Data Science for Content Marketing with Christopher Penn

As an official media partner of ContentTech Summit 2020, we spoke with keynote speaker Christopher Penn about the importance of data science and what healthcare marketers can learn from Facebook and other data-driven organizations.

Christopher Penn

Christopher Penn, co-founder and chief data scientist of Trust Insights, has helped global brands such as McDonald’s, Toyota and others leverage the power of data to level up their marketing efforts.

In this guest post, find out why Christopher believes data science is an essential skill and the implications of data-driven content marketing for healthcare organizations.



The Value of Data Science

Simply put, data science is the extraction of meaning. Using the scientific method, data science helps marketers prove or disprove a hypothesis—and if you’re not using the scientific method, then you’re not doing data science.

To derive meaningful insights from information, data science combines four disciplines—business acumen, domain expertise, technical skills, and mathematical and statistical skills—into one. At the very least, marketers need a solid foundation in technical and statistical skills while partnering with experts in the other domains to ensure better results, lower costs and fewer mistakes.

A fundamental understanding of data science is critical for marketers because it allows them to repeat and scale their successful initiatives. This, however, can be a challenge as marketers typically don’t have a strong quantitative background. We’re often winging it as marketers and while we might get lucky and have a campaign take off, we don’t know why it worked and therefore we can’t repeat or scale the successful initiative—much less make it better. There are many brilliant healthcare marketers out there whose work could be accelerated if they were able to leverage data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

On the other hand, there are healthcare organizations doing excellent work through data science, including The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Their researchers help prevent the spread of infectious diseases like coronavirus by looking at code, doing the math and using the latest technology to inform policy decisions and unlock the value of domain experts.

The Intersection of Data Science and Content Marketing

One of the easiest ways to explain how data science applies to marketing is in the area of publishing. For example, a content strategy typically includes blog posts and white papers that offer information to the end customer in a way that delivers value.

We recently created a white paper titled Social Media 2020 that involved analyzing search and social data to determine whether marketers need a presence on Tik Tok. We crunched the numbers to figure out how many people search for “How to join Tik Tok” as well as “How to quit Tik Tok account” and found that the platform is not growing as fast as it has been. In fact, more people want to quit than are signing up. The implication for marketers: Go ahead and set up an account but don’t invest a lot of time. The data doesn't support diving headfirst into it.

When you think about all the time and resources that go into publishing, the scenario above is a good example of what data-driven marketing looks like. Data science helps you to make decisions and create value for your community using data and research, instead of laboring over onerous peer-reviewed papers to inform your marketing plans.

Healthcare Data Sources

Along with your own research, there are myriad public data resources available to marketers. Almost every country has a government organization that shares a tremendous amount of data. We often use to draw insights when developing content.

Another one of my favorites is the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which offers a robust data set of hospital quality outcomes. Marketers can see how organizations rank for specific conditions and build their own benchmarks.

The Medicare data set is useful; however, some hospitals do not report certain metrics so about 20–25% of the data is missing. I recommend blending Medicare data with U.S. census data for a more complete picture of hospital ratings and population health.

As a marketer, these and other resources help you understand where to focus your content. You could, for example, translate outcomes data into a travel guide that helps consumers know where to go for specific conditions.

The Ethics of Data Science

Big tech companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook are leading the way in using data for marketing, but they can also be the most unethical and dangerous. Facebook is a perfect example of what happens when data science is decoupled from ethics. Look at how the Facebook News Feed functions. The goal is to keep users engaged and ultimately to create compulsive behavior. By collecting a tremendous amount of data, Facebook learned that making people angry and afraid all the time is the best way to keep people engaged.

As you apply data science, both you and the institution must have the highest ethical standards as to how you use data and be proactively looking for bias and adverse outcomes. When you see skews in data sets, these can have substantial outcomes down the line.

In health care, our primary imperative is the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm. If your marketing is discriminating or causing a bias, you are not following that principle.

Data Science Resources for Content Marketing

There are relatively few marketing data science resources as the disciplines grew up separately. My personal blog at Trust Insights is one  resource that tries to bring both of these functions together.

There are also organizations like Women in Analytics and other blogs, conferences and Twitter lists where marketers can access data science information.

