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.

How to Evolve Your Custom Magazine into an Integrated Content Marketing Strategy

Get more out of your custom healthcare magazine with an integrated content marketing strategy approach.

If you already publish a custom magazine, congratulations: You’re ahead of the curve! The Content Marketing Institute recently suggested that marketers consider using print because everything else is going online. Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to ditch digital, but it does mean you need to create an integrated content strategy. 

 (And if you’re not already publishing, here are six reasons to rethink print from content marketing guru Joe Pulizzi.) 

 According to a By The Numbers report from the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development, healthcare marketers leveraging the power of print are actually in the majority. They found that 80% of its members produce community publications and 71% produce employee publications. In addition, nearly half (44%) produce publications for physicians. 

 While healthcare marketing often gets a bad rap for being behind the curve, if print is part of your marketing toolkit, you’re also in good company. Facebook, Airbnb and other global brands are embracing print to engage their “always on” audiences in a “lean-back” format with less distractions

 Success Stories: Expanding Custom Magazine Content Beyond Print

While print remains viable—and usage is even increasing among younger demographics, an effective custom magazine is now part of a larger engagement or growth strategy that leverages content marketing tools and multiple digital touchpoints to promote, integrate and measure content developed for the publication. 

 Here are a couple examples of health systems that have evolved their content strategies:

HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital — A centerpiece example of an integrated content strategy is a blog called Inspiring Health, which leverages content from an award-winning community publication of the same name and is then optimized for search and promoted through paid and organic social media, native advertising and email. Following its February 2019 launch, the blog received more than 2,000 page views during the first month—including 1,500 new users. Engagement metrics for Facebook and native advertising are beating industry benchmarks, meaning the audience is engaging with this content at a higher rate compared to other healthcare-related promotions.

magazine and digital display

Methodist Health SystemMethodist produces a 48-page, quarterly print publication titled SHINE along with infographics, videos, patient stories and other types of content to reach the community. In 2019, the marketing team partnered with True North to launch SHINE Online and deliver a multifaceted content experience with relevant nurturing and conversion opportunities. Within the first two months, the site was already driving engagement at unprecedented levels. In fact, August and September of 2019 produced over 1,000% more traffic than the same time frame in 2018 on Methodist’s former blog, which was housed on their main site. Learn more about the evolution of SHINE in a detailed case study.

Methodist magazine and digital display

Read the Case Study: Methodist Health System Boosts Consumer Engagement With Integrated Content Marketing Strategy

The Advantages of an Integrated Content Marketing Strategy

As these examples illustrate, extending the content in your custom magazine to an integrated content approach offers several benefits for your audience and your organization.  

  • Grow Your Audience. Broaden the reach of your content beyond the publication’s defined circulation, which is typically targeted based on demographics, geography and other parameters.
  • Multiply Your Channels. Add value and depth to your web, email and social platforms through content already created for your magazine.
  • Measure the Impact of Your Content Marketing. Connect your content to digital touchpoints to allow for real-time monitoring of site traffic, open rates and other metrics that demonstrate the value of your content marketing investment.
  • Generate Increased Outcomes. Increase exposure to your content to build relationships with online consumers, positioning your brand as the best choice when seeking solutions to their healthcare needs.

So the question is: How do you evolve your program from a print-centric silo to a more integrated content offering that engages the audience via web and social channels? Try these three techniques. 

 1. Integrate custom magazine content into your website.

To begin, start by identifying a place on your existing website to incorporate the content. A blog or health news section on your site may be perfect. If you do not have an area that acts like a blog, invest some time into creating a space that can be easily integrated into your company’s site. This addition will enhance your online presence and make your organization more competitive, paying dividends long term. 

 “By optimizing content for the web, you naturally kick-start organic search visibility for people searching for the keywords included in your content,” says Ashley DuFrene, senior digital marketing specialist at True North Custom. 

 2. Repurpose your print content for an online audience.

Creating a seasonal custom magazine takes time and effort in order to reach your community audience in a way that resonates. To create relevant and newsworthy content readers want to see, include general wellness information with season-specific stories, carefully chosen photography and graphics, and interviews that incorporate quotes from local experts.  

By the time the next season rolls around, your magazine no longer feels fresh and relevant, and the publication you have been admiring should probably be retired. The good news is you do not have to get rid of the content completely. By repurposing the stories in your custom magazine for the web, you can capture and connect with a wider audience for an indefinite period of time. 

“Print material is great for communicating and spreading awareness among your target market. However, all magazines have a shelf life within someone’s home,” DuFrene says. “Optimizing your magazine content for the web creates new paths for people to reference and find healthcare content that is relevant year round.” 

3. Drive traffic to your digital content.

Once content is up and running, your next order of business should be to drive readers to your repurposed articles. Emails, newsletters, native advertising and social media are effective tools to incorporate into your integrated content strategy to achieve this objective. 

