With 73% of people using search engines as their first line of defense against illness, success in healthcare is hinged to digital marketing. As the health and wellness searches swell, healthcare providers need to find a way to glue successful content practices to their digital framework.
Unfortunately, legacy branding, solidified "old school" marketing practices, and misunderstanding regarding the necessity of digital content have made digital content slow-to-adopt in the health sector. However, that trend is rapidly changing. Piggybacking off of Goliaths like Mayo Clinic, pharma companies, medical supply brands, healthcare providers, and hospitals are stepping their marketing strategies, especially when it comes to content.
This year, we expect to see healthcare companies explode into the content space en masse. In part, developing a robust content strategy helps brands stay competitive. But, with so many patients taking to the internet as their primary avenue of health-related questions and answers, failing to capitalize on this user tsunami may leave you outpaced by digital healthcare solutions and other providers.
Understanding the Current Content Ecosystem in Healthcare
Successful content marketing requires a multi-channel approach to creation and distribution. Not only do you need to have a sophisticated content pipeline, but you need to bake personalization and customer-centricity directly into your content. That means that you need to produce a variety of content (e.g., social media, blogs, etc.) that's hyper-personalized and provides real, honest value to your customers. Also it means that you need to have the right platform to deliver.
Today's customer has the power of options, and it's important to think of them as people first and patients second. To do this, you need to understand that healthcare content doesn't need to be differentiated from traditional content marketing pipelines. In fact, most of the principles that guide efficient content marketing aren't industry-specific. However, healthcare is driven by additional regulations that require specific sensitivities and patient data is heavily protected. While customers want similar experiences regardless of the industry delivering those experiences, healthcare companies need to juggle compliance and customer privacy concerns within their content framework.
Remember, healthcare and pharma companies are often subjected to internal and external regulatory pressures that can limit the scope of their content. With pharmacovigilance and other pressures guiding healthcare content, it's important that all content be created with consideration and care.
5 Benefits of Content Marketing in Healthcare
Let's take a quick look at some of the ways that content marketing can help you redefine your patient's experience and increase conversions at the same time.
1. Content Marketing Bolsters Brands
Branding is a big deal in the healthcare space. Not only does branding directly influence your patient influx, but branding can play a significant role in funding acquisition and research opportunities. Content marketing does an incredible job at branding by leveraging your corporate identity and positioning it against value-driven materials.
Healthcare providers have the opportunity to provide value before patients walk in the building. This means you can embed branding triggers prior to direct engagement, and you can use your content as a springboard for additional branding efforts (i.e., webinars, patient interactions, etc.)
Key statistics: 85% of patients are comfortable scouting out health information on their own. Make sure that you are one of the first places they find!
2. Content Marketing Helps Build Patient Trust
Healthcare providers are in a unique position when it comes to content. Trust is already baked into the healthcare field — since hospitals are overflowing with professionals with expertise in their field. So, when you create content, you can leverage those physicians, researchers, and experts to immediately breed trust and reputability straight into that content.
Not only does this mean that patients are finding your content first, but they're consuming content from a position of trust. Of course, this develops into real, meaningful business results down-the-road.
3. Content Can Convert
At its heart, content is a conversion machine. By gluing value-driven content to that immediate physician trust, you can engage patients on a deeper level. This bi-directional relationship that develops between healthcare and patients via content is hinged to value, and patients can develop real, meaningful relationships with companies through that content. Finding a way to convert patients at scale requires a full-funnel approach to content marketing, and a keen desire to organically drive patients to all of your platforms (e.g., social media, blog, etc.)
Social media is becoming a major conversion beacon for hospitals. The average Singaporean spends 2 hours and 6 minutes on social media daily, so positioning your healthcare brand on social media is mission-critical for patient acquisition and long-term content marketing growth.
Ultimately, you want to use content to create relationships. You want to think about patients as people first and create valuable materials that they can readily consume. During this interaction, you're building your brand, driving your vision, and engaging patients to secure long-term results.
4. Content Analytics Can Growth Hack Your Patient Pipeline
McKinsey lists data-driven insights and analytics as one of the most critical growth bucket for healthcare moving forward. While there are certainly other areas to mine analytics, content marketing is a fantastic place to gather broader customer analytics pre-conversion.
This means that healthcare companies can start to use data to understand how people are consuming content, browsing websites, and searching for their brand. You can use this data to improve patient efficiencies and map new workflows throughout your digital hospital experience. Having a 360 view of your patients helps create new processes that will drive conversions.
Of course, not all data can be used to drive results. Healthcare businesses need to remain sensitive and compliant when it comes to patient data, while still utilizing the pieces of non-sensitive data as efficiently as possible.
5. Operations Reduction
"Our digital channels enable the reduction of call center volumes, which means we can spend money on healthcare instead of operations." - Matt Spragins, Director of Personalization at Kaiser Permanente - Adobe conference
Successful content marketing naturally reduces operational overhead. Since most patients are already consuming health and wellness content, producing trustworthy medically-driven content can help reduce the load on other areas of hospital operations, while still funneling patients into your hospital.
Of course, this works doubly well when you introduce digitally transformative patient touchpoints (e.g., online consultations, mobile appointments, etc.)
Frictions in Healthcare Content Marketing
As the digital age swallows "age-old" methods of patient acquisition and care, there are some frictions specific to the healthcare industry that we all need to understand.
For many healthcare companies and healthcare providers personalization is tricky. With regulatory bodies governing patient data, delivering real, on-the-spot personalization can be frustrating. In fact, 60% of marketers struggle to create personalized experiences, and 77% of them know that personalization is crucial towards their future success.
Digital healthcare will be slow to adopt personalization, and overall healthcare providers face significant transformation challenges (see our recent post Five Tips for Delivering Content Experience in Healthcare). However, content marketing is one of the first places where you can approach personalization on both a broad and granular scale. Since content data is easy to collect, analyze, and distribute into actionable strategies, personalization should start online.
Using content to create digital healthcare experiences is mission-critical for healthcare providers, hospitals, and pharma companies who want to stay agile, competitive, and relevant. By using content to boost your branding, drive analytic results, and breed trust into your healthcare organization, you can increase conversions and bolster your patient pipeline.
Is your company ready to start its digitally transformative journey? Do you want more patients, better workflows, and greater reach?
For more suggestions, see our recent post on the Top 5 Digital Transformation Challenges in Today’s Healthcare or subscribe to our newsletter below, to receive more articles like this directly in your inbox.