What’s the Most Valuable Digital Marketing Tool Available to Health Systems Today?

Social-Media-Usage-Healthcare-2013

“Our website – but you must advertise it!” according to one respondent from Geonetric’s recent Healthcare Digital Marketing Survey.

And he isn’t alone. 89% of respondents will use their websites for service line promotion in 2014. While the website serves as the destination, the “build it and they will come” school of digital marketing has gone by the wayside. Digital marketers have realized that a broader set of promotional tools are needed to connect the destination website with consumers.

Permission-based marketing has been the name of the game in recent years with much attention both inside healthcare and across other industries paid to the benefits of social media engagement. Nearly all healthcare organizations are using Facebook (99%), YouTube (94%) and Twitter (86%) in 2014. After languishing in the shadow of social media tools, email marketing is seeing big growth in 2014 as well (up 15% to 82% of organizations)!

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Everybody’s Doin’ It

black and white construction crane with scaffolding

Or almost everybody. Overhauling their website, that is.

Yep, virtual cranes are dotting the Internet landscape these days. In our recent research with healthcare organizations about their digital efforts, nearly a quarter completed an online overhaul in 2013 (24%) with more than twice that number either in the process of redesigning or in the planning stages (41% and 19%, respectively).

That’s a lot of construction activity. More importantly, however, is what do health systems hope to accomplish in their redesigns and why are so many of them doing this now?

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When Healthcare Organizations Merge, What Happens to the Websites?

Cone-Health-Merger-ARMC

We hear about healthcare mergers and acquisitions every day. Hospitals and medical groups are frequently joining up to offer more services and resources for their patients. But what does that mean for their Web presence? Most organizations know they need to invest in a great Web presence but are unsure how their Web initiatives will scale as their organization changes. If you’re wondering how to build a site that can grow and change with your organization, read on!

Cone Health has been a Geonetric client since 2012. They launched an impressive new site just before merging with Alamance Regional Medical Center (ARMC). This merger brought up many questions in terms of online efforts:

  • How would this change their Web strategy?
  • Was all the hard work on the Cone Health website for nothing?
  • How should ARMC update their Web presence to account for the merger?

As both organizations quickly found out, Geonetric’s VitalSite content management software had them covered! When Cone Health merged with ARMC, it became clear that sharing the same VitalSite installation was the way to go. This approach gave both organizations the advantage of allowing them to utilize cross-promotion of their content and modules, while still allowing the organizations to maintain their unique identities. With VitalSite’s FlexFilter dynamic content technology, you can enter information just once and select the specific sites it should appear on, saving everyone time.

The teams were able to work collaboratively and share knowledge that brought out the best of both the Cone Health and ARMC sites! If your Web team could use some help with an upcoming merger, contact us today to see how VitalSite’s flexibility can be the foundation of a scalable Web strategy.

6 Hospital Blogs to Check Out Before Starting One at Your Healthcare Organization

Nearly half (47%) of hospitals have a blog. And blogs are among the top four digital tactics that hospital marketers plan to use more of in 2014. That’s according to the preliminary findings in our recent eHealth survey.

Combine those stats with these:

If you’re part of that 53% of healthcare organizations without a blog, perhaps it’s time to consider one.

To start, there are six questions you need to answer. (Thanks to Nick Westergaard, Brand Driven Digital, who highlighted these fundamentals at a recent content marketing bootcamp.)

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Support Options for Internet Explorer 8

Screen capture of download screen for Internet Explorer 8

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 (IE 8) was first introduced in March of 2009 and initially represented a major step forward in browser design. But now, nearly five years later, it’s showing its age. Loathed by Web designers and Web application developers alike, IE 8 doesn’t support many modern features of CSS3 and HTML5, and designing for it means investing in countless workarounds and developing special code specific to just that browser. In fact, supporting it in websites and Web applications has become so complex that industry leaders like Google decided years ago that they wouldn’t support it in many of their Web apps.
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Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Digital Marketing In Healthcare, But Were Afraid To Ask!

Survey eBook Cover

I’m very excited to announce our new eBook – Digital Marketing in Healthcare, which outlines the findings from Geonetric’s recent survey of 250 healthcare organizations!

If you are involved in the Web, digital marketing, advertising or social media in healthcare or if you manage or support people who are, this report will provide critical intelligence to help your organization to be more competitive online, such as:

  • What do your competitors spend on digital?
  • How are organizations like yours staffing their digital marketing efforts?
  • What capabilities are healthcare organizations adding to the online mix this year?
  • What digital marketing tools do they find most valuable?
  • Is anyone actually using Vine?

You’ll find these insights and much more right here!

Twitter’s Possible Profile Redesign: What You Need to Know & Actions to Take Right Now

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Twitter gained popularity as a micro-blogging, minimalist social sharing platform focused on text-based content. The design changes they are experimenting with favor what we’ve been predicting all along: social media content is going to be increasingly visual. Twitter is trying to find a balance between keeping their current users happy while still making enough changes to attract and engage new users who are familiar with sites like Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest — which are all image-friendly.

Back in January, Twitter announced that it was “rolling out a refreshed twitter.com reflecting the look and feel of the iOS & Android apps.” The initial redesign included a white navigation bar across the top of the site showing the same options available on the mobile Twitter application. Twitter also adjusted the site layout on the Home, Connect and Discover sections to reflect the mobile design. The changes were relatively minor and made transitioning between mobile and desktop user interfaces a seamless experience.

