Posted in #HCSM

Digital Health Checkup: 10 Signs It’s Time To Redesign Your Medical Practice Website

When was the last time you took a close look at your medical practice website?

Websites are meant to be living entities that grow along with your business. A website is not a “set it and forget it” type of investment.  Just like fashion, technology changes with the times. What once looked fresh and modern may now look old and outdated, giving your patients the impression that your practice is the same.

Why a website matters to your medical practice

In the online world, your website is a virtual office location and the face of your practice. It acts as the initial “touchpoint” for potential patients. It showcases who you are and what you do. A Facebook page is no substitute for a website (particularly given the current difficulties Facebook users face in terms of privacy and trust).

A well-designed website can:

  • Boost your online reputation
  • Increase search engine visibility
  • Attract new patients

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression

Your website has seven seconds to make an impression and your patients are making snap judgments based on what they see and read. Research Gate reports 94 percent of people are more apt to trust websites that boast good designs. Gaining trust is particularly important for medical practices, and you could lose it in a single glance with an outdated site.

In this post, I will take you through 10 signs to watch for to determine if it’s time to get your website upgraded or redesigned.

Take some time this week to look at your website with fresh eyes and ask yourself the following questions.

1. How does your website stack up against your competitors?

If your competitors’ websites are more streamlined, functional and fresher than yours, they may be drawing in more patients with a stronger online presence.  Make a list of their sites and critically evaluate them in terms of look, design, and functionality. Do they include a blog? Helpful checklists? Pre-registration forms patients can fill out to save time before their appointment? An online appointment system? Screenshot the design features you think work well and think about how you might incorporate them into your website. Look also at what your competitor might be missing. Do you have a key differentiator that sets you apart from the competition? Highlight that difference on your website.

2. Can visitors easily find what they are looking for when they visit your site?

When visitors land on your medical practice website, they’re typically looking for something specific.  You may be surprised to learn that research has revealed that easy navigation and accessibility are more important to patients than reputability.

Users should be able to use your website intuitively. Put yourself in the shoes of your visitors and ask yourself how easy it is to find key information on your site. How many clicks does a visitor have to make to get to the information they are looking for?

Think about the information someone is searching for when they visit your site—and make it easy for them to find it. If your site contains a lot of information (as some hospital websites do) consider creating separate landing pages for specific conditions.

Google has changed considerably over the years. The search engine giant constantly updates its algorithms to ensure users are provided with the best possible results. Each and every update that Google has made has been geared towards providing more user-focused and user-friendly results – Search Engine Watch

Here are some details your patients are likely looking for on your website.

  • A location map.  If there is a link to Google Maps, be sure it’s working. This section is one of the most used aspects of any website.
  • The services you provide — list any specialties here
  • A list of doctors and  nurse practitioners
  • The insurance plans you accept
  • Opening hours, plus emergency/after-hours contact details

Optional: Consider adding software which facilitates online scheduling of appointments.

3. Does your medical website communicate value?

Is your website nothing more than a glorified brochure? To attract patients to your website, you should be prepared to add more value in the form of information. Identify the most frequently asked questions in your practice and create blogs, videos, and FAQs for your website to answer those questions.

4. How well is your website performing?

The most common mistake I encounter when I work with clients, is they have no idea if their website is even attracting any visitors.  Unless you regularly track your website performance, you will have no idea whether it’s producing results or not.

Use a tool like Google Analytics to monitor your site’s performance. Has it declined over time? Are there fewer people coming to your site? Do they stick around or “bounce” off your site too quickly? Bounce rate is a contributor to your site’s search rankings, and it refers to the amount of time someone is on your site before “bouncing” off to another site. If you have a lot of people who look and quickly click away, it tells search engines you don’t have useful information on your site.

In order to increase conversions, you’ll need to have a clear and visible call to action (CTA) on your website.

5. Is your website design mobile responsive?

Mobile first-indexing is now fully underway and there’s no excuse for having a website that is not optimized for use across all platforms in 2018.  Most people aren’t looking at your website on a desktop or laptop anymore. They are looking at it on a phone or tablet.  It is projected that by 2020 there will be 2.87 billion smartphone users.

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Recent studies show 52% of smartphone users gather health-related information on their phones, ranging from information around a specific medical procedure to diet and nutrition best practices. 

