Content Marketing

Content Marketing in Healthcare – Not So Different From Other B2B

What is Content, Anyway?

Content is not a new concept. As marketers, we design, write and manage the development of content every day. From advertisements and sales collateral to experience papers and websites, content creation is a big part of our jobs. As a result, I’m willing to bet that your marketing organization has no shortage of content. So what are healthcare marketers missing?

Healthcare Marketing Lags Behind Other B2B in Content Marketing

According to recent study conducted by the research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs, the healthcare industry is lagging behind other B2B industries in content marketing:

    • Health care companies outsource content marketing at a higher rate than other industries: Compared to all other industries in the study, health care brands outsource some portion of content marketing at approximately a 40 percent higher clip (63 percent, compared with an average of 45 percent).
    • Health care companies struggle with content marketing effectiveness: Just 28 percent of respondents feel that their content marketing is successful in solving their overall marketing objectives.
    • Health care companies use social media less often: Of the top 10 social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), health care companies show substantially decreased usage — except for one: YouTube (video). Also, the total number of platforms used is lower than that of other industries — 4.5 channels leveraged versus 3.6 for health care companies).

CMI’s research also details the top three healthcare content marketing challenges:

    • Producing enough content – 20%
    • Lack of budget – 17%
    • Producing the kind of content that engages – 16%

So how can this industry overcome these challenges – and become content marketing machines?

Know your Audience

In my previous post, I talked about this new Marketing world we all live in, like it or not. A dramatic shift from traditional “push marketing” tactics to telling stories that matter to our customers. As content creators, this means asking ourselves a very important question: Is our content tailored to our audience’s needs – or is it one-size-fits all?

In a recent blog post, Barb Schmitz of CMI recapped sessions from day one of the Content Marketing World Health Summit (November 7 – 8, Cleveland, OH). I found the following excerpt from the session entitled “Content Marketing Strategy and Pharma” particularly insightful:

Content should be personalized. Content creation should be a multi-phase process: Ask a lot of questions, figure out what your customers want, determine what already exists, think like a publisher, and make it part of your process” – Buddy Scalera, Senior VP, Interactive Content and Market Research, Ogilvy CommonHealth Interactive Marketing

Determine your Content Goals

Once you have a comprehensive understanding of your target audience, the next step is to determine the actions and behaviors you want to affect with your content. James Boye-Doe of Strategy4Content (blog) recently discussed the need for a content strategy and mission statement in How Not to Fail at your Content Marketing Efforts.

In this post, James points out: “this all boils down knowing the story you aim to tell and forming a content strategy that communicates your story in a compelling way to your current and future customers”. Well said.

Carving out your content mission and strategy might be the most challenging aspect of your content marketing – but it is also the most important factor for the success of your program.

Deliver your Content in a Compelling Way

By now, we know that it is vital to understand our audience along every stage of their buying process – and tell stories that matter to them. This is half the battle. The next challenge is how best to deliver these stories.

Here are seven great vehicles to share your healthcare marketing content:

1. Infographics: Easily digestible graphics used for data visualization. These graphics work well to visually depict clinical data and healthcare statistics. And they are also good for those with a short attention span (hint, healthcare providers and patients). Infographics were discussed in a previous post entitled Infographics and the B2B Marketer – Why Should You Care?

2. Online Events / Webinars: Discuss current issues facing healthcare – or demonstrate a new procedural technique. Webinars are a great way to share content with your audience. You can also repurpose this content on your blog, website, etc. Example: ModernHealthcare.com Webinars

3. Blogs Posts: Blogs are a great way to communicate your story, share ideas and interact with your target audience. Blogs can also act as the hub for all of your content – and work exceptionally well to improve your ranking on Google, which favors sites that are updated regularly and in a meaningful way. A great example of a healthcare blog done right is The Cleveland Clinic’s HealthHub blog

4. Curated content: Compile the latest evidence or industry trends from your healthcare space into a blog post, white paper or video. This allows your audience to obtain all of this vital information in one place while positioning your company as a trusted source. The nice thing about curating content – is that you can use many different vehicles to deliver it – and have the flexibility to divide up the content as needed. Example: Healthcare Social Media News

5. Slideshows: Companies store a large amount of customer-centric content on slides. I’m sure at one point or another, you’ve asked yourself how best to share data or other relevant information from your slide decks with your customers. Ever heard of SlideShare? It’s like social media for presentations. Here’s a great example: From Content to Customer- How to Generate Demand with Content Marketing

6. Videos: Film a testimonial, a procedure or a success story – embed it in your blog posts or on your website. Make it interactive. We know as consumers of content that we tend to prefer websites that offer multiple ways to digest the same content. Video is just one (important) way of delivering your content.

