Now Hear This: Why You Need Audio in Your Medical Website
Millions of people use the Internet to listen to and download audio content. Podcasts, downloadable and streaming audio, and other audio platforms are routinely used in marketing, but the elective healthcare industry has been slow to react to this trend. Audio content could, however, become as important to your practice website as written and video content. Einstein Medical is ready for that change. Will you be?
Way back in 1995…
The closest thing to "portable audio" was still the Walkman. Napster was a few years away from changing the way people exchanged audio content, and the iPod was just a gleam in the eyes of Apple's engineers. Cell phones were actually still used mainly to make telephone calls.
It was also the year that Einstein Medical entered the fledgling online marketing industry.
Fast forward to 2012…
Audio can be accessed nearly anywhere using devices as small as the average person's thumb. As a result, people are listening to audio content just as much as ever, but in very different ways. Many stream audio while surfing the Net. Others effortlessly download audio files onto their cell phones, tablets, mp3 players, and flash drives to listen to at their convenience. Whether they are at the gym, the grocery store, racing to work on the freeway, or sitting in the waiting room of a medical office, they have audio at their fingertips.
And they're listening to more than just music.
An increasing number of people are using audio to get information and opinions about products, services, and businesses. In the 17 years that Einstein Medical has been creating websites for elective healthcare professionals, we've seen a lot of Internet trends evolve into essential online marketing tools. Remember when video was pretty much nowhere to be found on any medical website? That's when we developed a suite of video products. We strongly felt that video was the next big thing.
Well, folks, it's time to listen up once again. We believe that audio is one of the next big things in elective healthcare marketing. And we're ready for it.
Our National Health News Podcast will give you the power to reach a broader range of prospective patients than ever before and set yourself apart from your competition. While your competitors scramble to catch up, audio will already be a fully rounded, integral part of your online marketing strategy. You will be the pioneer whose example others will follow, and that will not be lost on Google or your expanding patient base.
That's enough shameless self-promotion for now. Why should you care about audio in the first place? Read on.
Just who's listening, anyway?
According to the annual "State of the News Media" published as part of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, 25 percent of Americans aged 12 or older listened to audio podcasts in 2011. This means that more than 60 million Americans listened to podcasts last year. In addition, the report found that:
- 31 percent used iPods
- 56 percent used online radio
- 31 percent used smartphones
- 9 percent, or more than 22 million, "love" podcasts
In a separate report published in 2011, the Pew Research Center found that 80 percent of adult Internet users used the Internet to find medical information. This translates to 59 percent of all American adults or more than 145 million people. Among adult Internet users:
- 56 percent search for information about a specific treatment or procedure
- 44 percent search for information about specific doctors
- 36 percent search for information about specific medical facilities
The above statistics suggest that there is a substantial audience for healthcare-related podcasts. If only 5 percent of the adults who used the Internet to search for medical information overlapped with those who listened to audio podcasts, that would equate to more than 7 million people. This is a conservative estimate; the actual number is almost certainly much higher.
Okay, so WHY are they listening?
Let's set aside the habits of Internet users for a moment and concentrate on how people process information. After all, your website is an information resource. If your site fails to provide visitors with the information they're looking for, they will look for it elsewhere. Your prospective patients will become someone else's actual patients.
It's in your best interests, then, to appeal to as many different types of learners as you can. The VAK model used by educators and businesses worldwide divides these learners into three categories (statistics courtesy of Monsters & Magical Sticks by Steven Heller, Ph.D. and Terry Steele):
- Visual (Approximately 40 percent of the population) - Visual learners prefer to learn through seeing or watching
- Kinesthetic (Approximately 40 percent of the population) - Kinesthetic learners prefer to learn through interaction
- Auditory (Approximately 20 percent of the population) - Auditory learners prefer to learn through listening
If, in addition to text, your website features video and photos, you've got the 40 percent of the population that are visual learners covered. If you are also giving prospective patients a chance to interact with you, perhaps through an active social media campaign, that's another 40 percent of the population taken care of.
So what about the other 20 percent?
The entertainment, news, and financial industries have already embraced podcasts, downloadable content, and other audio platforms as essential components of their marketing strategies. The elective healthcare industry, however, has been slow to capitalize on the promotional power of audio.
Does this mean that auditory learners aren't getting my message?
Not necessarily. Most auditory learners will not reject information presented in other forms. However, they will process that information more fully and efficiently when they can hear it as opposed to watching or reading it.
The good news is that your competitors probably aren't catering to the preferences of auditory learners, either. Take a look at their websites for yourself. Do they feature podcasts? Audio downloads? Streaming audio?
