Ensure Your Care Organization Stands Out with a Smart, Effective Website
Part 1: Developing Your Web Strategy
By: Jessica Chew | March 10, 2020
In Part 1 of this 3-part series, we’ll look at 8 questions you should consider before building (or updating) a website for your home health, hospice, or skilled nursing organization or healthcare network.
Today, having a well–planned, well-executed website can be critical to your organization’s overall success. According to marketing analytics company Dialogtech, more than 60% of consumers search for information about healthcare providers online before booking appointments. Referral partners, patients, and families simply expect reputable providers to be online.
In addition, a website puts your network or post-acute care setting in front of thousands of potential partners and patients and works around the clock, in a sense extending your marketing capabilities.
Perhaps most importantly, your competitors likely have a digital presence, so you need to be online to compete.
Once you’re convinced your organization needs a website—or a website upgrade—where do you begin? With a strategy. Just as your business operates based on a strategic plan, a successful website will be informed by strategic decisions as well.
8 Questions to Answer When Designing Your Web Strategy
- Who is your audience? Whether your organization is a home health, hospice, or skilled nursing provider seeking new referral sources and ultimately new patients, or a healthcare network hoping to grow or refine its partner roster, understanding your key audiences will drive your content direction. Who makes the purchasing or partnership decisions? What are their needs, concerns, and pain points? How can you signal that you’re the right fit for them among a sea of choices? If you have two or more audiences with very different needs, you’ll need to easily and clearly direct users to the right content. There are many ways to do this. For ideas, check out the sites of other healthcare organizations, and even sites outside of your industry.
- What do your audiences need to know in order to take the next step? You have so much to offer, but readers these days want the most relevant information up front and fast. For each of your audiences, prioritize the top 3 most important things you want them to know. Then, build credibility by backing up your messages with quantitative data. For instance: How do your outcomes compare to others within a specific diagnostic category? What are the readmission rates for the providers in your network? The most important data will be different depending on your goals. Because effective website content funnels readers from the most important information down, your key messages should take the lead on your home page and in headlines. Additional details can follow on secondary pages or in copy blocks.
- How will you optimize your site for success? Search engine optimization, or “SEO,” ensures your site shows up near the top of the list in browser searches. Page titles, meta data, Google My Business and Google Maps accounts, link sharing, and strong keywords are all part of strong SEO. While this may sound complicated, each step is actually relatively easy to accomplish. There are many articles online that address the basics, or you can hire an SEO professional to walk you through the process.
- Where are your audiences surfing? Data shows that a slim majority of website visits worldwide are now made on mobile devices. However, people still tend to spend more time on sites when they’re at their desktop computers. It’s likely that you’ll want to have a responsive site that displays well on both. Fortunately, many easy-to-use web platforms, such as WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace® can do this automatically for you.
- What is your competition up to online? To compete effectively, take a look at the sites of your top competitors. Want to up your game? Review some of the larger organizations both inside and outside your area. To stand out, your site should be at least as clear, compelling, and professional looking as theirs are.
- Can you leverage testimonials? More and more, consumer behavior is driven by what others are saying, making testimonials a powerful digital tool. According to Planet HIPAA, health care providers may use testimonials with the patients’ written authorization. You can also build “social proof” by using reviews from third-party sites like Google Reviews, HealthGrades, RateMDs, Yelp.
- Who will create and maintain your site? A digital presence can be exceptionally valuable, but building and maintaining a website takes human and capital resources. Who will gather and write content? Who will help with photography and other visuals? And once the site is up, who will handle incoming requests for information and make periodic updates? Many smaller businesses find that outsourcing this work is a worthwhile expense.
- How will you measure success? Many web platforms have their own metrics dashboards. Once you’ve decided which platform to use, become familiar with their measurement tools so you can check on whether your site is performing well. You can typically track things like total page views per session, which pages are holding users’ attention, and the average time spent on a page. You may also be able to track the effectiveness of promotions and measure conversions.
Anytime you think your site could be doing better, leverage insights from your dashboard to change things up. Small refinements can go a long way toward maximizing your impact.
Coming up: In Part 2 of this series, we’ll offer tips for creating the written content for your site. Stay tuned!