your website.

Social proof can be presented in the way your site appears in search results (through “rich snippets” that show how rated your site is), through social media (by sharing and encouraging love and respect from followers and patients) and across your website, by highlighting testimonials, videos from happy patients, and review scores etc.  Aesthetics businesses not leveraging social proof are missing out on huge opportunities to convert otherwise unsure visitors / potential customers.

Mistake 3: ill-advised image sourcing

I have lost count of the amount of aesthetic clinic websites we’ve seen that use the same stock photos from page one of i-stock using the search term “beautiful women”.  This is an instant turn-off for potential customers for many reasons. Firstly, your potential customers are very savvy online, they do their research, they’ve seen all your competitors’ websites, and they’ve seen all of your social media and google reviews. You are being judged within seconds of them landing on your website, and the first thing that hits them is the imagery used. If you’ve used obvious, poorly placed stock imagery that they’ve likely seen elsewhere, you look like a “so what” clinic that brings nothing new or unique.

Using harder to find stock or (even better) your own commissioned photography, is a far better attraction strategy. Even the way you place or treat the imagery gives you a chance to stand out and create a brand that is appealing. Don’t forget to think about your market and what they aspire to.

Mistake 4: poor calls to action

The whole reason you built your website in the first place is to get people to pick up the phone to you, correct? So why, oh, why do we still see so many websites that make it very difficult indeed to get the phone number or address of the business? Let’s have the phone number, and the quick enquiry form, front and centre. Dead easy and obvious. Permanently available!

Expectations with users these days are through the roof!  As consumers on the web we now expect, nay demand, instant access to everything and everyone!  We might not all think that’s a healthy thing, but it is a fact, and it is also an opportunity not to be missed…

Consider trialling live chat for a few months on your website. It’s easy to setup and install, and (if your users take to it) can help to increase your enquiries online and provide your customers with a better service.

Think about what you can do before people leave your site to encourage them to get in touch. Make it easy for them, with a “call me back” facility, and fast social responses. Demanding someone’s contact details before you have even engaged with their enquiry is just rude — you’re asking for a reward before you’ve given any value to the customer.  Keep it genuine and simple — if your live chat function can’t answer the customer’s enquiry, then you can offer the “call me back” or “schedule a consultation” options.  Softly, softly, doesn’t work online. If you are too subtle, you miss the chance to persuade some to make that enquiry. We are all busy. We are all trying to clear our to-do lists and get home. We want to get to a decision, or a no, as fast as possible. 

Mistake 5: no use of automation

The web technology now exists for you to create fantastic automated experiences for both your existing and potential patients online, through your website and social media. Not only that, but you can extend that automation through their experience in engaging with you, and through to their after-care and follow up.  Automation can come in many forms, from chat bots that can handle basic enquiries, through to full booking, payment and on-boarding systems. The businesses that master these automated experiences are ahead of the curve, and give customers and potential customers a reason to choose them for a slick and “hand-held” journey.

Invest in automation now, and avoid lost customers later.

Mistake 6: no clear messaging framework

The way you position your aesthetics business in words and stories online is absolutely critical. It’s the perception you create when people first encounter you, and it’s what they will remember about you when comparing their options. Your messaging needs to convey so many things, that it has to be carefully prepared and thought through, rather than written on the fly and blasted out the door. The damage from this if mishandled can be irretrievable.  A good messaging framework will enable everyone on your team to be consistent in the way you communicate the value of your products and services. It’s a simple to use reference point for all your marketing and sales communications — giving your business value, time after time. The design of the framework makes it easy to iterate and edit as you “battle-test” the messaging and/or evolve your proposition. This is the DNA of any marketing /communication work you go on to do.

Mistake 7: low quality social content

Keep it pretty — instagram is for lifestyle inspiration, after all. You have chosen to work in the aesthetics sector. Social media and how things look are front and centre, and so how you present your business through social media is how you shall be judged.  A poor quality approach with no clear strategy or brand guidelines can kill your reputation online in the beauty industry.

Decide well in advance what style of imagery suits your market. Create templates for each type or format of content, and ensure you are consistent with the imagery, presentation, colouring, and language used in all your posts. On instagram in particular, potential customers will decide whether or not to follow you (and engage you) based on the quality of your posts and your home page.

Mistake 8: no clear reviews strategy

The first thing aesthetics patients are going to do is search for your reviews online. You need a strategy for reviews.  Don’t let your patients decide where to review you — get there first and control the process and the review platform. Whether it’s, trustpilot, facebook reviews, or google reviews — have a plan in place and “bake this in” to your customer journey, so that you can build a strong review profile in one place, then use this to market your business.  Provide the entire process your customers need to follow in order to leave a review, encourage them, help them, and thank them when they do so.

Use the reviews as far and wide as you can — within your search results on google, across your website and on your social media.

In terms of their impact on your traffic though, nothing beats Google Reviews, so lead with these first, then build up your reviews on other platforms once you’ve got at least 100 Google Reviews.

Mistake 9: lack of video use

You’ve only got seconds to engage these people. They are busy; they are viewing multiple websites simultaneously. They may be on a mobile device (most likely these days) so their attention span is even shorter than before, and whatever you present them needs to be easy to use with a thumb and a finger! What can you do to hold people’s attention and attempt to engage them before they leave the website?

Video works and it improves your chances of engaging a visitor as soon as they land.  In the aesthetics world, live video is one of the most engaging formats you can deploy. Giving instant answers to potential customer/patient questions, and giving reassurance about procedures etc, is a killer way to engage and build trust.

Mistake 10: poor quality / “cheap” web design

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fantastic that anyone can get online now and knock up a template website in 30 minutes by following a tutorial. That’s great. Particularly when you are just starting out.  But — for those of us with more mature businesses looking to grow — this is your business. This is your livelihood. This is the representation of your approach to quality, and service, and the digital representation of your brand. Please do not leave something so critical to your success in the hands of an amateur, or cut corners or budgets for the sake of saving a few quid.

There is a massive difference between a) a poor half-baked website — massive turn off to potential customers, who have a higher expectation than ever before of websites and online experiences…

… and b) a professionally designed and built website that engages and converts visitors into enquiries. Make the smart investment, invest in your digital marketing, and it will pay dividends. Short cut now to save a few pennies, and you will suffer the consequences later.

So consider which mistakes you might be guilty of, and take steps to avoid them going forwards.  Good luck, and let me know how you get on!

rick o’neill is a digital consultant to the medical aesthetics, cosmetic surgery and pharma sectors. With more than 20 years’ experience in digital marketing, o’neill is the founder and owner of digital agency ltf digital based at silverstone race circuit. He is also a founding partner of the aesthetic entrepreneurs, investor and advisor to several other digital businesses and is currently digital consultant to merz aesthetics.


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Rick O'Neill

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, O’Neill is the founder and owner of the award-winning digital agency ‘Look Touch & Feel’ (known as “LTF”) based at Silverstone Race Circuit, a founding partner of The Aesthetic Entrepreneurs, Digital Consultant to Merz Aesthetics, and investor / advisor to several other digitally-focused businesses.

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