If your content tactics haven't been performing as well as you'd like, you need to analyze where you've headed off course. Taking stock of your current state (and the past choices that led you down this road) demands objectivity — a challenge simply because, well, the state you're analyzing is your own.
If you're creating content just to create content, then your strategy is lacking substance. Like making a meal of popcorn or candy, you'll, of course, feel a satisfying fullness initially, but when that assumed sustenance actually has to sustain you, you'll find your fuel tank is actually empty.
Physically, you need vitamins, minerals, and other edible items with nutritional value to function. You can't just ingest anything or everything and expect to be ok. In the same way, your content strategy needs to be fueled by more intentional pieces that propel you toward a clear goal. Moreover, you're not just creating content to satisfy your own organization; you're creating it to power your buyers toward eventual purchases.
So, how do you avoid an empty content strategy to ensure your efforts will provide ROI?
Document what works, and drop the old habits that don't
Confer with peers and customers to explore effective perspectives
Build your content plan to deliver on desired outcomes; don't just plan to build content.
Granted, getting a sense of what to do from three bullet points is one thing. Taking action is something else entirely. It can be easy to get into content habits that no longer serve you or won't continue to serve you in the coming years. Here, we've outlined how your perspective will need to shift in order to implement a content strategy and create pieces that are effective and that will continue to reach the right audiences.
Break Old Habits
It can be hard to break an old habit. That's why the first step is to make the break a win in itself. Old marketing habits can be just as comfortable as old eating habits. It's always so easy to reach for the Girl Scout Cookies perched above the fridge when you get home. If you want to feel healthier, then you're going to have to grab an apple instead.
Likewise, in order to avoid random acts of content, any outdated, inefficient habits have got to go. One common habit that will continue to limit the productivity of your content strategy is starting your content plan by deciding on the format of your piece before deciding on the topic.
Often, content marketers have decided on a medley of formats in which they see the most value coming from their efforts, only deciding on what topics to write about after the fact. This is like planning a four-course meal and focusing first on the dishware and cutlery you'll need before deciding on the meal. Sure, you think you think you'll need a bowl right now, but if your guests don't like soup, your bowl will start to seem out of place on the table.
Populating your healthcare content marketing strategy with quality content starts with first shifting your intent. Why are you producing content in the first place? Is it to give a taste of your brand to the the prospects in the very top of the funnel? Focus on the topics you need to create, then pick out a plating option.
Look From a New Angle
Looking at the same thing in a different way is easier said than done, but you can begin by listing out the topics your personas need to learn about in order to move through their buying journey. Don't have personas? That's your first step. Identify the people who are your ideal customers. Then pull the quantitative data to verify their importance to your marketing efforts. Who engages with your content? Which people need to be bought in in order for you to close a deal?
Next comes the more important, qualitative research. Customer interviews are a great way to identify the pain points and common issues your personas experience and what type of answers they would be searching for. Without this type of research you are left with a lot of assumptions and biases.
Your content will be more impactful if it speaks to the pains your personas really experience instead of the ones you think they do. These interviews can be difficult to acquire, and time consuming to really dig into. Healthcare media partners who work in this space will have a deeper understanding of the personas you are looking to target and can offer insider information to help fuel your healthcare content marketing strategy. Consider using their expertise if your personas feel flat.
As we've previously stated, it isn't about the containers your content lives in. Topics are important, but your content strategy will begin to build upon itself as you consider the interconnected nature of each piece and how your audience will use each piece and flow through a buyer's journey. A four-course meal is special, but when the chef considers each set of flavors and chooses each course to pair and play off the previous flavors — each with its own intent and contribution to the whole — that's when you have a masterpiece.
Build Your Plan
Healthcare marketing — as an industry — is already a step behind the innovation curve, largely due to both the real and perceived legality issues around marketing innovation. Still, you should try to deliver your content with as much edge as possible in order to differentiate from the competition.
Today's content marketing relies in part on more digestible content "snacks" for the reader who might not be ready for a full meal. You might think that you don't want to invest in this type of content and would rather double down on heavier meat and potato pieces that will speak to the C-level decision maker leads you're really looking for, but the way all humans are digesting content is changing. Snackable content is a must. But it's a strong investment for other reasons, as well: it enables you to build a cascading content plan that educates your leads and allows them to easily share content across an organization.
Someone who downloads many forms of shorter content tells you more about their interests than someone who downloads one meal alone. Analyzing the interconnection between your pieces of content will give you greater insight into how they are being used within an organization, who's reading them and potentially who is using them to gain buy-in within their organization. If a CTO downloads content that is meant to speak to a CFO, then you can infer that the CTO is sharing that content internally and using it to educate the other on your solution.
Bottom line: The first step in building a robust healthcare content marketing strategy is shifting your perspective on what is important to create and analyze. Focus on creating connected content that builds off its predecessors and can move within an organization — instead of solely on what format that content will take — to deepen the value your content provides to both your personas and your business. It's time: let go of old habits, consider new angles, and start planning.
For more research on Healthcare Information and Technology content marketing best practices, download our latest ebook: 7 Research-Backed Best Practices for Healthcare IT Content Marketing.