A few of my favorite resources include:

Along with these resources, one of the most important things you can do is to start following individuals who share a lot of information on data science and can function as information mentors.

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Why Frequency in Healthcare Marketing Matters

We’ve probably all heard the old marketing adage: It takes about seven impressions for prospects to remember your brand and consider buying from you. Content cadence and frequency is as critical as content quality when it comes to building awareness, preference and loyalty in healthcare marketing—and striking a balance between engaging and fatiguing your audience can be tricky.

As anyone who’s discovered a brand or bought something from them based on a digital ad, blog post or magazine article knows: Timing matters in marketing. And while heart screenings and hip replacements aren’t exactly impulse buys, connecting with consumers who aren’t familiar with your brand—and making it easy for them to find your content and take action when they’re ready—can have a big impact on performance.

We know there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to healthcare marketing, but let’s take a look at what the data says about frequency, along with our experience in helping healthcare organizations engage consumers through the most popular marketing channels.

Email Marketing

While shiny new channels like chatbots and TikTok garner most of the attention from marketers, there’s an overlooked platform that consistently delivers results: email. In fact, Litmus research found that email marketing returns $38 for every dollar invested, and healthcare consumers love email so much they’d even be willing to pay per interaction with a physician. With 99% of consumers checking their email every day, reaching them with relevant content on a regular schedule is a critical piece of an effective healthcare marketing plan.

What the data says:
According to a MarketingSherpa survey, 61% of users prefer receiving a promotional email at least once a month, and 15% say they wouldn’t mind receiving a promotional email every day. (Entrepreneur)

In our experience:
Sending emails to a list of patients or prospects without their permission is never a great idea. So assuming your audience wants to hear from you, here is what we have found most effective:

  • For health and wellness email newsletters designed to generate awareness and build trust as part of a robust content strategy, set a goal to send every other week or even weekly if possible. Even better, offering multiple subscription options based on the user’s desired frequency (like we do) ensures you’re reaching the audience not only how but when they want to hear from you.
  • For nurturing prospects generated by a health risk assessment, paid search campaign or other source, a cadence of 5–12 total messages in the two months following lead creation is ideal to move consumers toward a goal conversion. The total number of messages and the time between them will vary based on the campaign goals and MarTech tools used.

Blog and Social Content

Your digital content says a lot about your brand. If your site and social media content is static for weeks (or worse, months), any traffic received will leave visitors with a negative impression—and they likely never come back. Your digital content will become increasingly important as brands like Amazon and Walmart condition healthcare consumers to expect an online experience similar to retail brands.

What the data says:
You might be surprised to know that while there’s a surplus of data about why blog posts are integral to marketing, there’s not much on the ideal frequency of posting. This is because, well, it depends. (Hubspot)

In our experience:
Search is the No. 1 source of site traffic for leading health systems, and while building organic rankings doesn’t happen overnight, a commitment to posting quality content on a consistent schedule can accelerate the process. Once keyword research and other elements of content planning are complete, we recommend a minimum of weekly blog posts promoted at least 2–3 times on social media and via email. For larger health systems/teams in highly competitive markets, we suggest 4–10 new or updated blog posts per month. This will ensure your site shows up when consumers are seeking health information (and ranks above competitors).

Print Marketing

Compared to your email inbox that receives an average of 121 messages per day, your mailbox is practically desolate. Print offers as close to a guaranteed interaction as it gets with 80% of direct mail recipients reading or scanning each piece before throwing any of it away. This means that marketers who aren’t leveraging print are leaving opportunity on the (coffee) table.

Whether it’s a custom publication to build awareness and trust or a postcard offering service line prospects a free screening, print could be what connects with your audience, especially if it is targeted, integrated with digital channels and delivered on a consistent schedule.

What the data says:
Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed by Epsilon enjoy getting mail from brands about new products, and 41% of Americans look forward to checking their mail each day, according to Gallup.

For a custom magazine, the Content Marketing Institute asserts that the most effective frequency is quarterly or more.

In our experience:
Having developed thousands of hospital publications and direct mail campaigns over the past 30 years, we can definitively say that the ideal frequency is … it depends.

