Developing a suite of educational online marketing content to help achieve business goals has become a popular way for organizations to demonstrate marketing ROI. While an increasing number of organizations generating online content means increased competition to get the right eyes on one’s content, content marketing is a strategic and measurable way to align marketing and business goals. And, while content marketing isn’t the right fit for every industry, one key question remains – can content marketing help attract patients to medical practices? (Spoiler alert: the answer is, “yes.”)
What types of content do patients want?
Medical practice marketing is a great lesson in the importance of understanding your audience’s wants and needs. As with any industry, creating a content hierarchy is important – what falls under the category of helpful tips and what content is only relevant to prospective patients? For a primary care practice, timely things like cold and flu season, allergy season, etc. present timely opportunities to generate relevant and valuable content. For specialty practices such as oncologists, neurologists, podiatrists and others, there is no limit to the number of relevant questions that could be answered with high-quality online marketing content.
How do patients want to receive information?
Tying back to my earlier point about the importance of knowing what information your target audience is looking for, is understanding where to reach your audiences. While some practices’ clientele may be active Facebook users, other practices’ clients may embrace email communications. And, let’s not overlook online doctor reviews. What are your current patients saying about you on Yelp and other online review sites? Rather than taking a best guess, consider a short patient survey to determine which communication channels should take a leading role in your content marketing program and which are better suited to a supporting role.
What content should I give away for free and what content should be gated behind a data capture form?
Every industry has its own unique marketing funnel and physicians practices are no exception. Before launching your content marketing program, assess and assign values to your marketing content and ensure the most critical information lies behind short (responsive, and easy-to-complete) data capture forms and that general tips and practice news live primarily on blogs and social media platforms. Remember, you can also cross-promote all of this great content in your email marketing.
(How) Are we building links?
How are you going to drive traffic to your online marketing content? Social sharing is an important part of any content marketing strategy. As many say, it doesn’t matter how great your concept or content information is if it is essentially a “billboard in the desert.” Among the most effective link building strategies are guest blogging, reciprocal content sharing and securing expert articles in key media (local, regional, national, trade) where the stories’ online counterparts include links back to key parts of your website. If editorial/organic content isn’t effective in shoring up this gap, sponsored content may be a valuable edition to your content marketing strategy. Which begs the question, how do you know if content = patients?
How do I measure the success of my online marketing program?
The bottom line of any marketing program is ROI. So, how do you know if all of the online marketing content you are creating is translating into new patients and/or physician referrals? On the surface, blog and social engagement (comments/likes/shares) are marketing metrics to consider. Take a step down the marketing funnel and we have premium content downloads (free whitepaper: five steps to avoid the common cold, toolkit for flu-proofing your house, etc.). And, at the bottom of the funnel, of course, is new patient acquisition.