Although we love digital marketing and strategy, some content doesn’t quite fit into a nice little package.

Core Components of a Hospital Website

Healthcare brands frequently struggle to understand their patients’ needs a particularly online. Websites are often lacking core components that could potentially answer a patient’s questions right away. When the information is either buried deep within a website’s pages or simply nonexistent, patients grow frustrated or at the very least, feel disconnected from the brand.

components-of-hospital-site

A health care brand’s overarching objectives will serve as a baseline for determining the goals of a website, and content creation should shortly follow. We discussed the importance of building pages based on the keywords visitors are searching, but there are other pieces that must be included in your website to ensure the patients’ expectations are met. These necessary pages can transform your website into a patient-centric resource for maintaining health. Patient expectations include:

  • Services Information
  • Detailed Support Pages
  • Physician Information

 

1. Services Information

Whether for yourself or someone else, there has probably been a point during which you searched for a health care service online. Patients in this age are turning to search engines to seek medical information a from symptoms to post-surgery instructions a and websites must present answers. Health care brands are finally understanding this reality. Listing the services your hospital provides is the bare minimum. Humans are curious creatures; we are no longer satisfied with the bare minimum. In addition to discovering what services are offered, we want to know treatment details, such as:

  • What procedures may be required
  • How long recovery will take
  • Preventative care a doctor will recommend
  • Patient success stories

And as mentioned in our warning against leased content, searchers aren’t interested in generic content; they want to know what separates your hospital from the others.

Hospital-Services-Bare-Minimum

2. Detailed Support Pages

Patients search for health care solutions at different stages. It’s important to provide support for each phase in a patient’s journey toward better health. Battling a medical condition is emotionally and physically draining in itself; by simplifying the patient’s to-do list, a brand can get on a patient’s good side before he or she has even stepped inside the lobby. Visitors need to be able to find basic contact information without a lot of clicks. This includes:

  • Parking information a and any costs involved
  • Address of main facility
  • Phone numbers
  • Email address for more information
  • A map of the hospital layout (internal and external)

This info should be tailored to the specific service a visitor is searching, especially if the hospital spans several buildings on its campus. From personal experience, I know how frustrating it is to find out you have parked on the opposite end of where you need to be.

Duke-Patient-Support

In addition to the basic details listed above, health care providers should consider assembling resources that deliver even more support for current or potential patients. Dukhealth.org is full of phenomenal information for each service offered. This alleviates potential stress and concerns by fully preparing patients with what they can expect during their appointments. You should offer information regarding:

  • What to bring for checking in
  • Checking in procedures
  • Discharge procedures
  • Dining and cafeteria information
  • Nearby lodging information for family
  • FAQ page for specific service line

 

3. Staff Pages

While many hospitals have a core “find a physician” page, it can be difficult for a patient to find the doctor he or she is looking for. An ideal user experience leads to physicians through multiple channels. For example, each service line should link to the specific physicians who are experts in that field. It’s comforting for visitors to familiarize themselves with a doctor’s face, name, recognitions, and short bio. Not to mention, having this information can assist in directing those searching a physician’s name in Google to the hospital website instead of to doctor rating websites that may or may not portray the doctor in a positive light. Additionally, hospital websites should consider cycling their physicians throughout the website a even on the homepage. When an institution proudly displays the names and faces of their physicians, patients appreciate both the transparency from the brand and the opportunity to learn more about the capable doctors available. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, for example, shows photos of actual doctors working instead of resorting to stock photos.

A

Doctors aren’t the only members of health care organizations that deserve recognition. Patients spend just as much time with nurses, medical staff, and administrators, and showcasing the names, titles, and photos of these essential staff members can humanize the website, providing a sense of warmth and empathy.

Core Components Conclusion

We’ve all experienced health issues at one time or another, so we can fairly easily grasp what it is patients are seeking online. A health care website can serve as a thoughtful information hub for potential and returning patients, but accomplishing this task can be challenging as expectations continue to rise. The ultimate goal of your content is to carry patients from the computer screen to the doors of a health care facility. People appreciate convenience in finding thorough, empathetic, and straightforward website content.

How to the nation’s best hospitals perform online? Click to download our report. 

SharePoint Tips for Digital Healthcare Marketing

Content produced by health care organizations a such as emails, website pages, and patient resources a provides essential medical information and resources to both physicians and patients. But content does more than simply educate. It builds trust. It cultivates a relationship. In order to ensure the content you’ve generated reaches the right audience, there are specific ways your brand must communicate the value to search engines.

