February 14, 2013
As more campaigns and marketing efforts move online, interactive digital publications are a great way to bridge the gap between print and web marketing. These rich media documents deepen engagement and both track and improve reader experiences.
What is a Digital Publication?
With the latest technology from Adobe CS6, the Digital Publishing Suite transforms traditional print documents, such as annual reports, newsletters, books, magazines and brochures into interactive experiences on tablets and smartphones. Digital publishing works through mobile device applications, which users can download from the App Store and access at any time.
Advantages for your hospital
Digital publishing gives you the opportunity to add interactive elements to a traditionally static document. Engage your patients by adding response-enabled videos, links, animation and interactive navigation.
- Deepens engagement, drives contact, acts on insight: This alternative publication appeals to visual/audible learners or those daunted by text-heavy brochures or newsletters.
- Reader control: The reader can control his level of engagement by navigating through and clicking on the elements that appeal to him.
- Additional content: Hidden content, videos or audio snippets and photo galleries enable access to additional content right within the same publication frame.
- Connects your offline/online campaigns and resources: Get more ROI by uniting your offline/online campaigns.
- Utilize links: Take advantage of the ability to link your articles directly to your hospital’s website, online physician finder, events calendar, etc.
- Drive traffic: Drive traffic to your website while maintaining the aesthetics of your print campaigns.
- Accessible for broader audiences: Instead of printing a limited number of copies of your newsletter or report, your digital publication is available through an app to all your patients, staff and community members with a mobile device.
- Measurable bottom-line impact: These digital publications are much more cost effective and environmentally friendly. There are no print costs, and electronic distribution can be just about limitless for very little money.
- Track & improve reader experience: The real draw to digital publishing is the ability to track reader statistics just like a website.
- Easily measure how many people have downloaded/launched your app (thus accessing your digital publication) and what parts of it they interacted with. Your return on investment is there in black and white.
- Track standard publications — now even standard brochures, when translated to a digital publication, can reap valuable marketing data for faster, smarter action in the future.
Understanding interactive elements
- Navigation: For multi-page documents, add a table of contents on every page that displays when the reader clicks a menu button. You can link each menu item to a specific page, making it easy and efficient for patients to navigate through the content.
- Social media links: Link to your hospital’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages. When the reader clicks the icon in your digital publication, the link will open right within the application.
- Videos: Embed relevant videos — doctor interviews, patient testimonials, tours of the new hospital wing or explanations of procedures — to supplement an article.
- Maps: Include a locator map or diagram of your hospital. When readers click on the map or diagram, make additional information appear.
- Hidden content: You can hide additional content, available to the reader when he clicks a button or pulls a side tab. Unlike a print piece that is confined to a finite space, your digital publication can display unlimited additional content without cluttering the document.
Successful Examples: Try them on your iPad, smartphone or tablet!
November 1, 2012
Congratulations to all of our healthcare clients who were recognized in Healthcare Marketing Report’s 29th Annual Healthcare Advertising Awards. You continually entrust our team of writers, designers, videographers and photographers with your most important health stories and messages, and it is humbling.
I work hard to fill this blog with resources and information and not self-promotion for the design firm at which I am a partner. But I also think there’s a time to be proud of the work we produce and the clients we serve. At ABZ Design Group, we focus on relationship building and helping our healthcare clients make smarter, more effective marketing decisions.
ABZ recently celebrated 30 years of healthcare marketing. I’m proud of our work, my fellow ABZ team members, our creative partners and our clients, who I am happy to call my friends.
Some may consider this blatant self-promotion, but I feel it is important to take the time to pause and reflect on the good things we’ve all accomplished!
To our valued clients, thanks again. We will continue to work even harder to earn more of your continued support in the coming years!
To view all 28 award-winning pieces in detail, click here!
September 25, 2012
Pinterest makes it easier than ever to educate and engage patients with your online data through a visual experience. Harness the power of visual storytelling for your community hospital with these five simple steps.
- As with all your other hospital social media accounts, know your marketing and SEO strategy. The same principles apply to Pinterest:
- Don’t be blatantly promotional.
