In this interview series with healthcare content strategy leads, we discuss the goals, channels and other elements of an effective healthcare content strategy, focusing on marketing technology and channel integration strategies.
We spoke with three marketing leaders about everything from keeping up with trends to selecting the right channels. Now, in this third and final article in our series, we ask the content strategists about the marketing technology and channel integration tools they're using to plan, create and deploy content.
We spoke with:
- Rebecca Stewart, Senior Director, Content at Hartford HealthCare
- Amy-Sarah Marshall, Online Content Strategist, UVA Health System
- Kristen Kimmel, Program Manager, Content Marketing at Children’s Health
Q: How are you using marketing technology and channel integration?
Amy-Sarah: We use a couple of different paid SEO platforms, such as ForeSee—to help guide our organic search efforts and keep tabs on user feedback. We use a marketing automation platform for class and event registrations and email lists.
Kristen: Marketing technology is a critical part of making our content marketing program more efficient and effective. We’re utilizing a CRM to better understand our audiences and an email platform and marketing automation to deliver content when audiences need it most. We rely heavily on our analytics tools and have used digital user testing to gather the insights we need to make data-driven decisions.
Q: What are your favorite tools for planning, creating or measuring content?
Amy-Sarah: I love, love, love SiteImprove. It hits the sweet spot of being easy/intuitive to use while at the same time providing enough robust data and customization to allow for accurate reporting. We measure readability, accessibility, usability, SEO and content quality for different content segments, and we’re able to use numbers to show improvement—very clear, helpful metrics for demonstrating the outcomes of our efforts with our doctors.
[I also love] the Hemingway Editor, a free website that allows you to paste in text and see right away where and how you need to simplify the content to create more concise, effective writing. This can be really valuable for online editing, especially when you’re forced to edit yourself.
Kristen: I use SEMrush constantly for keyword research, content ideation and optimization. I start every morning by checking Google Trends to stay up to date on relevant topics that are trending. I also log into our Google Analytics account on a daily basis to monitor content performance; we use Tableau to help with data visualization and tell the story of what those numbers mean.
Q: What is your perspective on content marketing in what some are calling the “post-click” era?
Amy-Sarah: What’s interesting is that the actual strategy of developing good content that meets the needs or answers the questions of the consumer patient doesn’t change. Whether a user clicks through to our website or not doesn’t change that. What does need to change is how we understand our digital presence and how we measure success. Instead of thinking of our website like a hospital building, where we serve patients only within the walls of the structure, we have to expand our reach beyond the site, just like we’re doing with population health in extending our ideas of health care beyond the hospital footprint. So we meet our patients on YouTube, we meet them on disease-specific forums. We focus, not on click-through rates and online appointments, but on engagements and interactions. And, we find a way to make it as easy as possible to offer services where they are.
Kristen: We’re trying to take advantage of Google’s growing number of featured snippets, and right now have benefited from providing content that answers users’ questions and queries. Considering voice search as part of that post-click era, we’d consider it a success when and if a user found their answer from us, even if that didn’t end up with a click. While the metrics we track may change as SERPs evolve, the role of content marketing will remain important, because it’s all about presenting the most useful content in the most useful way for the end user.
Q: The head of the Content Marketing Institute believes that “print is making a comeback.” How does print factor into your content strategy?
Rebecca: Print is a key component of our strategy—but again, we believe the lines are blurred. Print is valuable if your consumer reads it. Video is valuable if your consumer watches it. Radio is valuable if your consumer is listening. But none of these work if you don’t have built-in audiences. Our strategy is to dig deep early in the process so we know who is reading, watching or listening. Whatever we produce must match the existing audience—and that’s what is tricky is our world right now. That is what we see constantly evolving.
What works for a woman in her 60s may not work for her daughter or son or granddaughter and grandson. We have to be relevant to all of those audiences.
One segment that has been very successful is a partnership with the Hartford Courant. We have an article that runs on Sunday highlighting a strategic service line. That article then lives in social channels and previews a Facebook LIVE conversation at noon two days later. The article highlights a patient story and the subsequent Q & A allows potential patients access to our experts in real time. This has been tremendously successful, with more than 80K views per segment, leading to hundreds of appointments.
Kristen: Sitting on the digital team, I can’t say that print is a focus for our content marketing program. However, we do not work in a silo, and working with our team members, we have awesome opportunities to utilize our content is a variety of local publications, patient handouts, and even get requests for printouts for schools and physician offices.
Amy-Sarah: This is where I think we have to stop dividing up strategies by platform, i.e., digital vs. print, or internal vs. external, online vs. in-person. We know that people cross platforms, cross personas and cross contexts all the time, and trying to pin people into behaviors won’t always work. The patient experience encompasses all the various touchpoints we impact.
We know that plenty of times our patients need information on paper and in their hands. Our current approach requires partnership between our digital and print teams, as well as alignment with the team creating patient education. We all share a commitment to plain language, and we work to coordinate efforts. We want to give patients the choice to find what they need where and how they want to. Our print documents provide online options, but we don’t measure success only on the URL visit.
If you missed the previous article in the series:
Let's Talk Timing (and More)
Our healthcare marketing experts are ready to tailor a strategy that ensures your content reaches consumers, physicians and other audiences at the perfect time.