SharePoint-SEO-Features

Quick Overview of SEO

To anyone who is skeptical or simply unaware of the effectiveness of SEO a it can be summarized as a series of steps that help search engines understand your site’s content. Images, for example, are invisible to the asearch botsa that crawl websites, so it is necessary to provide additional insight regarding the subject and context of your content. In addition to supplementing pages, it’s also important to remedy usability flaws a such as 404 errors, which result from faulty linking. Finally, SEO involves strategic understanding of your patientsa needs so you can generate content that meets those needs. This process, keyword research, can illuminate which service lines take priority. The ultimate goal in SEO is to achieve rankings that are more favorable than competitors in a search engine’s search results page (SERP). Higher rankings generally result in more visitors to the site, and while a higher traffic volume isn’t the end-all indication of digital victory, it certainly is a good start!

Incorporating SEO into SharePoint

It is very common among health care brands to use SharePoint as a content management tool, but not every hospital is using the system to its full potential. The capabilities of SharePoint can improve internal systems of health care organizations. In addition to acting as a website platform, SharePoint also manages the following content:

  • Digital library of resources
  • Directory of physicians, patients, staff
  • Storage hub for operations forms
  • Project management solutions

Microsoft’s SharePoint is now equipped with SEO functions explicitly designed to improve the position of your site in organic search results a which is perfect for increasing the number of eyes that reach your health care content. When the content of your marketing message is easily accessed and understood, it will attract your targeted consumers. Fill in Metadata A while back, we put together a resource that shows how the WordPress plugin aAll-in-One SEOa can simplify the process of adding critical metadata. Similarly, SharePoint facilitates the process of adding this data so you donat have to worry about supplementing the html from the frontend. To add and edit meta tags (title, meta description), visit Page tab and click “Edit Properties” then “Edit SEO Properties.” Here you can fill out the fields to better convey the context to search engines a and even specify whether the page should be indexed. According to Microsoftas instructions, you also have the opportunity to add meta keywords; however, we donat recommend this. Googleas algorithm now disregards this information. Use Keywords Strategically While keyword phrases were traditionally plugged into existing content, they now serve as guides for content topics. Hopefully you already have a list of keywords to reference a there is a wide range of uses for those terms. The first is general content creation; by understanding what visitors are searching, you can craft blog posts, website pages, and downloadable resources. Over time, you can track which pieces of content have received the most engagement and therefore present opportunity for deeper dives into the subject. It’s important to note that SharePoint allows for easy URL customization. We have an entire post dedicated to keeping URL structure SEO-friendly, but in short: incorporate a relevant keyword into the URL, but do so sparingly. Update Sitemap and Robots.txt As explained in Chapter three of our updated SEO Guide, a sitemap is a file that lists the pages on your site you want search bots to crawl and index. Sitemaps act as a directory of the different pages so nothing gets overlooked when a search engine is assessing your website. SharePoint updates the sitemap for you over time so it is inclusive of all pages. You can then submit the sitemap through various search enginesa webmaster tools so it can recrawl new or updated pages.

robots.txt file

Robots.txt is a file that tells search bots what they shouldn’t crawl. For example, if patients can log in and set up a profile, the individual profiles should not appear in search engine results pages. To ensure they are not able to rank for search queries, they can be added to the robots.txt file. SharePoint generates this file as well.

Conclusion

When used correctly, SharePoint can transform the way a hospital communicates internally and externally. As health care brands experience stricter penalties for providing redundant care, it is critical to identify flaws in the flow of communication a and that includes the website.

How can hospitals use social media?

On Tuesday, Tabitha and I attended a half-day social media workshop. The speaker, Michael Brito, presented the concept of a Social Business Strategy, which is a communications model that relies on both internal (employees, partners) and external (customers, partners, media) to receive maximum value. Regardless of the size of a company, it can be extremely difficult to rationalize investing time and money in social media a especially when it can be equally difficult to know how to measure the efforts.

 

Frantically recording notes on my Macbook, I tried to see Michael’s presentation through the lens of health care. While many influential healthcare organizations (Mayo Clinic, Hopkins Medicine) are thriving online in social media networks, the reality is many smaller hospitals aren’t sure how they can contribute. Marketers have concerns about using their integrated hospital marketing communications plan and leveraging social streams without the guidance, budget, or understanding of how to effectively communicate to an audience through social media strategy.

Patients are empowered.

Though it may pain some doctors to realize it, people are trying to diagnose their symptoms online. Every year, more people turn to Google to research common symptoms, physician ratings, recovery information, and healthcare organizations. And whether or not the information gathered is completely valid, patients base next steps on their findings. The great news is social media sites can position you as an influencer if used the right way. Health care brands, physicians, and staff members can use resources available to them to educate current and future patients on social media platforms.

1. The health care brand

When hospitals are present and active on social media outlets, patients perceive them as cutting-edge. The problem is that too many organizations find a hard time identifying how to support marketing efforts with social media a there is no strategy fueling a return on the investment.

