The Coffey Blog

HCIC 2018: Top trends for the future of digital healthcare marketing

Posted on: Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The 2018 Healthcare Internet Conference in Phoenix was an opportunity for healthcare marketers from around the country to get together and learn about some of the latest trends and best practices in digital healthcare marketing.

Here are some of the Coffey team's top takeaways from this year's event.

Digital healthcare content still matters—but less can be more

Content was at the forefront of many of the HCIC educational sessions as well as in conversations our team had in the exhibit hall.

But while in some past years the content conversation focused on how to write more of it, this year continued a trend of quality over quantity.

Coffey's own Chris Widell co-presented a session with Dana McCoy, Director of Marketing, CGH Medical Center, where they delivered a case study showing how a combination of cutting content and optimizing what was left resulted in a huge boost in organic search traffic to CGH's website.

It's time to be bolder and braver with our healthcare content

One of the highlights of HCIC 2018 was the keynote by Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs.

In her inspiring presentation, Handley urged healthcare marketers to tell bigger, bolder and braver stories.

Here's some of the advice she offered:

  1. Be a storyteller first and a marketer second.
  2. Prioritize quality over quantity (see above).
  3. Have pathological empathy for your audience. Handley also noted that humor (used appropriately) equals empathy.
  4. Think about writing your story to just one person. Create content that solves their problems and answers their questions.
  5. When sending e-newsletters—remember to emphasize the "letter" aspect instead of just sending news.

Consumer-centric design is a key to a great healthcare website

A common thread across the design-focused sessions at HCIC 2018 was consumer-centric design in healthcare.

Sometimes referred to as user-centric or patient-centric design, this process prioritizes visitor needs, desires and limitations in both the design and functionality of a website.

In one particularly compelling session titled "How Your Hospital Website Can Behave Like a Consumer Retail Site," presenters discussed how the "Google and Amazon" effect has drastically changed consumer expectations for online experiences.

As the powerful search and personalization provided by these companies becomes increasingly engrained in our everyday lives, consumers now expect that these features to carry over throughout their web browsing experience.

Here are several practical examples of a consumer-centric design in action:

Powerful search autocomplete. As a visitor types, misspellings are corrected and relevant pages are recommended. For example, tagging content with synonyms would help someone who searches "heart" find a cardiology page.

Consumer focused navigation. Content is organized and prioritized by how visitors search for services and treatments as opposed to how a hospital is organized internally. For example, "Cancer Services" instead of "Jane Smith Center for Cancer Treatment."

Online appointment booking. The popularity of services like Open Table demonstrate how consumers wish to carry out their entire transaction online rather than jumping between web browser and telephone.

Going out of your way to serve and prioritize your website visitors reinforces their feelings about the level of commitment and care that they will receive once they arrive at your hospital.

Change in digital marketing is constant—here are two things to watch right now

"Things are changing" is a takeaway from any digital marketing conference. Here are two things that you're likely already aware but that will have a growing impact on your website and digital presence in the coming months:

  1. Voice search. Whether it's through smart home devices or their phones, people are using their voices more and more to perform searches. Optimizing for voice requires a multi-faceted strategy that touches your site's architecture, code and content.
  2. Artificial intelligence (AI). Whether AI is powering a chatbot or your website's internal search, it's likely that your site will be using it at some point. This is particularly true for health systems and other organizations whose websites are extremely large and complex.

Start a conversation about the future of your website

Coffey's digital team includes developers, designers, analytics experts and content specialists who are experts in the healthcare industry. If you're ready to start talking about what's next for your healthcare organization's digital presence, call us at 888.805.9101 or email us.