How to Source Subject Matter Experts


In a previous post, we outlined what to look for in a subject matter expert (SME) for the healthcare IT industry. Here, we're taking it a step further, looking at how to find a subject matter expert and how to know your content is on the right track once you've started with working with a resource. You know the metrics that show marketing success, but how will you know if your content fueled by SME information is truly resonating with your audiences? Here, we've delved into some possible ways to tell.

Where to Find the Right Subject Matter Experts

Depending on your budget, the landscape of your SME choices will differ. The cheapest option would be to ask experienced and willing customers who have used the product or service you are aiming to write about whether they'd be willing to share their information, knowledge and experience with you. They are your buyers, so they'll know what other buyers will want to hear. Likewise, if you have colleagues who work more closely with a product or have a greater understanding of the complexities within healthcare technology, give them a ring! Remind them they owe you for that time you went to their awkward holiday party. All you'll need is a short interview to do some quick information downloading. It is much more efficient to have someone explain what is relevant and necessary to cover on a topic, rather than conducting your own research blindly and assuming about what pieces are important and which are not because the likelihood is that you could get it wrong and risk alienating your readers.

These SME sourcing tactics might work for some topics if you know you have access to a willing and available SME, but as your topics expand outside of your local wheelhouse, then you'll need to turn elsewhere for the right information. Knowing how to find an SME without political or promotional slants can be like finding your car keys when you're late out the door in the morning. You know they have to be in your house somewhere — you drove home last night — but you won't be able to find them until you find the calm necessary to retrace your steps and look under the couch cushions. You know quality subject matter experts are out there, but you need some clues as to where they are hiding.

Even if you identify top thought leaders, they are often already contributing their expertise to other sources and available ones will come at a price. Consider resources from media companies with expertise in the healthcare technology space. Admittedly, media companies like us at HIMSS Media provide quality content and SMEs to fuel your marketing strategy. Nevertheless, you should expect media partners to provide quality content without you having to jump over any legal barriers, because they understand compliance and the industry most likely better than your colleague, Joe who you now owe the attendance of another awkward holiday party. Whichever option you choose, make sure you prioritize an SME who is commercially impartial, speedy and efficient.

How to Know Your SME is On Track

Investing in an SME for someone outside of the market might seem like taking a leap of faith into unknown and possibly expensive territory. If you don't have the context and information about the healthcare IT industry and you're relying on a resource to fill that gap, then you need to be confident you are getting the best information that will speak to your buyers. We've previously discussed ways to proactively vet your choice, but how do you know your SME is on track once you've started to create content and are looking ahead toward the results?

Peer Groups

While you don't have to be an SME yourself, it helps to arm yourself with some additional information to contextualize healthcare IT news and the potential impact of stories to the industry and to your content strategy. A great way to do this is by joining the online healthcare IT clinical and intelligence communities. Subscribing to that content and following important headlines on a semi-regular basis will provide you the insight needed to suss out whether the content you are producing is in line, hitting on similar important topics and is informed by the right information.

When it comes down to it, it's often a judgment call. Do you feel like your SME is hitting on that information correctly? If not, then have you done the necessary research to support that theory? At a certain point, there is a level of trust that needs to exist for your chosen SME. If you've vetted them proactively, then you should go with your gut, turning to your resulting metrics as guidelines to your success.


Your resulting metrics after launching a campaign will offer you some clear indication as to the quality of your SME's information and how on track you are to meet your own content goals.

Page views, unique visits, time spent on the page and insights from your marketing tools, like Google Analytics will show how your content is performing at a high level. Look deeper into who is downloading that content and try to analyze how your content is being used to share information across an organization. This plays into the need to create content that is snackable, shareable and fits together to address pain points to different personas across an organization.

SMEs are a great way to inform your content strategy when you don't have the market knowledge and context to back up the stories you need to tell. Now, you know how to find a subject matter expert, and pick the one who will work best for you. Remember to prioritize quality and unbiased information, coupled with quality writers and reliable efficiency.


For more on how to include healthcare IT subject matter experts in your content marketing efforts, you can contact us for a strategic content marketing conversation here.