Wednesday, April 30, 2008

No need to call emergency: This site has a fine heart

Time was running out for this boy, Iron Man Ian, before he visited Children's Hospital of The King's Daughter in Virginia
In every issue of our print publication, we review a site.

On the Internet, real stories about real people will always out-trump facts, figures, features and benefits, says Web guru Seth Godin.

And here’s a great example of a Web site that’s taken up his call.

Subscriber Deb Thaxton, who's just started reading our print publication, from Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughter asked us to review her site. We jumped at the chance. We like to say thanks to our readers when we can. Thank you, Deb.

And this is a nice looking site that even an industrial company could learn from.

Here’s why:

• It tells a story. This site uses beautifully-chosen and optimized images (with descriptive alt tags) and appealing case studies to explain why families and professionals should choose this hospital over its rivals. Take the home page’s case study on Iron Man Ian who you can see in this photo. Sure, a b2b company’s average customer may not be as cute as this three-year-old toddler. But every company has buyers with an interesting problem, an unusual application, etc.

• It doesn’t confuse the visitor. This site doesn’t confuse visitors by cramming everything on the home page. It aims to grab attention and interest with stories that encourage visitors to click on. B2b parallel? Focus on one call to action instead of overwhelming visitors with too much choice.

• It uses images well. This site has a lovely clean layout and the images jump off the page. The flash is kept to a minimum so the pages load quickly.

• It streams visitors into two clear groups: Visitors and health professionals.

We had a few quibbles ...

The Web may be global in reach, but prospects still prefer to shop locally.

That’s why local search engines are growing in popularity. This site looks good but it doesn’t do enough to reach local prospects, a natural target audience.

Here’s how it could be losing patients to rival providers:

1. Where’s the phone number? These days many people reach for the Internet to find a doctor, to find the closest hospital or in a medical emergency. Yet the hospital’s phone number is hard to find online.

2. What’s the local angle? It’s not immediately obvious where this hospital is located and details are buried down in the page’s footer. Consider appealing to local visitors by adding a line like, “The best hospital in Norfolk for kids!”

3. Where is it on local search results? Remember to check your company’s rankings on local search engines. This hospital may not make a direct appeal to locals on its home page, but it’s done all the right things to rank near the top for all local searches for hospitals and children’s hospitals in its area. Only trouble, it hasn’t done enough to make sure it appears in search results using synonyms for children like “kids' hospital, Virginia.”

Posted by Internet Marketing Report Online blog editor, Julie Power, on Wednesday April 29 at 9 a.m.


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