Tuesday, October 14, 2014

5 Best Interactive Infographics

It’s no wonder that information graphics, or infographics, have become increasingly popular online. 65% of us are visual learners according to the Social Science Research Network. When created right, it allows those of us who are visual learners to digest information quickly and clearly.

An exciting development in infographics is interactive infographics. When a lot of information needs to be condensed into one graphic the interactive infographic gives you the opportunity to engage your users without overwhelming them. Here are a few infographics from different genres that we love:

1.     How Search Works

Leave it to Google to figure out an awesome way to teach us how those tiny little spiders inside our computer works. Love the stat at the bottom that tells you how many searches were performed while you were on the page. 

Learn interesting facts about major market bubbles that occurred over the past few centuries across the world. The Wall Street Journal creatively designed the infographic in bubbles of pictures and information. 

The New York Times allows you to create a data-driven version of your family and see how many households exist similar to yours. You can also see what percentage that makes up of all households, various demographics, household incomes and how history has changed over time.

Nobody wants to read about diseases, especially when there is a 1 in 3 chance that they already have it or are at risk at developing it. AmeriHealth (New Jersey) found a creative way to explain what diabetes is, how to prevent it and ways to manage it. They really get the message across on the “RATE” tab that displays how many diabetes related deaths occur annually.

Every college football fan can have a field day with this infographic. Choosing from the 50 school logos, you can find out as may stats about your favorite recruits to fill a fantasy player’s bible.

How about you? Ever developed an interactive infographic? Or want to? What do you think of these examples?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Are Bigger Pictures Better?

When we moved into our house, I had so much fun decorating my 6-year-old’s room. We used Benjamin Moore’s Bunny Nose Pink. We bought her a white bunk bed and my mom sprang for Pottery Barn Kids bedding.

Now she’s 11. And she wants San Clemente teal for the walls, a silver rug and beanbags for her friends. Times change and we need to change with them—and nowhere have we seen that so apparently than with websites and responsive design.

As design changes, are we still making good decisions about what our customers need on our websites? AND: Why is a content person and the email newsletter of a writing firm talking about visual images?


Using Visual Images Wisely

Visual images are content. That means we must apply the same rules for content that is text:

1.   What is the priority of messaging?

2.   What do we need the customer to know?

3.   What do we want the customer to do?

There is much debate in the design community about the use of large “hero” images to create emotional punch and impact. Newer websites seem to be moving toward one very large image, or a series of large images in a carousel. Without the rules above applied to visual images, you will end up with content that hurts the customer experience instead of helping it. Jakob Nielsen recently published an article about how to keep image-focused design targeted on your customers’ needs.

If you are redesigning and picking new images, consider:

1.   Priority: What matters most to your customers on the page? Will a big image detract or anchor the information in a pleasing and findable format? What matters most to you on the page? If it’s that call to action, then consider how your chosen image may detract or add.

2.   Use the right images: If you’re promoting a maternity ward, then images of moms and dads holding babies make sense.  If you’re promoting heart surgery, then think carefully about what types of images your patients may want to see.

3.   Keep everything balanced: A good designer is key here, as is a great content strategist. Ensure your teams understand the fundamentals of UX so they can weight words and images appropriately. The web is a visual medium, but at its heart it’s an interactive medium. People want to DO things. Make it easy for them! (Tweet this)

What are your visual design challenges? Email Ahava and let her know.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

5 Tactics for Incorporating Readmissions Rates into Your Marketing

With the steepest penalties to date, this week marks the latest expansion of CMS’s HospitalReadmissions Reduction Program (HRRP). The good news is that readmission rates are actually decreasing for the first time since 2009. The timing couldn’t be better because consumers are starting to take notice. If you aren’t already talking about readmissions in your digital marketing efforts, now is a good time to start.

Shifts toward increased cost sharing and high deductible plans have piqued consumers’ interests in getting high quality care. In fact, high deductible plans are among the fastest growing form of health care coverage. With average out of pocket costs near $4,000, according to a recent Washington Post story, consumers are more likely than ever to choose a hospital with a lower readmission rate.