- Become a credible resource.
- Remain transparent about your services.
- Be intentional – engage and interact.
2. Utilize Your Pinterest Profile.
- Include your other social networks on your Pinterest profile. Choose “Login with Facebook” or “Login with Twitter” to add these links to your profile.
- Add healthcare keywords to your “About” section, and include your website.
3. Pin with Intention.
- Avoid pinning content from only your own website or blog. The key idea is to share more external content than internal content. Follow an 80/20 or 70/30 percent rule: the majority of your pins should come from other credible health resources, and the smaller percent should be internal content.
Check out this article on Pinterest best practices >>
- Use creative titles and compelling images. Pinterest is entirely visually based, so it’s essential to have relevant, quality images. Keep your descriptions concise. The focus is on the image, not on the text that accompanies it.
- Provide specific links. Do not direct your followers to unspecified links or pages with no archiving features. Link to specific blog posts or specific pages within websites. Maintain your hospital’s professionalism by checking all links before re-pinning an item.
- Create boards (collections of pins) for certain service lines and topics. Organize your pins’ content by subject, and recommend relevant boards as resources to patients. For example, create boards for cancer support, parenting, women’s health, exercise, healthy recipes, etc.
- Always credit your sources. If you are pinning content from another hospital or healthcare site, include the credited company or website in the description.
4. Make Your Pins Easier to Find.
- Use relevant titles and descriptions. Your pins will show up better when users search various topics if you’ve labeled them appropriately.
- Add hashtags: Use hashtags to link to related topics. For example, if you have added #HealthyRecipes in your pin description, users may click #HealthyRecipes to find other pins with the same tag.
- Align yourself with credible pinboards. Follow other hospitals and healthcare groups, and when they offer insightful information, re-pin their posts! For ideas, check out these successful healthcare pinners.
- Link to people: Just like with Facebook or Twitter, you can link to other Pinterest users by typing “@” followed by a Pinterest username.
- “Follow” your community members. Promote other users’ pins to enhance your board. Show interest in the community members that follow you. Follow some of their boards or “like” some of their pins. Interaction is a two-way stream.
September 25, 2012
According to Pinterest’s mission statement, “With millions of new pins added every week, Pinterest is connecting people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests.” Healthcare and hospital services fall into such shared interests. Pinterest users are looking for healthcare tips, resources and answers. It’s time for your community hospital to jump on the bandwagon and say “yes” to Pinterest!
- Why Use Pinterest?
- Pinterest’s number of users has been rapidly growing. It has become the third most popular social network in the U.S. in terms of traffic.
- It’s free. To set up an account for your community hospital, click here.
- Pinterest does not have the same real-time urgency as other social networks. Though pins are “time-stamped,” they do not become irrelevant or outdated as quickly as Twitter “tweets” or Facebook posts.
- Pinterest centers on content engagement rather than user engagement. There is no pressure to post regular, witty comments or responses. Your followers do not expect personal interactions but instead anticipate content flow – pins and re-pins of interesting articles and resources.
- It’s a way to reach out to a certain demographic. With its visual appeal and more ambiguous user interactions, Pinterest has attracted a different audience than Facebook and Twitter.
- Who Uses Pinterest?
- Pinterest is a female-dominated social network ““ over two-thirds of users are female.
- The majority of users are middle class women between ages 25 and 34, but Pinterest also has a growing middle-aged following.
- Check out these 10 Pinterest infographics for more fun facts >>
- Successful Pinterest Users in Healthcare
- Cleveland Clinic
- Cleveland Clinic has tons of organized boards ranging from health facts to recipes to specific service lines.
- The only downside is nearly all the links are internal, linking to Cleveland Clinic’s website. It’s best practice to use external links to related sites.
- MD Anderson
- MD Anderson has a variety of resource pins, some of which link to external websites.
- Ragan’s Health Care News
- Ragan’s Health Care Communications News’ Pinterest account advertises itself as “your one-stop shop for health care communication news and training.” It has made itself a resource for other users.
- Though these are primarily all internal links, Ragan’s posts pull from and cite other websites, making it more acceptable.
August 21, 2012
In today’s internet-driven world, blogs connect your community hospital with the online healthcare community. Establish a plan and your niche to expand your hospital’s presence on the web.
- What is your overall plan?
- Who is your niche audience?
- What are your goals?
The answers to these questions will help tailor your team’s efforts to one common goal. With 59 percent of Americans now looking online for medical information*, it’s crucial to make your hospital’s knowledge, specialties and resources available on the web.
Establish a Niche
Though blogs are a cheap, simple way to present lots of data and information online, an effective blog is written with intention. Defining a clear target audience for your hospital’s blog(s) is just as important as in traditional forms of marketing. Once you determine who you are writing for, you can write on topics relevant to that audience.
Niche blogging narrows the focus of your message and allows you to connect on a deeper level. For example, your blog could focus on life after cancer, the struggles of parenthood or the challenges of running a hospital. Can’t decide on one audience or topic? Consider creating multiple blogs – just be sure you have the time and material to maintain them all.
Drive Traffic and Generate Discussion
Blogs are a great way to direct traffic to your community hospital’s website and social media accounts. Make these links prominent on your blog. This will establish and interlink your community hospital’s web presence. Individuals who would not have otherwise stumbled upon your hospital site may be driven there by a compelling blog post. Enable comments on your blog posts to encourage discussions. Remember that healthcare is a personal business, and you must connect on a personal level. Interacting with potential staff, patients or members of the healthcare community can boost your hospital’s brand and reputation.
* Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, Aug. 9 – Sept. 13, 2010 Survey. N=3001 adults; margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points for the full sample.
August 3, 2012
Poor communication – due to time crunches, stress or a failure to understand your audience – can be costing your community hospital time and money. Make the most of your community hospital marketing and vendor relationships by communicating effectively.
Three tips for more effective communication with your vendors:
- Simplify communication. Many frustrations from client-vendor relationships stem from people using complicated terminology and not speaking the same language. Your vendor won’t necessarily understand your hospital terminology just as you may not understand his technical jargon. Keep it simple. Explain your goals in relevant, easy-to-understand terms so everyone is on the same page.
- Practice. Take the time to distance yourself from your email. Reread it. Is it easy for anyone to walk by and understand what you’re trying to convey? Test your ability to communicate in a non-technical fashion by attempting to teach or review a project with someone unfamiliar with it.
- Be intentional. Does your contact communicate best over the phone or via email? Are you even talking to the right person? Is the information you’re trying to express better communicated in bullet points for easier reading? Every communication represents an opportunity to improve.
Don’t get lost in translation. Here are some of the top four communication pitfalls I’ve spotted and how you can successfully navigate through them:
- Never respond before reading. Don’t rush through emails or hastily review projects. Set aside time to carefully address all questions asked. Supplement emails with phone calls, in-person meetings or video conferences to determine key project points, especially if there’s a change in direction.
- Compile communication. It’s not very efficient to fire six emails with string-of-conscience thoughts. If you’re someone who likes to respond quickly, draft an email and then walk away for a while. Make sure you’ve addressed all facets of communication and included all feedback and answers required.
- Take time to catch everyone up to speed. It’s inevitable: there will be latecomers – team members brought into an already advanced marketing project.
- Be proactive about getting these new team members up to speed. Meet in person or in a video or phone conference to direct their enthusiasm to new, forward-thinking project developments and decisions. The time investment will ensure the team member feels valued, and your project is less likely to be delayed by broken communication or incomplete knowledge.
- Involve decision-makers early so their input is incorporated into projects at the start, rather than at the end when it might completely change the nature of a project.
- Pay attention to the warning signs. Part of the nuance of being a master communicator is the ability to quickly spot communication breakdowns and intervene swiftly. If you receive an email that seems even remotely confused or frustrated, pick up the phone and call to resolve the issue. Similarly, if you’re the one who’s perplexed, consider switching to a call or in-person meeting for clarification.
Remember that communication is a two-way street. Embody your community hospital’s best practices in every communication, every email, every phone call. You’ll be a better marketer and communicator for it!
After restructuring your hospital’s site design to capture patients’ attention and meet their needs, it’s time to focus on the content. Keeping content simple and straightforward will enable patients to take action and engage with your site.
Four Content “To-Dos” for Better Community Hospital Websites
- Remember “Who,” “Why” and “What.”
- Who are you?
- Key service lines
- Hours of operation
- Role in the community
- Long-term goals for your community hospital
- Why are you different? Highlight what sets your hospital apart.
- Specialties and accreditation
- Procedures and surgeries
- Courses and resources
- Award-winning staff
- What do you want site visitors to do?
- Engage with your hospital
- Sign up for a community seminar or lecture
- Find a doctor or specialist
- Each content page should have a clear “call to action”
- Who are you?
- Make sure your content is relevant and actionable.
- Give visitors information they want and need, and eliminate superfluous information. Though the hospital’s history or a page of staff headshots may be interesting internally, such content does not benefit a potential patient. Give less prominence to irrelevant information.
- Give visitors something to do. Use the web as an opportunity for visitors to engage with your hospital — to sign up for a newsletter, contact a nurse or download a PDF resource.
- Provide real value.
- Determine how your community hospital can be a health resource for the community. What are your community’s needs? For example, are there a lot of new mothers and parents? Provide parenting tips and children’s health resources on your website. Is diabetes rampant in your community? Offer health tips and prevention tips on your site.
- Determine what service lines are important to the organization and capitalize on them — promote them on your website.
- Create interactive tools that allow patients to take quizzes and health screenings online. Become a reputable and trusted online health resource for your patients.
- Generate patient-friendly content.
- Writing effective website copy can be challenging, especially when the subject matter is as complex as explaining medical conditions and the latest procedures. America’s health literacy rates are alarmingly low. Don’t alienate your site visitors by using complex words and descriptions they can’t understand.
- Avoid acronyms, jargon and other industry-specific language as much as possible. Scan every page to make sure the copy isn’t too technical.
General Tips for Writing Online Content
The attention span of online readers is significantly less than that of book or magazine readers. Keep your content concise.
Format your content for easy skimming:
- Use headings and subheadings
- Provide summary text
- Use bullet points and lists
- Keep paragraphs short
- Use callout boxes and links
The biggest advantage to online writing is the ability to get readers to take action. Describe your services, classes and procedures, and then allow patients to call about your services, sign up for a class or watch a video on a new procedure. Make your community hospital website an engaging experience.
Websites can easily become cluttered, cumbersome and difficult to navigate. Is your site providing information or confusion? Thoughtful design and intentional structure will organize your hospital’s content to meet your patients’ needs.
Research from Chao Liu and colleagues from Microsoft Research shows that the first 10 seconds of a page visit are critical for users’ decisions to stay or leave. If you can convince the user to stay for half a minute, he will likely stay much longer.
Likewise, a hospital’s first impression can either win over a skeptical patient or turn him away. Your community hospital website may provide that first impression, so in discussing the website redesign, continually ask:
- What information is important/relevant to the patient?
- What will ensure a good user experience for the patient? Is the layout intuitive?
- What do I want my patient to do? (Sign up for a newsletter? Download a PDF? Make a phone call?)
With only 10 seconds to create a positive user experience, make the following elements easily accessible from the home page to encourage your patients to stay on the site:
- Contact information: The hospital address and phone number should be easy to find — keep the phone number prominent at the top and bottom of the site in case of emergency.
- Search area: Help patients find the site’s resourceful information by providing a search bar or search area.
- Physician finder: Offer a database of your physicians and their qualifications. This will give patients the opportunity to familiarize themselves with your staff and their specialties.
- Quick links: Provide quick links to frequently-requested sections such as women’s health, pediatrics or healthy living.
- Testimonials area: Calm potential patients’ nerves through patient testimonials. Try incorporating multimedia — pictures, audio or video — to make the testimonials more personable and relatable.
