There are plenty of resources about best practices around content marketing for B2C businesses. However, the buying process is a lot more complex for healthcare consumers.
Unfortunately, healthcare and finance marketers can’t simply put a “Buy Now” button on their site for a hip replacement or mortgage.
Is content marketing worth the effort? Of course it is! In fact, due to the nature of the buying process in these industries, content marketing is a huge opportunity to educate and nurture your target audience.
The Buying Decision Process
There are 5 steps to the buying decision process:
Problem / Need Recognition
Evaluation of Alternatives
Depending on the decision, consumers don’t necessarily go through every step, or may spend more time on certain steps than others. However, when it comes to matters of health and finance, consumers spend much of their time in the Information Search step. This is where content marketing comes into play.
What Is Content Marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute says it best:
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Content marketing isn’t focused around convincing someone to make a decision after seeing one infographic or article. It’s about building trust in the marketplace, becoming known as the authority about a topic, and ultimately establishing yourself as the go-to organization for your service lines.
By strategically creating and intelligently distributing marketing content, you can engage prospects in the Information Search step, and influence their decision-making process in your favor.
Let’s go through the initial steps you should take to create a killer content marketing strategy.
Step 1: Do Your Homework.
Before you start creating content and sharing it around the Web, take a step back and make sure you understand what kind of content people in your community want and need. Your content should speak to people’s interests, fears, problems, or desires. This takes time and effort to do research around what those are for the topic you want to create content around. Rand Fishkin has a great short talk about this process on Moz. If you have multiple audiences, craft a strategy that engages all of them effectively.
Now that you’re ready to get your hands dirty, here are four tools that enable you to glean what your audience is looking for:
- Google AdWords Keyword Planner—the perennial favorite, Google’s Keyword Planner can show you how many searches are being performed for different words and phrases.
- Tagboard—Like Google AdWords for #hashtags. Find the meaning of a hashtag and see it used in context to make sure you are found by your target audience.
- Buzzsumo—Buzzsumo shows you what content gets shared the most. Take a look at this search around back pain: The top post was shared on Facebook more than 800,000 times!
- SEMRush—If you’re curious about what your competitors are doing, SEMRush is the tool for you. It can help plan what content to provide (or avoid) based on what your competitors are doing.
Step 2: Let Your Creative Juices Flow.
Now that you know what your audience wants, it’s time to plan engaging content. There are countless types of content you can make, and just as many articles listing those types of content. Here are some of our favorites:
List articles—Skimmable and very shareable, list posts are a very popular type of content.
- Statistics and facts—Much like list articles, they are often easy to read, educational, and help put things in perspective.
How-to posts—People love to learn, and a well-crafted how-to post can be very engaging, shareable, and beneficial to your business.
Infographics—Humans are very visually oriented, so pictures and infographics tend to travel well when they cover engaging and interesting information.
Experiment with different types of content to learn what you enjoy making and what your community enjoys consuming.
Step 3: Spread Your Awesomeness into the World.
In Step 1, we learned what the people wanted; in Step 2, we planned out exactly what we’d make; and finally, in Step 3, we figure out how to give the people what they want. Content marketing is not the Field of Dreams: People won’t come just because you built it. Let’s look deeper at two ways you can help improve the visibility of your content.
Don’t be scared of social.
Having your content perform well on social media has a dual benefit: not only do you get more people viewing it from the shares directly, but both Google and Bing consider social activity when determining their rankings.
What can you do to get more social shares?
- Add an image to your post/tweet.
- Write a "how to" or list-based blog post
- Use a poll/survey
Here is some data on how Twitter and Facebook activity affects your search engine ranking. A good content marketing strategy is going to include a social media strategy. Post your content on Facebook, Twitter, and other networks.
If you find good content from other sources, don’t be shy about sharing it. Keep in mind that social media isn’t a one-way street: If people respond or comment on your activity, you should make an effort to reply in a timely manner and engage your followers.
A solid content marketing strategy doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of forethought, careful consideration, and constant refining.