Long-Term Care: Outside-In Websites
August 1, 2015
by Carlo Jannotti
A website is a 100% necessary, vital tool for your organization's success. Without one, you don't even exist in today's business world. But having a website and having a good website are two separate things. And even if you have a good website, it's still not enough if you're not getting found by the right people. Seem difficult? It's really not.
A good website - just like any other marketing tool - is built with a keen understanding of the needs of the audience(s) it serves, and it delivers exactly what they're seeking. In the long-term care management space, the two main audiences are the seniors themselves and their adult children. Each group, of course, is viewing, using, and assessing the site differently. The common ground they share is simply the fact that they are in search of meaningful information. Let's face it, long-term care sites aren't visited for fun or by accident. They are visited for very specific, very predictable reasons.
So ask yourself the right questions
Who are you making your first impression with? What are they looking for? What are the questions they repeatedly ask you? What are their top concerns? What does their selection process entail? How does your organization address these needs and provide a unique solution compared to your competitors? What void do you fill in the market? Are you overtly communicating that?
On a deeper level, what's your audience's state of mind? Are they worried? Wary? Overwhelmed? Unsure where to turn for the best solution? What emotional role can you play in their life?
For most, it's a time of difficult decisions and too many choices, and they have arrived at your site in hopes of the answer. They hope you're great. They hope you're the one. They are looking for peace of mind, and they're looking for it now. So be sure to deliver on that fundamental human need.
Make it easy
It takes more than large type and high contrast to make an effective website in the long-term care market. Yes, there are important functional features for the markets you serve, but what's more important are the site's organizational underpinnings and overall ease of use.
Uncluttered homepages can act as a calming entryway into an organization's website. Large, beautiful photos can lend that human element that warms people up to the task at hand. Try dividing the entryway into audience-by-audience sections, a virtual hand-holding technique that helps people rest assured they know where they are, and they know they're on the right path.
Once inside, be sure that the navigation speaks directly to the questions you know your visitors are going to ask. Continue to make choices easy for users and deliver information in common language. Invite comparison between yourself and other similar institutions, and highlight what makes you special.
Make sure you're found
There are reams of work on SEO and the tips & tricks to its effective execution. It's important to ground yourself in these principles, yes, but what it all really boils down to is knowing your audience and speaking their language.
Having insight into exactly what your audience(s) searches for when they begin looking for information online is key to your success. The mistake often made by businesses is building a site the replicates its organizational structure - a structure foreign to all those outside it. These types of websites often under perform because they are not intuitive to users. For instance, if someone is having chest pains, they typically don't search Google for "Cardiology"; they search for things like "chest pain" or "heart attack symptoms."
Try going to Google Analytics to begin your search term research. It's very easy to learn to use, and you'll be surprised to learn the terms people use to find you. Then make a strong effort to weave this language into your website so that web crawlers pick up on it and raise your ranking in the organic searches that allow you to be found. Sponsored links, simple ad word campaigns and registering yourself with Google Maps are also very effective ways to drive visibility in Google searches.
Land in the palm of their hands
If you're at a point where you're going to completely re-build your website, be sure you have it coded in such a way that it works well on mobile phone / personal media device screens. This is the future of internet usage as more and more people sign on with smartphones and sign off with desktops and laptops. Don't be overlooked for discarded as an option because you're not up with the times.