You’ve likely heard of the term curb appeal. A widely used term in real estate, there’s even a television show on HGTV named after the phrase. Curb appeal is the general attractiveness of a house or other piece of property from the sidewalk to a prospective buyer. In other words, curb appeal is the impression a prospective buyer gets when viewing a property from a short distance.
Houses have curb appeal—why can’t healthcare practices?
Some might point out that not every healthcare practice or health system has a physical street curb or sidewalk parched directly in front. The reality is that prospective patients are viewing practices constantly—though they are viewing with mobile devices, tablets and laptops.
Real estate for healthcare practices: the digital front door
Healthcare practices have digital front doors. The digital front door is an online place where users can view, and enter, a health system or practice. Multiple sources already cite the importance of the digital front door. According to Modern Healthcare, “That digital front door is key to acquiring new patients and building the kind of brand awareness and loyalty that keeps them coming back.”
The term digital front door is slightly misleading because it implies one main opening or entrance to a practice. In reality, users are searching for care in a variety of places online. These places include search engines, maps, digital assistants and social media. Yext, a leading location data management company, has notably stated that a company’s website is not their digital front door. Health systems and practices therefore need to have multiple access points across digital channels to welcome prospective patients.
Extending the digital front door analogy
In the analogy of the digital front door, patients are already looking at the practice’s entrance and potentially choosing to enter. Digital curb appeal, then, is the overall attractiveness of the practice from a glance. These glances are online and can come from channels such as search engines, third party sites, display banners, maps and social media. Additionally, user experience and brand experience greatly affect the overall appeal of the practice in the eyes of prospective patients. This is the essence of digital curb appeal.
Why is digital curb appeal important?
Digital curb appeal is a fundamental part of any patient acquisition strategy. It encompasses visibility, access, user experience and more. Beyond a digital front door, which focuses on patient acquisition, curb appeal is developed using a mixture of user experience and branding. The results of strong digital curb appeal are increased brand awareness and a consistent flow of patients to your practice.
How to develop digital curb appeal
1. Drive traffic to your digital front door
Since the proliferation of digital media, there are a multitude of ways to efficiently drive traffic to your digital front door. These methods include search engine optimization, social media posting, paid search ads, display banners, video and native advertising. You should ideally employ search engine optimization, organic social media and at least one paid channel to deliver quality traffic to your digital front door.
2. Provide a consistent brand experience
Your users will most easily remember your practice if they have a consistent, memorable, positive brand experience. This can be achieved by ensuring that all brand visuals and messaging are consistent across digital touchpoints.
3. Differentiate with an innovative user experience
One way that your practice can stand out and “cut through the clutter” is with a differentiated user experience. There are two major ways to differentiate user experience: first, providing a seamless experience; and second, by providing a truly innovative experience. By enhancing your user experience with technologies including chatbots and digital assistants, you can transform user experience into a strategic differentiator.
Putting it all together: Digital Front Door + Branding + Differentiated User Experience = Curb Appeal
Building digital curb appeal is a broad initiative that involves an investment in branding and user experience as well as the development of a digital front door. With a great looking front door, a welcome mat, consistent style and curb appeal—prospective buyers will come knocking at your door.