Several factors drive the frequency conversation in healthcare marketing, including goals, audience preferences and budget. That said, here are our general guidelines for print marketing resources:

For direct mail used as part of an integrated campaign to drive service line growth, a monthly cadence is a good place to start. Anything less frequent is more likely to get lost among the credit card offers and, increasingly, catalogs.

For publications designed to influence consumer perception/choice and physician referrals, we recommend a quarterly delivery schedule at minimum. This allows healthcare providers to cover timely and seasonal topics along with promoting a variety of service lines within each issue.

Digital Advertising

With online resources starting to replace a physician's referral for many consumers—and healthcare organizations ramping up digital ad spend in response, the element of frequency to ensure your message meets consumers where they are in the patient journey is becoming even more important.

What the data says:
Facebook research, done in conjunction with Oracle and based on tracking sales response to ads for packaged-goods products, finds the ideal average exposure frequency is one to two impressions weekly over at least 10 weeks for a campaign. (AdAge)

In our experience:
While optimal frequency can be a moving target depending on the campaign focus, target audience and budget, we generally ascribe to a rule of at least three exposures before measuring results and optimizing as needed.

It’s especially important to understand the correlation between how frequently you post an ad and the ad’s relevance score, and to track the latter on a regular basis, as relevance score tends to drop as frequency increases. Ads that have high relevance scores early in the campaign typically see those scores drop as the ad is served to the same audience multiples times.

A Few Final Words on Frequency in Healthcare Marketing

While it’s clear that the ideal frequency varies based on the goal, audience and channel (among other factors), there are universal guidelines that can inform how often you engage your audience.

No matter the channel, keep these five marketing tenets in mind to determine the right frequency for delivering healthcare marketing content:

  1. Know your audience. How often do they prefer to receive content? If you're unsure, simply ask!
  2. Think quality over quantity. Like the person who chooses her words carefully, strive to add value with every content asset and campaign you create rather than add to the noise.
  3. Make every touch matter. Avoid random acts of content and only deliver content when you have something meaningful to say.
  4. Keep score. Another adage that bears repeating: "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it"—so make sure you’re tracking the right metrics that can inform cadence (and other elements of content strategy).
  5. Test and learn. What works today might not work tomorrow (especially when it comes to search), so experiment with multiple frequencies to find the sweet spot for your audience and marketing goals.

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.

A 5-Step Content Planning Framework for Effective Digital Marketing

Planning is the critical first step for effective content marketing. Here's a five-step framework we use to map out a successful content plan for healthcare organizations.

As with any marketing strategy, a well-planned approach to content marketing can mean the difference between success and failure—especially as healthcare organizations are embracing content like never before. In fact, a recent eMarketer report found the use of content-driven campaigns will increase in 2020 and continue to grow over the next two years. A part of this content planning framework can be a make or break in a campaign's ultimate success or downfall. 

In our latest webinar, Managing Editor Heather Hammond guides you through a content planning process used to map out channels, cadence and other elements of an effective content strategy. 

Here’s a recording of the webinar, along with highlights from the session below.

To set your content strategy up for success, here’s a five-step framework our team uses to ensure every piece of content we create aligns with the respective client organization’s goals and target audience.

Step 1: Align Audiences with Goals

If building brand awareness and/or shifting perception is your goal, consider a content planning framework focused on those audiences who most frequently interact with your organization and/or influencers within the community. This typically includes your employees, patients, prospects and referring healthcare providers. 

Keep in mind that not all consumers are a match for your content or campaigns, and let data be your guide as analysis often challenges our assumptions. For example, who would have guessed that Generation Z—the largest generation of consumers at 25% of the population—are spending more time reading print than digital platforms? 

If volume/revenue growth is your goal, consider a content plan focused around target consumers and healthcare providers. Start by identifying your ideal patient based on gender, life stage, propensity for needing specific services and other characteristics. For example, we’ve found there is a defined profile for bariatric candidates in terms of demographics like age and income, as well as motivation for seeking treatment. 

For physicians and other healthcare providers, create or deepen referral relationships by reaching them with educational content in the channel they prefer to receive it. This consumer-centric approach to delivering relevant content shows users that you care and you are there for them.

Critical questions to ask at this stage:

  • How many audiences are you speaking to? 
  • What action(s) do you want them to take?
  • How will success be measured by your leadership?

