Healthcare Marketing's Challenge with Web Content


We conducted 40 in-depth interviews with hospital marketers, from vice presidents to coordinators nationwide, each representing a different healthcare organization


Academic medical centers, health systems with several hospitals, independent community hospitals, critical access hospitals

Is creating and updating web content a challenge for your healthcare organization?

Answers fell into 4 categories:

16 hospitals are really struggling with web content
16 hospitals have such a challenge that they are not regularly creating or updating web content

What’s going on?

They have no bandwidth. The one website manager or the 2- to 3-person marketing team is already swamped
They prefer to rely on traditional marketing like billboards, commercials, and radio spots
It’s not a budget priority (At least 3 responders have since been laid off)
Temporary infrastructure issues: getting a new content management system, hiring a new team members, merging with another hospital
They lack the skills to create, manage and promote web content

healthcare marketers blog less than marketers in other industries

“Healthcare is more than 2 years behind other industries in using web content as a marketing tool” healthcare dedicates less money toward content marketing than other industries

In healthcare, only 23% of the total marketing budget is used to invest in content marketing. While marketers in general are investing 31% for all marketers.

The biggest challenge for healthcare: Creating enough content

*Source: The Content Marketing Institute “Research Finds Health Care Content Marketing Lags Two Years Behind” (November 2012)

10 hospitals are scrambling for web content

 10 hospitals have challenges with web content and scramble to solve them

What’s going on?

 They are duplicating content on various pages of their site
 Clinical teams are charged with updating or providing web content, but they are too busy or don’t see the value
 The content review process stalls at physicians or the folks in legal
• They publish and promote content from other organizations, like news sites
 Instead of strategically developing content, they are policing rogue departments that create their own sites and social media feeds. Or they are taking orders—i.e. “Dr. So-and-So wants a page”…”We need a page for our event”…”Put this on Facebook”

time spent on social media

A great social media presence depends on creating great content. Most healthcare marketers spend 2-4 hours per week managing social media, but Americans spend 16 minutes of every hour on social media.

*Sources: 2013 Digital Marketer Report by Experian Marketing Services (April 2013); Optimizing the Use of Social Media: A SHSMD Panel Study, Part 1 (December 2012)


9 hospitals unaware of web content challenges

9 hospitals said web content is not a challenge—but their websites say otherwise

What’s going on?

They are overspending on underperforming web content services:
– The content cannot be modified or the hospitals doesn’t own the content
– It says nothing about their hospital’s clinicians or services
– It’s not original, but duplicated on other sites, even competitors’
 The content does not meet current standards for search engine optimization or mobile device access
 No one is engaging with the content long after the site is established. It’s rarely shared via social media or email, and may even have a high bounce rate or low click-through rate
 Press releases, obscure award announcements and other non-patient-focused information is considered web content
 One person is responsible for updating or creating web content, and that overwhelmed little person is this close to going crazy

Search engines depend on great content, and patients depend on search engines

patients use search engines to research hospitals

61% of people visit 2 or more hospital sites before becoming patients

*Source: 2012 Google/Compete Hospital Study — The Digital Journey to Wellness


5 hospitals are web content rockstars

5 hospitals said creating and updating web content is not a challenge. They’re doing a great job

What’s going on?

 These hospitals have FTEs dedicated to creating and updating web content
 They outsource to freelancers or a web content service that produces original content tailored to their healthcare organization
They create enough content to be repurposed

Among patients who make appointments, 83% go to hospital websites.

“Digital content is key to decision-making.”

*Source: 2012 Google/Compete Hospital Study — The Digital Journey to Wellness