Successful Content Marketing Starts With A Solid Content Strategy
Today on the CareContent blog, we have a guest post by Rebecca Steurer. Rebecca is the founder of ContentRS and the co-founder of Content Academy, both of which focus on helping organizations understand and implement successful content strategy and content marketing practices. Here’s what she has to say about the relationship between these two key concepts.
What comes first: content marketing or content strategy? My answer is content strategy—and I’m not just saying that because I am a 16-year content strategy veteran. I say this because developing a strategy for your content will have a significant impact on reaching your audience—while also saving you time and money.
To understand why this is, let me first explain what I see as the main differences between content marketing and content strategy.
The Difference Between Content Marketing And Content Strategy
Content Marketing Defined
Content marketing is what you do to share your brand message, knowledge, and experience with your audience. It puts your services within the context of your audience’s needs through storytelling.
In healthcare, content marketing might include:
- Blogs that share patient stories, doctor stories, and clinical stories
- Infographics that explain complicated procedures
- Behind-the-scenes videos that help patients understand how the medical team prepares for surgery
- Podcasts that share thought leadership
Content Strategy Defined
Content strategy is what you do to define what you want your content to achieve, how you’ll develop the content, where and when you’ll post the content, and what you’ll measure to determine if your content is successful. It helps you focus on developing the right information at the right time for the right audience and in the right presentation style.
While there is clearly a difference between content marketing and content strategy, the two must complement each other in order to be successful.
Why It’s Important To Have A Content Strategy For Content Marketing Efforts
I love the word “strategy” because it’s about having a plan to take action. It helps you define what you need to do so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel over and over again, which wastes time—and in this case, time is money.
There are several key content strategy tasks that you’ll want to complete to make your content marketing efforts successful:
1. Define Your Business Goals
According to a May 2017 report by MDG Advertising, healthcare organizations are budgeting more and more money for content marketing. This increased funding might be used to develop more blog posts throughout the year.
Before you begin developing your content, it’s critical to have a clear understanding of what you want your content marketing to achieve so that the budgeted funds are well spent. For instance, do you want your readers to:
- Call for an appointment?
- Share your story with their friends?
- Visit your website?
2. Define The Content Elements To Include On Your Blog And/Or Website
Ensuring you have the right content elements in your blog posts and website to guide your audience to achieve the desired outcomes is the key to success.
Say you’re creating a new blog post to highlight a physician, Dr. Bob. The goal is to fill up his schedule for the next few months.
Your blog post will showcase Dr. Bob’s clinical expertise and compassionate care. While your copywriter will write a beautifully written story about Dr. Bob, your content strategist will also be working to include several key items.
3. Create A Content Development And Posting Schedule
This is the step where organizational, planning, and communications skills are required. Use this step to help you schedule relevant information that is useful to your audience and supports your business goals.
4. Define The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Determine what you think makes your blog post a success—and then measure it. KPI can include:
- Number of page visits
- Number of shares
- Number of likes
- Number of appointments made
Once you determine the KPIs, create an easy-to-understand report to track findings over time, so you’ll know which content types work and which don’t.
5. Develop The Sharing Strategy
This step helps you determine where and when you’re going to let people know about the blog post.
For example, you might decide that sharing the latest stories on your hospital’s Facebook page is the best way to reach potential patients. Or maybe Twitter is more effective. Or it might be the case that sharing the content across several social networks is best. The answer all depends on your audience and goals.
Now You’re Ready For Content Marketing
Now that your content strategy is in place, all you have to focus on is developing the copy. Because you’ve created a stellar content strategy, your content marketing efforts should pay off. This is why successful content marketing starts with a solid content strategy.
At CareContent, we’ve got your content strategy and content marketing needs covered. Contact us today to find out how to take your healthcare organization’s content marketing to the next level.
Starting A Healthcare Blog: 3 Factors To Keep In Mind Before Launching
It probably seems like everyone and their mom has a blog these days. And maybe that’s true. But that doesn’t mean that all blogs are created equal. Blogging can be a powerful marketing tool for your healthcare organization—if it’s done right.
So, how can you set your company’s healthcare blog up for success? Here are 3 factors to keep in mind before you even think about publishing that first post.
1. Figure Out Your Target Audience.
As an August 2013 Forbes article explains, having a clear target audience is key to creating a winning content strategy. And, as the second point in this post (see below) will explain, a strong content strategy is critical if you want your organization’s healthcare blog to succeed.
Instead, ask yourself: Is there a specific service line that we should focus on?
For example, let’s say your organization is about to build a new diabetes clinic that will offer comprehensive, multi-speciality care and support to adult patients. Maybe your target audience is working people with Type 2 diabetes who are struggling to balance jobs, family, and taking care of their own health.
2. Start With A Strong Content Strategy.
According to Forbes, identifying your target audience allows you to do the in-depth research and planning needed to create a content strategy that will set your healthcare blog up for success.
But what on earth is a content strategy?
Orbit Media’s Andy Crestodina sums it up best when he says:
“Content strategy is about planning the creation, promotion, and measurement of content. This content attracts visitors to our website, creating meaningful interactions that meet the needs of our audience and our business.”
Creating a great content strategy means really getting to know the wants and needs of your target audience. It requires knowing the ins and outs of search engine optimization and keyword research. The content strategy should include a content calendar full of engaging post ideas. Your organization will also need to know how to track and interpret analytics—and adjust the strategy as needed.