Be Purposefully Present: Being “present” online is an excellent start, but in order to make the effort worthwhile, the brand needs to tactfully drive leads. Hopefully, the healthcare organization already understands the importance of generating content that will resonate with patients (current and potential) searching for a health care solution. From promoting patient videos to participating in health chats, there are countless ways available to jump into a conversation and engage an audience. Social media activity should advance the efforts of a pre-existing goal of a priority service line a for example, to increase email addresses through a form on a Cardiology landing page.

Be Transparently Positive: It’s incredible to recognize the extent that some health care brands are reaching out to people who may never set foot in their facilities. I subscribe to Cleveland Clinic’s Be Well newsletter a and it’s an incredible source of health information spanning a huge array of topics. Yesterday’s newsletter featured a “supercharged oatmeal” recipe, an article about heart attack prevention, several infographics, and some advice regarding “text neck,” (which Iam probably suffering from).

Cleveland_Clinic_Shows_How_Healthcare_Organizations_Can_Use_Social_Media

 

My point is: I wouldn’t have subscribed if the brand hadn’t tweeted about it. Will I ever go to that specific hospital for a procedure? Maybe not, because it’s a couple states away. But imagine the effect this quality of information can have on someone who is considering Cleveland Clinic for its services. Another brand I admire for its social media engagement is Seattle Children’s Hospital. Positivity radiates from this brandas Facebook page. The timeline is packed with encouraging stories of patients, and it truly reflects the brand’s mission to Hope. Care. Cure.

Social_Media_and_Health_Care_Organizations

 

 

2. The individual doctors

Physicians are generally hesitant to create a professional social media profile and invest time in sharing their expertise. Why is this? A few reasons:

  • My schedule does not allow for social media
  • I donat see the point in giving away information for free
  • I donat want to push doctor-patient boundaries

Those all seem like valid points a after all, doctors are paid to treat patients in person. But after a lot of research, I’m more convinced than ever that it is in doctors’ (and patients’) best interests for physicians to be actively communicating online.

“My schedule doesn’t allow it.”

Being active online doesn’t mean you have to de-evolve into a SnapChat-ing tween. For many people, social media is one giant distraction a but for you, it is a portal into the needs of patients. Start with the platforms that fit your schedule and comfort level. That might mean tweeting links to health-related articles you have read. Even if you didn’t write the content, you can at least steer patients toward medical sources you trust.

 

Doctor-on-Twitter

“I don’t see the point in giving away information for free.”

No one expects a physician to provide a digital diagnosis over Facebook. But general health practices? Definitely. The value of your online presence is largely graded by the quality of info you share a but value also stems from the act of listening to and engaging with patients. Caring enough about patients to share new articles (including your own, which can drive traffic to your site) is a great way to establish trust and ultimately increase patient enrollment. Discuss and share topics you’re passionate about; it will keep your patients engaged and position you as a thought leader.

“I donat want to push doctor-patient boundaries.”

Roughly 20% of physicians consider online interaction with patients to be inappropriate behavior, according to a 2011 report by Quantia. However, that perception is outdated and will not be one that carries over into the future of health care. Doctors need to make it a point to bridge medical breakthroughs or stories in the media with how patients are affected. When translating your expertise online, speak to a collective audience, not one-on-one. Itas possible to expose your personality while still acting professional; just take a tip from Dr. Neal Barnard, who is constantly sharing tweets relating to his passion for healthy eating.

 

As for situations involving patients who feel entitled to privately contact a physician for medical advice or a diagnosis a simply deliver a canned message that asks them to contact their own provider or 911. (Hopefully that wonat happen often.) In alignment with the new expectations outlined in the Affordable Care Act, being present and active on social media will allow your brand to provide a higher level of care to your patients. Each social media channel has a specific purpose a which you can use to advance your personal image.

3. The hospital staff

The message I most appreciated at the workshop on Tuesday was the idea of training employees to become brand ambassadors. This is critical for two main reasons:

  1. Employees need to understand the power of their reach. At Evolve Digital Labs, we have in place a social media policy. I signed one as soon as I started here two years ago, when there were only a handful of employees on board. There are very few restrictions a and honestly, the rules forbid actions I would avoid even without signing the contract (e.g., talking negatively about clients, other employees, and the Evolve brand itself). Still, people everywhere are terminated from their jobs because they underestimate the effect of their Tweets and Facebook posts.
  2. Employees should take the initiative to promote their brand. Just as staff members can negatively impact the perception of the hospital for which they work, they also have the opportunity to positively spread brand awareness. This can be as simple as following their employer on Twitter and retweeting posts. Or promoting brand events through their personal profiles. Even scanning the social channels to find inspiration for new digital marketing initiatives can play a huge role in giving your brand an edge over competitors. Michaelas point about making employees brand ambassadors was inspiring, to say the least. Itas a notion that challenges employees to see themselves as an extension of the brand voice. It’s an empowering concept: by communicating to employees that their involvement is encouraged, brands (and not just health care brands) can expect to see a higher volume of reach.

