7 Essentials of Healthcare Content Marketing to Get You Started

So your mind’s made up: You’re convinced that content marketing can strengthen your healthcare business.

So what’s next?

For starters, take a minute and reflect on what you’re getting yourself into. You’re going to need more money, more people, more decisions and more buy-in from your bosses. Launching a content marketing initiative is a bit like building a new clinic: It requires a thoughtful design, sufficient budget, top-notch building materials and a solid foundation — all optimized for keeping patients healthy, happy and loyal.How hard could that be?

Well, it’s not falling-off-a-log easy (nothing worth doing ever is), but it does not have to be pull-your-hair-out difficult, either. A lot depends on getting off to a good start that prevents a lot of expensive detours down the road.

Here are seven keys to a strong start for your healthcare content marketing initiative:

Get Buy-in From Leaders and Staff

Content marketing will die on the vine if you don’t get people excited about it. That means convincing your bosses that it will drive additional revenue and strengthen patients’ bonds to your business. And it means talking to staff to gain their support.

Gather data on successful content marketing projects and use it to bolster your case. You’re not doing this because it’s a nice thing to post articles and videos on your website. You’re doing it because there’s a business case for using content to market your business. If you can’t make that case, it’ll be far too easy for people to either reject you out of the gate or give up on you if they think it’s taking too long to succeed.

Develop an Effective Content Strategy

Content marketing without a strategy is like trying to build your clinic without a blueprint. It can be done, but the results will be messy. Content strategy starts with one question: Why on earth are we doing this?

Do you want to distinguish your practice from the competition? Make sure more people know about your specialties? Streamline patient visits by giving them reliable health information before they arrive for their appointments?

This is where securing buy-in from top leadership is crucial. The bosses know the gaps in the business and what they would like to plug. Learn their priorities and map your strategy around them.

Identify Key Tactics

With a content strategy in hand, you can identify tactics to make it happen. What are some key tactics?

  • Blog posts that clear up common patient misconceptions.
  • Seasonal articles like flu shots in the fall and poison ivy/oak treatment in the summer.
  • Video interviews with your top specialists.
  • Social media posts that engage your patients and answer their questions.
  • Events like walkathons or 5K races that have a healthy theme. (Yes, events are content.)

Make sure your tactics are realistic — all content has costs that somebody has to pay. The key is to find the ones that are the best match of your available content and your patients’ needs.

Create a Content Calendar

A calendar gives crucial structure to your content initiative. It gives people deadlines for getting things done and it commits you to producing content on a regular schedule.

A content calendar has two key benefits:

  • It gets patients in the habit of checking your website regularly for fresh content — which deepens their commitment to your business and makes it less likely they’ll bolt to the competition.
  • Search engines like Google move content up in their page rankings if websites are updated frequently. Stale content, by contrast, sends your pages to the bottom of search engine rankings.

Find Content Creators

Start with your staff. Maybe there’s an administrator who likes to write or a lab tech with a popular YouTube channel. Just keep in mind you don’t want to distract your key clinical staff from their healthcare duties. You can divide content people into two broad categories:

  • Producers: Writers, editors, photographers, illustrators, web developers and so on.
  • Managers and strategists: Somebody has to supervise the editorial strategy and make sure all your tactics keep reinforce that strategy.

The best way to find content creators is to start asking all the people you know if they know somebody who does this kind of work. Most veteran marketing professionals know writers, editors and visuals people — start by asking them to recommend good people they’ve worked with. You want professionals with strong portfolios and convincing testimonials.

Create Goals and Commit to Them

Every piece of content you post online will generate data that can establish the effectiveness of your efforts. A few sample benchmarks:

  • Conversion rate: Data proving your content has attracted new patients.
  • Bounce rate: This tells you how soon people bail on your content; the lower your bounce rate, the better, because it means people are staying longer on your site.
  • Time on site: Most people stay on a website for a few seconds. If you get them to hang around for a few minutes, you’re building much more committed users of your site.

Goals give you something to shoot for. If you fall short, you can tweak and experiment till your numbers improve. Without goals, it’s far too easy for a content initiative to wander off track. Just make sure your goals are realistic and neither too easy nor too hard.

Establish a Reporting Regimen

The data tracking your goals needs to flow into reports you can use to convince top stakeholders that your efforts are paying off.

Google Analytics provides a robust set of free tools to measure traffic to your website. It can track conversions and help you figure out which content attracts the most users and which content is getting ignored.

Working Together to Create a Great Start

If you’ve ever seen a film with your favorite movie star that made you want to storm out of the theater after five minutes and demand your eight bucks back, you understand that talent alone is no guarantee of success.

Like moviemaking, healthcare content marketing is a collaborative enterprise where everybody has to pull together to succeed. You need great planning, bold execution and persuasive documentation.

Nobody wants their content project to become an expensive flop. Doing your best at the beginning is one of the best ways to make sure that doesn’t happen.