The Coffey Blog

Digital healthcare marketing trends: How to improve your healthcare content in 2019

Posted on: Monday, December 3, 2018

Jeremy Dietz, Executive Digital Editor

At Coffey, we trend watch year-round. But the beginning of a new year is a great time to think about what's changing—and what you need to do to make sure your healthcare organization's content is positioned for the future.

Here are 5 digital healthcare marketing content trends to have on your radar in 2019—and helpful tips from our digital content team.

Trend 1: Hyper-local search results

As we noted in our MozCon 2018 recap, search is becoming more local.

The Coffey team sees evidence of this every day in the search engine optimization (SEO) work we do for hospitals and health plans. One thing we're noticing is a rise in "near me" searches. People want to find doctors, clinics and healthcare services that are close to them.

Google often answers these local-intent searches by displaying local results, answer boxes and knowledge panels at the top of the results—ahead of the purely organic listings where you might have focused your SEO efforts exclusively in the past. With these types of rich search results, people might not even scroll down far enough to see the No.1 organic result. This is particularly true on mobile.

While you can't really optimize your site for a "near me" search (you're either near the searcher or you're not), you can do a number of things to make your website more visible in the featured local results.

Claim and optimize your Google My Business (GMB) listings. Optimizing means covering the basics like adding photos and making sure your contact information is correct.

You can (and should) go a step further though and start using features like Google Posts to promote events, news releases and blog posts in your GMB listing.

Improve your location and provider pages. Coffey's digital content team has found that many healthcare searches that return local results are for doctors or clinics. Think "primary care doctor near me" or "closest urgent care." How can you make your content better? On your location pages, make sure your contact information is consistent with your GMB listing, and include relevant information like photos and links to related services and providers. For providers, in addition to the basics (name, specialty, address, phone number, etc.), include engaging content like photos, bios, reviews and videos. This will make your provider pages more valuable no matter how people find them.

Add structured data. Structured data isn't new, but we've found that it's still relatively rare on healthcare websites. Adding structured data to your website can help search engines better understand your content.

Trend 2: More meaningful analytics

Better data can help you make better decisions. In 2019, the most successful healthcare marketers will take steps to ensure they are getting the best possible analytics. Here are a couple things you can do:

Track specific and meaningful actions. That's versus just relying on high level metrics like page views. A specific and meaningful action is anything that takes a website visitor from "just browsing" to "engaged with your organization." Examples include a trackable phone call, appointment request, event registration or form submission.

You can also use event tracking in Google Analytics to see how many people click from a service page to a provider or event listing. To make this work, you have to put event tracking in place before you can start gathering this data. You can't get it retroactively.

Clean up your data. Make sure Google Analytics is set up to filter out your internal traffic as well as traffic from known bots. These simple steps will give you a better sense of how your actual audience is engaging with your site.

Trend 3: Content that talks back

The rise of voice search and virtual assistants is changing consumer expectations. That makes now a great time to add a conversational interface like a chatbot to your healthcare website.

The most sophisticated chatbots are powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and learn from the conversations they have. If you don't have the resources to invest in an AI-powered tool, you can still get the benefits a conversational interface has to offer. A simple chatbot can answer common questions and help people better navigate your website.

Trend 4: Empathy for healthcare consumers

Your website content needs to be written about you and the services you offer. But it needs to be written and organized for the healthcare consumers you're trying to reach.

In Ann Handley's keynote at HCIC 2018 she encouraged healthcare marketers to have "pathological empathy" for their audience.

Empathy in healthcare content can be conveyed through things like tone. But empathizing with your audience also means organizing information so that it's easy to find. Look at your website from the perspective of someone who knows nothing about your organization. Can you easily find every service? Or do you need to know that sleep studies are conducted by the neurology department or that urology services are listed under "clinics" rather than under "urology?"

Trend 5: Getting real about healthcare costs

Healthcare spending as a percentage of overall household spending is rising and healthcare costs are increasingly shifting to consumers, according to Mary Meeker's 2018 internet trends report.

The report noted that "when consumers start spending more they tend to pay more attention to value + prices."

You can see evidence of this in the numbers of people including terms like "cost" and "price" in their healthcare searches.

Here's an example: 15,000 people searched for "MRI cost" in Oct. 2018, according to KeywordFinder. That's up from 12,000 the year before and 6,600 in Oct. 2016.

The chart below shows how monthly searches for this phrase have grown since 2004.

Graph of Interest over time for MRI cost searches

Even if you can't provide specific prices for the services you offer, talking about cost in general or offering a number to call for details will make your website content more valuable to consumers.

Let's work together to stay on top of the trends

Making headway on all the latest content trend can take time and attention. Coffey's team of digital content experts can help. To learn more about our digital content audits, healthcare SEO, analytics and writing services, call us at 888.805.9101 or email us.

Related reading

5 healthcare social media trends to jump on
HCIC 2018: Top trends for the future of digital healthcare marketing
Patient journey content: An opportunity to engage, educate and empower