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Web Video: What Patients Really Want

Some of the leading medical marketing companies are making fantastic claims about video Web sites, but last week I presented 8 reasons why you should question the value of video. Any successful business person needs to look at any new venture with a healthy dose of skepticism and a good amount of due diligence.

Maybe you’ve heard that adding video to your site can:

  • Cause visitors to spend more time on your site
  • Connect Web visitors in a very personal way with your practice
  • Increase the percentage of people requesting consultations
  • Radically increase the number of visitors to your site

Well, it turns out most of these claims are dead wrong.

We conducted an informal analysis of 20 sites – 10 with prominent video content and 10 with no video at all. Sites with video captured only about half as many inquiries as those without video. Why would this be? It’s not immediately obvious. Perhaps the quality or content of the video, the doctor’s presentation, or even the background décor discouraged online inquiries.

Video also appeared to have a mixed relationship with time on site. Among the sites that engage visitors the longest, some had video, some did not. The sites with the longest time on site tended to be contemporary designs that were visually distinct with prominent navigation that easily guided visitors toward procedure pages and the photo gallery.

I think we can safely concede that video has the potential to build rapport…but I would argue that it has just as much potential to discourage potential patients if you are not attractive, articulate and posed in front of a beautiful office. And, since most video being produced today is “talking head” interviews and practice introductions, we also risk boring the visitor right off the site. Jakob Nielsen, the Internet industry’s leading thinker on usability, covered this risk in his 2005 study, Talking Head Video is Boring Online.

At this point, you may be thinking that I’m still slapping the reins on a very dead horse. Do I have any positive things to say about Web video? As it turns out, video can be useful for your Web visitors…if you deliver exactly what your potential patients are looking for.

We recently completed a survey of 400 Web users, most considering having a surgical procedure within the next 12 months. We asked what they wanted most from a surgeon’s Web site. Their response: before and after photos and text content remain supremely important. But at the same time they didn’t completely dismiss video.

We asked about 5 different types of video.

  • Video of surgery being performed
  • Video of actual patients discussing their cosmetic procedure
  • Professional video introducing the surgeon
  • Video tour of the practice
  • Video of network TV coverage (news or TV appearances)

What one item do you think was most desired by potential patients? If you guessed “video of actual patients discussing their surgery” you were right. “Professional video introducing the surgeon” took a distant second place. Keep in mind that no more than 30% of survey respondents rated any kind of video as Very Important. (Sorry, I thought I saw that dead horse moving for a second.)

So, our advice? Pay to have a nice 2 minute introductory video produced and get it added to your profile page. Then go out and buy a camcorder and lighting kit and prepare a room in your office for candid patient interviews. We’ve tested a variety of cameras, found a great source for lighting equipment, and have prepared a list of questions to get you or your patient coordinator ready to serve as the host of your very own “patient talk show.” Contact your Account Manager for more details.

As for increasing site traffic with video, next week we’ll leak all the “secrets” about how to get your videos ranked in Google, Yahoo and MSN.


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