7. Email / Newsletters: Use this as a vehicle to promote your webinars / events, share your curated content and retain your current customers.

Now that we’ve defined content and shared some ideas on how to deliver it – here’s my question (and also my challenge) for you:

Are you ready to transform the way you develop content – and become a content marketing machine?

Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing: Does It Apply In Healthcare?

Anyone who follows the healthcare market has read about the impact of healthcare reform and the associated focus on reducing healthcare delivery costs. You’ve also seen the ripple effects of this new focus; as healthcare providers focus on costs they now demand proof that new technologies or “solutions” offered by medical equipment manufacturers provide a measurable improvement in the service they are trying to deliver to the healthcare consumer. Long gone are the days when providers were willing to pay for new products that weren’t clearly differentiated from existing offerings.

Healthcare Providers Are Becoming Savvy Researchers

Healthcare providers are also becoming savvier. They have a better understanding of their purchasing needs. This is due to the proliferation of peer-to-peer forums, group purchasing organizations and information from medical equipment manufacturers. And then there is the internet. Now providers – like consumers in many other industries – have a wide array of online resources at their disposal to research the landscape of products available from a wide array of manufacturers.

In my recent blog post entitled The End of Solution Sales: What This Means for Marketing I discussed the impact of B2B customers becoming savvier in gathering information. The title of the post was somewhat disingenuous – the solution sale isn’t dead. Assuming that B2B customers come to the bargaining table with little information? That’s dead.

Inbound Marketing in Healthcare

Today’s B2B customer (including healthcare providers) does their research before engaging with vendors. This puts pressure on medical equipment manufacturers to deliver proof points about their products and services in the venues that purchasers use the research offerings.

If this all sound very familiar it’s because this is the basic tenet of inbound marketing which relies some key steps:

    1. Creating information (content) that answers your prospect’s questions
    2. Syndicating that content such that when prospects search for answers during their consideration process your content gets found.
    3. Continuously creating engaging content that reinforces how your product/solution addresses their needs.
    4. Driving prospects to a solution (yours) or location (your sales rep or website) where they can continue the evaluation process or purchase.

The key, of course, is understanding the questions healthcare providers will have about these products. These questions usually revolve around clinical and economic evidence. Therefore, content will usually take the form of clinical studies, procedural videos, key opinion leader papers, clinical webinars and product specific collateral. Once the right content is ready the next step is ensuring your content is available where your prospects are looking for answers.

For consumers this search typically begins with Google, YouTube, blogs or socially-powered product review sites. Healthcare providers, being consumers as well, initiate their searches in similar locations but also turn to industry specific resources as well. This is where it becomes important that content strategy, search engine optimization, social media and customer marketing teams are closely aligned.

Breaking Down Marketing Silos

In her blog post Why Only Adaptive Marketers Will Survive Rebecca Lieb of the Altimeter Group writes about the impact of different marketing functions acting fiefdoms:

“Real-time insights, optimization, and shared learnings that inform other initiatives (not to mention that inform their own work) are an impossibility in vertically organized, hierarchical organizations. Enterprises must be able to move as quickly as their customers do. This requires bold realignment as well as informed empowerment.”

Her example focuses on combining centers of excellence in strategy, content creation, search engine optimization, syndication, social media and analytics into a combined demand generation function. The benefit of this COE approach is improved execution speed and effectiveness while reducing duplication.

This is not an easy task – nothing worthwhile is – but the benefits are clear. When inbound marketing is done right and executed in sync with a solid content strategy, customers will seek out your solutions because through their research it has risen to the top of the list; often, before they’ve even engaged with you.