Vanderbilt Health Marketing Leaders Illuminate the Path to Population Health

In these highlights from our healthcare marketing podcast, Megan Pruce and Mallory Yoder from the business engagement strategies team at Vanderbilt Health share insights on their journey from a small, siloed department to a leading voice helping advance the shift to value-driven care.

The marketing and communications team at Vanderbilt Health is instrumental in advancing the organization’s population health initiatives. We recently spoke with Vice President Megan Pruce and Senior Manager Mallory Yoder for our healthcare marketing podcast, and among other insights they offered the following guidance for peers who are championing value-driven care.

Marketing and communications is a critical piece of the population health puzzle.

When developing public health initiatives designed to change behavior, Megan says strategic marketing and creative teams like hers are uniquely qualified to help package and present critical ideas while connecting the dots across multi-disciplinary teams.

“If you had marketing and communications professionals at the table for the design and rollout of these change management programs, you’d get much more buy-in from the audiences,” says Megan. “So much of the success with these initiatives is based on the first impression, and marketing will ensure it is interesting, compelling, memorable and clear.”

Finding the right people is critical to building an innovative team.

Megan says the most important thing she looks for when hiring is not one of the typical traits associated with a healthcare marketing and communications team. She points to Mallory, who is working toward her master’s degree while working full time at Vanderbilt, as a great example of the skills and mindset required to move the organization forward.

“We want people looking for a professional challenge,” she says. “We are naturally very curious and creative, we contribute in meetings, we raise our hands and take on stretch projects. We’re really careful about the types of people we welcome on the team because it’s not for everyone.”

Megan notes that a key to her success in building a high-performing, innovative marketing and communications team is an often-overlooked part of the hiring process.

“One of my secret approaches [to hiring] is cover letters,” she says. “If you don’t take the time to pitch yourself in a cover letter, you’re probably not going to take the time to get invested in a product and a solution. If you are truly interested in doing this work, you will take the time to write a cover letter or email to me that is very specific to what you’re trying to do and what we’re trying to do.”

Success takes talent, tenacity and time.

Megan and Mallory encourage their peers that like any successful initiative, it takes people willing to challenge the status quo—and a healthy dose of resilience—to lay the foundation for a successful population health strategy. Over the past two years, their team has evolved from a small group that was primarily focused on physician communications to a highly valued strategic partner.

To follow this path, Mallory recommends starting small and finding ways to demonstrate value along the way.

“You have to present short-term wins,” she says. “To get a seat at the table from writing newsletter communications to where we are now was not an overnight success. You have to prove yourself by keeping up with what’s going on with the clinical side and being able to speak their language. Eventually, those short-term wins stack up and you’ll find a partner who’s open to trying something new and different than what’s been done before.”

Megan encourages her peers in healthcare marketing and communications to realize the value they bring to the table when designing and implementing strategic initiatives.

“We don’t have letters after our name as some people do, but we are equally as valuable when it comes to putting together really good plans and strategies—and that’s the dream that we all wanted in our careers.”

 

Listen to the Full Interview

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Measuring the Impact of Competition on Healthcare Marketing Efforts

We envision our future roles as healthcare marketers as more about driving population health initiatives forward. In reality, we’re all chasing high-value patient volumes.

Competition is fierce due to both traditional and non-traditional players, showing the impact of competition on healthcare marketing efforts in real-time. As a result, it’s becoming increasingly both challenging and critical to stand out as a healthcare brand.

Here are insights and best practices on differentiating your organization based on our work with hospitals and health systems nationwide.

What does it mean to say the market is competitive?

In our view, highly competitive markets have a few key characteristics. Typically, there are at least 2-3 health system providers. These include local or regional brands with at least one flagship hospital and, often, a number of additional specialty and outpatient facilities. Today, there’s increased competitive pressure from retail health brands, freestanding urgent care providers and emergency centers, telehealth options through employer-sponsored insurance plans, and more. For healthcare marketers, we’re often thinking about how to capture as much of the commercial volume as we can in our local markets. This is particularly true for high-value services like joint replacement, bariatric surgery, maternity, cardiovascular, oncology and more.

