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| 01/21/2021

Why Content Marketing Matters to Hospitals (and how an agency can help)

Written by Ed Bennett


With the rise of consumerism, it’s harder than ever to remain relevant and visible, and healthcare systems are not exempt from this cultural shift. People are constantly being inundated with information and options, so the question is: 

How can your healthcare organization rise above that and remain at the forefront of consumers’ minds when it’s time for them to make a choice? 

Content marketing is your opportunity to set yourself apart from other healthcare options, however, the execution is not always so simple. Staying on top of healthcare marketing trends is essential for effective content marketing. 

We sat down with Reba Thompson, Vice President of Client Partnerships at WriterGirl, a top healthcare-focused content marketing agency, to get some insight on content marketing trends in healthcare. She also provided tips on how to recognize when it’s time to get specialized help and how to choose a content marketing agency that can lead you to success. 


Why is content marketing in healthcare more important than ever?

Content marketing in the healthcare industry is increasingly important for hospitals and healthcare systems. Thompson explains a big part of the reason we are seeing this trend:

“With the rise of retail health clinics, hospitals and more traditional healthcare systems are now competing against companies like Walgreens, CVS, and even Amazon. These brands have been doing content marketing for years, and they do it well.” 

This means hospitals, which have tended to be more traditional in the marketing realm, are being forced to step up their marketing game. 


What kind of content are people looking for?

When you think of healthcare content marketing, you may think of the many resources online detailing every health condition under the sun. However, according to Thompson, “Many hospitals and healthcare systems are moving away from this traditional library of conditions.”

Instead, they are focusing on conveying what sets them apart from other healthcare options to demonstrate to potential patients the level of care they provide. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular content topics:

Staying healthy

The reality is, most people are healthy and they are looking for tips and advice to stay that way. This is why some of the most popular content is lifestyle and wellness content — things like general exercise, women’s health, and nutrition, for example. 

“People are more interested in how they can stay out of the hospital, so these topics tend to get a lot of traction.”  

Emotional ties

Unlike other industries, healthcare systems have the advantage of endless stories that can help them build an emotional connection with their audience. This type of content is not only popular, but also memorable.

Thompson explains, “People want to hear about successes, saved lives, innovations, and groundbreaking research. This is the type of content that can cut through the clutter on social media and will stand out and resonate with people.”

Opt-in content

Content writers within the healthcare industry can provide the information people need, from a source they can trust. Take advantage of your CRM systems to build campaigns and offer your audience personalized information, relevant to their needs and interests, that they have opted into. 

Whatever the focus of your content is, you should always be looking for a way to show what makes your hospital unique:

“Use your real estate to set yourself apart and show that the level of care you provide is unparalleled.”

 Potential patients will remember this when it comes time for them to choose where to get their healthcare services next. 


Healthcare marketing trends: what’s coming and what’s going

As COVID-19 is leading to substantial budget cuts, traditional advertising continues to fall. Things like billboards and print are the first to go because of their high cost. That being said, print newsletters or monthly magazines will likely continue to be produced, but the distribution methods will shift to digital. 

Video and visual content will continue to have good traction, interest, and engagement. Healthcare marketers can also expect to see an increase in audio content, from podcasts and verbal searching. Audio technology is increasing the reach of blog posts, allowing them to be consumed in transit and by individuals who have a disability.

Beyond the format of the content, there are some clear trending topics. Marketing dollars are going to COVID communications. Making sure patients are informed about the virus and reassuring patients that it is safe to continue to get preventative care is a clear marketing trend. 

Another healthcare trend on the horizon for 2021 is vaccine communications. Americans tend to be skeptical of vaccines, considering COVID vaccines have been pushed through the approval process, this will likely be amplified towards COVID vaccines. It will be up to hospitals and health systems to educate and encourage people to get the vaccine. 

According to Thompson, another big trend to anticipate is diversity, equity, and inclusion:

“This has been big throughout 2020 and it will continue to take off. It will be imperative for hospitals to showcase how they are accepting of all types of people, regardless of race, cultural background, sexual orientation, or religion. What was once a few sentences or maybe a landing page, will now be integrated throughout all content.”


Where does your content matter most?

The goal is to have all your content working together to see the best results. That being said, if you need to take a small step in revamping your content, your website copy is the place to start. 

