Welcome back to our series on “Getting Started in Marketing.”
If you haven’t read the previous articles yet, here is what we’ve talked about. Part 1 discussed “Who is your ideal patient,” part 2 covered “Your Marketing Message,“ and part 3 addressed “Your Website” as it relates to marketing.
Today, we’ll talk about two broad topics related to your website:
- What type of information should you publish on your website?
- How often should you update the information on your site?
The business website today is often the first point of contact for a prospective new customer. More and more, this also applies to healthcare.
For example, recently I was looking for a new provider. Where did I start my search? You guessed it, online. I looked through directories and searched Google for clinics and providers in the area.
I finally came across a Nurse Practitioner accepting new patients. Her picture and accompanying information made me feel both curious and comfortable enough to pick up the phone and make an appointment.
And I am happy to say; I was not disappointed!
Just think, the information on her website changed me from an information seeker to a ‘customer”. The industry jargon for this is… “Conversion.” Ideally, a well-crafted website will convert information seekers into becoming “customers.”
The moral of the story is this…
Your website today is what phonebook or newspaper ads were years ago. The ad had to be compelling enough to get prospective customers to pick up the phone and dial.
Luckily for you, your website today packs a much bigger punch! A well-written website can do so much more for your business than ads ever could.
Here are just a few examples of what your site can do for your business:
- Introduce you, your clinic and staff to new customers.
- Inform prospective customers about the services (products) you provide.
- Customers can self-select based on the information you provide: your clinic either is or is not a good fit for them.
- Keep customers informed of new developments in your clinic: new services, new products, new providers, new hours, new location, emergency closures, etc.
- Provide useful consumer health information to your customers.
- Stay in touch with and keep customers (patients) engaged with your clinic.
- Maintain your current customer base and attract new customers to your clinic.
This is just a sampling of what a website can do for your business. And it all starts and ends with the words you decide to publish on your site.
What information should you publish on your website?
There are two types of information included on every website.
- There is information that is slow to change; it’s relatively static.
- There is information that changes frequently.
Let’s take a look.
- Information slow to change or even static includes items such as clinic location, phone, and fax numbers, insurance accepted, hours of operation, services provided, payment types accepted, etc. Information that is slow to change, typically also includes information you provide about yourself and your staff. For example, once you publish your philosophy about health or your educational background, chances are there is no need to update it, except perhaps occasionally.
- Then there is the information that changes frequently. So what’s included here? Typically this includes useful, educational information you provide for the benefit of your patients. You may share information by publishing articles on your site, reporting about health news, and by sending out a monthly newsletter.
If you decide to publish informational articles, they may be of general interest and include topics such as:
- “How to improve your energy by getting better and more sleep.”
- “Eat better to lose weight.”
- “How to make it through menopause without losing your mind.”
- “How to tap into the benefits of exercise without spending hours at the gym.”
Regardless of the format you chose, the purpose of providing this information is to educate your patients. By sharing information, you engage with them, and they ultimately stay on as your patients. Because when patients stay engaged, they tend to stay with your clinic.
If you use WordPress as your website platform, you probably noticed the content structure here.
- Static or seldom to change content is published via Pages.
- Frequently changing and updated content is published via Posts.
WordPress is a powerful, yet easy to use platform for any website.
One of the greatest benefits of using WordPress is the absolute ease of updating information on your website. You no longer need a webmaster to change any of you content; you can do it yourself.
This brings us to the next question, which is about frequency.
How often should you update the information on your website?
The quick and dirty answer is… whenever you need to. But of course, it’s not that straightforward.
Let’s talk about the “relatively fixed” content first. If you recall, I said there is content on your website that rarely changes. Well, that doesn’t mean it never does.
Here are some scenarios that would prompt you to update this type of information:
- You may have outgrown your space and will be moving to a new location. You’ll need to update your clinic address.
- Your clinic is getting a new phone system; you’ll have to update your phone numbers on your “Contact Us” page.
- There have been staffing changes… you want to update your “About” page, to reflect the changes.
As I said before, these changes are easy to make if you use a platform like WordPress. But regardless of your platform, you need to update your site to reflect any changes, so your site is always current.
Now, how often should you update the other type of information?
What I’m saying here is this: “How often should you publish content for the benefit of your patients? How often should you share news, articles, e-newsletters, and announcements with your patients?”
The answer to this question will vary from person to person and clinic to clinic.
If you rely heavily on your website to attract new patients to your clinic, then you should frequently publish, on a regular schedule. You may choose to publish weekly or even post new content a few times a week.
But let me warn you…
It takes a good amount of time and commitment to regularly publish to your site. So think carefully what resources you can and will dedicate toward publishing content on your site.
It may be a good idea to start slow and gradually work up to more frequent posting. This would be far better than starting out posting a few times a week and eventually stopping altogether because of overwhelm.
If you don’t rely on your website (yet) to get new patients, you may decide to publish educational information much more sparingly.
For example, you could publish seasonal information… flu season, dangers of sunburns in summer, or how to avoid holiday stress.
You could also choose broad topics. You could write about problems such as insomnia, stress, or anxiety. And you could post a few articles on your website monthly or every quarter. The choice is yours.
So here’s what to do next…
Check your website and identify the two content categories (static content and updated content). Is the content published in either category appropriate or do you need to make some corrections?
Next, ask yourself if you want to provide consumer health information to your patients. If so, determine format (articles, newsletters, news, etc.) and frequency of delivery.
As always, leave us a comment and let us know what you think.
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians” and a regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog