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!
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.