 Additionally, driving traffic to the content via social media builds brand awareness, benefitting and positioning your entire organization as an authority in the medical arena. 

 “A strong online presence with unique content builds authority,” DuFrene says. “This positions your hospital or health system as experts in health care in your community, which is the ultimate goal.” 

 

Let’s Build Your Content Strategy Together

Find out how we’re helping healthcare organizations like yours find, engage and convert patients and prospects.

The Big Shift: How COVID-19 Is Driving the Evolution of Healthcare Content Strategy

In the latest True North guide for healthcare marketing pros, you’ll learn how to evolve your content marketing strategy to align with shifts in consumer habits and preferences that were underway prior to the pandemic.

During the COVID-19 crisis, the hourly news cycle has fueled the need for timely, accurate and engaging healthcare content by orders of magnitude. Between the months of January and March of this year, it’s estimated that more than 1,500 articles on COVID-19 were being developed each day.

This demand for healthcare content—and its value to consumers—is demonstrated by recent studies:

The data sends a clear message: content is still king—if created intentionally and built around the community served. Like the market leaders embracing telemedicine and other consumer-centric delivery models, healthcare marketers who purposefully reconstruct their content strategies around the rapidly changing lifestyle habits and media preferences of their audiences will build trust and rise above the competition.

The time to reject business-as-usual healthcare marketing is now. Engaging today’s healthcare consumers requires fundamental shifts in how content is planned, developed and distributed.

To guide your efforts, we've identified four pivotal areas that will make or break your COVID-19 content strategy during the pandemic and in the future. 

Download the Full Report

Want the full version eBook—including examples and recommendations for the most effective COVID-19 content strategy tactics for each shift? Download the entire report here.

Let’s Plan Your Strategy

Let our healthcare content marketing experts help you navigate these shifts. 

5 Types of Content You Need in a Crisis Like COVID-19

With the COVID-19 news cycle being refreshed by the hour, healthcare marketers are rising to the challenge to communicate quickly and accurately with employees, patients and community members — to ensure all bases are covered as news breaks and consumers move from education to action, here are the five types of content your communication plan needs during this unprecedented crisis.

Every screen, inbox and social feed is filled with content and communication about the coronavirus crisis, with much of the information coming from hospitals and healthcare systems. We’re partnering with clients to create content on the symptoms of the disease, how it’s spread, the organization’s updated policies and other critical topics weighing on the minds of consumers.

To ensure your content has the greatest impact on employee and patient safety during a crisis, public health and your healthcare brand’s reputation as a trusted resource, here are five types to include in your crisis communication plan.

Discoverable Content

Searches for specific topics like COVID-19 spike during a crisis. In fact, Google reports that interest in coronavirus grew more than 260% globally from the first week of February to early March. Delivering timely, relevant and accurate content to anxious consumers is critical—and the first step is understanding which questions they are asking. For example, one of the main queries is “How is COVID-19 different from flu?” and by incorporating these keywords where they make sense in headlines, meta descriptions and body copy, your brand will show up when consumers are searching for information.

Based on our research, here are some of the more common coronavirus-related searches that are relevant for healthcare providers:

Geographic Searches—Users are interested in, and often worried about, local results right now. When you are building search terms, add your specific geography to this list so your content shows up for people who are searching for the topic.

News/Updates Searches—The media is creating a demand for updates about COVID-19, and that is reflected in frequent search results based on these keywords:

  • Coronavirus update
  • Coronavirus news
  • Coronavirus latest news

"Spread"-Focused Searches—Even more important than symptoms right now is information about how the coronavirus spreads. There is a demand to know how to prevent and avoid the spread of the virus. These keywords are driving the majority of related traffic and should be incorporated into your digital content:

  • What causes coronavirus?
  • How does coronavirus spread?
  • What to avoid to stop coronavirus

Educational Content

This is the baseline content type for crisis content and communication, and journalistic tenets like the inverted pyramid are best when conveying information on what COVID-19 is, why it is a threat, who is most susceptible, how it’s spread and where to get updates.

The most effective format for conveying COVID-focused information is a dedicated landing page with links to resources.

Here are a few examples:

Along with the basics on COVID-19, the page can also feature tips for hand-washing, definitions of terms like “social distancing” and ideas for successfully transitioning to a remote work and school environment.

Also, make sure you’re promoting the page and driving traffic through your email newsletter, social media pages, custom publication and other channels.

Authoritative Content

As a pillar of the community, your brand’s voice is among the most trusted—and this is especially true during a crisis. The timing, accuracy and authenticity of your messaging will reinforce your brand’s position as a respected source of healthcare information.

Effective crisis communication starts at home, and healthcare organizations are featuring fellow associates to address their team's frequently asked questions. This video series from CHRISTUS Health covers topics ranging from "Who should be wearing masks?" to "Should pregnant women be working?" and other relevant issues.

To educate the community on critical topics and clarify misinformation, feature your subject matter experts as illustrated by this COVID-19 and Children video from St. Louis Children's Hospital.