Standing out in competitive markets

To overcome increased and evolving competition, create horizontally integrated campaigns that connect consumers with the right messages. These campaigns must go through the right channels, at the right time and with the right call to action (CTA) to guide your ideal consumer to the next step on the healthcare journey.

For health systems with little or no competition, engaging consumers in your market area via digital-only channels, your community magazine or discrete brand messaging might be effective. That’s certainly not the case in highly competitive markets. A multichannel approach is critical to ensure that you’re not only matching the competition but creating differentiation and preference.

There are a few must-have tactics to master in this scenario:

  • Effective paid search that targets high-value keywords and competitive brand terms. In crowded markets, your cost-per-click is typically going to increase significantly. This makes it critical to hone in on your target keywords and terms, as well as constantly optimizing both your bid and messaging strategy.
  • Paid social media strategies that leverage unique and high-quality content. Social media continues to become noisier and more crowded, and it takes more creativity to stand out. Leverage great content, including blogs, video and infographics to help your content get noticed and generate more engagement. Further, make sure you’re using the right social channels. A few years ago, Facebook was a no brainer for any healthcare service line campaign. While that continues, diversity is critical and we recommend Instagram ad placement (specifically through Facebook Business Manager) for services like OBGYN, primary care, urgent care and pediatrics.
  • Direct mail campaigns that focus on primary service lines. Done right, direct mail continues to be an effective way to drive volumes for services like colonoscopies, discounted heart screening programs, mammograms, primary care and more. We also recommend minimally implementing a new mover program to engage new residents looking for a healthcare home.
  • Content hubs and blogs that promote a variety of content. As a revenue-generating activity, blogging is growing in both popularity and value in healthcare marketing. When planned, created, deployed and promoted effectively, content marketing supports both your brand and your service line growth priorities, becoming a no-brainer for systems in crowded markets.

Beyond these must-haves, we always recommend allocating some of your media budgets to experimental and traditional marketing efforts. A few additional channels we like include Pandora, Hulu, YouTube and native advertising.

The importance of messaging and experience

In any marketing plan you put in place in a crowded market, it’s critical to remember the impact of competition on your healthcare marketing efforts. Your money will only be as well spent as the content you create to support the strategy.

We believe that paid advertising is simply placing content on various platforms to connect with target audiences. Ads are content, and many agencies and digital marketers lose sight of this, focusing instead on the targeting and tools. However, great ad copy and effective landing pages can maximize investments significantly by driving both more clicks and better conversion rates.

To create great campaign content and assets, think about who you’re reaching, what matters to them about their healthcare experience and how to best guide them to the next best action. It’s critical that the entire consumer journey be positive, starting with the first digital or print encounter a consumer has with your brand. Reducing friction from Google Search or ad engagement through to conversion is a must in the modern era, and will drive better lead volumes for your organization.

In closing, holistically consider your brand and service line growth strategies when you’re playing in a competitive market. And with time and budget contraints: Consider working with key agency partners to make sure that you’re everywhere your competitors are, and then some.

We Can Help Your Healthcare Brand Stand Out

Our team of healthcare marketing experts understand how to compete—and win—in an increasingly crowded healthcare market.

Growth-Focused Strategies for Promoting National Health Observances

The discipline of healthcare marketing continues to progress at a rapid pace. This is perhaps best illustrated by strategic plans and budgets that increasingly reflect lower (or no) investments in legacy tactics, which often create high visibility but low actual value to the organization or community—like national health observances.

The challenges healthcare marketers have been faced with the last few months have driven a more definitive shift in strategy, leaving disparate email blasts, local radio advertising and other vestiges of a bygone era behind as we head into the next decade.

Today, an aligned strategic marketing approach focuses on reducing friction, promoting access across digital channels and using the appropriate traditional outlets that drive engagement. That balance is becoming critical to success. 

Yet, there is still a sacred cow that has remained static on the marketing plan for most healthcare organizations: promoting national health observances.

From month-long celebrations of heart health in February to diabetes seminars and screenings in November—and events tied to dozens of events in between—national health observances often command an outsized amount of time and resources compared to the relative return on investment. With COVID-19 accelerating change in all areas of healthcare, the time to reimagine how marketers approach national health observances to meaningfully engage patients and promote priority service lines is now.