Conclusion

The more I research how the big hospital brands are using social media channels to transfer trust, educate patients, and build a community, it’s pretty exciting to see how local hospitals can implement similar efforts on a smaller scale. Social media allows for two-way communication online, which allows for a degree of transparency that appeals to patients. Hopefully weall see more brands investing time and effort into reaching patients online.

Team Evolve’s Thoughts on "Keyword (Not Provided)"

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Google will eventually start encrypting all referral search terms from analytics. In other words, we (and everyone else) won’t be able to tell which keywords visitors searched in order to find a particular page. SEOs across the world released their rage through fiery blog posts and tweets. Team Evolve, on the other hand, wasn’t so bent up about it.

The truth is, Google has been gradually hiding referral terms for nearly two years now. And while it’s important to know what specific terms are drawing traffic, not knowing is not the end of the world. Paid Search will still provide insight regarding which terms yielded clicks – so maybe this is Google’s way of acquiring more business. Here’s what the team had to say:

Jay: This will push most “free” organic users into paid search accounts to obtain the terms and keywords that are driving traffic to your site.
Locke: There is a two-fold reasoning for implementation. One, to prevent the NSA from using search data to spy and validate Google’s statement that they are not and do not aid the NSA in spying. Two, which we all know, money. Google effectively is saying you have to use AdWords to get this data.
Tabitha: In short, it is not the end of the world. I think that is a good position for us to show our value: we can show that maybe it isn’t easy, but we are here to guide you through this and we can assist in setting up ways to create and show online ROI.
Kai: Any good marketer worth his salt will have seen this and prepared for it. Primitive models of understanding the queries will no longer be viable. To have any meaningful outcome, the full picture must be seen and understood.
John: This is good for those who are focusing on things like consumer path and building out content to support that. Google’s algorithm has become more sophisticated every year to start incorporating these types of ideas (e.g., intent-based SERPs, device tailored SERPs, geo tailored SERPs).
Kristy: I think we should communicate to clients that this isn’t the big catastrophe that some sites make it appear to be. It’s part of a shift in the industry to focus more on providing valuable content to users and less on individual keyword rankings, which were never the end-all metric for success anyway.
Emily: We’ve actually been seeing this metric slip from our fingers for nearly two years, so SEOs already sought out other ways to deal with it. If you knowingly target keywords with each new piece of content you make, it will be fairly obvious what terms are drawing consumers in.
Laura: It’s possible Google will eventually reveal this data to those who subscribe to GA Premium. It makes sense get everyone hooked on the koolaid, then take away the sugar and make them pay for it.

Overall, the team is optimistic. We get that there’s way more to digital marketing than knowing which keywords are sending folks to your site. (For instance, generating content that contains value and provides solutions.)

Helpful links

Haven’t had time to read about this news? No sweat. Here’s a list of the team’s favorite articles about Google’s decision to encrypt all keywords.

 

Introducing the SEO Guide 2.0

As one of the main content contributors at Evolve, I learned pretty quickly that visitors to the site aren’t going to fill out a contact form just because Derek has created a cool company culture. The Evolve culture isn’t for our visitors; it’s for us. Visitors to the site care about the value we can give them, whether that’s a blog post about using Google+ or a detailed explanation of a website audit. Visitors want to know:

  • Why should I spend my valuable time on your site?
  • What can I get out of this relationship?

That’s really what it comes down to. No one cares if our only advantage over other search marketing companies is that we drink craft beer like water. Or even that we love what we do. They just want a fair exchange a whether a social share for new insight or a check for consultation.

SEO 101: Give ’em a reason to visit your site

Nearly two years ago we released the first edition of our SEO Guide for Beginners. Unlike other similar resources, it was written by someone who was new to the intimidating world of SEO a and that gave us an advantage because not everyone reaching our site is familiar with the phrase “anchor text” or the difference between organic and paid results. So earlier this year Derek gave me the go to revamp the guide. I wanted a more appealing presentation and an easier way to share specific chapters. And I wanted to explain SEO in a big-picture way a because thatas exactly how we see it, as just one piece of a deeper digital strategy. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive list of steps you can take to rank higher, you won’t find that here.

Old and New SEO Guide

Things Change. But we cope.

Search engine marketers tend to dwell on the perpetual fluctuation of SEO effectiveness a and we’ve been guilty of that, too. Just this week, we found out Google is going to start encrypting keyword information from website marketers. Weave known it was bound to happen eventually; Google has been hiding keyword data of users signed in to Google products (Gmail, Youtube) for nearly a couple years now. But over the next several months, anyone who reaches your site through organic search results will be “protected.” Weare not going to know which search queries were directing consumers to your website. Itas frustrating because Google is essentially forcing digital marketers to invest in Paid Search a which still provides lists of keywords that yielded clicks. But it’s okay. We will cope! The good folks at Moz have already released a video that shares some suggested ways we try to bridge the gaps by looking at other data.