Putting the plan into action:

Create 1-2 personas that connect with your organizational goals.

Pro Tip: Keeping in mind channel mix and goals, start with the content/story/idea first before planning deployment and promotion.

Step 2: Get in Sync with Stakeholders

A content planning framework shouldn’t exist in a vacuum in the marketing or communications departments. The most successful strategies are developed in partnership with peers in PR, service line management, operations, foundation, advocacy and other areas.

This typically involves meeting with department leaders to discuss key content elements, including:

Differentiators—What sets your organization apart? Is it your specialists, techniques, technology, location/convenience?

Subject matter experts—Who should we feature in our paid/earned/owned media channels based on expertise, personality and reputation?

Capacity—What is the waiting period for a featured service line, and how many patients can they accommodate within a reasonable timeline after content deploys?

Calls to action—What do we want users to do after consuming the content?

Lead intake—How can we reduce friction when someone interacts with our content?

Pro Tip: If you have a large organization with multiple campuses or facilities, you are likely facing an issue where you are trying to be equitable with who you feature—from what service lines/physicians/campuses across multiple content forms. The good news: You’re not alone. Even content marketing leaders at Cleveland Clinic—the No. 1 hospital blog in America with 7+ million sessions per month—deals with this issue.  In our experience, identifying a peer within your organization who can partner with you to track this and reach out to those various internal players is an effective strategy.

Critical questions to ask at this stage:

  • What makes your organization unique?
  • List three subject matter experts you can use.
  • List new innovations or partnerships planned in the next 6-12 months.

Putting the plan into action:

For each piece of content, identify the purpose, the audience and the call to action.

Step 3: Review the Data

Everything can and should be data-driven in this day and age. We have so much information at our fingertips and opportunities every day to use it. The key is knowing which data to use for what. 

This includes the following data sets typically used to create a content planning framework:

  • User/Reader surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Website metrics
  • Keyword research
  • Consumer data
  • Social metrics
  • Headlines

Critical questions to ask at this stage:

  • What is the community’s perception of your brand?
  • Which topics do your communities care about?
  • What keywords are you ranking for? Which ones have the most potential?

Putting the plan into action:

Brainstorm a list of places where you can gather data and information about your audience (anything from surveys to social engagement to consumer data trends, etc.)

Pro Tip: Of course, there’s still room for “heart” and “gut” checks in marketing, but it needs to be both/and. Start with the data and let that be the primary driver, alongside your gut, and go from there. 

Step 4: Define Your Topic Categories in your content planning framework

Based on internal perspective and audience data gathered, consider how to engage your audience around topics they care about, while strategically incorporating elements that position your brand as the authority and trusted advisor. 

Here are a few areas that guide our content planning efforts:

  • Service line priorities
  • Seasonal health observances and initiatives
  • Hospital news and updates
  • Evergreen health and wellness issues

One way to think through all of the content topics that you will cover is to think about how they will be featured within a specific channel, like a quarterly print magazine or a blog. What are all the categories that you would want to include? 

A few of the more common ones we feature are patient stories, health and wellness topics, news and events and technological innovations and awards.

Critical questions to ask at this stage:

  • Which topics are most closely associated with your strategic priorities?
  • What content can you create that can’t be found anywhere else?
  • Which categories can help you rank on page 1 of Google?

Putting the plan into action:

Create a brainstorming map with strategic priorities as the center and spokes of the wheel for all your major topic ideas. 

Pro Tip: Source interviews and sources early—and make friends with the clinical resources who are willing to help and be featured in posts. 

Step 5: Map Out Your Plan

Now that you've collaborated with stakeholders and analyzed data to define your audience(s), topic categories and channels, it’s time to map out the content plan itself. 

This typically includes the following elements that can make or break a content strategy:

  • Audiences
  • Channels
  • Formats
  • Cadence
  • Calls to Action

When it comes to content planning and management, keep it simple and remember: The key is not having the right tool but understanding your goals and thinking content first. In fact, we often use Google Sheets as one of the easiest and most effective tools to plan, manage and track content.

Critical questions to ask at this stage:

  • How frequently can you deliver relevant content to your audience?
  • How often does your audience want to hear from you?
  • What format do you use to track your content? 