With both internal and external audiences, it's important to communicate early and often to help build trust and ease anxiety—despite not having all the answers. “Even if you’re still trying to understand the extent of the problem, be honest and open to maintain credibility,” writes Paul A. Argenti in Communicating Through the Coronavirus Crisis (HBR).

Reassuring Content

The topics you address and tone of your content can be as impactful as the information itself. By considering the whole person and their needs—physical, emotional, spiritual—and communicating clearly and with compassion, you can further position your brand as the community’s trusted resource for health care.

Use plain language to talk about the coronavirus, with links to reliable sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).

Also, it’s important to maintain a professional look and feel to all communications. Even when you’re moving fast, it’s important to adhere to brand standards. There are some free resources online with icons that you can use as you create content to maintain a professional tone that will be reassuring to your audience. And be sure to take the time to proofread your content and review before posting.

Actionable Content

Lastly, the question on everyone’s mind when searching for information regarding the coronavirus is, “What should I do?” Make sure your content answers this question with current guidelines based on the CDC, WHO and other reputable sources.

This page from Novant Health is an excellent example of actionable content with a coronavirus self-assessment, directions for accessing virtual care, a map of local screening centers and other resources.

Learn More: Watch the COVID-19 Webinar

Get more insights and examples to guide your COVID-19 communications plan.

 

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Our team will tailor a content strategy to guide your community during the crisis.

Why Print Marketing Makes Sense for Healthcare Marketers

In 2019, we launched more custom publications for healthcare organizations than we have in several years. 

This resurgence reflects the value of print healthcare marketing as (still) one of the most effective ways to reach and engage your audience.

While headlines have declared the death of print for decades, the medium has not only survived but is thriving with younger generations embracing magazines, market leaders across categories leveraging print and even digital-first brands investing in publications to engage their communities. 

Wondering if print fits into your plans? Here are a few reasons it makes sense for healthcare marketers to consider a custom magazine as part of an integrated content strategy.

The most trusted consumer brands believe in print.

By investing in custom publications, healthcare organizations are following the lead of the most trusted brands in America. From consumer packaged goods and travel to food and entertainment, brands across industries are delivering content in print as an effective, lean-back format to educate and engage their communities. 

Here are a few publications that brands are leveraging to foster community and drive growth as part of an integrated content strategy:

Your new competitors see the value in print.

As healthcare providers compete with new entrants like Amazon and Walmart (both investing heavily in print), creating a stronger connection with consumers and providers will be critical. Unlike much of the ephemeral content clogging up our social feeds and inboxes, magazines are a value signal for healthcare organizations working to demonstrate quality, deliver authentic stories and differentiate their brands. 

Generation Z is big on print.

At 25% of the population, Gen Z is the largest generation of consumers, and despite growing up on social media and surrounded by technology, those age 24 and younger are spending more time reading print than on digital platforms. This offers tremendous opportunity for healthcare organizations to build awareness among young adults and families that can translate into brand loyalty and increased customer lifetime value. Better yet, when a custom healthcare publication is integrated with a blog or content hub, it further enriches the consumer experience and creates a path for conversion.

Even digital-first brands are bullish on print healthcare marketing.

You might be surprised to find that many web and social platforms are leveraging print as an extension of their digital presence. For example:

  • Facebook sends a printed version of its GROW magazine to “a handful of clients,” as part of the social networking site’s efforts to help business leaders stay ahead by creating and curating insightful content and experiences. 
  • Email marketing platform MailChimp acquired a publication that expands its reach internationally and teaches small businesses how to be successful. 
  • Dating app Bumble launched Bumble Mag to share expert advice, in-depth features, trend pieces on hot topics, answers to questions posed by users, and more. 

The “catalog effect” is real.

According to Harvard Business Review, catalog mailings have been increasing over the past five years, and response rates have grown 170% in the last decade—despite the rise in digital platforms. Research suggests these print resources are resonating with consumers of all ages due to “the increasingly cluttered digital inboxes and social media feeds.”

Google keeps moving the goalposts.

The majority of searches now result in zero clicks, and experts predict that Google’s claiming the lion’s share of search traffic is only going to continue. While optimizing content for search is still a vital part of an effective digital strategy, reaching your audience offline and promoting healthcare content via other marketing channels like print will be imperative.

We all get too much email.

While the average email inbox receives 121 messages per day, my mailbox never has more than a handful of items—and anything other than a bill is a welcome respite. And yes, I’m among the 80% of direct mail recipients who read or scan each piece before throwing any of it away. Content Marketing Institute Founder Joe Pulizzi pointed to this “scarcity of competition” in the print space as leading marketers to double down on magazines, and he even compares marketers using print to the first movers who dominated the early days of the web by creating content.

Let's discuss your publishing strategy!

As a leading provider of custom publications for healthcare organizations, find out how True North Custom can help you develop or evolve your publishing program.