Big Picture: It’s still about quality

Still, while specific tactics dwindle in effectiveness as Google tweaks its algorithm, we’ve noticed one overarching reality of digital marketing that doesn’t change: quality converts. Google has invested in developing technology that measures user behavior and draws conclusions from that data. Keywords and links arenat sole indications of why a website ranks favorably in search engine results pages. Do they reflect the quality of a website? Do they convey the subject matter of a web page? Absolutely. And of course we recommend completing technical SEO tasks:

  • Assigning a unique title tag to each page
  • Fixing duplicate content issues
  • Updating your sitemap
  • Improving URL structure

These Google-recommended tactics, explained in the SEO Basics chapter of our guide, help search bots understand what your site is about so search engines can more effectively provide solutions to queries. But you have to remember that Google is a business, too. And the only way it has accomplished such exceptional brand awareness (the company name is a verb, for crying out loud) is by consistently churning out valid recommendations for search queries. Google wants to only feature websites that 1) are paying for placement or 2) are providing consumers with a pleasant online experience.

Wrap-up

The keyword encryption news is disheartening for sure. We have processes in place that relied on keyword data to identify needs of consumers and improve on-site content. But you can’t expect to thrive in this industry if you’re not willing to adapt and understand how these changes can play a positive role in the bigger picture. Evolve’s story of adaptation started before I joined the team in 2011. And it continues to unfold as we find new ways to connect with consumers, ours and our clients’, and ultimately discover new ways to increase revenue through a website.

 

Check out the new SEO Guide!

Leased Content: A Fatal Flaw for Healthcare Marketing

When people are in need of medical treatment, whether urgent or future considerations, they seek information online regarding the options, outcomes, and quality of care. As a healthcare provider, it’s your responsibility to deliver resources that make that audience feel valued and confident in your services.

The Good News

Here’s the good news: There have never been more communication vehicles available to healthcare marketing professionals. Devising a strategy that puts the right information in front of the right people at the right time is, in theory, easier than ever. Healthcare communication vehicles Unfortunately, theories donat always lend themselves well to the day-to-day practice of marketing, especially in the realm of healthcare. Patient census can change like the weather, budgets are tight, and there is one (or two, if you’re lucky) communications specialist responsible for a printed newsletter, brochures, media relations, internal communications, and somehow finding a way to manage electronic media.

The Not-So-Good News

With that in mind, here’s the not-so-good news for your healthcare marketing strategy: Every new vehicle, eNewsletters, blogs, and landing pages, requires content.The pressure of filling the plethora of “communications holes” created by the generation of electronic communications channels can be overwhelming. Even worse, it can lead marketing teams to do whatever it takes to get the messages out without considering audience, objectives, and quality of the messaging. Repurposing existing, original content is a common response to this healthcare marketing challenge. It’s not a terrible solution, but still demands time and energy, plus the content often misses the mark because people read newsletters differently than they read websites, blogs and eNewsletters. Regurgitating copy without making sure it’s tailored to an audience and marketing channel often waters down the tactic and can make a healthcare marketing strategy anemic.

Leasing Content: An Easy Way Out

The least effective approach to filling in the holes of a marketing strategy is leasing content. Many communications professionals decide to invest in leased content as part of their healthcare marketing plan because they receive fresh content that was written on demand by professional writers. Healthcare brands appreciate the access to a variety of stories on a variety of topics. Team members simply log in to the portal, click, and download. The copy is clean and well-written. It’s turn-key. It’s easy to use. Yet it is completely lacking in branding and authenticity, which is why we consider it to be deadly to a healthcare marketing strategy.

problem with leased content

People donat read copy on your website, in your eNewsletter, and on your blog just because it’s there. They read it because it informs, educates, or inspires. It focuses on the actual treatment options available among your service lines. It provides insights that come from people they trust: your doctors, therapists, nurses and nutritionists. Just as important, custom content can illuminate what next steps are possible, telling the success stories of real patients. Hospitals will argue that there is no need for medical content to be specific to their brand a but we have to disagree. Sure, a knee replacement surgery may share the same preparation, procedure, and aftercare instructions as other hospitals. However, it’s critical to point out what separates you from other contenders. This includes introducing the doctors that would be performing the surgery, linking to or embedding videos of the procedure, sharing patient success stories, and mentioning relevant events. Blog post quote leasing content Visitors will read your content for the quality, targeted information. They read it for the confidence and comfort they feel after gaining knowledge from a credible source. And they read it for the stories, which communicate brand competence and commitment to patients.

Real Examples

Larger organizations are paving new standards of healthcare content, but it’s not always the Mayo Clinics of the world that should be held to this expectation. The Diabetes Center page on Carroll Hospital Center’s website provides exclusive content that was clearly written for the brand, with patients’ needs in mind.

