WebMD suffered a serious blow this week. But whether it will cripple the company or not remains to be seen.
It turns out that highly commercialized content is one of the charges leveled against the health-information website. Critics and users alike have complained that the company is a ‘drug pusher’, putting out content that steers consumers towards drugs manufactured by advertisers such as Eli Lilly.
But social media also hurt WebMD:
Although they receive over 107 million unique visitors each month, and total traffic of 2.24 billion page views in the third quarter of 2011, WebMD revenues fell about 10% to $20million. Experts and trend strategists suggest that consumers are turning to other sources for medical information i.e. social media.
WebMD’s content malfunction
Despite having some great resources such as symptom checker, a medical dictionary and Pill Identification Tool there are some content issues that make it less user-friendly:
- The site has become tougher to navigate. Numerous ads and banners make for a more noisy and distracting environment.
- Too much content makes it confusing for users to quickly find what they’re looking for. E.g. Searching for a migraine solution is like searching for a needle in a haystack – should one start with symptom checker, Health A-Z or Health Conditions?
- The site desperately needs to be re-designed so that it is more focused on consumers rather than advertisers.
- Outdated content is an issue. Case in point – on the Expert blog ‘Recent Posts’ are dated October 2011 (as of this writing).
- Given that more people are using the Internet to gather information about their healthcare needs, I think not having a live doctor online to answer questions and give general advice is a missed opportunity.
Healthcare marketers take note
Given the high expectations that consumers have for relevant and engaging content, healthcare organizations have to think long and hard about the way they communicate on their websites.
Providing relevant and easily accessible content is no longer an option. Healthcare marketers will need to review and analyse their website content to figure out if their sites are meeting visitor’s needs and offering applications and features they add value to users.
What are your thoughts? Do you think WebMD’s content is showing signs of poor health? Speak your mind 🙂