5 Ways to Work Readmission Rates into Your Digital Strategy

As we approach open enrollment season, it’s the time of year when consumers are making big decisions about their care. Many are making open enrollment elections while others are considering elective procedures to help spend down their HSA balance. 

Shine a spotlight on your hospital’s low readmission rates with these tactics:

1.   Let them know you’re a top performer. Use digital media channels to talk about your admission rates. For example, add messaging about low readmissions when talking about surgical procedures on your website.

2.   Benchmarks are important. It can be difficult for consumers to understand what constitutes a “low” readmissions rate. Help them along by providing useful benchmarks such as state or national rates for hospitals of similar size.

3.   Show off what you do best. Quality of care is measured by more than just your readmissions rate, so be sure to talk about other metrics for which you have stellar performance, such as low complication rates and low MRSA rates. 

4.   Introduce your team. Use videos to introduce potential patients to your discharge planning nurses and support staff. Doing so can add warmth and reassurance to your messaging. 

5.   Don’t forget to cross-market. Use this opportunity to promote programs and services that help keep patients healthy after discharge such as home health, pharmacy and cardiac rehabilitation.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

4 Mobile Strategies for Your Business

Of the 58 percent of American adults who own smartphones, nearly half of them are using the devices exclusively as a primary search tool, according to a survey by Mobile Path to Purchase. The study also found that 60 percent of mobile users are completing purchases related to their mobile search.

Wouldn’t it be great if they were building loyalty with your brand? Mobile marketing can help you convert casual visitors to new customers.

It’s no secret that businesses have been slow to embrace mobile. A recent IDC survey of 400 IT decision makers found that 84 percent lacked a clear enterprise-led mobile strategy.

4 Tips to Kickstart Your Mobile Strategy

Security and compliance concerns can often trump fledgling mobile efforts, but with stiff competition for new customers, those willing to take the plunge are likely to be rewarded.

Here are four strategies to help get you started:
  1. Optimize the mobile-friendliness of your website. Thanks to responsive design, you don’t need a separate mobile website. However, you should customize your content for different screen users. Mobile users are more likely than desktop users to be looking for phone numbers and directions. Make these features easy to find.
  2. Remain top of mind with SMS marketing (text messages). Unlike email, customers only opt-in to receive SMS updates from companies they want to connect with. Even better, SMS is far more effective than email. A recent study shows that 98 percent percent of texts are read compared to just 22 percent of emails. The click through rate of texts is 19 percent compared to just 4 percent of emails.
  3. Use Quick Response (QR) Codes. QR codes are a great way to bridge print marketing with digital. Use them on direct mail pieces and print advertising to help users quickly access your website. QR codes are simple to make and you can link them to any web page or phone number. 
  4. Reach tablet users with video content. Mobile users are much more likely to click and view videos than desktop users. Use video to share product updates or introduce a subject matter expert. These videos can play an important part in “breaking the ice” with potential customers who don’t know your brand.   
Want to learn more? Check out:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Web Writing and Information Architecture: Why it Matters

Recently someone asked us, “If you’re just the copywriters, then why do you need to understand the information architecture?”
That person just revealed that he doesn’t know much about writing for the web.

But you do. So below, I’m going to explain why information architecture (or IA) is so important for providing amazing, convincing content.


Why IA Matters

We all know that people don’t move through a website the way they do through a document. A document is a linear experience. The web was designed to be a “choose your own adventure” experience, surfing through pages, jumping through links.  (Tweet this!)

If you want your potential customers to feel gratified while using your website, you must organize your content according to their thought processes. Content needs to lead people through a process that makes sense to them; otherwise, it’s a waste of time.

That is why the expertise we bring to content projects starts with your information architecture. The IA is a representation of the way your pages are organized, what buckets they fit into and the choices readers make as they swing through your site. If the organization of the content makes sense to them, they will register, or call or make an appointment to complete your site’s call to action.

If it doesn’t?

You’ve lost them.

Sometimes we write projects and the IA is locked. That means we have to use pre-determined organization and labels for pages. We know how to do that as well. But we have the most fun when we work with information architects and user experience designers to name overall buckets and pages properly and according to organic SEO practices. We create the best user experience when that happens.

