How Marketing Technology Supercharges Content

Historically, the process of matching content to the right audience and channel—and most importantly, whether or not anyone did anything as a result—involved myriad manual tasks and a good bit of guesswork. Thanks to marketing technology, content can be targeted, crafted and tracked with greater precision than ever before.

When my career in health­care mar­ket­ing began 20 years ago, launch­ing a con­tent mar­ket­ing cam­paign involved hours copy­ing, past­ing and harass­ing IT for help using dis­parate tools cob­bled togeth­er. The uni­verse of mar­ket­ing tech­nol­o­gy (aka MarTech) extend­ed lit­tle fur­ther than Excel and oth­er data­base tools.

Fast for­ward to 2020 and the MarTech land­scape has explod­ed, now encom­pass­ing more than 7,000 solu­tions that enable every­thing from app devel­op­ment and pro­gram­mat­ic adver­tis­ing to online sched­ul­ing and AI-dri­ven chat. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, spend­ing on these tools is typ­i­cal­ly one of the mod­ern mar­keter’s largest bud­get items.

Marketing Technology Moves in Health Care

With height­ened expec­ta­tions for per­for­mance and increased competition—combined with lean mar­ket­ing teams and bud­gets that pale in com­par­i­son to oth­er indus­tries, health­care orga­ni­za­tions are invest­ing heav­i­ly in MarTech as a force mul­ti­pli­er. The impact of tech­nol­o­gy on how hos­pi­tals and health sys­tems mar­ket their brands is man­i­fold—from how data is ana­lyzed and audi­ences defined to cam­paign man­age­ment, mea­sure­ment and optimization.

Per­haps nowhere is this evo­lu­tion of health­care mar­ket­ing more impor­tant than at the inter­sec­tion of tech­nol­o­gy and content.

The grow­ing impact and inter­de­pen­dence of MarTech and con­tent can clear­ly be seen in con­fer­ence agen­das and indus­try reports. For exam­ple, of the 200 health­care mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als sur­veyed for the 2019 State of Dig­i­tal Health­care Mar­ket­ing, near­ly 8 in 10 con­sid­er con­tent mar­ket­ing essen­tial (a dou­ble-dig­it increase from 2018), while the shift from mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions to mar­ket­ing tech­nol­o­gy was ranked among the most press­ing issues as illus­trat­ed below.

And while the com­po­nents of a MarTech stack are as var­ied as the hos­pi­tals invest­ing in them, they typ­i­cal­ly encom­pass CRM sys­tems, automa­tion plat­forms and oth­er ele­ments con­sid­ered essen­tial for the mod­ern marketer.

To help you lever­age these tools, here are ways that health­care lead­ers are effec­tive­ly con­nect­ing the MarTech stack to their con­tent mar­ket­ing strategies.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

The major­i­ty of hos­pi­tals and health sys­tems (59%, accord­ing to the State of Dig­i­tal Health­care Mar­ket­ing report) have now adopt­ed a CRM plat­form, which is designed to paint a clear­er pic­ture of their patient pop­u­la­tion and help find ide­al prospects. This clar­i­ty allows mar­keters to tar­get and mea­sure their con­tent mar­ket­ing efforts with unmatched precision.

Exam­ples of con­tent mar­ket­ing tech­nol­o­gy in action:

  • Iden­ti­fy­ing the ide­al audi­ence and gen­er­at­ing lists for direct mail, email and cus­tom pub­li­ca­tions based on mul­ti­ple fac­tors beyond the tra­di­tion­al demo­graph­ic and psy­cho­graph­ic vari­ables, includ­ing propen­si­ty to need spe­cif­ic health services
  • Tar­get­ing the tone, voice, imagery and oth­er con­tent ele­ments based on the ide­al patient profile
  • Devel­op­ing email work­flows with con­tent and calls to action per­son­al­ized to spe­cif­ic patient segments
  • Mea­sur­ing per­for­mance of con­tent mar­ket­ing cam­paigns by match­ing the tar­get group to down­stream encounters

Marketing Automation Platform (MAP)

The automa­tion of mar­ket­ing activ­i­ties his­tor­i­cal­ly per­formed man­u­al­ly is a key mark­er of the industry’s evo­lu­tion. The adop­tion of mar­ket­ing automa­tion tech­nol­o­gy is grow­ing steadi­ly accord­ing to the State of Dig­i­tal Health­care Mar­ket­ing report, with 53% cur­rent­ly using a tool or plan­ning to invest with­in the year.