Custom healthcare content

In contrast, we found content on a brand’s site that many might consider sufficient. It explains the symptoms, risks, and services. But overall, the message is missing a branded voice, mention of physicians, downloadable resources, or patient stories. Factual information could be found anywhere online. It doesn’t set a brand apart.  Healthcare organizations can educate patients with the medical facts while simultaneously infusing information that is specific to their brand.

potentially leased content

Conclusion

You performed market research. You understand your audience. You certainly know your goals. So why dilute your healthcare marketing strategy with leased content that is likely used by other healthcare systems across the country? Imagine how former, current, and prospective patients will feel when they read a generic, leased story that might also appear on other websites as duplicate content. Canned content is easily spotted, and it may come across as impersonal and careless. At that moment, the personal relationship you’re trying to build with your audience, the trust, the confidence, the belief that they have a deeply personal relationship with their hospital or clinic, is gone. And that’s deadly to a healthcare marketing strategy.

Erin Hogan’s Job Shadow Summary

Erin Hogan internEarlier this month, we had the pleasure of briefly introducing a college student to the work we do here at Evolve Digital Labs. Erin Hogan, who will be starting her final year as a Marketing major at Quincy University this fall, may not have known what she was getting herself into during her two-day job shadow, but hopefully her crash course provided an understanding of SEO, PPC, and general website marketing. Here’s a breakdown of what we put her through: 1. Introduction to SEO: Our Vice President of Digital Strategy, John, walked Erin through the basics of SEO and how it fits into a marketing strategy. Emily shared our SEO Guide for Beginners, which is a resource we have on our site for educating and building trust with visitors. 2. Overview of a website audit: Kristy, our SEO Manager, took the reins to introduce Erin to the first component of a website audit: the On-site Analysis. Kai then explained the Competitive Analysis portion, and Locke concluded the audit overview with his explanation of keyword research. 3. The next day we covered the importance of content creation. Emily showed Erin how on-site content should directly coincide with keyword research, as keywords reflect the needs of searchers. Creating content that responds to those needs will transform a website into a useful resource. 4. Outreach strategy: Once a website is equipped to answer searchers’ questions, we recommend sharing the on-site content with other websites. The benefit is two-fold: First, the website with the content piece(s) receives a link and referred traffic from an authoritative domain. Second, the external website is able to share fresh content that will benefit its audience. 5. Paid Search: Finally, Erin ventured into the world of Paid Search. Laura explained how it differs from SEO and what the value PPC (pay-per-click) ads can provide. Erin had some great things to say about her short experiences as a search marketer. Here’s a summary of her job shadowing at Evolve: This summer I received an offer to be an intern for SSM’s marketing department.  I thought about what a great opportunity it would be to learn more about different marketing strategies and meet people with similar business objectives.  I never imagined what an 8-5 job would be like.  Instead of going to bed at 2a.m. I am now tired by 10 p.m.  I just think to myself…Welcome to the real world. Not only did I get to work with SSM but I also got the amazing opportunity to shadow a few marketing companies in the area. Evolve deals with search engine optimization and search engine marketing. Going into this internship, I knew very little about this type of marketing. On the first day I walked in a little nervous because I was at a new place and didn’t know anyone. By the time I got into the main room where everyone was, I no longer felt that pressure. Everyone acted as if they had already known me and welcomed me with open arms. This little gesture just shows what an amazing team Evolve has and how great they are to work with. Throughout the days I met with team members who explained exactly what their job was and answered any questions I had. It was interesting to see how much work goes into things that I click on every day without even thinking. I never realized how important search was to marketing and for companies to make money. Their job at Evolve is essential to thriving businesses. For the amount of work they do it is unbelievable how calm and laid back the work environment is! I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to  learn from such a skilled and personable team. Thanks for the great experience Evolve!

Characteristics of a Healthcare Marketing Team in 2013

According to a Gartner study on digital marketing, many industries are increasing their marketing budgets this year. However, some industries, Healthcare included, are continuing to dump significantly higher funds into traditional marketing methods, which can’t be measured as effectively as digital efforts. In a world where consumers are increasingly transitioning their news and research mediums from television and radio to online sources, a lack of digital marketing is a gross misstep by any industry, especially healthcare.

Marketing budget growth for healthcare

Along with adhering to the growing trend of researching healthcare information online, the benefit of digital marketing is the ability to track potential and current patients’ behavior and conversions, illuminating which format and tone of messaging is effective. Three-quarters of U.S. citizens prefer researching topics regarding their personal health before seeking professional, in-person medical advice. In order to capture the attention of this burgeoning self-searching consumer, it is vital for pharmaceutical and healthcare providers to invest not simply in digital marketing, but also in a great digital marketing team.

patient search for healthcare

Effective healthcare marketing teams will develop and implement a plan that educates and engages current or potential patients in a cost-effective, measurable way. To build a great digital marketing team for your healthcare brand, focus on developing the following characteristics:

1. Able to plan in months, not just years

A hospital’s digital marketing team needs to begin with a solid plan that addresses short and long-term goals. Because data is available to us online instantly, there is no reason to not generate monthly or quarterly plans in lieu of locked-in, stagnant annual plans. This opportunity for frequent measuring and flexibility is vital to capitalize on new opportunities and react to market performance changes. If a paid search campaign isn’t delivering leads, there is no need to wait several months to make adjustments: that’s the beauty of search. And that’s just one way healthcare brands can ensure their budgeting dollars are being spent wisely.