Having a mobile-responsive site (ie one that automatically changes its layout and placements of certain menus and buttons automatically) is important because firstly, over half of patients search online for health information on their smartphone, and secondly, Google now gives ranking priority to those sites that are mobile friendly.  In fact, Google has stated that it will penalize websites that aren’t mobile-responsive, so if your site isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you’ll likely lose out significantly in the organic search rankings.  To check if your site’s design is responsive, enter its URL into this Google tool.

Check how your website looks on a mobile device. If you need a magnifying glass to read it then your website is most likely not mobile responsive. You may have heard the term “mobile-friendly site” and be wondering if its the same thing. A mobile-friendly site is one where code is created that allows your website to scale to a smaller size. Mobile responsive sites, in contrast, “respond” to the size of device you are using, adjusting the website accordingly. Mobile responsive sites are greatly preferred over sites that are simply mobile-friendly.

Below are some tips from Search Engine Watch to ensure your website is mobile compatible:

  • Use a responsive website design that adapts to mobile devices or create a mobile version of your website that is properly redirected for mobile users.
  • Use Google Search Console to add and verify the mobile version of your website.
  • Make sure that all the content formats used on your mobile site can be crawled and indexed (check using the txt testing tool ).
  • Ensure that content is consistent across your mobile site and desktop site.
  • Test your page speed using PageSpeed Insights. If your page is slow, use an auditing tool to find and fix uncompressed content, page errors, and other elements slowing your website down.

Recommended Reading: What Is Mobile Responsive and Why Should You Care?

6. Is your medical website optimized for search engines?

Eight-in-ten online health seekers say they began at a search engine such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. If you want more people to find you online, you need to optimize your website through good search engine optimization practices.

SEO (the ability to optimize your site for search engines),  is a detailed and sometimes confusing process, and you may want to hire an SEO expert to do it for you. If you don’t want to hire someone, there are search engine optimization tools available to help you do your own SEO — and many of them are free. I’ve put together this list of the best free SEO tools out there to help you instantly improve your online marketing.

A Note on SEO and Redesigning Your Website

One of the biggest misconceptions among website owners is that SEO only needs to be done once.  Numerous fractions are altered during redesign including code and pages. If they are not properly handled, it can negatively impact the website’s SEO and affect the long-term growth of the site. To find how to redesign your website without affecting SEO, read this guide.

7. Does your website take time to load content and images?

How fast your website loads is critical – a good site will load in 2 seconds. Alarmingly, research shows that a single second delay in site load time can reduce your conversions by 7 percent. If your site is taking longer than that, consider that around 40% of people will leave a website if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds.

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Source: Salesforce

The faster your site, the better. Google announced back in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches too. Check your site speed: Google PageSpeed Insights. This tool gives you an overview of what aspects need improvement to boost the speed of a particular page.

Insider Tip! Optimize your images for faster loading. A lot of websites have images that are relatively large, which take a lot of time to load. Resizing your images can speed up the loading time.

Recommended Reading: Four of the Best Tools to Increase Website Speed

8. Does your site still use Flash?

There was a time when Flash was a key element of every new website, but nowadays Flash is seen an embarrassing relic of the past. It is no longer a matter of IF browsers will stop supporting Flash in the future, it is now a matter of WHEN they will do so, which means you need to take steps now if you want your site to be usable for the widest range of people in the future.

9. Have you included relevant imagery on your site?

High-resolution images are an important component of any website and require care and attention to make the best impression. Including photos of your the interior and exterior of your building, your logo, and your employees creates a welcoming and professional impression on prospective patients  Patients want a relationship with the people who will be caring for them.

If you are already using images, are they relevant to what you do? Or are you relying too heavily on generic stock images you can find in many other places on the web? These days there’s no excuse for using boring stock images. In this article, you’ll learn about my best recommendations for sourcing images you can use for free to enhance your medical marketing.

Insider Tip! Don’t forget to add relevant tags to your images. (i.e. don’t upload images as e.g. img_1234).  Image tags provide details when the images do not load, ensuring the user receives a similar UX irrespective of whether there is a picture or not.

10. Have you incorporated social media?

Not only are patients seeking health information online, they are also using social media to research health information. Ask yourself if it’s easy for visitors to share your content on social media? Have you included prominent social sharing buttons? Your average reader might never share your content unless you make it seamlessly easy to do so.

