S2 #7: How To Drive More Traffic To Your Health Tech Website with Erica Palmer
Super excited to welcome Erica Palmer to the show! In this episode we delve into an important marketing topic we haven’t explicitly covered yet - namely, website design.
Erica’s company specializes in creating strategically planned sites so that companies can draw more leads, reduce bounce rates, and improve SEO ratings. All this and more in today’s episode.
Always drawn to marketing, Erica graduated from Roger Williams University with degrees in marketing and international studies. Not long after, she landed her first job with a real estate simulation and tech company.
She then transitioned from the above-mentioned marketing department (made up of 150 employees) to a health care surveying company where she alone was the marketing department. The firm she joined focused their marketing towards physician groups, surgery centers, and hospitals.
All this to say, Erica’s been actively involved in health care since 2012 and recently celebrated the 5 year anniversary of her own company, Erio Marketing. Erio provides a wide range of marketing services with a special emphasis on web design.
They focus on activating digital strategies through avenues like social media, advertising, CRMs, and email. Suffice it to say, Erica optimizes website design on a regular basis, giving her deep insight into the inner workings of top ranking sites.
What matters and what doesn’t
In the digital age of marketing, there’s a deluge of website design advice available. So I specifically asked Erica how to weed through all the opinions and tips flying around these days. According to her, a lot of design choices go back to two key factors - budget and time.
For instance, sometimes when companies come to Erio Marketing, they need a redesign of their current website. Other times startups are ready to submit an application for funding and they need a brand new website immediately. Depending on circumstances like these, Erica may take different approaches.
Typically, the Erio Marketing team prefers to take 8-10 weeks to build the first public draft of a website. This gives them time to develop the best design for that particular business model while also considering what topics people typically look for when visiting the site.
How do you find out what they’re looking for?
To discover what people want to find on your site, you need to delineate who are the top three people coming to the website. For instance, are they patients, partners, or people looking to invest? This vantage point will help you gauge what material to emphasize on the homepage and menu.
Because many times this all revolves around building brand loyalty and reputation, buyers and investors are going to be looking for testimonials, proven success statistics, and case studies. By making this content visible and accessible through web design, you can improve your metrics and traffic retention.
How much does SEO guide design?
SEO is always a big part of content development and site mapping. That being said, Erica emphasized that it’s just as important to make sure the design is intuitive for viewers.
Content is written for human users. So if your homepage is focused more on SEO than it is on customers, your site metrics and lead retention may not grow to its full potential. If, however, you create solid content that meets viewers’ needs, SEO, as a long term initiative, will come into place.
How purposeful should web design be?
According to Erica, web design should be very purposeful. The reason for this is that web pages often leave the first impression on potential buyers or investors. She believes this so much that she’s established a 10-step process to ensure that all projects are deliberate and strategy-driven.
Without any further ado, let’s jump right into these steps to learn how to make a website layout more intuitive while increasing your ROI.
1. Discovery session
Regardless of whether Erica is trying to improve her own company’s website or another business's site, she always starts with a deep dive into the company. To do this, she conducts two discovery sessions - one to learn about the business itself and the other to establish the vision for the website.
Here are some important questions she likes to answer during this step:
How many employees does the business have?
Where is the company located?
Who are the typical clients?
Who are the partners?
What’s the company vision?
What materials do they already have in place - logos, color scheme, etc.?
What other websites do they like?
What specific features do they like about these other websites?
The answers to these questions provide a foundation for the website design while also getting the company’s employees on the same page with each other and the design team.
2. Analyze competitors
The next step is to look at the websites of primary competitors. Many times whatever features they use, you also want to include on your website. It’s important to consider what their messaging looks like as well as how they’ve designed their site maps. In addition, examine what lead generation tools they use in their design.
3. Determine your goals and key performance indicators
Establishing measurements to gauge success is an important facet of web designs that drive and retain traffic. There are two categories of indicators you should include in this step - quantifiable indicators and qualitative measures (any growth that can’t be put into numbers).
Here are some examples of quantifiable metrics to include in your plan:
How many visitors come to the website each month?
Is the website generating sales leads?
