Hospital Website Best Practices for 2020 and Beyond

by | Aug 17, 2020 | Digital Strategy | 0 comments

Before investing time and resources in revamping your digital presence, consider these hospital website best practices to ensure an engaging user experience and deliver return on your marketing investment.

Over time, healthcare evolves due to a constant stream of care delivery innovators, increased consumer choice and active decision making (plus the emergence of new technologies). As such, there’s a justifiable strategy for executing a variety of content hubs, microsites and multiple sites for a single healthcare brand.

On the flip side, the intense online competition for organic and paid traffic combined with tightening budgets makes it more and more challenging for healthcare marketers to prove the value of their investments in websites.

To maximize your chances for success when launching a new website, microsite or content hub, consider these questions:

  • What is the goal of the site?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • What do I want them to do?
  • What budget and timeline do I have to work with?

By answering these questions, you can uncover the hospital website best practices that guide KPIs and goals for your organization’s marketing department.

Use your Goal to Drive Strategy

There are two common mistakes that marketers often make in setting up new websites. The first is neglecting to consider the overarching goal of your new site. The second is letting C-suite voices drive the decision to set up (or not) a new site based on either hopes and dreams or budget alone.

A good example is in blog strategies. A growing focus on blogging, content marketing and social media engagement is accelerating the need to have a dedicated digital space for consumers to read your stories and advice, share content on social media, hear about events and foundation activities, take quizzes, watch videos and more. We recommend prioritizing an effort to invest in a content hub solution, as most healthcare CMS platforms don’t adequately support content marketing.

The takeaway: Don’t give short shrift to the fact that website traffic can have a huge impact on your brand. If you’re implementing a content marketing strategy and have goals around engagement growth, return visitors and conversions, you likely will need the features, customization and interactivity that a content hub offers.

Consider Your Target Audience

Who you’re trying to reach can also drive decisions around how to execute a new health system site. If you’re trying to reach consumers with blog content, the hub approach is great. If you’re trying to reach physicians with clinical content to support their day-to-day workflows, consider an easy-to-use portal or members-only content experience. If you’re trying to promote a major capital campaign, consider a dedicated microsite as a development resource.

The takeaway: By combining your overarching goal with who you’re primarily trying to reach, you should be able to start narrowing down your options around generating a content hub, microsite or new website, or improving an existing website.

Connect Primary Calls to Action and Goal Conversions

This is an easier piece to the puzzle to consider. We recommend aligning your thinking with the consumer journey. If you’re building a new site and the goal is top-of-funnel content and engagement, a hub seems like the right strategy. If the goal is building brand awareness or preference in the short term to launch a new product or service, perhaps a temporary microsite makes sense. If you need to drive conversions to service line revenue, focus on your treatment and condition content.

Health system websites, especially new ones, often make the mistake of focusing on locations, history and awards, technology and other brand-centric content. These bright, shiny accolades and other brand information might be important to the CEO or board of directors. However, those pages don’t convert potential patients to service line revenue. It’s critical to add treatment and condition level content to drive conversions and generate early success when building a healthcare website.

When a microsite is on your radar, we encourage you to really think about the purpose. Typically, if you’re considering a microsite build, it should be a short-term strategy that’s heavily promoted through paid media to drive quick wins. Typically, these are development tools for capital campaigns, new product launches for employer health offerings or new technologies, or perhaps recruiting sites for clinical staff. If you’re considering a microsite for a consumer-facing strategy, you might want to consider instead using your health system website to drive long-term value.

The takeaway: Think about your audience, not yourselves. They want answers to their questions and a frictionless path to conversions, so make sure your online presence aligns with those goals.

Set a Realistic Budget and Timeline

If you’re in a pinch for both time and money, do your best to work within the confines of your health system site. Add new content that targets top searched topics relevant to your service offerings. If you have a bit more time or money, you could consider a strategy-driven plan, such as a content hub build or microsite approach. The key to consider in either scenario, however, is that quality content is king and should be prioritized.

The takeaway: In whichever approach you take, content is crucial to strong organic performance. It’s presence is critical in moving leads from awareness to consideration to action. Rely on partners to help guide you towards the content strategy and execution plan that best fits your needs and that will set you up for success.

Want More Website Best Practices?

Connect with a True North content strategist for more hospital website best practices and other content strategy insights.