3 Tips for Building a Healthcare Website that Works

A guide to healthcare digital marketing

More than ever, consumers are making healthcare decisions online—and that means healthcare digital marketing is more important than ever. An astounding 89 percent of internet users search for health information online, according to iHealthBeat. 55 percent of users will even use the internet to find a specific medical treatment or procedure, and nearly the same number will search for information about doctors or other professionals online.

It’s crucial that healthcare companies market themselves well to online consumers. Healthcare websites can’t just meet minimum standards. They’ve got to stand out. That means implementing the best practices of web development and web design, then tailoring for the specific needs of the healthcare industry. Here are three web development and web design tips that will help your healthcare website convert visitors into customers.

1. Know your audience … and yourself

It’s one of the first principles of content marketing: know your audience. When you start to dig into that during web development, and you’ll find that to define your audience, you must first define your own organization. Who do you want to target? If your website should speak more to established customers, you’ll want to highlight your patient management system most, with a prominently placed login option. If you’re looking to bring in new business, you’ll need something else featured on your site.

You need a holistic view of customer behavior, including both quantitative measurements and a qualitative understanding of the needs that drive them. This knowledge should inform your web development and design. And just as the healthcare market is always changing, the needs of your audience (and maybe the audience itself) are always changing. Your audience analysis efforts must be ongoing and adaptive.

The best websites create an immediate action for users, whether it’s as simple as clicking through to another page, or as complicated as making an appointment. Your content strategy and homepage layout will need to be carefully calibrated to achieve these goals.

2. Create content that offers value

The best way to attract visitors to your website (and keep them there) is to immediately provide them with something of value. Blogs are a popular and effective way to do this—just be sure to share material that your potential customers would find interesting. For the best healthcare digital marketing results, consider everything you know about your customer, then provide content that addresses their needs. Guides, tools, case studies, and other resources that relate to your specific service are particularly influential.

The Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic are two great examples of traditional blogs that use patient stories, informative articles, explainers, and even recipes to engage readers. Articles like “Poor Posture Hurts Your Health More than you Know: 3 Tips for Fixing It” provide relevant information that visitors can put to use right away. Professional resources and tools are another powerful method to activate customers. Medical records management provider HealthcareXL makes free white papers and tools available on its website, including a cost-computing spreadsheet that medical practices can download.

Health system Banner Health produces infographics with titles like “Concussion Myths and Facts” and “Winter Poison Safety” aimed at both individual visitors and at health practitioners, who can use them as posters or educational tools. Arkansas Children’s Hospitals maintains an Industry Prevention Center with safety guides and videos for parents. Your content can also be used to drive ongoing campaigns that involve customer participation. United Healthcare’s 2015 We Dare You initiative challenged visitors to complete challenges meant to increase healthy lifestyle choices and post the results to social media using the hashtag #WeDareYou, then randomly selected winners to receive weekly prizes.

Lastly, don’t discount simple entertainment as a way to show a more personal side of your business—getting a visitor to laugh has its own value. For an example, see Becker’s Hospital Review healthcare-themed Valentines (a sample: “Roses are red / violets are blue / I love you as intensely / as doctors hate meaningful use stage 2”).

Whatever the content of your website, make sure it is professional, relevant, and useful to the visitor. If your site becomes a resource for online readers, it’s likely that it will soon become their provider of choice as well.

3. Design your site to balance the modern and the timeless

Everyone consumes content visually. The web design of your site will create visitors’ all-important first impression. Indeed, surveys by Adobe have shown that nearly 40 percent of all internet users will leave a website if they find the design uninteresting. So you’ll need a look that says something. It’s not enough to simply “make it look good.” Your website needs to look good—for a purpose. Thoughtful and intentional design is critical to a successful healthcare digital marketing strategy.

For best results, consider two important aspects of healthcare that are most visible to customers and patients: technology and personal care. Customers want the cutting-edge technology of advanced medicine (think a gleaming white labs and brightly colored brain scan), paired with the individualized attention and empathy often associated with an earlier era of medicine (like the personalized touch of a familiar family doctor). A thoughtfully designed healthcare website can convey both.

Informed web designers should be able to impart a current, clean, and sleek look to your site. A modern site will convey that your organization uses the most modern technology; an outdated website will lead visitors to assume your medical care is equally outdated. At the same time, knowledgeable designers should use photo choices and illustrated elements that give your site an inviting feel—that’s the bedside manner that projects warmth and personal care to your potential customers. Balance the modern appeal of technology with the caring feel of that personal touch, and users will be inclined to become customers on their first visit to your site.

The Goal: Build Trust

All the tips listed here aim towards a singular goal: building trust with your customer. Know your audience, create content that offers them value, and then present it all with an effective design. In the healthcare industry, trust is even more critical than in other businesses—your customers may literally put their life in your hands. If you’re looking for a healthcare digital marketing partner that can help you build trust with your customers, give us a call. Social Link is an award-winning, full-service digital marketing and mobile development agency. Get in touch at 615-873-0707.