In the wake of the pandemic, declining ED visits and revenue shortfalls are shifting marketing priorities away from tactics powered by inertia and toward growth-focused initiatives. Savvy marketers are challenging the status quo and letting community needs and organizational goals drive marketing priorities.

The imperative to generate revenue applies to all planned initiatives and investments, including the promotion of national health observances. If you're charged with building volume and boosting revenue, here’s how to embrace this changing of the seasons and take a long-term, growth-focused approach to raising awareness and motivating action.

From Seasonal Campaigns to Long-Term Growth Strategies

A hallmark of modern healthcare marketing is the shift away from ad hoc, siloed campaigns reaching a wide audience to horizontally integrated strategies targeting specific consumers.

To apply this model to national health observances, market leaders are moving away from discrete tactics or events tied to the seasonal awareness calendar and creating a marketing flywheel that generates long-term growth for high-value service lines. Defined as a “continuously improving set of repeatable, tactical investments that scale with decreasing friction,” a flywheel typically involves content and search engine optimization (SEO) combined with strategic calls to action to find, engage, nurture and convert ideal prospects into customers and brand advocates.

Here’s an example of a marketing flywheel:

  1. Grow and engage your audience through paid search, social posts and email to grow your marketing opt-in list.
  2. Refine the customer experience and content effectiveness through historic optimization of blog posts and A/B testing for email.
  3. Measure effectiveness of key metrics like traffic, engagement and conversions.
  4. Deploy a new marketing initiative: social campaigns, series of blog posts or podcasts, webinars, etc.
  5. Amplify the reach of that initiative through paid and organic content promotion.
  6. Repeat the cycle through tactics designed to grow and engage the audience as outlined in step 1.

To implement this growth-focused approach to national health observances, there are common threads that apply to each service line represented on the national calendar.

Goals

Before: The primary objective was raising awareness of the health issue in focus during a particular period (e.g. Heart Month in February).

Now: Smart marketers are moving consumers from awareness to actions that accelerate the health journey and drive patient volume/revenue for priority services.

Planning and Measurement

Before: Each national health observance was promoted through individual campaigns and content with defined start and end dates.

Now: Market leaders have advanced from one-off campaigns to iterative calendars that continuously integrate and optimize service line content across channels.

Content

Before: Health awareness information focused on evergreen, boilerplate content designed to educate consumers of signs, symptoms and risks.

Now: Content marketing initiatives are simply tuned to promote health observances by promoting relevant topics and targeting the right audience based on goal conversion.

Trending Topics for Priority Service Lines

To shift from steady state to a flywheel, growth-focused approach to promoting health observances, start with researching the topics both your audience cares about and that promote a valuable conversion. This is a proven model employed by healthcare leaders like Cleveland Clinic—the #1 hospital blog in America with 10 million visitors per month—that effectively leverage content and SEO to drive consumers from engagement to conversion for high-value service lines.

Based on both search research and conversion points that typically add value, here are a few suggested topics for engaging patients and prospects for high-value service lines associated with prominent national health observances:

Heart (February)

Trending topics in heart health are tied to diet and exercise, as well as the impact of stress and mental health on cardiovascular wellness. Many health systems focus on preventive care and routine screenings to build their cardiovascular practice.

  • The science behind Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Why walking is the most underrated form of heart-healthy exercise
  • What does a cardiac stress test identify and what to expect
  • The link between heart disease and stress
  • Breaking down 5 of the trendiest diets and their impact on heart health

Women’s Health (May)

Top topics related to women’s health reflect opportunities for healthcare organizations to offer guidance on staying healthy while managing family, career and other priority service line topics, particularly for OB/GYN.

  • How menopause can cause heart health changes
  • What vitamins should women take on a daily basis at 40/50/60+
  • The safest ways for women to lose weight post-menopause
  • Your guide to losing weight and getting back in shape safely post-baby
  • Most common health problems faced by working women—and how to avoid them

Mental Health (May)

Mental health was a serious problem prior to the pandemic, and stressors associated with COVID-19—including fear of infection, rising unemployment and isolation due to social distancing—have only magnified these concerns. Content priorities reflect the anxiety, depression and fear many Americans are facing in light of the pandemic. Content often speaks to family and friends who would help a loved one pursue help.

