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Content Marketing for Healthcare Providers is What the Doctor Ordered


Content marketing has helped many industries thrive. Demand Metric showed that this element of inbound marketing methodology generates three times as many leads as traditional marketing while costing 62% less. Furthermore, Hubspot indicates that leads from content’s organic SEO have a 14.6% close rate whereas outbound leads only have a 1.7% rate. With social media sites and blogs accounting for 23% of the time people spend online, the Content Marketing Institute reports that 91% of B2B marketers have started using content marketing. Despite these amazing results, many healthcare providers haven’t embraced content marketing yet.

How Patients Interact with Online Content

According to a Pew Research Center telephone survey conducted in 2010, 59% of 3,001 adults in the U.S. look online for information on health topics related to specific diseases. 25% read commentary or others’ experiences about health or medical issues via blog posts, websites or online news groups. In addition, 19% view health or medical issue-related online videos while 18% consult reviews on particular drugs or medical treatments.

Healthcare providers are also assessed based on online content. Pew Research Center reports that 12% of adults consult online rankings or reviews of doctors. On the other hand, 11% seek online rankings or reviews of medical facilities. Social network sites shouldn’t be ignored either as 11% of adults follow their friends’ personal health experiences through updates. Moreover, 7% seek health information through these sites.

Despite Philips Healthcare uncovering that one in ten people owe their life and good health to web-based health information, the Content Marketing Institute discovered that the healthcare industry is two years behind other industries in producing effective, engaging content. Therefore, it’s about time that you take steps to rectify this. This is especially important considering the growing need to be careful about the quality of content producing online.

Why Content Writing is a Prescription for Success

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), 45% of consumers believe that information on social media can affect their decision to seek a second opinion. Meanwhile, 40% responded that social media changed the way they coped with chronic conditions or approached diet and exercise. In addition, a study conducted by Google shows that brand reputation is one of the aspects 94% of patients take into consideration while selecting a facility.

If you need a little extra convincing, here are three good examples of how healthcare content marketing has helped different well-known healthcare providers.

1) Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic has received ample recognition and credibility over the past few years due to its content marketing efforts. In addition to running a blog that features posts from employees and patients alike, the facility has an online magazine known as Discovery’s Edge to discuss recent developments in medical science.Mayo Clinic has also become famous for its specialized blogs which detail how to live with various health challenges such as diabetes and cancer.


2) Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic’s digital initiative Health Hub has become one of the top examples for content marketing for healthcare providers. The digital resource features health and wellness content from 40 leading healthcare providers, establishing the facility’s reputation as well as providers’ credibility. Through content for specific types of readers and other important posts, Ragan estimates that the site receives over a million visitors monthly. In addition, Cleveland Clinic produces sharable content, allowing it to flaunt an impressive 60% click through rate.


3) Johns Hopkins Medicine

Unlike the first two healthcare providers, Johns Hopkins Medicine has embraced content marketing early, but in a different form altogether. Through its podcast PodMed, the facility has provided valuable information over the past decade.What further makes their channel unique is platforms like SoundCloud and iTunes which allow people to get their hands on podcasts easily. Semil Shah made a great point about the value of podcasts writing, “What makes podcasts exciting right now, in 2014, is that while the battle for consumer attention and eyeballs is fierce on the Web and on mobile, the fight for our ears is more manageable.”


How Healthcare Industry Members Can Become Content Creators

As you can see, it’s about time that your healthcare facility embraces content creation and joins the ranks of Everyday Health and other health-centered sites out there. However, if you’re new to this niche, here are four relatively easy ways to start your content marketing efforts.

  1. A Single Hub for Health Information – You can follow the lead of Cleveland Clinic’s Health Hub and create a single source for tips, news, videos, blogs, expert Q&A, and live chat. The hub can easily attract thousands of visitors per month, but you’ll need to get professionals to generate the content.Ghostwritten and sponsored editorial can cause the content to lose its credibility, which is why Cleveland Clinic posts content written or approved by doctors, nurses or other experts.
  2. Condition-Specific Content – Content that targets a certain condition is important since many patients seek in-depth knowledge. You can have a site, blog or even a YouTube channel to educate people on different issues and how to manage them. One of the best examples in this regard is Miami Children’s Hospital which has a YouTube channel dedicated to highlighting complex surgeries performed on infants and children suffering from congenital heart defects. Despite the graphic nature of these videos, they draw tens of thousands of views, establishing the hospital’s reputation as a leader in pediatric surgery. Besides, it puts parents at ease, reducing their anxiety by providing them with relevant information and preparing them for the processMiami_Childrens_Hospital_YouTube
  3. Boston_Childrens_Hospital_AppMobile Apps – Mobile is one of the priorities of the healthcare industry, especially applications which offer directions, general information, and tools for tasks like booking appointments. Boston Children’s Hospital is a great example in this regard. MyWay was developed to make visiting the hospital easier for both local and out-of-state families. The app allows parents to navigate the hospital, find nearby restaurants and hotels, and even discover entertainment venues for the little patients’ siblings.
  4. Social Media – Healthcare facilities can also connect with patients on a social level. Boston Children’s Hospital doesn’t only have a primary Facebook page, it has different disease- and disorder-specific pages such as the Down Syndrome Program at Boston Hospital. Through these, the hospital offers support to patients. Explaining his employer’s strategy, social media specialist Ryan Paul said, “Our patient support groups serve as a real-time referral network, which is very different than giving people a list of quotes regarding our patient care. This serves as the best type of validation for new patients looking for a hospital and for people to connect with others like them.”

