6 Questions to Improve Your Healthcare Content Marketing Strategy

by | Oct 23, 2019 | Content Strategy

It’s time to take a deep dive into what makes healthcare content marketing strategies tick.

Con­tent mar­ket­ing is an iter­a­tive process and made of many mov­ing parts, and that rings espe­cial­ly true in the health­care space. With so much to con­sid­er when try­ing to meet con­sumer demand for health infor­ma­tion, it can be easy to fall into the cycle of cre­at­ing “ran­dom acts of con­tent” and lose track of what makes health­care con­tent mar­ket­ing strate­gies effec­tive in the first place.

By ask­ing your­self these six ques­tions, you can focus lim­it­ed resources and take advan­tage of this pow­er­ful tool for engag­ing your com­mu­ni­ties and achiev­ing your orga­ni­za­tion’s strate­gic objectives.

1. WHY is content marketing effective for healthcare organizations?

A: Con­sumers are con­stant­ly search­ing for health­care information.

Online health­care search­es have increased so much over the years that Google has imple­ment­ed a new fea­ture that dis­plays doc­tor-curat­ed med­ical infor­ma­tion along­side search results for com­mon health con­di­tions. This infor­ma­tion includes symp­toms and treat­ment options and is high­light­ed with illus­tra­tions (try search­ing “ton­sil­li­tis” to see the fea­ture in action).

Accord­ing to Google, 1 in every 20 queries is relat­ed to health care and as illus­trat­ed by the chart below from the 2019 PRC Nation­al Health­care Con­sumer Study, the Inter­net is now the No. 1 source of information—surpassing friends/relatives and even the fam­i­ly doctor—about doc­tors and hospitals.

“Con­tent real­ly is a fun­da­men­tal com­po­nent to any health­care mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy because almost no one makes appoint­ments or deci­sions about their care with­out doing some research first,” says Jane Cros­by, vice pres­i­dent of strat­e­gy and busi­ness devel­op­ment at True North Cus­tom. “With­out great con­tent, health­care mar­keters can’t solve con­sumers’ prob­lems or answer their ques­tions in an engag­ing, scal­able way.”

2. WHAT can you accomplish with an effective healthcare content marketing strategy?

A: An effec­tive health­care con­tent mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy will dri­ve qual­i­fied leads, strength­en rela­tion­ships with con­sumers and grow your organization.

A con­tent mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy should be two-pronged, with each prong accom­plish­ing a dif­fer­ent pur­pose. The two prongs to effec­tive con­tent mar­ket­ing are:

Active engage­ment through web­site con­tent that is focused on solv­ing prob­lems and answer­ing ques­tions for con­sumers who are search­ing for treat­ment options and con­di­tion infor­ma­tion, result­ing in qual­i­fied leads and conversions

Pas­sive engage­ment through health and well­ness con­tent that is focused on build­ing and nur­tur­ing rela­tion­ships with con­sumers through blogs, social media and oth­er chan­nels, result­ing in brand and rev­enue growth gen­er­at­ed by stronger con­sumer rela­tion­ships, a robust online pres­ence and lead development

“There’s a dis­tinct dif­fer­ence between active and pas­sive health­care con­tent engage­ment,” Cros­by explains. “What’s impor­tant for mar­keters when sell­ing the val­ue of these strate­gies to stake­hold­ers is to inform them that pas­sive engage­ment is a long-term play that builds trust, while active engage­ment will dri­ve short-term ROI.”

3. HOW can you develop an effective healthcare content marketing strategy?

A: Be inten­tion­al with the sub­ject mat­ter and goals of your content—ensuring they are rel­e­vant to the audi­ences served.

The health­care mar­ket­ing space is quick­ly becom­ing sat­u­rat­ed with con­tent, which makes it all the more impor­tant for you to be inten­tion­al about the type of con­tent you’re pro­duc­ing, both in terms of sub­ject mat­ter and the con­tent goals.

For exam­ple, when con­sumers are ready to learn more about their symp­toms or sched­ule an appoint­ment, it’s impor­tant to offer con­tent on your web­site that direct­ly address­es their needs.

“You want to ensure you’re mak­ing good choic­es in terms of what con­sumers might actu­al­ly be search­ing for,” Cros­by says. “We some­times see clients whose web­sites are boast­ing about tech­nol­o­gy or out­comes, but when some­one is search­ing for infor­ma­tion about a symp­tom they’re expe­ri­enc­ing, your goal should be to edu­cate them about what they should do next and help them get there.”

In addi­tion, you want to cre­ate fresh, var­ied con­tent that stands out from your com­peti­tors and includes key­words based on thor­ough research and analy­sis. This approach cre­ates a con­ver­sion path that moves con­sumers through the health­care deci­sion cycle.

“You don’t want to be cre­at­ing the same pieces month in and month out,” Cros­by says. “For exam­ple, vap­ing is a time­ly top­ic and we have many clients ask­ing us to write arti­cles about vap­ing. But the ques­tion is: What unique or local­ized view­point can you offer on the topic—and what do you want con­sumers to do after engag­ing with the piece? Because there are thou­sands of oth­er peo­ple writ­ing arti­cles about vap­ing right now. Find a new angle that oth­ers aren’t discussing.”

Keep­ing your con­tent fresh means that your web­site is nev­er real­ly finished—you should always be adding new con­tent and opti­miz­ing pre­vi­ous con­tent based on your consumer’s inter­ests and online activity.