  • Helping a child suffering from anxiety disorder and/or panic attacks
  • Mental health warning signs to watch for in teen and young adult men
  • How to talk about your depression with friends and family
  • How to address mental health concerns during COVID-19
  • Does health insurance cover mental health treatment?
  • Best ways to support a loved one struggling with addiction

Breast Cancer (October)

Like other categories, topics tied to breast cancer appeal to an interest in how lifestyle choices impact risk.

  • Does birth control cause breast cancer?
  • The best diet to prevent—or beat—breast cancer
  • Can men get breast cancer?
  • Is there a correlation between hair dye and breast cancer risk?
  • The link between breast cancer and menopause

Diabetes (November)

Typically, health systems promote prevention, education and medication management when they run diabetes campaigns. Today, coronavirus news is important, too, as the link between diabetes and COVID-19 risk and morbidity becomes increasingly clear.

  • Why COVID-19 is more dangerous for people with diabetes
  • The best prediabetes diet in 2020
  • Can you reverse type 2 diabetes?
  • Building healthy habits in your children when diabetes runs in the family
  • Is a vegan diet right for managing diabetes?

With these topics as a guide, your strategy for promoting national health observances can shift from calendar-driven tasks to an audience-centric model that delivers long-term value for consumers and the organization.

3 Things Amanda Todorovich Wants Every Healthcare Marketing Pro to Know

In this excerpt from our Healthcare Insight podcast, Amanda Todorovich offers her view as senior director of digital marketing and health content at Cleveland Clinic.

Amanda TodorovichAmong other topics, we asked Todorovich how she’s built an elite healthcare marketing team, what her must-have tools are and how the hospital's content strategy has shifted in light of COVID-19. Here are three things she wants every healthcare marketing pro to know.

Flexibility is essential for long-term success

Todorovich's team has evolved a lot over the years. She says the most important skill—no matter the role—is flexibility.

"The channels are constantly changing and we're writing about different topics every day. You have to be able to roll with the punches and have an innate drive to constantly be doing better. Our philosophy is: How do we beat yesterday?"

Embrace agility and data analysis

To plan content for the Health Essentials blog and other channels, Todorovich's team huddles every day to talk about data, trending topics and learnings from conversations with clinical teams.

"We want to know what patients are asking, along with tracking what people are doing on our website and searching for on Google to find out where can we fill a gap," she says. "We log and track everything we do, look back at seasonal trends, such as what happened last year at this time. Then, we determine what we should repeat and what we should do differently."

This approach requires a healthcare marketing pro with an agile mindset to constantly plan and pivot when opportunities emerge.

"We don’t plan too far out. We want to be hyper relevant so it’s a steady drumbeat of keeping up with what’s going on and relevant right now."

Strategy built on audience needs will always be effective—even in a crisis

Throughout the pandemic, Todorovich says she's learned the importance of taking the time to pause and reflect instead of reacting.

"It’s easy in a crisis environment to just keep moving forward and doing what everybody’s asking you to do. We haven’t changed our strategy at all. It’s still about offering useful, helpful and relevant content. The only thing that’s changed is the topics. Now, we’re talking about COVID-19 every single day. But we’re still doing it in the same fashion that we did prior to the pandemic."

Hear the Full Interview

In the 30-minute conversation for our Healthcare Insight podcast, Amanda shares more tips for healthcare marketing pros—including best practices for collaborating with clinical leaders, how the hospital is leveraging TikTok and MUCH more!

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The State of Healthcare Content Marketing: The Era of Forced Evolution

The annual State of Healthcare Content Marketing study illuminates the role that content plays in driving engagement and volume for hospitals, health systems and other healthcare organizations.

The 2020 State of Healthcare Content Marketing report was generated by a survey of 200+ healthcare executives who manage the marketing and communications functions for more than 350 hospitals nationwide, along with ancillary medical clinics, specialty care centers and other affiliates. Respondents guide content strategy for many of the nation’s leading healthcare brands, including HCA, Cleveland Clinic and more.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and heightened importance of diversity, equity and inclusion, survey questions were expanded to reflect the impact of those issues on healthcare content marketing strategies.