Odds are that you won't find much audio content, if any. The bottom line is that there's a largely untapped group of prospective patients just waiting to hear what you have to say.
What does the National Health News Podcast have to offer?
We've established that there is an audience for audio content that is currently being underserved. However, serving this audience with an inferior or ineffective product is worse than not serving it at all. This is why we have developed the National Health News Podcast to be the state of the art in online audio marketing.
Like so many Internet-age innovations, the podcast is a fresh variation on a time-tested idea. It is essentially a radio broadcast that people can download and listen to whenever they like, using their computers, cell phones, and other portable devices. They no longer have to be near a radio at a scheduled time in order to hear the program they're interested in. They simply plug in their earbuds and hit "play."
A podcast is also like a radio broadcast in that the quality of the production makes a huge difference in whether people will want to listen or not. Pacing, organization, and clarity of sound are equally important in both formats. Each National Health News Podcast includes two professionally produced interview segments that will engage your listeners from beginning to end.
The National Health News Podcast will also allow you to:
Engage and Convert More Prospective Patients
Prospective patients are coming to your website because they want what you have to offer. They are interested in the services you provide, and they want to be convinced that you are the right person to provide them. First, however, you have to give them the information they're looking for. And in order to do this, you must keep them interested from the moment they enter your website.
According to Jakob Nielsen, Ph.D., a respected expert in human-computer interaction, people decide whether a web page offers any value to them within 10 seconds. That means that your website has to make a positive impression on users almost immediately, or they are likely to leave. During the next 20 seconds, those who stay will investigate further. These are the users you need to engage. They're giving you the opportunity to impress them into staying for several minutes. The longer they stay, the more likely they are to contact your practice.
How you present information counts for everything at this point. If visual learners are met with relevant, captivating images and well-organized text that can easily be scanned, they will be more likely to stick around. Kinesthetic learners will be drawn to links, clickable buttons, and forms that invite interaction and have a clear purpose. Likewise, your National Health News Podcast will give auditory learners immediate incentive not to leave your site. They will have the opportunity to:
- Find the information they are searching for in a way that they find meaningful
- Hear your voice and establish a more personal connection with you before contacting your practice
- Remain on your website longer, which is one of the measures used by Google to evaluate the usefulness of a site
- Feel more confident about contacting you - people are far more likely to contact you if they feel they are asking intelligent, informed questions
- Feel as though you are catering to them
Even those users who prefer reading to listening will be well-served by your National Health News Podcast, as it will be accompanied by a full transcript. The transcript will capture the interaction between you and the interviewer, conveying the lively, vibrant spirit of your podcast. This will further distinguish your content from that typical of most healthcare websites. As an alternative to the dry, detached tone of the usual medical-procedure-based web page, your transcript will truly stand out.
Bolster Your SEO
Google wants to provide its users with the best possible experience no matter what they're searching for. It wants to guide users toward compelling, timely, easily-digested content that is relevant to their search queries.
Websites that include pages and pages of content rehashing the same information using the same keywords are not likely to offer the rich user experience that Google is striving to provide. However, websites that present content of true substance and value through a variety of media types are far more likely to deliver the goods. Adding audio to your website will signal to Google that your site has become even more comprehensive as a resource to its users, further strengthening your SEO strategy.
In addition, your National Health News Podcast will receive valuable links from the podcast directories that you will be listed in. These powerful, organic links stand a much better chance of having a positive impact on your search engine rankings than paid links and other linking strategies that Google does not approve of.
Be Heard Whenever and Wherever Your Listeners Like
As we discussed at the beginning of this article, portable audio devices let people listen to whatever they want, virtually anywhere and at any time. Your National Health News Podcast will include downloadable audio files so that you can reach out to prospective patients even when they aren't using the Internet.
They could be driving, working out, eating lunch, or taking a walk. They might even be hanging out with family and friends, expanding your potential audience to include people who didn't realize they were interested in your services until they heard your podcast.
How many other marketing platforms offer that kind of reach? It's like word of mouth, except that the mouth in this case will belong to you.
Every industry is affected by trends. Some of these trends pass, of course, but others have profound, long-lasting effects. When these trends occur, professionals within the industry can usually be divided into three groups:
- A small and very select group that is ahead of the trend
- A larger group that jumps on board as the trend gains traction
- An even larger group that runs after the trend in an attempt to catch up
When it comes to Internet marketing, that first group tends to reap the greatest long-term rewards. As audio content becomes increasingly common in the elective healthcare industry, which group do you want to belong to?
If you have read this far, then the answer is probably clear. You're ready to be heard, and your audience is ready to listen. Your National Health News Podcast will make it all possible.