Healthcare organizations must not only prioritize digital but make the mobile experience a priority. This article examines channels along the patient journey and how you can optimize each one for better mobile experiences.
With all the buzz surrounding the ‘mobile-first experience, you might be wondering how important mobile optimization is in healthcare marketing. Here’s the long and short of it: Better mobile websites and the overall digital experience should be a priority for future investments.
It’s a must
The reason is rather simple. The opportunity cost for failing to optimize for mobile across your patient journey is far too high. We know that approximately 7% of daily internet searches are healthcare-related. And Google is estimated to receive 1 billion health questions every day. And while the data around mobile users is variable at best, we do know that people are spending 23 additional minutes per day on their smartphones in 2020. Statista estimates that there are more than 3 billion smartphone users worldwide.
As more and more people obtain smartphones worldwide, you can’t neglect your website’s mobile experience. Google is making a shift to mobile-first ranking, which means your healthcare organization needs to prioritize the mobile experience.
Can you afford to overlook such a large share of your digital audience?
An All-Points Approach to Mobile Optimization
Today, consumers expect great mobile experiences when they travel online elsewhere, and this need is impacting digital marketing results. Do you really want to risk creating a high-friction mobile experience when a large portion of your users may be interacting with you on their mobile devices? We do not recommend it.
Google knows that consumers want a great mobile user experience, for example, and favors the websites that offer them. Presenting a bad mobile experience? Your site probably won’t rank well (goodbye organic traffic). If your PPC landing pages aren’t optimized for mobile and users return quickly, your Google Ads quality score and ad rank could suffer and drive up your cost-per-click (CPC).
Regarding mobile optimization, we recommend a more comprehensive approach that takes into account all of your key patient touchpoints. Here are tips on the most common channels patients interact with:
Building a responsive, mobile-friendly website can be expensive, time-consuming, and very technical. Let’s start with something simpler: view your website on your mobile device. Imagine yourself as a patient trying to get information, solve a problem, or relieve anxiety. What kind of “digital front door” will they go to if they find you on their phone?
Your website should not only look good on mobile devices, but also be easy to use for healthcare consumers. This is not only a good practice: it is also a Google ranking factor. In 2018, Google announced a mobile page speed update, which introduced a new ranking algorithm for mobile search based on page speed. Since then, their focus on the mobile experience has only intensified, and the upcoming Core Web Vitals update (coming May 2021) introduces new ranking factors that center user experience.
What does this mean for you? Basically, your site’s ranking will be directly affected by your mobile user experience, namely. What does a great user experience look like? Here are a few things to prioritize:
- Responsive design
- Fast page speed
- No intrusive pop-ups that block the screen
- Easily accessible, mobile-optimized buttons and CTAs that quickly respond when tapped
- Ease of use when conducting research (finding information), scheduling online, calling, and finding directions
Think about the common paths that website visitors follow and test them on mobile devices. If you want new organic search website visitors to check your COVID19 update first, how well-optimized is that experience for mobile devices? What about when they try to find a common procedure that you come up with?
In the world of healthcare advertising spends, it’s all about return on investment (ROI). By working with healthcare organizations, we have seen significant opportunities for more effective and cost-efficient ad campaigns through mobile optimization. This is because optimizing the text, images, CTA, and other elements of your PPC ad can make the difference between percentage points on CTR, ROAS, and other metrics.
Optimize your healthcare organization’s mobile PPC ads to appeal to mobile users which will, in turn, help you see a return on your investment.
Essential to this effort is a deep understanding of context. How and when (and on what devices) do people see your ads on mobile devices? What else does your ad compete with for attention and filter real estate? And what actions is your target audience likely to take from a mobile device (click through, call, fill out a form, etc)?
When looking at your ads from a mobile optimization perspective, here are a few things to consider:
- Think about what people are doing on their mobile devices. What kind of healthcare information are they looking for in your space? If they’re not looking for healthcare information right now, what else can they do that you can use in your creation? How do get their attention?
- Know the different strategies available to you for different channels. The ad types and mobile optimization options are different or have different names on Facebook and Google ads.
- For Facebook ads, create content based on what mobile users want. Your metrics may reveal that your mobile ad audience prefers quick tips or rich infographics over longer, authoritative blog posts or reports. Instead of textual content, video is perhaps a better way to engage them.
- Adhere to mobile advertising best practices including large fonts, appropriate formatting, bold design, and powerful CTAs. For video ads, make sure your output is also optimized for mobile devices.
- For Google Ads, focus your efforts on “high-purpose” audiences, such as people willing to book an appointment for a particular service. You can use ad extensions to help them complete tasks (calls, sitelinks, locations, etc) or even try mobile-only ads.
Like the ads that link to them, the success of any given landing page will depend in part on its mobile experience. In addition to developing unique landing pages for each ad campaign, which we highly recommend, make sure your landing pages seamlessly move consumers from your ad to the action you want them to perform ( click, call, schedule, etc.).
In terms of mobile landing page optimization, these principles are very similar to the web best practices listed above. One note: Make sure each landing page has all the information a consumer needs to make a decision, including compelling copy, testimonials, service preview, and a schedule button or click option. Again, all of these should be designed and tested for mobile devices.
Apps and Online Portals
More and more healthcare organizations are launching apps and portals online, and for good reason. These portals can make the lives of patients and their doctors much easier, including the ability to send messages, access health information and test results, or even schedule appointments.
However, the convenience of an online app or portal can quickly turn into frustration if the platform is not easy to use. First, we recommend that healthcare organizations invest resources in patient education and integration into apps and portals. This may include written or video instructions, tutorials, etc.
Make sure to invest in a good, mobile-optimized user experience (UX) and user interface (UI), too. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to view test results or view a new message from your physician, being unable to find what you need.
Best practices include buttons and actions that are easily discoverable (not hidden in menus) and testing. Thoroughly test your mobile UX—don’t let the team launch without getting real users involved and incorporating their feedback! Always—ALWAYS—ensure that your patients’ data and privacy is secure.
As with apps and portals, many healthcare organizations are bringing in third-party or bespoke scheduling platforms to handle that part of the patient experience. For myriad reasons, from privacy to convenience and generational preference, lots of people would rather quickly schedule their next appointment without calling, using their mobile phone.
That said, here are a few mobile best practices to follow for your scheduling platform:
- Insist on selecting a vendor that prioritizes the mobile scheduling experience, including how it integrates with the rest of your mobile web experience and channels
- Optimize the calendar, time, and date experience for mobile (this is such a common sticking point)
- Make it easy to select different locations, doctors, and so on
- Where possible, try to incorporate mobile-friendly features such as adding an appointment to the calendar app, or opting in for SMS reminders
These mobile device optimizations not only make patient’s lifes easier, but we’ve found that a mobile-optimized scheduling platform can help increase adoption while reducing unnecessary and time-consuming phone calls that tend to take up staff and increase waiting time.
Keep Pace with Mobile, As Patient Experience Depends on It
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: just having a website is not enough. Large healthcare organizations that think they can use their brand on their own may soon be feeling the cost of a less responsive mobile experience than ever before.
The fact is, mobile devices and mobile-optimized experiences are so common now that a good mobile experience has become an expectation. Healthcare consumers demand it. According to Google, “79% of people say they’re more likely to revisit and/or share a mobile site if it is easy to use.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. So, wherever you are in terms of digital maturity, you should strongly consider investing time and effort into better mobile experiences across all of the channels we touched on above.