And no successful content strategy is complete without a solid promotion plan.
3. Produce Less, Promote More.
It goes without saying that your organization’s healthcare blog content should be top-of-the-line as far as quality is concerned. But while it would be great if standout blog content spoke for itself and attracted readers through osmosis, unfortunately, that’s not how it works.
This is where the promotion part of a successful content strategy comes in.
In fact, as an August 2016 Content Marketing Institute article makes clear, the majority of a marketing team’s efforts should go toward promoting content, not creating it.
Think about it this way: If your organization’s blog is pumping out blog posts daily, you’ll want to promote each post thoroughly. But not only is it very difficult to produce that much quality content at that rate, promoting it might actually be harmful to your company’s cause.
This is because trying to promote that many posts at a time will quickly saturate your organization’s social media feeds—and drive people away. And that’s the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.
Instead, take time to create quality content, then dedicate even more time to promoting that content.
This might seem like a lot of work just to launch a healthcare blog. But a well-planned blog can help your organization meet its marketing goals. In the end, all of this up-front effort will be well worth it.
At CareContent, these three points are always on our mind when we help our clients launch new healthcare blogs. Let us help your hospital or healthcare organization create and promote standout web content. Contact us today to get started.
12 Reasons To Consider A Content Marketing Agency For Healthcare Content
You’ll often hear of content marketing as “feeding the beast.” That describes the ongoing labor of creating content to keep a content strategy working.
Although many healthcare organizations have embraced the importance of content marketing, many are struggling to produce enough content to keep their key patient audiences engaged. Even a weekly blog can become a challenge.
So, here are your options:
- Continue to crank out content yourself—when you and your team have time.
- Hire freelancers.
- Hire more full-time employees, who will be dedicated to content.
- Contract with a web design or branding agency you’ve already worked with.
- Partner with a content marketing agency.
Shameless plug: This blog post will endorse option five, because, well, CareContent is a content marketing agency.
Here are 12 reasons why the first four options don’t stack up to partnering with a content marketing agency.
Option 1: Crank out the content yourself.
Why this doesn’t work…
If you spend most of your days creating content, you probably aren’t focusing on strategy or promotion or the other moving parts that make content marketing successful.
You’ll also have to stay on top of all the changes in search algorithms, social media, design, and content marketing trends. Content marketing has become so competitive that if you’re not going to do it well, it’s best not to do it at all.
The title of this blog is Out-By-5. That’s probably not what you’re doing if you’re creating content. Most of the time, content is added to an already long to-do list.
Option 2: Hire a freelancer.
Full disclosure: Before CareContent, I freelanced for healthcare organizations. Okay, carry on.
Why this doesn’t work…
Freelancers have limited skills. They usually won’t know how to optimize a post for search, create visual designs, or develop and execute a plan for promoting the content. And, you may still need to do significant editing. Freelancers rarely have outside editors review content before they give it to you.
Freelancers have limited time. You’ll have to budget your content marketing projects based on the availability and capacity of just one person. Unlike a content marketing agency, the freelancer is probably not allowed to delegate work among a team.
Freelancers are cumbersome. Managing a group of freelancers can be a headache—answering their emails, tracking their invoices, negotiating rates, remembering what that rate was. And if your favorites are unavailable, do you have time to recruit replacements?
Option 3: Hire full-time employees to do it.
Why this doesn’t work…
It’s not just another person. It’s a team you’ll need to hire—and everything that goes with that: salaries, plus all the benefits like health insurance, sick days, holidays. Not to mention the time you’ll spend helping that person climb the learning curve and managing their workload.
Full-timers tend to get stuck in meetings. Once they’re in your organization, how much time will they actually be able to sit, head down, to focus on creating content? Most healthcare marketing managers and coordinators have so many meetings that they can’t focus on content until after 5.
If you hire someone to write the content, it’s unlikely that the person will also be able to optimize the content for search, add visual design, self-edit, keep up with best practices in content marketing, etc.
Option 4: Let your agency of record do it.
Why this doesn’t work …
It might not be their primary skillset. You originally hired them for branding, web design, or advertising. Those capabilities do not usually translate to content marketing.
They might try to subcontract with a content marketing agency and mark up the price. That means their content services will come at a higher cost than if you’d partnered with the content marketing agency directly.
Even if they create content, they may be missing other elements. For example, if some of your content was best formatted as an infographic, a patient guide, a podcast or a quiz could they do that? Or would they be limited to one type of content?
Here’s the bottom line: Content comes first. It shouldn’t just be riding shotgun. It should be the driver of every website, social media channel, and digital campaign. It’s time for healthcare organizations to add a new partner to their vendor speed dial: A content marketing agency.
Creating Healthcare Blog Content? 6 Ways To Do It Wrong (Part 2)
Here are 3 additional tactics that just don’t work if you want to keep your healthcare blog going strong.
Creating Healthcare Blog Content? 6 Ways To Do It Wrong (Part 1)
When the content creation process is an afterthought, marketing teams often resort to these 6 wrong ways to create healthcare blog content.
Zero Reasons Healthcare Blogs Need A Content Strategy (Part 2)
Here’s part two of our discussion about why your healthcare blog or brand journalism site is not getting the engagement you want.
Zero Reasons Healthcare Blogs Need A Content Strategy (Part 1)
If you’re wondering why no one is engaging with your healthcare organization’s blog or brand journalism site, read this.