And the best user experience is a win-win all around.

Want your content to be organized and fit together for your users? Hire copywriters—no, I’m sorry—web writers who understand IA.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Confessions of a Content Strategist: Steven Grindlay

Steven Grindlay isn’t going to give you an easy answer. But, isn’t that the whole fun of hanging out with a content strategist?

In this month’s Confessions, we meet a man who has lived around the world, owned two advertising agencies, co-founded the Content Strategy Alliance along with Noreen Compton and now works as an Instructor at McGill University teaching courses in content strategy. Currently working on a book about Competitive Content, Steven gave us all a lot to think about in regards to our poorly named discipline.

How did you get started in content strategy?
SG: “When people would ask me what I do, I found it was hard to have that elevator conversation. I would say ‘Do you have a couple of hours?’ One day while listening to someone describe himself as a systems architect, I thought Aha I’m a content architect!  Naturally I checked the term on the Internet naively believing I was one of a kind and realized that I’m a content strategist. It was good to find out there are equally nutty people out here just like me.”

What do you think the future holds for content strategy?
SG: “We really have not done a good job of communicating our value to organizations. What we need to do is address management and say, ‘Here’s why you should consider content strategy, here are the predictive results that can move your needle.’ We need to focus on the enterprise. We need to highlight the strategic value that content strategy can bring to the table; we’ve spent a lot of time rooting around and explaining the executional aspects: message architecture, audits, inventories, content mapping, taxonomies etc, all of the technical bits and pieces, but we haven’t been good at informing business about the strategic component of content strategy and how it can bring real value to the table.”

What do you think some of the major themes are in the marketplace right now?
SG: “The next big thing has to be addressing the disconnection between the CS community and business. Our industry is very fragmented—people saying very different things, best practices are not consistent, there’s not a lot of consensus out there— it’s hard to imagine a business leader  getting excited about a practice that finds it so difficult to agree on and articulate what it does and why it’s valuable.”
This is where I interrupted and said,
AL: “It’s hard to be consistent when things are so different. Doctors can have best practices because the human body basically looks the same from patient to patient. But in content strategy, it’s not consistent from project to project.”
SG: “Oh I agree.  But that doesn’t mean every project is a reinvention of the wheel, there are fundamental similarities and common practices. The industry is filled with ambiguity and layered with complexity. I think that’s a normal characteristic of an emerging industry.  It’s worth remembering that Content strategy is rooted in communicationwhich has been around for an awfully long time but it also employs a variety of different skill sets like information architecture and user experience design. Then you add in journalism and editorial skills. On top of that you have ongoing, internet driven, instability and disruption in the marketplace.—but a lot less has changed than people think and that compounds things. It can get fairly confusing.  
In a nutshell, we seem to be technology obsessed, we fascinate over new technical minutiae, thinking  that each new innovation is a potential game changer that will rewrite the way we do things, and in some ways it may, but in reality the internet is just another medium for communication. The fundamental nature of communication and by inference content since content is nothing more than the stuff of communication remains largely the same, people have always wanted and needed to engage and converse for a variety of reasons both personal and commercial.  Connecting with each other is a fundamental human need.
The truth is that we live in a world that is a cacophony of conversations. Our strategic aim as content strategists should be to understand and ferret out which conversations are valuable and then shape content to create and dominate the conversations that can achieve specific objectives, regardless of the technology involved or how it is evolving.”
What do you think? Want to be featured in Confessions of a Content Strategist? We’re always looking for fascinating stories to tell—yours could be next. Leave your name in the comments below.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Content Strategy Secrets of the Cleveland Clinic

Content strategy matters in healthcare. If you want to produce cohesive, controlled content that gives your customers a consistent experience from channel to channel, you need to establish a content strategy and use it for distribution of your content. That means answering these critical 5 questions:

  • To whom are we talking?
  • Who are we? (as a brand)
  • What are we saying?
  • How are we saying it?
  • When and where do we say it?

The below slideshare is from a set of slides Ahava presented at Content Marketing World 2014 with Amanda Todorovich, Digital Manager, Cleveland Clinic’s Health Hub.