On behalf of True North and our partners at the Forum for Healthcare Strategists, we hope these insights, trends and takeaways will serve to inspire, inform and optimize your content strategy.

The Use of Content Marketing

Q: Does your organization use content marketing?

Does your organization use content marketing answer

 

The trend: The nearly 90% of healthcare marketers currently using content represents a 13% increase over 2019 and a 20% increase since the first State of Healthcare Content Marketing survey was conducted in 2017.

What it means for healthcare marketers: With 97% of respondents using content or planning to leverage content to engage consumers and drive growth, differentiating your approach is more critical than ever. This requires marketers to design all aspects of content strategy—from planning and content creation to distribution, measurement and optimization—around the target audience.

Get more insights: Read our blog post on effective healthcare content marketing in the zero-click search era.

 

The Shift in Content Strategy

Q: How is your content strategy shifting in light of COVID-19?

 Q: How is your content strategy shifting in light of COVID-19?

What it means for healthcare marketers: Consumers expect immediate, accurate and actionable answers to their healthcare questions, and marketers are responding with educational content that aligns with these needs. By engaging consumers early in the healthcare journey, marketers can guide them on the path to better health and achieve preference and long-term affinity for their brands.

Get more insights: Check out our white paper on The Big Shift: How COVID-19 is Driving the Evolution of Healthcare Content Marketing.

 

Content Marketing Budgets

Q: How has your content marketing budget shifted due to the impact of COVID-19?

 

Q: How has your content marketing budget shifted due to the impact of COVID-19?

 

Q: How do you expect your organization’s budget allocation for content marketing to change in your next budget cycle?

 

Q: How do you expect your organization’s budget allocation for content marketing to change in your next budget cycle?

 

The trend: Typical of a downturn, most organizations follow the bell curve that has the majority maintaining status quo (59% did not change their content budgets) while others look to conserve costs (21% decreased their content budget) or capitalize on the opportunity to gain share while competitors scale back (9% increased their content budget).

Looking ahead, more than 8 in 10 (84%) expect their content marketing spend to increase or stay the same. Last year, 99% of marketers surveyed expected their content marketing budgets to increase or stay the same.

What it means for healthcare marketers: The financial impact of COVID-19 is being felt across all departments, as U.S. hospitals lost an estimated $200 billion in revenue between March and June 30 according to the American Hospital Association. This means marketing investments are being scrutinized even more than usual, and those proven to drive engagement and revenue growth—like content marketing—will continue to receive funding. The key is building a business case based on data illustrating the opportunity (e.g. potential audience based on search/ website traffic) and/or current value to the organization (e.g. impact on patient volume).

Get more insights: Read our blog post on how to prioritize your marketing plan with limited resources.

 

Promoting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Q: On a scale of 1 (not important) to 5 (very important), how important has content that promotes diversity, equity and inclusion been in your organization’s content strategies?

Average rating: 3.7

 

Q: Using the same scale, how important will content that promotes diversity, equity and inclusion be for your organization’s content strategy moving forward?

 

Average rating: 4.0

What it means for healthcare marketers: Hospitals are often among the largest employers in the area, and their impact often has a halo effect on virtually every household in the community. This reach often comes with a responsibility to address key issues like diversity and inclusion. Many healthcare organizations are embracing the role to guide their communities and advocate for all their constituents. The key is making sure your tone and message match your brand values and organizational culture.

 

Content Marketing Goals

Q: Select the top content marketing goals for your organization:

 

Q: Select the top content marketing goals for your organization?

 

The trend: The year-over-year trend in content marketing goals reflects the importance of building a strong brand while ramping up efforts to generate, engage and convert leads:

  • #1: Consumer Engagement = up from #2 last year
  • #2: Brand Awareness = down from #1 last year
  • #3: Lead Generation = same rank as last year
  • #4: Patient Loyalty = same rank as last year
  • #5: Physician Engagement = unranked last year

What it means for healthcare marketers: While consumer engagement and brand building remains key drivers behind content marketing initiatives again this year, healthcare organizations increasingly leverage content to drive patient volume and revenue growth with nearly half citing lead generation as the primary goal. And while healthcare consumers are more empowered than ever, the importance of engaging physicians to drive referrals and reputation is reinforced by the survey data.

