Target storefront

What Healthcare Marketing Can Learn From Target

I rarely go into stores. Ever. If I can get it on Instacart, I will find $30 worth of stuff to buy, just to get my order delivered. Thanks to the pandemic, I think I’m allergic to walking into a store — except for Target.

Target is the only store that I look forward to going to. It’s the only store that my kids look forward to going to. And the reason I still enjoy going there is that Target has taken what would be a mundane experience of running errands and turned it into something special.

It’s hard to put into words exactly what that special something is, but I think most working moms walk into Target and they feel this instant sense of peace. A feeling like everything is going to be okay. It’s always so clean. Everything seems perfectly organized.

We could all learn a lesson from Target — and especially hospitals. Here are some things that I think hospitals can take from the Target shopping experience and make it a part of the patient experience.

1. Anything that can be done at home should be done at home.

Even before the pandemic, Target had this brilliant drive-up service, allowing you to shop in their app, make your purchase, and then pick up your order in the parking lot.

Hospitals, in turn, are learning something from this approach — or rather, they’re remembering something. Before hospitals became the norm in the early 1900s, most medical care was given at home.

We’re going back to this approach in large part because of the pandemic. When no one was able to visit the hospital, the only way certain patients could get certain services was to have those services done at home. As a result, hospital administrators discovered that this led to better outcomes, lower costs, and better patient satisfaction.

Many services can be moved to the home or car space. When you’re having a baby, for example, you have to get blood pressure checks that could be done in the parking lot. No one who is 9 months pregnant should have to ask themselves, “Why did I have to get out of my car for this?”

2. Show — don’t tell.

Target’s desktop website, mobile site, and app all do an excellent job of showing a shopper everything they need at a glance. This is something that all companies can learn from.

Typically, when our clients call us for help with their web content and content strategy, one of the big issues is that everything on their site is buried. The content that consumers really would be looking for is buried. It takes three clicks. It takes several. You have to scroll and scroll and scroll, which is not necessary.

There are different ways that a hospital’s website could be more like Target’s web experience, where they present you with as many options as possible at a glance. With just a quick scan, you can see what you’re looking for, see what you want, and put it in your cart.


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Focus On These Website Features

  • Mega menus: Users should find exactly what they are looking for — without having to scroll.
  • Fat footers: When a user makes it to the bottom of a page, there should still be somewhere to go.
  • Tiled landing page: If a user can see it, they can easily click on it.

Retail websites make it easy for the user to do what they went there to do — and what the company wants them to do as well: buy things. By tapping into the web conventions consumers are already used to from their retail experiences, your healthcare website can be more usable and more successful.

3. Brag about your diversity.

When I walk into my Target, they have an entire shelf of beauty products that are created by women-owned companies. They have a display of products from black-owned, black-women-owned companies, Latina-women-owned, and LGBTQ-owned companies.

If you are interested in supporting a certain group by buying their products and services, Target makes it easy. Hospitals could take a cue from that and start to really promote the administrators and clinicians who reflect the groups you most need to reach.

There’s no reason somebody should come to your website and see only white male doctors, or worse — standard stock photos of a bunch of skinny smiling people. If you have a diverse team, broadcast it. Put it out there front and center. Let your patient audience know, “We have people who can relate to folks from all different walks of life, who can connect with your lived experiences.”

4. Show me how beautiful you are.

Target can make anything look beautiful. I mean, they have toilet scrubbers that are just gorgeous. They have storage bins that are stunning. And when you actually go to the store or onto the website, the space where Target displays these products looks a lot like a living room or a kitchen. They don’t simply show you the product, they show you how beautiful this product would be in your own home.

Many hospitals have made a lot of capital investments to increase the beauty factor of their physical location. But how many times do they hire a professional photographer to help them show that beauty off?

If you have invested in sprucing up your space, the next investment should be hiring a photographer or videographer to create some kind of virtual tour of that space. Patients shouldn’t need to come into your hospital to know how beautiful it is.

In healthcare, we could all learn a thing or two from Target. With just a few changes, the patient experience on hospital websites — and in the actual hospital — can be elevated from just so-so to the Target experience.

Looking to beautify your hospital’s website? CareContent can help with content strategy, creation, and promotion.