Putting the plan into action:

Move your brainstorming formats into a calendar for planning. Be sure to include enough time in the schedule for copywriting, designing, editing/proofreading and fact checking. And build in time on the back end for reporting. 

Pro Tip: Plan out and deliver assignments as far in advance as you can—if you know Heart Month is a focus, get started in October or November to leave room for adjustments, more creativity, and the ability to pick up last minute requests.

Bonus Tip: 3 Ways to Error-Proof Your Content during the Planning Process

Based on my experience, here are some tips for avoiding most common errors when building and executing a content plan:

  1. Make time for stakeholders to weigh in during your process. If you need legal to review, build in time for that. If you need a physician or patient to approve, build in time for that.
  2. Create checklists for each step of the process and the process itself. This will reduce errors and keep your content consistent.
  3. Choose a style guide. I can’t not mention this as an editor. Your high school English teacher was wrong: Grammar is subjective. Some grammar and punctuation is brand preference, so decide those things and stick to it. Most healthcare and business orgs use journalistic style guides like AP and Chicago and then add some exceptions. Write this down and use it consistently across your organization. Consistency builds an unconscious trust. No one notices your grammar until you make a mistake or it’s not consistent. 

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6 Questions to Improve Your Healthcare Content Marketing 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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Setting the Pace for Voice Search Content Marketing in Healthcare

Comscore predicts that half of all searches will be performed by voice before 2020. Find out how marketers at one of the top pediatric hospitals in the country are leading the way by leveraging “the shiny object” into a voice search content marketing strategy that actually works.

Serving North Texas for more than 100 years, Children’s Health is consistently named one of the top pediatric hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Part of the team stewarding the brand and growth strategy of Children’s Health is Courtney Cox, digital marketing manager, who will be sharing her expert perspective on voice search and real-world examples at Content Marketing World 2019.

We spoke with Courtney in advance of her presentation titled “You Will Fail at Voice Search.”

Q: Why do you feel the topic of voice search content marketing is relevant for today’s healthcare marketing professionals?

There are so many reasons voice search makes sense for health care. First, when you think about being at home and trying to administer medicine, or take your kid’s temperature, or look closely at a spot on your partner’s arm, you don’t have your hands free to use your phone to look things up. We’ve lived in a world for the last decade where our phones have become increasingly powerful. They give us the access to literally all the world’s knowledge, but frankly, the experience sucks. It’s so disruptive and unnatural to pick up your phone in the middle of living your life to look something up. Voice maintains that accessibility to knowledge in a way that fits much more organically into the way we live our lives.

The second major reason voice search is relevant for today’s healthcare marketing professionals is that our patients often lack the physical ability to interact with a phone. Whether they have a vision impairment, a mobility issue or they’re just too ill to go through the motions, voice search enables patients to access information despite physical limitations.

Q: It feels like early stages for voice applications in healthcare marketing; when do you estimate the majority of hospitals and health systems will adopt voice as part of their content marketing efforts?

It will be much faster than mobile, but not fast enough to keep up with market demand. Look, users are adopting voice technology faster than any other communication device in history. The healthcare industry can be very conservative when it comes to taking risks with new tech. Voice will be no different. You have your pioneers that have already begun to experiment, but realistically, it’ll be at least another five years before it’s commonplace and probably 10 before healthcare voice marketing will have matured.

Q: Can you share an anecdote or experience that illustrates how Children’s Health put this idea into practice?

Once we got a taste of that first voice search result, which was a search for “why can’t my kid sleep?” our team was hooked.

I’ve always been the type of person that wants to experiment with new technology, and we’re lucky to have leadership that allows us to explore and try new things. We decided we were going to give organic voice search a shot, and set out to find existing content that ranked for voice. We had exactly one ranking that we could find, but we never stopped after that first taste.

Now we have hundreds of voice positions, and we add more every day. But we’re still chasing dominance.

Q: What is the most important thing that you want attendees to take away from your presentation on voice search content marketing?

The most important thing I want attendees to take away from my presentation is to start now. The folks that are experimenting and trying this stuff out now will dominate share of voice for the next decade. We’ll be the ones everyone else is trying to mimic and beat. Don’t you want to be a part of that, rather than trying to catch up?

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