My husband and I went to Italy for our honeymoon 10 years ago. We arrived in Rome early in the morning, bleary-eyed and disoriented from an overnight transatlantic flight. After depositing our luggage at our hotel, we went for a walk down one of the city’s main streets. We wanted to understand the different parts of the city and learn where the bridges and main drags led.
Taking this broad overview helped us spot the landmarks we wanted to visit, and quickly learn what kind of things set the city apart, such as the gelato and the hordes of fast-moving scooters.
After a much-needed nap, we ventured out again, but this time, we twisted through tiny streets and explored alleyways. Now, we saw shop owners outside sweeping the sidewalk and cats snoozing in sunny windows. We enjoyed lattes in a quiet flower-filled courtyard and then pasta in a tucked-away corner.
At one point, we saw one lone scooter slowly making its way down an alleyway, and the man who rode it was singing out in glorious Italian. I have no idea what he was singing, but we laughed, and in that moment, felt like we were beginning to really understand the city’s larger narrative and who its people were.
Think of your website like the city of Rome: You need the main arteries to help people know where to go, and you need the tucked-away alleys filled with slices of life that help people know who you are.
“Show Me the Way” Vs. “Surprise Me!”
Your web pages – landing pages, pages that talk about your unique programs, pages that lead to answers – are like the main streets of a city. With health content specifically, there is a good chance that people are coming to your site bleary-eye and disoriented, much like my husband and I when we arrived in Rome. Readers need clear language and a roadmap they can easily scan. They’re not in the mood for surprises.
When Aha Media Group works with our clients on web content, we make sure to harness best practices for web writing, so that visitors to your site can get what they need quickly.
Blog content, on the other hand, is often a bit more like an intriguing alleyway or back street: It provides a chance to show some personality and tell the rest of the story.
People are more likely to stumble upon a blog piece of yours because it’s shared on social media or they find it through searching. That stumble is a huge opportunity to surprise them, whether it’s a Q&A with a care provider, a patient story or a piece that busts widely-held myths about a condition.
Logic Vs. Emotion
Blog content and informational web content both allow you to connect with people, but in different ways. A web page that showcases a differentiating treatment – say an average door-to-balloon time for someone having a heart attack that blows away the competition – is fact-driven.
Pages like this are driven by content that focuses on being the best/fastest/biggest/first/only. The voice should be empathetic, of course. But above all, it is logical. Because these are logical points, with data to back them up. Remember, bleary-eyed people want quick answers, so a clear, reassuring voice that doesn’t stray is a good thing on informational pages like this.
But that’s not the only way people decide to choose your institution. In fact, as this Harvard Business Review article points out, people make the majority of decisions using the emotional center of their brain, which is where we process stories. A fact may seal the deal, but 9 times out of 10, a story is what created the spark.
For example, I once interviewed an electrophysiologist who told me he sang the same Beatles song with his whole team after every pediatric heart ablation he performed. If I ever needed a pediatric electrophysiologist, I’d like to go to him. Yes, he’s got impressive stats, as do many EPs. But it was that little personal tidbit that resonated with me.
A blog can give a voice to the humans behind the sterile mask, because there is more room on a blog for that voice to speak. It isn’t merely a door-to-balloon time, it’s a powerful story from a patient who thought he was going to die. Or it’s a Q&A with a doctor who tells the story of becoming a cardiologist because she saw that male doctors overlooked symptoms of heart disease in women like her mother, who died young of a heart attack.
The best blogs feel less like content marketing and more like authentic storytelling. Because they are.
Keep your main streets clear, with distinct lanes and signs that easily direct people. But fill your alleys with men singing on scooters.