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Content Strategy for Healthcare Organizations: The Essential Tips

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Blog April 11, 2017 by Melinda Deines
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Content Strategy for Healthcare Organizations: The Essential Tips

As you build brand awareness for your healthcare organization, consider utilizing the knowledge and expertise of your team in a content strategy marketing program. Patients are going to the internet for information on their health already – why not become a source they know they can trust? Additionally, patients will now google a clinic before visiting, and what kind of content shows up may influence their decision. Consider a Google search that shows a clinic has published 30 or more articles on a patient’s healthcare concern, versus one blog post – or nothing. Who would you think is more qualified?

Content strategy takes time and commitment, but it can be extremely effective if well executed. With this in mind, here are some essential tips to ensure you get the most from your healthcare website content strategy:

Strategy and Planning

Content strategy is a long game, and if you don’t know what you’re aiming for you will end up spinning your wheels. Some tips to ensure you are planning effectively:

Determine what the goals are with specific metrics. Do you want to increase new patient awareness and drive higher volume in a specific patient segment? Do you want to change perception of your organization? You need specific KPI’s, long term and short term, with a timeline.

Know who you are creating content for, and don’t be generic. If you want to promote your sports clinic, determine what age demographic, types of sports, and types of injuries are most commonly treated at your clinic. Think about how these patients want to be treated versus, say, breast cancer patients. Find out what questions they ask doctors all the time, and what most concerns them. But know that it is not an occasional blog post per audience that will get results. It is ongoing, substantial content for a targeted audience (also known as customer personas) over a sustained period of time that will achieve your goals.

Track your content. If you are going to get results from content strategy, you need to track who is looking at your content and what they are looking at. By tracking over time and running tests on your content, you can improve results.

The bottom line is that suddenly deciding to start a blog and tossing information up onto the site will not have any effect. This needs to be thought out like any other marketing campaign, and you need to be committed for the duration.

Relevant, Quality Content

There is no point embarking on a content strategy initiative if you are not going to ensure the material is good enough to be shared on social media and added as links on other sites. Some tips for creating content that patients will want to share:

Allowing patients to have a say, like the Mayo Clinic does in their sharing blog. Patients who’ve had a positive experience are the best brand ambassadors you will ever have.

Other commonly used tactics are to determine what symptoms, frequently asked questions and conditions are being commonly searched and creating content to answer those queries, or writing a new angle on relevant news story. It’s important to note that your content will be competing with other experts, so ask what your organization can say that’s specific to you. Have your physicians and nurses contribute to the content, even if it is just for approval, and ensure it is on point with what your organization really stands for.

Make sure you are staying true to your brand. Depending on the tone of your organization, a clever tactic is the use of humor. If you are going to use a strong emotional tone, make sure there is a genuine reason for it and that it fits your brand messaging, otherwise it feels manipulative and will turn your audience off. Johnson & Johnson strikes the right balance here.

Stay away from being overly clinical or academic. Put yourself in the patient’s shoes and remember they want reassurance and compassion as much as information, and that language should be colloquial. When you use medical terminology, explain it in basic, everyday language.

Any of these tactics can be successful, provided there is meaningful material there to support your position as an expert. To this end, you will need to ensure you have sufficient resources to produce this content, because an effective strategy requires a significant investment on this front.

Change it up

Don’t just stick to one format. You have options.

Video, blog posts, social media activity such as Instagram stories, research papers and ebooks are only some of the formats you can use. Before you start, look at what makes sense for your audience.

Video content is now more popular than ever, especially with the increase in mobile device usage. There are different ways to leverage video – it can be short and sweet, as part of a mix of content, like these shorts by Nuffield Health. Or it can be a specific project related to your goals, such as creating a series of videos on congenital heart disease, taking patients through the various stages of a patient journey in depth, with your physicians and nurses providing expert advice and reassurance.

This doesn’t mean you have to create content for every format. Depending on your resources and market research, you may decide that a YouTube channel and blogs with the occasional expert Q & A is the right mix of content for your organization and budget.

Content strategy can create an online presence that can build your position as a leader in healthcare. It is an endeavor that requires a committed, concerted effort that must be planned well in advance, with adequate resources allocated to produce enough content. If you create content that answers your patients questions and concerns and connects them to your values, it can be a huge boost to not only your presence on the internet, but within your community, and within the medical community.

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