Given that it is the digital front door to your organization you can be sure that almost every potential patient will find themselves on your website and their experience can have a huge impact on their decisions. Your website should be user-friendly, optimized for any screen, and people should be able to find what they need in two clicks or less. 

Beyond your website, your blogs are another critical piece of the foundation for your success. These articles not only offer informative content to potential patients but also help you to build authority with Google, ultimately driving traffic to your site.  


What should you do when you feel your content has plateaued?

When your content feels stagnant, it’s time to get creative. Thompson shares a few tips:

“If you feel like you’ve tried every approach out there, remember healthcare marketers have not been doing content marketing for nearly as long as many other industries. Yet, other industries are still finding unique ways to engage.

So, consider how you can do things differently and seek inspiration from other industries. You may also want to try new things with visual content or see if you need to realign your content with your organization’s mission.” 

Most importantly, remember that a content marketing agency can help. If you’re currently working with a service provider, it may be time for a new one. If you aren’t sure, check out this article for signs it’s time for a marketing agency switch


How can an agency help elevate your hospital’s content marketing?  

Content marketing is complex and demanding, which is why getting help from experts is the most effective way to enhance your healthcare content marketing techniques. 

One of the most important content marketing services is having your content assessed from a high level to get you on track with a clear strategy and help you tie it all together. An agency brings the skills, tools, and insight of trends in healthcare marketing to help you be authentic and engage with your audience effectively. They know how to measure content success, so when something isn’t working, you stop wasting your marketing dollars and adjust.

They understand the intricacies of writing for different platforms, whether email campaigns, social media, or audio. They know how to handle the challenges of social media, which requires responsiveness and flexibility, particularly in healthcare. Working with an agency means you’ll be staffed to react, pivot, and showcase your expertise on whatever is in the headlines that day or week. 

The benefits of working with an agency are endless and will vary depending on your unique needs. Deciding it’s time to bring a content marketing agency on board is just the first step. You need to ensure you select the right match for your healthcare marketing goals.


What should you look for in a content marketing agency?

When you are ready to hire an agency to help you revamp or improve your hospital’s content marketing, there are some important things to keep in mind.

You’ll first need to consider if you’d like to work with your agency of record, one of their partners, or a specialized agency. While there is no right or wrong answer here, you can read this article to help you determine what type of agency is the best choice for you. 

Regardless of the type of marketing agency you go with, there are some key things to look out for to help you identify who can offer you the best content marketing services.

Reliability: Content marketing is an every-day challenge, which means you need a marketing agency that you can count on to be there for you. Look for email responsiveness as a sign of someone who will meet expectations on deliverables. 

Content marketing experts: This may seem like it goes without saying, but content marketing covers a huge range of specialties. Unless you are looking for very specific assistance, you’ll want to hire an agency that has talent across all areas of content marketing — social media, email campaigns, and digital advertising. With an agency that can do it all, you’ll see efficiencies in the cost and more effective and aligned strategies.

Healthcare knowledge: Industry knowledge is always essential in marketing, but it is particularly true when it comes to healthcare. With so many unique challenges, you want a partner who knows how to navigate these obstacles. You can choose between content marketing agencies that have a 100% focus in healthcare or others with a partial focus. To determine what seems like the best fit for you, learn about the pros and cons of each here.

Outside perspective: While healthcare knowledge is essential, you want to find a marketing agency that brings an outside perspective. Many other industries are leading the way in content marketing techniques, and that outside perspective will allow your agency to help you take a more innovative approach. To assess what outside perspective a potential agency offers ask about their continuous learning strategies and how they leverage them to help their clients. 

Ready to take your healthcare content to the next level? You can connect with WriterGirl and other content marketing agencies that can help you achieve your healthcare marketing goals on MarTech.Health.


WriterGirl

When you want to reach new patients and strengthen existing relationships, you need a thoughtful content strategy with effective, relevant messages. This is no easy task – especially if you’re strapped for time or short on staff.

With WriterGirl, you get a reliable content partner who is 100% dedicated to healthcare. Our team of writers, designers and strategists is ready to jump in, so you don't have to tackle your marketing goals alone. We’ll create content that showcases your organization's unique voice and expertise, helping you reach your audience with a message that resonates and gets results.

From search-optimized blog posts to infographics, content strategy to website overhauls, we're ready to support you through any content marketing venture.


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