2.  Cognizent of multiple marketing channels

A sufficient digital team features members who have experience marketing through multiple channels, such as email marketing, paid advertising, mobile apps, and local search. Often this means using a CRM (customer relationship management) tool. In healthcare, a CRM tool allows hospitals to comply with critical healthcare reform demands, such as sending appointment follow-ups and delivering literature for procedure preparation or recovery.

3. Proficient in social media

Healthcare marketing teams need to have a thorough understanding of how to use social media for the overall brand development. Along with allowing brands to reach new patients, social channels provide a way to signal to Google that a brand is relevant and committed to its audience. We especially want to emphasize the importance of using Google+ as a hub for sharing news, engaging in conversation, and encouraging online reviews.

4. Willing to rely on analytical thinking

From email marketing to website behavior, every aspect of an online business can be tracked. Team members who understand the digital trends and can draw insights from analytics will be able to communicate what impacts sales and why a web page sees an increase (or lack thereof) in traffic. Effective digital healthcare marketers will then be able to incorporate the data into creating even more successful marketing strategies, starting with sharing digital wins across all service lines. This application takes practice, and in many instances, training from outside resources, but the investment will change the way your organization measures success.

5. Eager to invest in content creation

Digital marketing hinges on website content, but this doesn’t just refer to an influx of words on new pages. Rather, this strategy refers to the creation of engaging, educational content that transforms the visitor into a patient and inspires him or her to share content across social networks, further expanding the potential audience. By referring to keyword research as an indication of what questions your organization can answer for patients, as well as what topics have significant search volume and opportunity for patient acquisition, a content strategy will enhance the quality of your hospital’s website while simultaneously catering to potential patients.

Conclusion

Times have changed for the healthcare industry. Now it is the patient who is in charge. This awareness should fuel all marketing efforts, especially inbound. It is critical to realize that a website without sufficient content will struggle to retain, much less convert, traffic coming in from paid ads, organic search rankings, or social media avenues. A digital marketing team must not only understand the evolving online marketplace, but also be able to educate, engage, and empower the audience with quality content and task-oriented websites.

Three Reasons Hospitals Should Seek Online Reviews

People not only follow healthcare organizations’ social media profiles,they trust them. Although it was hardly available even ten years ago, social networking has grown to be a major marketing platform for cultivating relationships. Every day, millions of consumers attend trusted networks to collaborate and share experiences; healthcare brands are capitalizing on the opportunity to communicate with this audience.

Mayo Clinic tweets

From social media profiles to review websites, new digital channels give full power to word-of-mouth marketing. In fact, a poll by QuantiaMD reveals 65% of physicians have switched from traditional advertising to using social media marketing to connect and engage with potential patients. Perhaps itas because 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, while only 14% trust advertisements.

hospital reviews vs ads

Hospitals on Google+?

The reality is patients are more frequently referring to online reviews when researching potential physicians. In fact, a 2012 study by the PEW Research Center reports that one in five Internet users consults online reviews of doctors or healthcare facilities. Popular websites for physician reviews include vitals.com and healthgrades.com, while healthcare facilities are typically reviewed on Google+ Local. Unfortunately, as revealed in the same report, only 3-4 percent of Internet users are posting the reviews, and in many cases, it is the unsatisfied patient that decides to share his or her poor experience.

Three Reasons to Seek Online Reviews

1. Dilute negative feedback: The most compelling reason to seek reviews is to effectively control your reputation, especially if your brand is currently suffering from a sea of negative reviews. Patients are taking the time to look up online physician and healthcare facility reviews; asking for your current patients to provide their own feedback gives you the opportunity to take a proactive stance and influence customers and control your online material. 2. Promote practice: A highly-rated Google+ profile will surface more easily in search results, which is why it’s important to build out a page and encourage reviews from patients. In addition to relying on patients to supply feedback, it’s also important for the brand to actively share healthcare news, whether branded or not. A booming profile: including photos, links, and videos, helps build a presence in online communities and solidifies relationships with current patients and encouraging referrals.

High results for good reviews

3. Improve relationships with current patients: Asking for a review from a patient following an appointment, whether it was for a checkup or a surgery, is a fantastic way to show your concern for the quality of healthcare you are providing. That will keep you accountable with every patient, and while it may seem risky to direct patients to share their stories on such a public platform, most people who are satisfied with their experiences will be more than happy to do it.

