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Anatomy of an Effective Doctor Marketing Website Review

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

person looking at a desktop computer with "doctor" search displayed on screen[Series Installment] Unfortunately, we see too many of them. Website mistakes can be so bad that it’s like a doctor not washing his hands before surgery. A medical practice or doctor marketing website needs a clean, head-to-toe bill of health to do the heavy lifting and to make a meaningful contribution to new business.

We have the good fortune to consult with healthcare providers and organizations throughout the country. Clients want a comprehensive website review and report. Our approach to a review assignment is different than most others. Much like a comprehensive medical exam, we use a team of specialists to evaluate the four internal components that make a website work effectively.

Website anatomy in four vital slices…

An untrained eye primarily considers a website based on its superficial appearance. Many sites we see are graphically pleasing…but a “beautiful failure.” It looks great, but as a marketing tool, it’s not producing measurable results. The story behind these sites is evident. Likely, a graphic artist—perhaps even a talented one—designed it only for its good looks…and they stopped there.

But there’s a lot more to a comprehensive website review than appearance. Fortunately, we have an on-staff team of experienced professionals who examine the critical components and a dozen related details. It’s a systemic approach.

Here are the major categories that we consider in a full-health, site examination:

Design: Aesthetics, or visual appeal, are mighty important. What the visitor sees on arrival guides their first impression. The site needs to be a creative blend of color, images, typography, layout, navigation, (and even white space between elements). Collectively, design elements communicate trust and rapport.

Fatal faux pas is when the overall design is created for the doctor and/or staff, and not the the target audience. When the tastes and subjective biases of the typical visitor are not primary, the result becomes “pretty poison” in marketing and advertising.

Words and Text: What the visitor reads is carefully planned for effective communications. Design and typography considerations capture attention, draw the reader into the message, and providing reassuring answers to their needs. The choice of words, proper word-flow, and a guided discovery are tools of a professional writer. The patient isn’t “buying a procedure.” They want to know about the personal happiness that comes from their healthcare experience.

Major mistake: Typical of many, if not most, of the websites that we review is that the content is driven by facts and figures. The details need to be presented with a “you” (meaning the reader) orientation.  Being accurate and correct is a given. Consequently, visitor-oriented benefits or super-benefits present a convincing story, inform and persuade.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): The least visible item among the critical components is SEO. This is the application of strategies and tactics—both on-page and off-page—that give the website recognition with Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines. More prominent visibility and higher placement in search results increases the number of site visitors.

Basic blunder: The most common mistake is overlooking or neglecting the importance of SEO for doctors, and local SEO in particular. Further, many site builders do not recognize that highly-effective SEO comes from both the technical, behind-the-scenes coding as well as text considerations, word selection, visuals and content.

Marketing Effectiveness: Various factors, including those above, are part of a website’s overall marketing effectiveness. Some of the considerations include the user experience; intuitive and easy navigation, and a message presented along a path that leads the visitor to making an appointment. Extensive professional experience, aided by software and reporting tools, provide a picture of what’s working…and what’s not working.

Typical downfall: The bottom line is…the bottom line. Marketing and advertising is an investment, and not an expense. Therefore, it connects to a quantifiable Return-on-Investment (ROI).  When the physician’s website is a “set-and-forget” appliance, there's a problem. Websites don't thrive on neglect. Without regular attention, fresh content and a diligent tracking system, a website withers and dies. Worse, a bad website experience drives prospective patients to the competition.

Additional website review considerations…

The healthcare websites that we evaluate in detail undergo a holistic examination. Our process is multi-faceted. Therefore, in addition to the four areas above, a doctor marketing website will also:

  • Be responsive to mobile, tablet and desktop devices/viewers
  • Reflect the practice brand and unique value proposition
  • Inspire a clear next action step for the visitor
  • Play a role in your larger, online presence (with social media, blog, etc.)
  • Be compliant with applicable HIPAA regulations

Have you missed the boat?

As many as one-third of the medical practices that we encounter have no website at all. And many among those that do “have a website,” it’s a non-performing page or two on the Internet. The doctor is not happy with lost opportunity.  (It’s less marketing-effective than a tattered brochure.)

If you are still thinking about creating a practice website, you may have missed the boat. The majority of patient searches for a doctor and related medical information begin online. The constant changes in healthcare, ups and downs in the local economy, the pervasive use of online search, shopping-savvy patients and informed consumers, and the intense competition for most providers mean that a medical practice website is a business imperative.

We’d like to be of assistance, so contact us today, and let’s talk. We can provide a comprehensive website review. (The good, the bad and the ugly…and how to dramatically improve performance.) Or we can provide a longer view with a confidential healthcare marketing assessment. Give us a call today: 800-656-0907.

And for additional articles in this series, click through to:

Stewart Gandolf

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