Get more insights: Find out how content marketing can support financial recovery in our whitepaper on The Big Shift: New Strategies for Service Line Growth.

 

Content Marketing Effectiveness

Q: Overall, how effective is your organization at content marketing?

 

Q: Overall, how effective is your organization at content marketing?

 

The trend: The 92% of healthcare marketers who consider their content strategies effective reflects a 7% decrease from 2019.

What it means for healthcare marketers: As the healthcare marketing discipline continues to mature, measurement and optimization are emerging as critical pieces of the puzzle. Greater accountability for performance and emphasis on growth requires marketers to take a more strategic approach to content strategy and ensure program objectives connect to the organization’s business goals.

 

Strategic Approach to Content Marketing

Q: Does your organization have an overarching content strategy in place?

 

Q: Overall, how effective is your organization at content marketing?

 

The trend: Nearly every respondent (98%) has a documented content strategy or is planning to develop one within the next 12 months, which reflects an 11% increase over 2019.

What it means for healthcare marketers: Marketers continue elevating their approach to content, which starts with mapping out a comprehensive (and iterative) plan that guides their efforts. Competing in this era of forced evolution and heightened accountability requires content strategies to be precisely aligned with organization goals and audience preferences to be effective.

Get more insights: Read our blog post outlining a 5-step content planning framework.

 

How Content Fits into Marketing Priorities

Q: Thinking of all the marketing strategies you employ in your organization, how high a priority is content marketing on a scale of 1 (not a priority) to 5 (high priority)?

Average rating: 3.8

 

The trend: Since the survey was first conducted in 2017, the percentage of healthcare marketers who place a medium (3) to high (4-5) priority on content has grown from 85% to 89%.

What it means for healthcare marketers: Even before the pandemic, marcom teams were juggling competing priorities and dividing time between myriad disciplines. In the latest By the Numbers report from the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development, at least 50% of marketers surveyed were responsible for 19 disparate job functions—ranging from media/public relations and brand strategy to market research and community education. As time and resources are constrained, it will be increasingly critical for marketers to avoid catering to squeaky wheels and chasing bright, shiny objects. By building a business case for proven engagement and growth initiatives like those associated with content strategy, marketers can focus on those priorities that deliver maximum impact.

 

Measuring the ROI of Content Marketing

Q: How successful is your organization at tracking the ROI of its content marketing efforts?

 

Q: How successful is your organization at tracking the ROI of its content marketing efforts?

 

The trend: Marketers have come a long way since the survey was first conducted four years ago. The 65% of respondents who said their organizations are successful at tracking the ROI of content marketing represents a 21% increase since 2017.

What it means for healthcare marketers: With nearly 9 in 10 marketers tracking ROI and the large majority considering their efforts successful, standing out from the crowd requires a data-driven approach. By analyzing search trends, competitor traffic and other variables, your content will be fine tuned to audience interests and organizational priorities—and generate optimal ROI.

Get more insights: Read our blog post on incorporating research to drive content marketing ROI.

 

How Content Marketing Success Is Measured

Q: What metrics does your organization use to assess content marketing success?

 

Q: How successful is your organization at tracking the ROI of its content marketing efforts?

 

The trend: The top three key performance indicators—website traffic, called/lead volume and qualitative feedback, respectively—have remained unchanged since 2017. The most significant shift is social engagement/following moving into the top five KPIs (featured above), which were followed by awareness/recall and SEO performance at 53%, and direct volume attribution with 30% of those surveyed basing the success of their content strategy on the number of appointments generated through content marketing.

What it means for healthcare marketers: A growth-focused approach will continue to emerge as the most important metric of content marketing success, especially in an environment where financial recovery is paramount—and marketing is charged with leading this effort. This even applies to channels like websites and social media that have traditionally been considered brand builders. Getting ahead of the curve now will position your organization for the future and ensure you continue investing in content as a revenue driver.

Get more insights: Read our blog post on what you can do now to drive growth after COVID-19.

 

Content Marketing Channels and Tactics

Q: Please select the content marketing tactics used by your organization.

 

Q: How successful is your organization at tracking the ROI of its content marketing efforts?

 

The trend: The most-used content marketing tactics are virtually identical to last year, with the exception of print magazines/newsletters gaining a spot over in-person events to round out the top seven.