- Community engagement: Include a forum, blog or feedback section. Encourage community members to post comments or offer input regarding healthcare topics or hospital issues. Devote time each day to respond to feedback — create a dialog with potential patients.
- Call to action: This is the most essential of all the elements! Each section or page should have a clear call to action to engage the patient. Use a button or a different text style to highlight a phone number, address, video gallery or appointment scheduler.
- Call the heart center!
- Schedule a mammogram.
- Check out our virtual hospital tour.
Many websites include all of the above elements, but cumbersome site navigation prevents visitors from finding anything.
- Multilevel menu: Use a multilevel menu with top menu items and submenu items.
- Try to limit your top menu to five to 10 items, and then provide access to as many sections as possible in the submenus.
- For tips on different types of menu navigation and their advantages and disadvantages, click here.
- Keep your site clean and uncluttered. Utilize white space and don’t overwhelm visitors with unnecessary pictures or overly-stylized text.
- Choose a consistent text and color scheme so that the design doesn’t detract from visitors’ ability to obtain information. Select fonts and colors that are easy to read. Remember — the priority is the patient experience!
Keep it Editable
- Consider using a content management system — which allows a site administrator to easily add and edit content without affecting the site’s design — to facilitate frequent content updates.
- Update regularly. Patients should be able to rely on your site to have the most current information about hospital hours, classes and programs, specialties, staff and more.
- Updating your content regularly will also help with search engine optimization, or how “visible” your site is to the top search engines.
Resources and Successful Sites
Below are a few examples of successful hospital websites. They offer a good virtual patient experience by providing useful information in an easily accessible way:
- Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
- Lexington Medical Center
- Read about St. Helena (CA) Hospital’s site redesign as it learned to put patients’ needs first.
- Read more about medical website design trends.
Take a closer look at Facebook’s image-driven format. Learn about the new “mission control” Timeline appearance and how to make the most of your updated community hospital fan page.
1. The Face of Your Brand ““ The Huge Cover Photo
We know that people are drawn to photos. With the huge cover photo layout and the larger photo wall posting, it’s likely that images will pack the punch of your community Facebook page. Check out these innovative ideas for formatting your cover photo.
Tip: Make your hospital logo your profile picture, and then find a large cover photo for a more creative representation of your hospital or a photo that drives a message to a hospital campaign. Use the two images to create a cohesive brand.
- No sales ““ The cover photo can’t offer information on discounts and prices.
- No calls to action ““ The cover photo can’t tell people to “like” or share your page.
- No contact information ““ The cover photo can’t include any contact information, such as website address, mailing address or phone number.
2. Top of the Page ““ No Default Landing Pages, Updated Tabs
The photo strip at the top of the page has been replaced by a more condensed overview of your photos, videos and applications. We loved making landing pages to boost “likes” for hospitals, but now those pages aren’t a possibility. Tabs are now displayed in these application “blocks” located just below your cover photo; you will no longer be able to set a tab as the default landing page.
- “About” is prominent: The “about” section now sits just below your profile image. This should be a one to two sentence blurb offering a quick overview of your hospital’s identity. This is one of the first items a visitor will see, so keep your “about” section up-to-date and engaging.
- Be intentional about tabs: The first four application blocks (your old tab bars) will display by default, but you can keep up to 12 visible to the public. Be intentional about prioritizing your content ““ keep your engaging photos, video applications or hospital resources visible at the top.
Tip: Be creative. What type of content will you share to introduce your page to new users? Is there a promotional contest you can run to grab “likes” and engage with new users? Can you think of interesting ways to cross-promote your Facebook page, such as on your blog, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or your hospital website?
3. The Facebook Timeline – A Visual Story
Yes! I love this feature. “Stories” or posts will feed into the two-column timeline, alternating across either side of your page to fill the space. Photos are the focus ““ they really drive this new format.
See the tips below to learn how to highlight important stories in your Timeline. These “stories” humanize your hospital by showing your achievements and allowing your community to celebrate with you.