“You can’t set up a web­site and expect it to be great for the next two years,” Cros­by says. “Google rewards fresh con­tent, so hav­ing a strat­e­gy in place to add blog con­tent and opti­mize web pages on a reg­u­lar basis is key to being effec­tive from an SEO perspective.”


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4. WHAT channels are the most effective?

A: Meet your audi­ence wher­ev­er they are.

Your efforts should be spread across mul­ti­ple chan­nels and plat­forms to meet con­sumers wher­ev­er they get their con­tent.

“Every con­sumer, physi­cian and donor has dif­fer­ent pref­er­ences regard­ing his or her con­sump­tion of con­tent,” Cros­by says. “Most con­tent is con­sumed online these days, but we’re still see­ing that print pub­li­ca­tions are incred­i­bly effec­tive.”

When using mul­ti­ple chan­nels such as blogs, social media, print and web con­tent, make sure that you work smarter, not hard­er. Instead of cre­at­ing a new piece of con­tent for every one of your chan­nels, con­sid­er reusing or repur­pos­ing con­tent in dif­fer­ent for­mats. For exam­ple, infor­ma­tion from a print arti­cle might be repur­posed as a blog post, info­graph­ic or both.

You can also spread larg­er pieces of con­tent across mul­ti­ple avenues to fos­ter inter­con­nec­tiv­i­ty between print and dig­i­tal plat­forms. This inte­grat­ed dis­tri­b­u­tion strat­e­gy is espe­cial­ly impor­tant as search becomes a less-depend­able source of site traffic.

“We see a lot of our clients lever­age their print pub­li­ca­tions to extend the con­ver­sa­tion online,” Cros­by says. “You might fea­ture half a sto­ry in a mag­a­zine and the oth­er half on your web­site, or pair a great patient sto­ry with a com­ple­men­tary video that can be con­sumed on a con­tent hub.”

5. WHO can you reach with content marketing?

A: The bet­ter ques­tion is: Is there any­one you can’t reach?

Con­tent mar­ket­ing efforts can reach any­one involved with your health­care orga­ni­za­tion, includ­ing con­sumers, physi­cians, donors and oth­er stake­hold­ers. Both exter­nal and inter­nal audi­ences can ben­e­fit from the right piece of con­tent when tai­lored to their spe­cif­ic interests.

“From an employ­ee and physi­cian engage­ment stand­point, con­tent mar­ket­ing can cre­ate a sense of com­mu­ni­ty and team­work that is chal­leng­ing to come across in a large orga­ni­za­tion,” Cros­by says. “We’ve also seen sit­u­a­tions where clients have helped empow­er physi­cians to deliv­er bet­ter out­comes and dri­ve down health­care costs through con­tent that dis­cuss­es best prac­tices and pop­u­la­tion health.”

Make sure you’re address­ing the needs and pref­er­ences of your dif­fer­ent audi­ence seg­ments when craft­ing content:

Con­sumers typ­i­cal­ly enjoy cre­ative con­tent spread across mul­ti­ple for­mats such as ani­mat­ed videos or infographics.

Physi­cians typ­i­cal­ly pre­fer con­tent that is more clin­i­cal in nature and high­lights out­comes and inno­va­tion with­in their organization.

Donors usu­al­ly enjoy see­ing how their dona­tions are being used in the com­mu­ni­ty, through sto­ries demon­strat­ing the impact of new equip­ment or facil­i­ties on the health of their friends and neighbors.

6. WHEN do you need to perform a content audit?

A: You should reg­u­lar­ly check your website’s con­tent and research SEO key­words, but a more deep-dive con­tent audit should be per­formed every one or two years—or in cas­es when your rank­ings have become stale.

Ongo­ing SEO report­ing can help your orga­ni­za­tion know what opti­miza­tions and improve­ments to make on a dai­ly and month­ly basis, espe­cial­ly when it comes to bal­anc­ing organ­ic and paid search efforts.

“You need to bal­ance both,” Cros­by says. “Even if you’re the top rank­ing result organ­i­cal­ly, some­one will almost always beat you out in the paid realm, espe­cial­ly for high pri­or­i­ty ser­vice lines such as ortho­pe­dics, bariatrics and cancer.”

Reg­u­lar key­word research can help you infuse con­tent with words that will improve your organ­ic search rank­ings. How­ev­er, it’s impor­tant to per­form reg­u­lar con­tent audits to make sure you’re keep­ing up with or out­pac­ing your competitors.

“Ongo­ing SEO report­ing focus­es on the per­for­mance of key­words and not nec­es­sar­i­ly on the gaps that might be present in your con­tent,” Cros­by says. “Peo­ple con­stant­ly find new ways to dis­cuss con­di­tions and treat­ments, and new tech­nolo­gies and ser­vices are always com­ing out. Con­tent audits can help you make sure you don’t have con­tent gaps regard­ing health­care deliv­ery, ter­mi­nol­o­gy or services.”

Once you have an effec­tive con­tent mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy in place, you can begin using tech­nol­o­gy such as automa­tion tools to help enhance your efforts.

“Automa­tion comes into play main­ly once the con­sumer has already engaged with a health sys­tem,” Cros­by says. “Your core func­tion­al­i­ty will come from the web­site itself and mak­ing sure your con­tent is aligned with best prac­tices and opti­mized with search results.”

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