Build­ing con­sumer jour­neys and cre­at­ing con­tent that plugs into MAP solu­tions allows health­care mar­keters to engage tar­get audi­ences with con­tent appro­pri­ate for where they are in the health­care jour­ney. Auto­mat­ed trig­ger and drip cam­paigns increase con­ver­sion rates by nur­tur­ing ear­ly stage leads effec­tive­ly through to the goal (attend­ing a sem­i­nar, sched­ul­ing an appoint­ment, etc.) while cross-pro­mot­ing oth­er rel­e­vant ser­vices, events and health content.

Exam­ples of con­tent mar­ket­ing tech­nol­o­gy in action:

  • Email cam­paigns that nur­ture leads gen­er­at­ed through cam­paign work, includ­ing prospects who par­tic­i­pate in health risk assess­ments and sem­i­nars as well as exist­ing patients who are due for annu­al appoint­ments and oth­er trig­ger events.
  • Con­tent for these cam­paigns can include reminders to down­load a patient guide or sched­ule an appoint­ment as well as rel­e­vant lifestyle con­tent based on the user’s health risk pro­file and oth­er per­son­al factors.

Learn how technology can help you plan, create and deploy content on a consistent basis in our report: Content + Automation: The Modern Marketing Power Couple

Content Management System (CMS)

Every health­care orga­ni­za­tion has a web­site, and while the CMS select­ed to pow­er the site is impor­tant, anoth­er crit­i­cal ele­ment is need­ed that ensures con­sumers can find your brand online and keep com­ing back: qual­i­ty content.

As health­care orga­ni­za­tions invest in sophis­ti­cat­ed CMS plat­forms, merge with oth­er health sys­tems, and con­tin­u­ous­ly add and update web con­tent, they can lose sight of the val­ue of an effec­tive con­tent strat­e­gy to sup­port it.

Exam­ples of con­tent mar­ket­ing tech­nol­o­gy in action:

  • Opti­miza­tion of web­site con­tent to guide the patient jour­ney, from pages high­light­ing con­di­tions and treat­ments through to provider infor­ma­tion so that the site solves prob­lems, answers ques­tions and makes it easy to access the appro­pri­ate care 
  • His­toric opti­miza­tion of high-poten­tial blog and ser­vice line con­tent to increase organ­ic traf­fic and con­ver­sions, whether the goal is to down­load an edu­ca­tion­al guide or sched­ule an appointment—and any­where in between

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Software

The evo­lu­tion of mar­ket­ing into equal parts art and sci­ence is per­haps best reflect­ed in the the poten­tial for SEO to increase your content’s expo­sure. And while Google con­tin­ues mov­ing the goal­posts for how SEO works, organ­ic search remains the num­ber one source of traf­fic to hos­pi­tal web­sites. Sev­er­al tools (many of them free) give mar­keters ways to access the con­tent their tar­get audi­ences care about.

Exam­ples of con­tent mar­ket­ing tech­nol­o­gy in action:

  • Key­word analy­sis to define top­ic cat­e­gories and high-poten­tial terms that increase traffic
  • Com­peti­tor research to iden­ti­fy oppor­tu­ni­ties and gaps
  • Track­ing key­word per­for­mance and mak­ing adjustments

Need Help Leveraging Your Marketing Technology?

Let’s talk about how to make the most of your investments.

A Conversation with Content Strategists Part 3: Marketing Technology and Channel Integration

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:

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:

Part 1: Keep­ing Up With Trends 

Part 2: Pri­ma­ry Goals, Audi­ences and Channels

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.

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