- Friend activity will now be featured in the top of the right column, customizing to each visitor to show his or her friends’ “likes” and interactions with your page.
- Starring: Highlight notable stories by starring them. This will make the story span the full, two-column width of the Timeline.
- Pinning: Pin important stories. When you “pin” a post, Facebook adds an orange flag to it and pulls it to the top of your Timeline for seven days. Showcase important events and information.
- Setting Milestones: Define key moments using Milestones. Facebook allows you to set key events or dates within your Timeline that mark history in the life of your hospital. Further your hospital’s story by setting milestones for changes in leadership, openings of various wards or developments in procedures and research.
For a more detailed breakdown of Facebook Timeline, check out Beth McCabe’s Facebook Timeline for brands.
4. Private Messages Between Brands and Users
Your hospital will now be able to send and receive private messages from visitors to your Facebook page. Use this as an opportunity to potentially move conversations and customer service complaints off your public wall. Do not ignore your messages.
Tip: Reserve time to check and respond to both positive and negative messages from your patients! I know from my seat, this is going to be a huge shift in how we interact with our Facebook community.
Keep your community hospital Facebook page ahead of the social media curve. Be intentional about your branding. Set your cover photo, update your “about” section and determine your featured tabs/applications.
February 29, 2012
Pinterest, the latest social media trend, sets itself apart with strong visual components. This innovative platform encourages the sharing of links, videos and ideas through picture-dominated posts. Learn more about 2012′s “hottest startup” and what it means for your community hospital.
What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a “virtual pinboard” that allows users to create “boards” where they “pin” items to share. The focus is visual — the sticky-note sized blocks that users can “pin” are filled almost entirely by a photo.
Who is using Pinterest?
The number of users has been drastically increasing over the last year to bring Pinterest to an average of 1.36 million users daily. In fact, users spend more time, on average, on Pinterest than on Facebook.
- In the U.S., females dominate Pinterest, making up 68.2 percent of users.
- Half of the users have children.
- The highest percentage of users are aged between 25 and 34.
- For a complete breakdown of Pinterest users, check out this great infographic from Mashable.
What is Pinterest for?
Pinterest is used for sharing everything from personal pictures and videos to recipes, craft ideas, DIY projects, the latest outfits and styles and many other resources. Users can create their own custom pinboards, so the possibilities are endless.
Why should hospitals use Pinterest?
- To set yourself apart. Very few hospitals are using this new platform, so it is an opportunity to differentiate your hospital and remain on the cutting edge of social media.
- To connect with your community. Pinterest enables your hospital to connect to your community in a unique and visually compelling way.
Consider the Pinterest audience — mostly upper-income women, who are also typically the ones making the healthcare decisions in American households. Healthcare communicators should get involved with Pinterest because its primary users — young women and mothers — fit your target demographic. Marketing your hospital on Pinterest will increase your reach.
- To generate referral traffic. According to Patricia Redsicker’s blog, Pinterest generates more referral traffic to websites than YouTube, Reddit, Google+ and LinkedIn combined. Drive users to your site by utilizing strong images.
How should hospitals use Pinterest?
- Create boards based on your expertise. What are your hospital’s interests and specialties? Make boards for general things like parenting resources, healthy recipes and exercise tips or focus on your specializations. If your hospital has a reputable cardiovascular center, advertise your new equipment and quality doctors, “pin” articles on cardio care or offer health tips.
- Take advantage of visual content. Pinterest works most effectively if your brand has visually interesting elements such as pictures or videos tied to it. Experiment with visual resources that point to health books or YouTube videos. Image quality is key. The more compelling your image, the more likely users are to click on it.
- Promote your Pinterest boards. Use other social media platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, to promote your Pinterest boards. Feature a Pinterest board on your hospital website.
Healthcare examples on Pinterest
- Summit Medical Group of New Jersey has a board specifically for weekly videos that feature physicians speaking on topics like calcium scoring, carpal tunnel syndrome and seasonal affective disorder.
- Optimized Living shows devises and therapies that can improve one’s health. One board called “Cancer“ has slogans and images intended to inspire users.