To stand out in today’s crowded marketplace, your organization needs a documented healthcare content strategy. According to the Content Marketing Institute, while 73 percent of technology marketers say they have a content strategy, only 40 percent have actually documented it.
Of course, creating a solid healthcare content marketing plan can be intimidating because it requires a good deal of time and expertise. But don’t be deterred as the effort is well worth the payoff. In fact, more than 70 percent of the most successful content marketers swear by a documented strategy.
Not sure how to put together an effective content-driven healthcare marketing plan? Below, we break down the planning process into 10 straightforward steps.
Step 1: Set Goals and Objectives
Content marketing goals should come from overall marketing goals, and marketing goals should come from business goals. Your healthcare content strategy, therefore, should support the business, not just marketing.
Aligning content with your marketing and business objectives should guide your approach, but don’t go overboard, especially if this is your first content marketing plan. Set some simple but specific one-year goals, and then identify some broader two- or three-year goals, which you’ll need to revisit on at least a quarterly basis.
To establish your content marketing goals, start with these questions:
- Why are we doing this?
- Even if you think you know the answer, spell out why you’re doing content marketing and why it’s important. And the answer shouldn’t be, “Because everyone else is doing it.”
- What’s the overarching goal?
- Some answers will focus on hard metrics like brand awareness, lead generation, or actual transactions. Other answers will focus on softer metrics like prospect engagement or establishing your company as a thought leader in your industry.
There is no right or wrong answer.
- What is our unique story?
- With the growth of the healthcare technology industry, you might be facing more competition in your sector than ever before. But even if your product or service is like the next guy’s, your story is unique. It is critical for you to identify your company’s differentiators before you move forward.
Step 2: Plan Your Budget
How you prepare your budget and how much you spend depends on dozens of business and marketing variables, so it can vary widely from organization to organization. However, whatever you do, don’t budget for content creation only; you also need to plan for content marketing strategy and planning, content distribution, reporting and analytics, as well as design.
Keep in mind that nearly every marketing tactic — social media, search engine marketing, direct mail, website, etc. — needs content. When you’re trying to establish your content marketing budget, get your marketing colleagues together and ask the following question, “How effective would your tactic or area be without content?”
The discussion should allow you to plant the seed that the budget for content marketing needs to be shared across all areas, because without quality content and a plan to market it, no one’s marketing efforts will succeed.
Step 3: Research the Market and Benchmark the Competition
A healthcare content strategy should be based on credible research. Primary research should include interviews with marketing stakeholders, both internal (employees) and external (customers, prospects), while secondary research should include any relevant reports, studies, or surveys.
Also, consider what your competitors are doing. How do they use their social media platforms? Is their content well-written and informative? What types of content do they produce? Are they thought leaders in your field?
Use this research and understanding to guide your plan and make key decisions, such as putting more resources into one social channel over another or partnering with a particular company to reach your target audience.
Step 4: Understand Healthcare Target Audiences
Developing a healthcare content marketing plan without identifying the target audiences is like shooting an arrow in the dark. If you don’t know who you are trying to reach, then regardless of how remarkable your content is, it will have little chance for success.
Identify your target audiences, and then develop healthcare personas for each group. A solid understanding of each audience — including their demographics, motivations, objections, and challenges — will inform and direct all the content you develop.
You can start building out your buyer personas by answering questions, such as: “What are their typical/daily responsibilities?” and“What is their role in purchasing decisions?” You can then get deeper with other questions, including: “What are their biggest professional risks?” and “What is their biggest objection to using your product/service?”
Step 5: Assess and Audit Existing Content
To plan your future content, you first need to evaluate your current content.
Start by creating an inventory of everything you have, with each piece’s location, age, and performance data. Then, evaluate each piece to determine its value as engaging, educational content for your target audience(s), its relationship to new messages and themes, and whether it deserves a spot on the new content roster. Also, look at performance. What content performed well? What content didn’t? Save your remarkable content, archive the rest.
Other things to think about as you conduct your review are whether content feels too sales focused, whether it offers a clear takeaway for the reader, and whether the design works well with the message.
Step 6: Fine-Tune Your Messages, Themes, and Topics
This tends to be the fun part where you ideate and get creative — but make sure to put some structure around it by focusing on three distinct areas:
- Messages: Differentiating messages are a combination of what you do, what your company believes in, and why your company is different from your competitors. While you won’t include them verbatim in your healthcare content writing, they should serve as the foundation for everything you write.
- Themes: Themes guide all of the topic choices you make, so you should be able to create a wealth of content under each theme.
- Topics: Topics are the individual ideas that fit into each of your themes. Make sure to create both foundational topics, as well as those that dive deeper into the subject matter.
Step 7: Identify Your Channels and Tactics
There’s no point in creating content if no one knows it exists. A solid distribution strategy answers the question: “Where will my content live to receive maximum exposure to the highest possible percentage of my target audience?”.
A successful marketing plan for healthcare organizations should include a variety of tactics (e.g., blog posts, social media content, case studies, etc.) and distribution channels (e.g., paid media, organic social media, an email newsletter, etc.).
Step 8: Repromote, Refresh, Repurpose
Creating new content day after day is not the best way to maximize your ROI. Instead of constantly creating more, get more out of what you already have with the following strategies:
- Repurpose content by changing its format, audience, or distribution channel.
- Refresh content by updating it with new sources, recent statistics, and up-to-date information.
- Repromote content by redistributing it to new and existing audiences without making changes to it.
Step 9: Settle on Your Teams and Tools
All the cool content ideas in the world mean nothing if you don’t build the right team to execute your plan and give them the right tools to support it.
There are a wide variety of people you will need on your team, from content creators to digital marketing specialists. To create the most effective team, think beyond hiring solely in-house, and consider outsourcing some functions.
For maximum content marketing effectiveness, you’ll also need some technology. Must-haves include a content management system (CMS), social media management tool, customer relationship management (CRM) software, marketing automation software, and web analytics.
Step 10: Track, Measure, Report
For each stage of the marketing funnel, decide which metrics will help you judge whether you are reaching your goals. For example, page views are important in the sense that without them you won’t generate leads, but a million unqualified visitors who don’t need your services are useless as well.
Measure everything you possibly can — however, report only a few, business-focused key performance indicators (KPIs) that truly influence your goals.
Don’t skip the content marketing planning process. Research consistently shows that a documented strategy is often a key indicator of content marketing success. For a more in-depth look at each of these 10 steps and tactical tips for each stage, download our eBook, “Build Your Content Marketing Plan: A HealthTech Marketer’s Guide.”