Is the bounce rate decreasing?
Are we publishing blog posts once a month?
Are SEO metrics improving? (i.e domain authority, page authority, amount of ranking keywords)
Erica also recommends starting with at least three qualitative goals that prove the value of new site design. Listed below are some non-numerical indicators to get you started.
Are we improving general product awareness?
How is the overall user experience?
What amount of content do we have on the site?
4. Explore user journeys
Around 95% of the startups Erica works with would love to do focus groups but simply don’t have the time to conduct such tests. In lieu of this, she tries to at least establish the top three people who visit the site as well as well as the top three reasons they visit. She then uses this information as the foundation for building the wire frames that eventually become the site map.
If you do have the bandwidth for more consumer research, Erica recommends using a market research company to help you conduct valid surveys or focus groups. In most cases, companies use this research for a redesign rather than an initial site launch.
Beyond that, you can take a retroactive approach and analyze your site after 2-3 weeks its launch. Google Analytics is free and allows you to view the user journey such as pages that have the highest bounce rate or pages that users navigate to after visiting the homepage. Then you can adjust the layout or other design features on what works and what doesn’t.
5. Assess any required or ideal functionality
Many times companies also use CRMs like Salesforce, Hubspot, or Marketo, and these platforms need to be integrated with the website as well. Sometimes it’s as simple as incorporating MailChimp so companies can collect email addresses for newsletters.
Other times it involves integrating social media live feeds, contact forms, or live chat boxes. These features need to be included in the early version of the web strategy so they don’t disrupt later versions of the site.
6. Evaluate any existing content
Before creating any content, you need to know what resources already exist. Then you can fill in any holes.
At this stage, SEO and imagery really come into play. For instance, at this point you should consider if you should bring in a photographer so you avoid using stock photography. Also, if you’re wanting to include any animated videos as a visualization of your SaaS product, this is the time to sit down with teams that create this content.
7. Create wire frames
Before building anything, Erica creates frames and send them as PDFs to her clients. However, these don’t have to be fancy. You can even do a simple drawing on paper or a white board.
The whole point of this is to allow the site to come alive for the people who need to approve it. That way you don’t spend unnecessary time building a site that won’t be ultimately endorsed by the CEO or board members .
8. Build the site in a BETA environment
By testing the site before you launch it, you give yourself the option of tweaking user experience before it becomes official. In this way, you can ensure that the site launch is the best possible design regardless of time or financial constraints.
9. Launch the site
Once you’ve tested, you’re ready to go public. However, this doesn’t mean that you can publish and never come back to it again. Effective websites are constantly managed and updated. That’s why Erica includes the next point in this plan.
10. Discuss ongoing marketing efforts
Your website is a living, breathing document of your whole marketing department. Unfortunately, many companies don’t view it this way, leading them to launch and never improve it again.
Most websites should have frequent updates. At the very least, the homepage should have something like an event section that’s regularly revised. Internal pages, on the other hand, don’t need to be routinely improve unless they have glaring issues such as high bounce rates.
Common mistakes in web design
The biggest mistake Erica sees is when companies design a homepage and other content that focuses on what they think is important rather than what users think is important.
Another error is not tracking analytics or testing your website. On average, you should be looking at these metrics on a monthly or quarterly basis. For instance, your homepage may need simple tweaks like moving CTAs from the right side of the page to the left. Or you might want to test images to see which one resonates better with your typical viewer.
Unfortunately, when websites or pages aren’t working, many companies just scrap them. But Erica says this normally isn’t the best way to improve your analytics. Sometimes these pages just need one or two tweaks. So test one element at a time so you know what really works, and then adjust accordingly.
From a business perspective, the book that’s had the biggest impact on her is Start Something that Matters. Written by the founder of TOMS, Blake Mycoskie, it shares his struggle with the tension between making money, corporate responsibility, and loving what you do.
Want to connect with Erica? Find her here:
LinkedIn: Erica Palmer
Camp Erio: Summer camp marketing opportunity for middle school girls.
Like what you hear?
And, as always, if you need help with your marketing…
Let’s talk. You can book your free consulting session with me today.