To Wrap Up

Your website is pivotal to your digital marketing strategy. And with more patients than ever searching online for you, it’s imperative that your website is optimized for them to find you.  It takes time and resources to optimize your site to deliver the best experience possible, but if you are serious about how your business performs, you need to get serious about the performance of your website too.

You might also like to read 

5 Conversion Elements Every Site Needs for Scoring High-Value Leads 

5 Ways to Create a More Engaging User Experience

10 Healthcare Website Design Tips that Deliver Patients 

40-Point Website Audit Checklist

Sign up for our mailing list to get helpful tips for growing your practice.

 

Posted in #HCSM, Marketing

Medical Marketing: What Does Your Audience Value Online?

 

alex-membrillo-head-shot
Alex Membrillo

By now, people know that it is imperative that you market your medical practice online. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center report, over three-quarters of consumers start their search for a new doctor online. By ensuring that you have the sort of marketing content that patients find compelling, you can increase your chances that you are the one that they choose.

A few of the best digital marketing assets to have:

1. Testimonials and reviews.

Search Engine Land found that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust a personal recommendation. Ask happy patients to provide reviews that can help show your high level of care to new individuals. You can ask in person, include a link to your review page in emails or post on social media. You can include links to common review sites on your site or showcase a few of your best reviews directly on your website. By offering this sort of social proof, you can show potential patients how well your service is regarded by people already seeing your physicians.

2. Answers to common health questions.

About seven in ten individuals has searched online for answers to health questions in the past year. By providing information about common health issues that your patients may face, you can help them be more informed patients and live healthier lives. This sort of content can also make it easier for patients to know when symptoms indicate that they should make an appointment with their doctor. Not only will they be more likely to come in for a visit, they will also have more positive health outcomes by getting care more quickly.

3. A strong social media presence.

A study about social media in healthcare found that 41% of those questioned would choose a healthcare provider based on their social media reputation. By keeping up with what people are saying about your practice on social media and getting in touch with people who have had issues, you can manage your reputation online and keep your image positive and appealing.

Others in healthcare have had success publishing authority articles through platforms like LinkedIn. These sorts of articles establish your credibility and skill in your field and make people feel more comfortable trusting you with their health.

4. Easy to understand visual content.

Many individuals find that they have an easier time grasping health concepts that are learned through images and videos as well as text. By including diagrams, images and videos as part of your online marketing, you can empower patients with knowledge about their health and build a stronger and more comfortable relationship. You can even do live Q&A sessions using services like Facebook’s live streaming. This can help potential patients with some of their health questions and showcase your authority and expertise in your area of practice.

5. Practical content like checklists.

Content like printable checklists can make it easier for patients to do the right things for their health. For instance, a sheet on ways to protect yourself from the common cold can be a popular offering when it’s time for kids to head back to school. A summer break checklist can help your patients pack the right things in their travel first aid kit and keep themselves safe from sunburns and heat stroke.

Posting frequently and serving up a wide variety of medical marketing content can make your presence online helpful and informative to both current and prospective patients. By focusing on what materials will be most useful to them, you can begin building the trust that leads to strong relationships before they ever make their first appointment with your practice.


About the Author

Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal Web Solutions, an award winning healthcare marketing agency based in Atlanta, GA. His innovative approach to digital marketing has transformed the industry and delivered remarkable results to clients of all sizes and markets. Membrillo has extensive experience with healthcare and physician marketing.  Cardinal has been 3-time consecutively named on Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately-held US companies. Visit www.CardinalWebSolutions.com to find out more about Cardinal Web Solutions.  Follow him on Twitter @Alex_Membrillo

 

Posted in Marketing

Using Social Media to Market and Brand Your Medical Practice

As the Internet has become the medium of choice for researching health information, social media has become an important part of how your medical practice gets found online.  In today’s social media-connected, content marketing rich environment, doctors who are not using social media as part of their marketing strategy are missing out.  This article will give you an overview of why and how you should brand and market your practice online, along with examples of those physicians who are leading the way with social media marketing.

But first, what exactly does “branding” mean?

Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers. (Business Dictionary.com)

There are many elements which make your brand more readily identifiable, ranging from tangibles like your logo, tagline and promotional materials to the more intangible – how telephone calls are answered in your practice and how you are perceived by your patients. Doctors position themselves in the healthcare market by speciality, but also by the quality of their work, their reputation, and as an acknowledged expert on specific medical conditions.

