Hospital Website Best Practices: 4 Cornerstones for Effective Digital Content and an Engaging User Experience

by | Feb 19, 2021 | 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 the goals and KPIs 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. Health-focused con­tent is crit­i­cal in mov­ing con­sumers 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 while adher­ing to hos­pi­tal web­site best practices.

Learn more: Check out the Ultimate Website Content Checklist for Healthcare Marketers.

Want More Website Best Practices?

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

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