What Every LTC Organization Needs To Know About Their Website
The internet is the fastest growing global communications medium in history. According to Google, over 1.4 billion people use the internet today, and 200 million new users get online every year. For most LTC organizations, a company Web site is their tiny island in this vast ocean of information and technology; a relatively inexpensive way for the organization to help consumers find them and discover what they offer. But the internet is changing rapidly. The days of static, information-only company Web sites are over, and a new era of dynamic
online social media has begun.
Blogs, Webinars, wikis, podcasting, forums, list serves, e-books, viral videos, and online communities are transforming the way companies market themselves and connect with consumers. Smart companies and organizations around the world are adopting these technologies to build lasting relationships with customers, and engage prospects like never before. However, most long-term care organizations have yet to embrace these powerful online tools and company Web sites throughout the industry are showing signs of atrophy.
Today when Suzie Baby Boomer shops around for the best assisted living facility or home care agency for her mother, she does it online. What will she find when she lands on your website? What kind of online experience are you offering? How are you helping Suzie with the real-life problems and challenges she is facing as a caregiver? How well does your website represent your brand? What is your value proposition to Suzie, her mother, and the rest of her family; and how does it compare to the company down the street offering the exact same thing?
When customers, prospects or others visit your Web site, what do they experience? Take a look at any LTC organization Web site and what do you see? The vast majority have static Web pages that never change, with pictures and a bunch of canned messages like, “We provide exceptional, individualized care to your loved one,” or phrases like “compassionate staff,” “supportive services,” “safe, secure setting and home-like environment.” These are examples of what David Meerman Scott, award-winning marketing strategist and best-selling author, calls “gobbledygook.” When prospective customers see the same overused language (gobbledygook) on every Web site, they get suspicious, if not totally bored.
The fact is that most of the information provided on LTC company Web sites these days is a pitch about how wonderful the organization is. The messages are one-sided, controlled, and feel like a big press release for the organization. This model of using a Web site solely to advertise or promote your organization’s services is becoming outdated as social media technologies are moving into the mainstream and consumers have almost unlimited access to information from other outlets they perceive to be more credible than yours.
Today’s internet is social, interactive and dynamic and, as a result, customers are smarter than ever. Customers today want more than one-way, company-centric messages that tell them how great you are. Customers and prospects want informative content, participation, and dialog, not propaganda. They want authenticity and transparency, not controlled spin. Customers and prospects don’t expect LTC organizations to be perfect. But they do expect them to acknowledge that they are not, and to demonstrate that they are always working toward perfection. So, how does your website stack up?
Take look at your organization’s Web site from the prospective of your customers and prospects. Does it:
- help them solve their problems?
- provide them the information they need, when they need it?
- educate them with relevant, compelling, informative, and dynamic content?
- enable them to experience your organization and interact with the people who work there?
- brand your organization as a trusted resource?
- help customers and prospects connect with each other?
- demonstrate that your organization is worth doing business with?
- engage them and help them make purchase decisions over time?
Now think about your Web site from your perspective. Does it:
- help you build strong, lasting relationships with customers and prospects?
- enable you to communicate with them and show them that you really care?
- allow you to learn about what they think is important?
- foster a sense of community among staff, who otherwise may never connect with each other?
- honestly reflect the passion, commitment, and dedication of your staff, showcase their unique personalities, and demonstrate the exceptional care that they provide?
- set you apart from your competitors and convince prospects that YOU are the right choice?
If the honest answer to most or all of the questions above is NO, it may be time to re-think your Web site strategy. Your Web site should be a medium through which you build relationships with customers and prospects over time; a resource and support destination where customers, prospects, staff, and management can connect, communicate, collaborate, and share. LTC companies that embrace the social web and tap into its power will be rewarded by a new breed of smart consumer who is hungry for participation, unbiased information, and relevant content. Can you deliver?