What it means for healthcare marketers: A digital-first approach to healthcare content marketing will remain the standard for engaging the modern consumer conditioned by the likes of Amazon. However, marketers neglect print at their peril with customers experiencing more digital noise than signal and the organic reach of web and social content decreasing. With double-digit growth in using print as part of an overall content strategy, marketers are following in the footsteps of Facebook, AirBNB and other global brands in leveraging these lean-back, longer-form touchpoints that add value to the customer experience.

Get more insights: Read our blog post on 7 reasons print makes sense for healthcare marketers.

 

Content Marketing Tactics to Build Brand and Engagement

Q: What are the most effective content marketing tactics used by your organization to generate brand awareness and consumer engagement?

 

Q: What are the most effective content marketing tactics used by your organization to generate brand awareness and consumer engagement?

 

What it means for healthcare marketers: The modern, digital-first approach to marketing is clearly demonstrated in the primary channels used to generate awareness and shape perception. This also reflects the importance of an integrated strategy that includes paid, owned and earned media to build and nurture relationships with consumers in early stages of the decision cycle.

Get more insights: Learn how Methodist Health System engages consumers through an integrated content strategy.

 

Content Marketing Tactics to Generate Leads

Q: What are the most effective content marketing tactics used by your organization to generate leads for high-value services?

 

Q: What are the most effective content marketing tactics used by your organization to generate leads for high-value services?

 

What it means for healthcare marketers: The top three channels illustrate the importance of a content strategy that comprises both lead generation and nurturing initiatives. The large majority of followers on your social channels (#1) and visitors to your website or content hub (#3 and #5) are not ready to schedule an appointment, which makes email (#2)—often featuring video (#4)—critical to stay connected and advance consumers toward a goal conversion.

Get more insights: Read our blog post on top lead generation content types at every stage of the healthcare consumer journey.

 

Content Marketing Tactics to Engage Physicians

Q: What are the most effective content marketing tactics used by your organization to engage physicians?

 

Q: What are the most effective content marketing tactics used by your organization to engage physicians?

 

What it means for healthcare marketers: Email is the preferred means of communication for physicians by a large margin, and marketers are meeting this need by delivering relevant, engaging information to their inboxes. For best results, provide content that enables effective utilization of telehealth and other new advancements by arming physicians with messaging on policy changes, frequently asked questions and other resources they need to effectively connect with patients.

Get more insights: Read our blog post on best practices for marketing to physicians.

 

Social Media Platforms Used to Promote/Distribute Content

Q: What social media platforms does your organization use to distribute content?

 

Q: What social media platforms does your organization use to distribute content?

The trend: Facebook has been the #1 social platform used by healthcare marketers since the survey began in 2017. The other platforms in the top five have traded spots while commanding the majority of marketing time and resources compared to other social platforms like Pinterest (16%) and more nascent channels TikTok (9%) and SnapChat (4%).

 

  • #1:Facebook = same as last year
  • #2: Instagram = up from #2 last year (tied with YouTube)
  • #3: LinkedIn = same as last year
  • #4: Twitter = down from #1 last year (tied with Facebook)
  • #5: YouTube = down from #2 last year (tied with Instagram)

 

What it means for healthcare marketers: As we’re social distancing, social media is filling the gaps for connecting with the people and brands we value—and Facebook is the #1 social platform consumers turn to for timely, accessible and actionable information. Whether actively followed or shared by a friend or loved one, a hospital’s Facebook content is often a first step in a healthcare decision cycle that could last weeks, months or even years depending on the condition. Make this path as clear as possible by posting organic content and targeted ads that align with each step on the journey.

 

Get more insights: Read our blog post on 5 Facebook campaigns your hospital should be running now.

 

NOTE: This content is updated each year based on findings from our annual State of Healthcare Content Marketing survey.

Content Marketing Tips and Trends for Healthcare Professionals, July 2020

As healthcare marketers continue to respond to the pandemic, growth strategies and 2021 planning are increasingly becoming the number one priority. Consumers are still, and likely will continue to be, hesitant to pursue often critical in-person care.

This trend, combined with a need to do more with less, are creating new challenges for marketers and an exciting opportunity to add value for the health system and consumer alike through the content and campaign strategies we decide to execute.