Content Marketing for Healthcare Providers 101

Knowing which channels your content can circulate through isn’t enough. To successfully use content marketing for members of the healthcare industry, here are some golden rules you should abide by.

Set Your Goals

To successfully create content, healthcare providers need to understand their editorial statement and how it affects their content creation and distribution strategy. Without an editorial statement, content will be useless since it won’t be tied to the facility’s goals and objects. This explains the findings of the International Data Corporation (IDC), which determined that building out content marketing as an organizational competency is the second most important initiative for the CMOs of the largest technology companies.

One of the common goals of healthcare providers is increasing the number of patients that come to them within a specific time frame. So, a gynecologist shoulc be publishing valuable information for women and expectant mothers, which would establish the doctor, staff, and facility as a trusted source and make women more likely to seek out that doctor’s office for a consultation. However, you need to perfect tracking leads through an RSS feed or tracker software to make sure that you are engaging in the lead nuturing and conversion process.

Research Your Content’s Consumers

To find out which content will be a success with consumers, you should make the effort of understanding your audience. Using input from existing patients, find out what may appeal to potential ones. You can use surveys or, better yet, talk with patients whenever they visit the clinic. Ask them about their concerns, likes, and what kind of issues they would like to know about. Now you can’t expect the same answers from everyone. However, once you create a persona for each segment, try your best to target your content towards one or more of these personas.

Take for instance Clarity Way, an upscale luxury rehab facility in Pennsylvania. The facility targets individuals with high public profiles despite offering its services to all. One of the most popular posts the facility has up is ‘The Curse of the Child Star: Celebrity Drug Addiction Infographic’. This piece of content sheds the light on the downfall of three celebrities: Amanda Bynes, Macaulay Culkin, and Lindsay Lohan. Each segment dedicated to these actors indicates when they rose to fame and how many times they were in and out of rehab and other extensive treatments. What further makes this infographic praiseworthy is that it shows how the child stars looked like before and how they have become after years of drug abuse.

Shift Your Attention to Contagious Content

Previously, healthcare content brought to mind images of brochures, white papers and thick reports. However, thanks to social media, healthcare content is more shareable. This is why you’re bound to come across more health-related infographics, studies and SlideShares. However, you should ensure that the information is reliable. The study ‘Building a Strong Services Brand: Lessons from Mayo Clinic’ uncovered that 95% of Mayo Clinic’s patients promote the brand (and content) to others because they’re sure of the authenticity of its medical information.

Consider Strategic Partnerships

Numerous healthcare organizations have pooled their resources to grow their content marketing networks. For instance, the University of Cincinnati, Case Western Reserve University and The Ohio State University have joined forces to create NetWellness, a site similar to Quora in function. Partnerships can also become brand affiliations, allowing healthcare providers to collectively showcase credible work. This is exactly what St. Vincent’s Medical Center did by joining MD Anderson Cancer Network.

Showcase Healthcare CEOs as Thought Leaders

Just like thought leadership is vital for B2B organizations, it is important for healthcare CEOs to step up and become known. This is where social media enters the picture. Scripps Health CEO Chris Van Gorder and Mayo Clinic CEO are two of 40+ CEOs who are active on Twitter. Meanwhile, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center David L. Katz and the CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine International Steven J. Thompson rely on LinkedIn’s Influencer program. Through it, their posts can reach a large audience. In fact, by 2014, Thompson managed to amass 13,000 followers with only 23 posts.

Step Confidently in the Mobile Health Market

The mobile health market has been growing quite quickly. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services estimates that 500 million users will have mobile health applications by 2015. Moreover, 50% of the 3.4 billion mobile devices worldwide are expected to have mobile health applications by 2018. This is why the Mayo Clinic invested in mobile startup Better while Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Eli Lilly and Company have come up with a range of mobile solutions.

Mobile apps will also be a blessing for marketers and healthcare providers since user experiences can be used as metrics. Apps can tell marketers a lot about potential patients and help them tweak their content marketing experiences to satisfy an even broader range of users.

However, to quote Voltaire (and Spiderman’s Uncle Ben), with great power comes great responsibility. As people’s lives are in their hands, healthcare providers need to be careful during their content marketing efforts. Therefore, always include quality and accurate information that is of value to patients to truly win them over. In addition, keep track of changes heading towards this industry to stay ahead in the game.

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