We just opened the windows here at our world headquarters in Boston. This is noteworthy because it’s still March, and these things don’t usually happen here until a little later. It also reminds me that it is, in fact, spring. And with spring, comes spring cleaning. But spring cleaning needn’t be limited to your house. Health marketers can benefit from a “digital spring cleaning” of sorts, and it can be done with relatively little elbow grease.
The following is a three-pronged approach you can take to ensure that your current web site is living up to its potential and delivering on your organization’s brand promise.
1. Ask your entire organization what they think. Fortunately, this can be easily done with the magic of online surveys, downloadable spreadsheets and a small reward budget for participation. Online survey tools like SurveyMonkey and SurveyGizmo enable you to send out quick, open-ended surveys to your whole staff with questions such as “What are the most important pieces of information patients need to know that the web site could provide?” or “What recommendations do you have for how we can explain the benefits of this multi-use drug online?” or generic questions like “How would you improve our web site?”
While you can also ask questions that are more statistical in nature and more easily fit into charts and graphs, you can often benefit more on both strategic and tactical levels by being open-ended in your questioning. When doing this recently for a hospital client, we received suggestions that ranged from playing soothing music on the site (probably less useful/actionable) to fixing the misspelling of a doctor’s name (immediately actionable) to recommendations on how to expand the content on specific treatment areas of the site (long-term actionable).
2. Compare keywords. Marketers spend a lot of time looking at various metrics, but they often don’t leverage their internal metrics against their competition effectively. Here is a quick way to see how you’re stacking up against the competition. In your web analytics program of choice, run a keyword report to see what keywords people are finding your site through. Pick perhaps 10 that you think you’re competing with others on. Then, go to Google and do a site: search of three competitors for each keyword and see what comes up on their site. (For example: enter “site:mayoclinic.org allergy treatment” into Google to see all of the “allergy treatment” results on the Mayo Clinic site.)
Are there experiences or content you’d like to emulate? Are there differentiators you could leverage between your sites? Are their medical infographics easier to digest, or more SEO friendly? By targeting top keywords and top competitors, you can efficiently put together some action plans for your entire site’s digital offering.
3. Commission a current-state site map. One of my favorite parts of the website redesign process is the early stages when we put together a clean, organized site map that reflects the current state of a client’s web site. I explain to clients that we want them to understand how our user experience team is looking at their site and that we want to make sure we are all looking at the site from the same perspective.
Take advantage of the chance to look at your own site from a holistic perspective and ask critical questions about how the site evolved to its current organizational structure and think about how specific pages might be better organized, expanded or even broken into multiple pages.
I love spring. I love being outside and soaking up the sun. And just as doing that too much too soon can lead to a sunburn, you might find that by partaking in each of these exercises you might learn more than you really want to handle in the short term. However, by taking a holistic, critical look at the current state of your digital presence, you can do a lot to avoid getting burned.