In this month’s “topics, tools, and trends” article, we're touching on a few strategies you can implement today to help your organization and marketing team succeed in the coming months. Learn about evolutions in Google My Business, trends for healthcare professionals that are gaining steam and an ad creation tool we’ve all been waiting for.

Our focus topic: Google My Business

Google is now offering certifications for Google My Business. While on one hand, it’s just another way for Google to monetize their offering, it does provide an opportunity for marketers to upgrade their profile for listings by becoming certified. As more organizations pursue certifications, it may soon become another factor that influences consumer trust in an albeit surface level way, but one to consider nonetheless.

You may notice that healthcare providers are not currently in the list of eligible businesses. We fully expect that in the coming weeks, healthcare organizations and even individual providers will be given access to the program, and encourage you to keep an eye on how the program evolves.

Our team took the time to think through a few pros and cons to consider for your organization:

Pros:

  • Increased visibility for certified listings—certified organizations will be listed first, which also decreases the confusion caused by out of date or rogue accounts
  • Certifications will likely build trust quickly in consumers searching for services
  • Proof of key business metrics like location, size, and more
  • It’s only $50 per month—a minimal cost when we consider how much the typical health system spends on buying Google Ads and maintaining listings to begin with

Cons:

  • When Google first toyed with this idea for local service ads, they planned to require background checks for ALL employees—it’s unclear if that will be the case for Google My Business certifications
  • The process (and time commitment) to become a certified health system isn’t completely clear yet
  • It’s implied—not promised or proven—that the program will lead to priority rankings

Our advice to clients is to hang tight for now to see how the program evolves from here. While the low entry cost and potential benefit seem like a no-brainer, there may be some hurdles to get through, and Google certainly needs to add healthcare organizations and providers to the list of eligible businesses. We want to see proof that the program leads to increased rankings before encouraging clients to pursue the certifications. That said, let us know if you have success with the program!

Our top new tool: AdParlour

Have you ever tried to review your paid search strategies with a non-marketer and struggled to get them to visualize what ad copy will look like? Us too. It’s challenging to read through ad copy in a spreadsheet format and provide thoughtful feedback. Many of us need to visualize the content in context of how it will be used.

AdParlour allows us to provide mock ups of search ads to review with the appropriate specifications for Facebook, Search, LinkedIn and more. It even includes versions of the mock ups for various device types. You probably won’t need it for every ad, but for those presentations to ask for more budget or review your performance, this FREE tool could be a life saver.

Our main trending topic: How to relieve patient fears

One of the biggest content trends for healthcare professionals that we’re seeing this summer is tied to a challenge marketers will have to overcome for the foreseeable future: consumers are hesitant to seek in-person care right now. Heart attacks and strokes aren’t happening less frequently, cancer incidence isn’t going down and certainly consumers still need primary care services. People are simply delaying screenings and shrugging off symptoms that typically wouldn’t—and shouldn’t—be ignored.

Arguably, the only way to drive behavior change is through content marketing. Only through content and storytelling can we make people in every demographic and socioeconomic segment of our population understand WHY they need to pursue care. Then, it’s the job of the provider to provide a frictionless pathway to the clinical resources their communities need.

With the beginning of the school year on the horizon, one topic that you should consider writing and deploying right away is why vaccines are critical for children. We had a hunch that people would delay routine care and annual well visits, but the search volume we’re seeing from worried parents wondering if it’s okay to skip vaccines for their children is surprising and concerning. Trying ranking for keywords like "natural immunity", "vaccine decisions," "concerns about clinics," "are clinics safe" and other related terms.

Here are a few of the questions being asked frequently across the country:

  • What happens if I don’t vaccinate my child?
  • Is it safer to get a vaccine or stay away from the clinic?
  • Isn’t natural immunity better than a vaccine?

There may be other key questions and search terms unique to your market, too. These tips and trends for healthcare professionals are meant to be adapted and tested. We’re happy to discuss how you might use content marketing to connect with consumers and drive behavior change around key local issues.

Get More Insights to Guide Your Strategy

Schedule a content strategy consult with our team to get 10-12 turnkey topics like this—and a FREE content planning template!

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