The Coffey Blog

5 digital healthcare marketing trends for 2017

Posted on: Monday, November 7, 2016

Jeremy Dietz, Executive Digital Editor
Becky Kettner, Marketing Communications Manager 

Things change quickly in the digital world. New technologies and tools can cause best practices to shift. Tried and true approaches can become outdated, and strategies that were once optional can become essential.

Though it's important to keep up with these changes throughout the year, trends are particularly relevant now as you look to set the 2017 marketing priorities for your hospital or health organization.

Healthcare marketing trends to watch

There are many digital trends to be aware of in 2017. We're highlighting the five below as essential for healthcare marketers to be aware of—and act on.

1. User experience comes first. This trend is the foundation for many of the others listed here, which is why we're putting it first. As the competition for people's digital attention grows, it's crucial that your online presence is more than just a check of the box. In 2017, hospitals and healthcare organizations who succeed digitally will be the ones that make sure every piece of their online strategy, from website design to the content in e-newsletters, is created with healthcare consumers in mind.

Action step: If it's been more than a year since you evaluated your website's design or content, it's time for an audit now. Internal audits are a good place to start, but it's often helpful to bring in an outside team with experience in healthcare websites to evaluate your site and provide recommendations based on industry best practices. To learn more, call 888.805.9101 or email us.

2. Hospital websites go from mobile-optimized to mobile-first. For many healthcare organizations, the move to mobile has so far just involved developing a responsive website.

A mobile-optimized website is important, but in 2017, the best healthcare websites will be those that are designed and written specifically with mobile consumers in mind.

Action step: If you recently invested in a new responsive design, your next step is to look at your content and make sure it meets the needs of people who view it on mobile devices. Take your urgent care page, for example. Someone who visits it on mobile probably isn't looking for general information about what an urgent care clinic is. Instead, they likely need your service right now and are searching for crucial information like directions, hours and a phone number. Help them by making sure that information is located high up on the page, where it's easy to find.

Pro tip: Look at your analytics to find out which pages of your site get the most views on mobile devices. Start optimizing that content first.

3. Speed becomes a top priority. This is far from a new concept—it's been one of the defining themes of Google's business for years. But 2017 is the year when we're going to see speed become more important than ever—particularly on mobile. Google's accelerated mobile pages (AMP) and Facebook's Instant Articles are two examples of major digital players making speed a priority.

Action step: While you don't need to start publishing Instant Articles or institute AMP pages across your hospital's entire website, you do need to start paying close attention to how fast your content loads. There are a variety of different speed test tools available online, such as Google's PageSpeed Insights. These tools often offer conflicting results from one another, which can be frustrating. Perhaps the best thing to do if you have concerns about your hospital website's speed is to talk with an experienced website design firm about what can be done to improve it.

4. Uniquely valuable health content takes over. Consumers today have a lot of content competing for their attention. That's not new, but there is an increasing emphasis on high-quality content. For example, last August, Facebook announced that it was taking additional steps to limit the visibility of clickbait articles. Google has been working on the same concept for a while as well, introducing updates, such as Panda, that are designed to try to keep low-quality content out of the top search results.

Quality-focused updates like these are great news for healthcare organizations that are already producing valuable content instead of clickbait. But the trend toward high-quality content means that you need to focus more than ever on telling unique and compelling stories.

Action steps: To make your healthcare content stand out and provide value, follow these tips:

  • Write with empathy. This time-tested storytelling technique will help you make sure your content connects with your intended audience.
  • Focus on accuracy. The experts at your organization are a great place to start for trustworthy information.
  • Use infographics (like this one) and other unique content packages. Done well, visual content can help you present even routine healthcare information in a way that engages consumers.
  • Personalize the journey. Personalization can take many forms, from content that is tailored to the interests of repeat visitors to health assessments that provide unique information about a person's risk factors for a disease.

5. Card-based layout becomes more common in hospital website design. Card-based layout is a creative way to display short bursts of content in a visual menu. This lets people easily pick and choose the content that interests them. While this isn't a new concept in design—think Pinterest—it's one that we expect to become more common on healthcare websites in 2017 as the emphasis on mobile-first design increases.

Action step: If a website redesign is on your to-do list for 2017, ask your design team whether a card-based layout might be worth including in your prototype options.

Here's to healthcare marketing success in 2017!

Need advice on your 2017 marketing plan or help executing your initiatives? Coffey has healthcare-specific expertise in both digital and print marketing. To find out more, give us a call at 888.805.9101 or email us.