Identify and define your brand

Properly identifying your brand means you will be able to define your offering and market your communications more effectively to your patient (and prospective patient) base. Ask yourself the following questions to help you define your brand more clearly.

  • What can patients find with you that they won’t find with another doctor?
  • What are your strengths when it comes to patient care?
  • What aspect of medicine do you most enjoy?
  • Do you have knowledge of a hobby or special interest which patients would benefit from your expertise on?

Promote your brand with social media

Health topics are one of the most searched terms on the internet and it’s becoming increasingly important for doctors to get involved in the online discussion. Engagement with social media networking sites provides you with a unique opportunity to position and market your brand, add value, and differentiate your practice from your competitors. It also helps attract new patients, build existing patient loyalty and opens up new opportunities outside of your practice.

Social media gives you the tools to find where your patients are meeting online, build relationships with them, and establish yourself as an expert in your field. Many of your existing patients are already online, and regular communication with them will help cement your relationship. Remember that unlike traditional forms of advertising, social media marketing is about talking with, not to your audience; it is about adding value to the conversation. Healthcare organizations whose strategy is to simply post information (for instance on a static web page) are missing out on the true essence of social media, i.e. two-way communication.

Opportunities to brand your medical practice are plentiful online. There is support and community groups for just about any medical condition or interest. To further expand their reach and focus on patient care, these groups need the input of qualified clinicians to help validate the information discussed on their sites and to ensure balanced views that are in the best interest of patients. Participating in these communities by providing advice, educational podcasts, guest contributions to widely read blogs and websites can help you broadcast your brand and build your reputation, while providing valuable support to the group.

Establishing and maintaining an online presence will keep your brand to the fore of people’s minds – not just your patients, but your peers. It is a great way to build positive exposure and credibility for your brand and to create what marketers refer to as “top-of-mind awareness.” Adding more touchpoints with your patients and prospective patients through social media helps create this top of mind awareness.

Maintaining brand integrity and monitoring your online reputation

Consistency, credibility, and connection are the cornerstones of maintaining your healthcare brand’s integrity. Once you have a clear vision of what your brand is about, the key to establishing and maintaining it is being consistent and credible across all on and off line platforms you connect on. It is also important to listen to what is being said about your brand, not just to know what is going on and whether you are receiving any negative publicity or comments that need to be addressed, but also to know what you are doing right, so that you can do more of it. At a minimum keep an eye on tweets, comments and messages on your Twitter, blog and Facebook accounts. You should also set up google alerts for your name, your practice and your partners.

Physicians leading the way online

There are many examples of physicians with successful online brands.  One of the best known is Kevin Pho, MD, an internist from Nashua, N.H., who started his KevinMD blog in 2004. Eight years later KevinMD is one of the most popular medical blogs online and has gained Dr Pho national and international attention as an opinion maker. He is frequently asked to contribute to print and TV discussions and is a regular speaker at conferences around the world.

Howard Luks, MD, an orthopedic surgeon in Hawthorne, N.Y., who consults on digital media and medicine issues, champions healthcare social media and is unequivocal in his assertion that “to ignore the intersection between healthcare and social media is to potentially ignore our own relevance as a health care practitioner”.

Deanna Attai, MD, has focused her career exclusively on the care of patients with benign and malignant breast conditions. She provides advice to breast cancer communities on blogs, Twitter and Facebook platforms and is one of the founders of #BCSM (Breast Cancer Social Media), a regular online gathering on Twitter. Through her effective use of social media, Dr Attai has humanised her practice and become a credible and trustworthy source of advice and support to the breast cancer community, which has a very active and vocal presence online.

There’s no question that social media is growing in importance in the healthcare field and it is no longer an optional marketing strategy. Access to health information online is empowering patients and forcing medicine to become part of a more consumer driven market. For doctors to distinguish themselves from each other, they must respond to a digital society which now demands transparency and engagement. Joining in the online health conversation gives your patients a sense of belonging and emotional connection; it positions you as an expert in your field, helps you stand out from your peers, and inspires your staff. Word of mouth is the most valuable form of referral you can get and social media can harness this power and spread its reach in a way that traditional advertising cannot.

Finally, don’t think because you don’t appear online doesn’t mean you aren’t being talked about. With the advent of patient review sites, and online discussion forums, you risk leaving your brand reputation in the hands of others. The conversation is happening online with or without you, so for the sake of your healthcare brand, join it!

This article originally published on Health Works Collective