Adapting to Awareness

Healthcare marketing was once about interrupting people to broadcast messages. Today, it includes sharing on social media channels to communicate your commitment to patientsa well being. Success in healthcare depends on a brand’s ability to deliver value and build trust. By reaching patients off-site through search engines and social media, healthcare brands can convey a sense of commitment to patients, in addition to earning a more expansive presence online.

Actions for Effective Healthcare Marketing Strategy

It’s growing more common for people in need of healthcare to explore their options online before making an appointment. With search engines making it so simple to compare and contrast brands and provide answers to questions, why wouldn’t someone start their treatment from the comfort of their home?

SERP

Because people search for solutions online, digital campaigns are an unavoidable aspect of an effective marketing strategy for healthcare brands. But even the face of digital marketing changes as new mediums and opportunities for engagement gain traction. Blog posts, white papers, and email newsletters still play a viable role in online healthcare marketing strategy, but they alone are not enough to thrive, especially when lead generation and conversion rates are the lifeblood of an organization. So where do you start?

Healthcare Marketing Scorecard

Determining your audience is a two-fold process, but the steps coincide with keyword research. The first challenge is understanding how your solutions can fulfill needs for your consumer base. Most companies have this figured out early in the product development phase or through keyword research, which should illuminate gaps in on-site content. The second aspect is defining the audience you are targeting; this becomes more evident as you organize the volume of traffic for different keywords. However, itas not enough to define them as the parties needing your solution or service. Effective healthcare marketing strategy will seek a comprehensive view of these individuals. By taking stock of your audience’s demographics: age, income, gender, and other details, you can combine your observations with existing research to determine effective marketing approaches.

Invest in a social presence

Some healthcare companies, particularly those focused on older demographics, are inclined to ignore social media and leave that medium to younger generations. We do not recommend this. According to a 2010 Pew International report, the number of social network users among the 50-and-older crowd increased by 88 percent over the past year. Among the 65-and-older crowd, social media use doubled. Today, three years later, we can only imagine how many more older adults are active online. Developing and monitoring social media profiles is a time-consuming process, but the resulting digital presence has potential to be one of the most valuable aspects of your healthcare marketing strategy. Additionally, because Generation Y expects brands to be active on social media channels, ignoring the need to communicate via Facebook or Twitter may portray the brand as unwilling to adapt.

Optimize your website

Most businesses recognize the need to have a company website, but in today’s market, that’s not enough to draw an audience. A well optimized, user-friendly website is a foundational piece of healthcare marketing strategy. 1. Organize the site effectively The first step in optimization is building a website that is clean, clear and easy to use. Navigation must be user-friendly, for both visitors and search bots that crawl the website. Standard rules to follow include:

  • Make sure each page title, title tag, and meta description is unique and relevant
  • Eliminate all issues related to duplicate content
  • Organize URLs to be brief and inclusive of keywords
  • Descriptively name image files
  • Make sure the sitemap is updated

Additionally, lead generation resources, such as a newsletter sign-up or a preventative care worksheet a should be prominently displayed to maximize leads and conversion opportunities. 2. Update content Content also needs to be consistently updated and directly related to the terms your brand is targeting. Use basic SEO principles to outfit your website’s content with keywords that will appeal to online search queries. Online search traffic can provide a valuable stream of promising leads when this optimization is properly done. 3. Enable mobility Websites should also be mobile-optimized. This includes working location-specific keywords into your content and facilitating tasks for visitors. For example, enabling phone numbers to automatically prompt a call when clicked will allow visitors to seamlessly schedule an appointment. Forward-thinking healthcare marketing strategy will develop mobile-optimized lead generation and contact forms that can be easily filled out on a mobile device, making your company more accessible and creating a new stream of leads.

Pay for Visibility

Search engine optimization is difficult. Achieving favorable positions organically in the search engine results pages does not happen overnight. Fortunately, there is still a way to score a position at the top of a page, thus capturing the attention of potential patients. Paid Search is an advanced form of advertising that displays sponsored messages to searches containing specific keywords. Sponsors only have to pay when the ad is clicked, making this advertising channel more budget-friendly than traditional methods. Just make sure you are sending visitors to strategically-designed, relevant landing pages.

digital health of hospitals preview

Revise and refine using analytics

Between Google Analytics, social metrics, and strategy insights developed in-house, digital marketing delivers critical information that helps you understand how campaigns are performing, particularly in relation to lead generation and conversions. By reviewing this data consistently, marketers can identify areas for improvement and other campaigns that might benefit from a greater investment. Ultimately, these changes should help boost conversion rates and improve the ROI from your healthcare marketing strategy. In an industry growing more competitive and saturated with options, healthcare marketing strategy professionals must discover new ways to set their brand apart. Be mindful of the opportunity existing on the digital front, and be willing to invest in the creation of content, on-site optimization, and paid search.