In healthcare marketing, staying competitive takes many different forms. Staying ahead of the organization across town. Adjusting to acquisitions and changing alliances. Keeping up to date with ever-changing technology and search algorithms. Exceeding consumers’ ever-increasing expectations.
So while you’ve been cranking away at the day to day, it may feel like your website is drifting behind. But is it time to act? Recent advances and the maturation of several marketing technologies means that now is the time to shift gears, find your energy and put your site back in the lead.
For many organizations, that sense of ‘lagging the competition’ is centered around website features and functionality. You’re looking to boost the online user experience while simultaneously increasing its alignment with organizational strategy. Where to begin? Let’s look at where one of the most visible areas of your website is headed.
Are they talking about me? What are they saying? Why would they say that!?
Sounds like a flashback to junior high, but you’re probably asking these same questions when you think about what your audience may be saying about your organization online.
Social media comments and posts have an impact on your organization. What one person posts in a review or on social media has the potential to influence dozens or hundreds of others. And, even more critically, the way you choose to respond is equally influential.
This isn’t a new problem, but it’s a continually growing challenge. It’s easy for a disgruntled patient to post a critical comment on Facebook or a negative review on Healthgrades. It’s also easy for that patient to copy and paste the comment on a handful of sites. For your team, it’s a time-consuming effort to find and respond to all of these posts.
But it’s worth the effort. Here’s why you should monitor and respond to online reviews and social media posts:
Like healthcare itself, the digital marketing landscape is ever-changing and introducing new ideas, technologies and strategies at a rapid pace. 2016 looks to be no different than past years, with more growth and more new ways to engage site visitors and potential patients.
Check out our Top Digital Marketing Trends in Healthcare in 2016 infographic that highlights the trends we see coming, and read this post for more information on where to focus your time and resources in 2016.
This week, resident content experts Maggie and Jill joined me at the Confab Minnesota conference. We were among more than six hundred content strategists whose projects run the gamut from global enterprises to two-person Web teams, manufacturing to healthcare, retail to non-profit.
Much time was spent as you’d expect: talking about words. Creating the appropriate voice for your organization, dealing with content overload, and, in general, creating better content experiences.
If you’ve worked in the Web industry for any length of time, you’re painfully aware of how challenging it is to plan for, create, and maintain great content. In healthcare, as in many other industries, there is an enormous amount of informational content. It can easily become overwhelming. However, nothing is more central than content to the success of your online strategy and the overall experience of your audience.
Talk with content strategy experts and you will hear war stories about hours spent manipulating spreadsheets. Dozens of articles and blog posts describe in tedious detail how to combine numerous data files into a single view. All of this cutting, pasting, manipulation, and frustration doesn’t leave much time – or energy – for actually understanding the content or developing a solid strategy, let alone writing anything.
It wouldn’t be January without a few predictions, so here are my top three areas to keep an eye on in 2013.
Browsers, Browsers Everywhere
As predicted, 2012 saw continued proliferation of Web-browsing devices and platforms – the iPad mini, Microsoft Surface, Windows Phone 8 – the list goes on. If you’re thinking of creating a mobile site we highly recommend you consider responsive design. Responsive design is the new table-less Web design – a watershed moment in how websites are constructed to adapt to any screen size.
From a design perspective, addressing the needs of smaller screens has created a trend toward leaner websites with minimal, but sophisticated, designs.
Extranets offer a great way for hospitals and health systems to communicate securely with some of their most important audiences. They also provide the opportunity to make a good impression with those audiences.
Think of an extranet like an invitation-only microsite. Like a microsite, an extranet is a self-contained destination focused on a single audience and a relatively small set of goals. For example, extranets can be used to communicate with physician groups and board of directors.
It’s important to remember that extranets are secure and targeted. When implementing an extranet, treat it as a new website. Create an architecture, design, and tone that speaks to your audience. Make sure the content is relevant to them.
Events are a huge component of many of your marketing, health promotion, community outreach, professional training, and fundraising efforts. But would you know it from looking at your website? Too often healthcare websites include brief event descriptions copied from print materials, challenging navigation, and few calls to action that frustrate registrants on many healthcare websites.
