By Kathy Roy Gaughran
Senior Marketing Strategist
We are not trying to be self-congratulatory when we say: “we know a thing or two” about healthcare content marketing. We have a little history. From nearly the first day of business at Healthcare Success (in 2006), we have been producing educational materials for our readers. And that was long before someone coined the term “content marketing.”
It’s important to remember that this is a hard-working but long-term marketing strategy. And, that’s all right…it has been working quite well for us. Over the years, we have used emails, online article library (subsequently known as a blog), e-Newsletters, audio/podcasts, conference calls and more.
Taking things another step, we created a premium CD series that was distributed through Medical Economics. Healthcare Success also partnered with Dental Economics, creating an authoritative and educational marketing column.
In short, content marketing is not something new…it’s just been given a new name. We’ve been practicing what we preach in creating interesting, useful, informative and educational content for audiences.
By design, content marketing does not explicitly promote a brand, product or service. Broadly speaking, readers are looking for topical, timely information, or they want to learn about a product or service. The core concept is that content engages and stimulates interest…you are educating rather than “hard selling.”
This approach delivers value and practical information at a time when the audience wants to learn. By design, it provides a lot of free material, while positioning you as an expert or trusted authority. Ultimately, a certain percentage of the audience will seek you out, and, because they want more, they will pay for services.
Benefits of Great Content Marketing
Creating and publishing quality content for healthcare audiences has many paybacks and benefits. Here are some of the reasons that producing well-researched and well-written content is a worthwhile investment:
Provides informative and useful information for readers. The healthcare readership is likely to be individuals hungry for authoritative details about a health or procedure-related subject matter or topic. The readers may be prospective patients, or perhaps a friend or family member.
Extends Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It’s a less obvious, but highly valuable benefit when content contributes to visibility and search results ranking. Of course, Google is an industry-dominant player, but all search engines love to find credible, fresh content. It’s an SEO-plus to publish new and expert information regularly that uses relevant keywords in text, title, subheads and elsewhere throughout your content.
Amplifies brand awareness and credibility. Compelling and well-written content (along with a strong PageRank position) allows your brand to be seen and sought-after. This is a platform to regularly showcase your expertise.
Inspires brand trust and loyalty. Having earned a leadership position in the reader’s mind, they are likely to look to you as a trusted source and return in the future. Trust-building and customer experience are important connecting points.
Grows your social media following. Digital content and topics are often designed to be used in several forms or formats. Blog/article content, for example, is typically cross-promoted through social platforms.
Stimulates inbound leads and prospects. Deliberately, there’s no “hard sell” here, but the reading audience is often drawn to website product pages or landing pages. Direct inquiries and self-qualified sales leads and opportunities typically follow.
Content creation is cost-effective and efficient. Estimates have it that creating content costs about 60 percent less than traditional marketing options. Over time, content marketing typically generates a strong response and lead generation.
Expands the audience through information sharing. As a trusted resource, truly good online information will be shared among readers…with some material more likely than others. The content to be shared will likely be entertaining, timely and provocative. These may include items that are amusing and highly relevant.
Channel Checklist: Consumer-Driven Content Marketing for Healthcare
Content marketing, particularly for healthcare, is a lot more than creating a website and a monthly (or only occasional) blog article. Producing truly great content is the backbone of many sophisticated (and successful) strategic marketing plans in healthcare.
In addition to familiar formats, how many of these content types are part of your marketing plan for the creation and sharing of online information, and engaging an audience with your brand?
- Augmented reality
- Healthcare Case studies/blogs
- FAQ and Q&A presentations
- Guest presentations/posts
- How-to guides
- Interactive tools/content
- Interviews with Healthcare Experts/Practitioners
- Live chat sessions
- News releases
- Podcasting (e.g., via Digital Audio content marketing)
- Printed newsletters
- Quiz format
- Healthcare Research/white papers
- Seminars/Healthcare presentations
- Social posts
- Statistics, facts, findings
- Videos/YouTube channel
- Voice of the Patient
- Webinar-like conference calls
Content-driven campaigns are predicted to increase this year and the next, according to the folks who survey this sort of data. New tech tools like augmented reality will be joining your content toolbox checklist.
It turns out that the explosive popularity of tablet devices has pushed content marketing as an attractive channel to reach more mobile computing consumers. [Pew Internet Research]
Healthcare content marketing could, theoretically, be created for nearly any healthcare situation. But, we’ve found that it tends to be most appropriate and effective in business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-doctor (B2D) situations. While not commonly a business-to-consumer (B2C) or medical-practice-to-patient (MP2P) healthcare marketing strategy, content marketing can also work well for high-ticket, contemplated patient decisions (addiction, reproductive medicine, etc.)
Here are some guiding thoughts for creating content:
Listen first. What is the audience passionate about? There is a strong, but misdirected, temptation to create content based on the things that most interest you. Instead, determine the topics that are of the greatest interest to your readers. Identify and speak to timely audience topics that include passion, fears and anxieties.
What are the “hot button” topics of patients or leaders in the profession? Listen to forums, Facebook groups and discussion groups. What are the most common search terms? Do competitive practices or professional influencers speak to major issues or questions? What are the new or timely matters being discussed? What drives change in the profession?
What topics are newsworthy, timely, leading-edge or trendy? Have there been advances in the profession or procedures? What’s on the horizon and likely to have an impact on patients, practices or the profession? What leaders can you quote…and agree or disagree with their perspective?
Become a compelling storyteller. Learn how to engage your readers by telling a story that captures and holds the readers’ attention. Not every potential subject will be suitable for this format. But when it is, your storyteller structure is likely to enhance content and connections.
We Can Help
While Healthcare Success is a big advocate for content marketing and content advertising, we don’t recommend it to all our clients. Generally, content marketing requires an investment of time and effort by healthcare providers, and it may not be particularly a good, cost-effective tool for smaller businesses or local, neighborhood medical practices.
Bur for our institutional clients (e.g., pharmaceuticals, device. health plans hospital networks and larger group medical practices) it does make sense. And it’s a service (webinars, podcasts, dinner seminars, ebooks, blogs, marketing automation) that we can provide.
If you’d like to explore our help with content marketing, simply CONTACT US to get started.