In February, Twitter has been testing out a dramatically different profile design with a small group of users. It’s not certain if this profile redesign will roll out to all Twitter users or not — but it could. Even if the redesign doesn’t happen soon, it’s still important to be aware that anyone who is in this group of test accounts not only sees their profile with the redesign applied but all profiles on Twitter as well (including yours!). My personal profile (@nverhey) was one of those accounts and I’m able to check out the redesign and all of its features.

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Death by Complexity in the Modern CRM

crm-complex-customizeEveryone knows customer relationship management (CRM) is important. It’s the main source behind lead conversion and revenue recognition for many companies. But using many of the CRM systems available can be difficult. Especially because out of the box, they might not fit your needs. If that’s the case, you should consider customizing the system. It’s easier than you think.

That’s the great thing about CRM systems today – they can easily be customized to your organization’s business model. However, along with the positives of easy point-and-click customizations, such as new data fields, also comes the increased risk of creating useless and unreliable data. In a recent article I read The Five Data Management Practices B2B Marketers Are Overlooking, author Derek Slayton cites research from the Aberdeen Group that says companies that actively manage their marketing data for hygiene and improved segmentation require just 64 marketing responses to generate a customer. Those that do not require 329 (industry average) or 622 (laggards) touches!

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Medical Group of the Carolinas Improves Physician Promotion

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Deciding how to promote your physicians can be tough. There are so many different ways to highlight your doctors it can quickly get complicated. Let’s not forget about how making sure your physicians are happy also plays into the mix. Ultimately, there is no cookie-cutter approach. The best strategy really depends on your specific situation and figuring out what best supports your overall organizational goals and priorities.

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Telling Your Whole Brand Story: System-Wide Approach to Web Content Structure

Content Planning
It’s human nature to group like things together. At home, the coats go in the coat closet. Cars go in the garage. Milk goes in the fridge and dirty clothes go in the hamper. But when you’re in a rush, you park on the driveway, throw your coat on the couch, set the milk on the counter and leave your clothes on your bedroom floor.

Likewise, on your website everything has a home. And site visitors go where they are familiar to find information about your healthcare organization, your doctors and services, your locations… to find out about you. If you’re sloppy about your content organization, you can easily create quite a mess for your Web audience.

At Geonetric, we take careful consideration of these issues in the content strategy phase with every site we evaluate, and certainly with every site we restructure. We look deep into the organization’s structure to help guide the organization of content but, more importantly, we look at the needs of your audience and identify the gaps in the user experience.

And then we work to solve those problems. One increasingly common way we solve this problem is by providing system-wide structure for content.
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Hospital Website Guidance: Opening Links in New Windows


Screen capture of browser context window on a hyperlink.For some time now, standard Web guidance has been to open hyperlinks in the current window instead of opening them in new windows. For those not familiar with what I’m describing, the following provides an example of each:

There are multiple reasons that inform the recommended approach. If you’re not familiar with them, here are a few of the more important ones:
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Remarketing: Somebody’s Watching Me!

Woman Holding Coffee Mug

I’ve had a lot of questions lately about remarketing (sometimes known as retargeting), a marketing technique that targets your site visitors with ads for your organization AFTER they’ve left your website. For example, I shopped for lamps last year on Overstock.com and then, for weeks afterwards, it seems like every site I visited presented me with ads for Overstock.com, many with the specific lamps I’d viewed!

You’ve probably experienced this yourself and realized that these ads are no coincidence but rather an aggressive marketing tactic by which one site follows you around the Internet with ads after a single visit.

I don’t like remarketing (so much so that I sometimes find myself writing snarky poetry about it like this). I find it to be annoying, intrusive and clumsily heavy handed. While remarketing is less intrusive when shopping for lamps – for something truly important and personal, like my health, it would be more than annoying. It would be downright creepy!

As a consumer, I don’t like remarketing and have steered clients away from the practice. But, as my friend Linda’s coffee cup reminds me on many a Monday morning, “Your opinion, although interesting, is irrelevant.” A quick Google search shows that many healthcare organizations are using remarketing today. As a technique, remarketing works for many advertisers or it wouldn’t be gaining in popularity.
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Finding Broken Links and Fixing Them With VitalSite Redirects

Image conveying "redirect URL"

In the previous section, , we explored the differences between internal links, outbound links, and inbound links. Now that you have a working understanding of what these are and how they are different, we’ll cover some easy techniques you can use to be proactive about identifying them. For broken links that require 301 Redirects to fix, we’ll even show you how you can use VitalSite’s redirect manager to add redirects.
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Understanding Broken Links and 404s

Image showing a stylized person connecting two lengths of chain

In , we introduced 404 errors, what causes them (typically, broken links), and explored why it’s important to fix them.

In short, we fix broken links because 404 errors often represent bad user experience and missed opportunities to maximize the business value of our hospital websites.
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An Introduction to 404s, Broken Links and Hospital Website Hygiene

Keyboard keys arranged to spell, "404"

I’ve been working on websites since the only browser option was Mosaic, and if there’s one thing in all this time that has consistently made me see red, it’s the willingness of some webmasters to let bad 404s linger. This is doubly so for hospital and healthcare websites, where a bad user experience isn’t just something that affects revenue, but can affect a visitor’s health as well.

At one point in time the advice about 404 errors was clear: you fix broken links (which result in 404 errors) because it’s a bad user experience to have them on your website.

In the last few years, however, Google has muddied the waters.
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