Here are twelve tips for ensuring potential attendees can find your listing, have the information they need, and can figure out how to sign up for the event.
We work hard to ensure our VitalSite content management system is the best on the market. And we’re lucky enough to work with experts in many disciplines – not just software development. We routinely reach out to our internal experts to get advice and recommendations to ensure our software meets evolving needs.
For one of our recent development sprints we invited Casey Hansen, Geonetric’s expert on all things Google, to join the VitalSite team as a guest product owner. Casey brought a backlog of ideas for enhancing the search engine optimization features of VitalSite. I sat down with him to find out how it went.
DS: Thanks for being part of the development team this sprint. Could you explain which part of the development process you were included in?
CH: I was involved in the planning process and the daily standups to see how the product team works through a sprint and overcomes obstacles. It was eye-opening to see how all the different pieces affect each other.
DS: It’s a constant process of prioritization. Were there other surprising aspects of the development process?
CH: The biggest surprise was to see how something that seems simple can actually be quite complex. What will that change affect here? There? Across the product? What do we do if this happens? What do we do if that happens? When you’re the one with the idea, you don’t think about all of the details. The simplest little feature can have waterfall effects. It’s really enlightening to understand the process.
DS: One of the features that you worked on was an enhancement to encourage authors to provide good metadata for the content they create. How do you think the feature will boost search engine optimization?
CH: It’s going to help make sure that some of the basics are on the pages, that they don’t get left out, and that they conform to standards. In my experience, clients have multiple people putting content in and it’s easy for pages to get published with no metadata, or inconsistent metadata. This feature is going to help guide that process.
Last week Jonah Peretti, co-founder of BuzzFeed and Huffington Post, shared his advice for Marissa Mayer, the former Google executive who was recently appointed president and CEO of Yahoo!:
“It is amazing how having a huge home page can be a curse. People start fighting over existing traffic instead of trying to make awesome new things that are exciting enough to attract their own audience. Marissa Mayer should exclude home page traffic from all metrics used to evaluate performance…”
It’s a great thought experiment. If the product you’re promoting – whether that’s a service line, facility, care provider, event, or simply information – isn’t enough to draw visits on its own, then putting a link on the home page isn’t the solution.
In short: if you’re still focused on driving traffic to your home page, you’re missing the point.
What does your sleep have to do with VitalSite’s quality? More than you know… It all has to do with our implementation of Behavior Driven Development (BDD).
As you may know from the Lean management philosophy, finding and fixing issues as early as possible is the key to increasing quality. On a Toyota assembly line, any worker can stop the line when a problem occurs. We wanted to apply the same attention to detail and rapid feedback to our software development process.
That’s why we recently introduced BDD to Geonetric. Behavior Driven Development focuses on defining the behavior of a feature and writing automated tests to ensure the software behaves as expected. Writing the actual code to add the feature to VitalSite comes after the test is developed. Sound backwards? It’s not – in fact, this process ensures every line of code not only adds value, but is automatically tested at the push of a button.
You know the value health libraries can provide your organization and your site visitors. The content supports service line marketing efforts, gives care providers a resource for reliable patient education information and enhances your online brand.
However, too often health content solutions tend to seem isolated and out-of-sync with the rest of the hospital’s website.
That’s why we’ve been working closely with Healthwise® to create a solution that aligns with our holistic approach to online strategy. The Healthwise Knowledgebase features a vast array (more than 40,000 pages!) of top-quality, evidence-based health content along with images, illustrations and interactive tools. Most important is their emphasis on shared decision making. Healthwise created content that facilitates conversations between patients and care providers aimed at addressing the difficult decisions patients face.
Together with Healthwise, we’ve made it possible to truly integrate accurate and current health content into your website’s user experience. Visitors who are learning about service lines, checking out symptoms, or receiving a secure message from your staff can now have high-quality health content at their fingertips.
Ever wish you had more of a voice with your current content management system vendor? When you work with Geonetric, your input shapes future versions of our VitalSite content management system.
We release a new version of our product every quarter and many of the enhancements we make are based on the client feedback we receive. In fact, we’ve decided to take that process to the next level and make it even easier for users to share their ideas with our product team.