In this interview series with healthcare content strategy leads, we discuss the goals, channels and other elements of an effective healthcare content strategy.
In this second article in our series, we ask the content strategists to define the “why” behind their content strategies along with the primary audiences and channels helping them advance toward those goals.
We spoke with:
- Rebecca Stewart, Senior Director, Content at Hartford HealthCare
- Amy-Sarah Marshall, Online Content Strategist, UVA Health System
- Kristen Kimmel, Program Manager, Content Marketing at Children’s Health
Primary Goals of Healthcare Content Strategy
Rebecca: We believe in strategic content that helps us create connections. If we can establish those connections, if we can establish trust and create a relationship, then the rest will fall into play. We aim to move people with our content, but it has to be authentic and engaging to accomplish those goals.
Amy-Sarah: As a giant academic research medical center, we tend to put our patients and their families through very formalized, impersonal processes and procedures. We try to fill in the gaps the institution’s size creates by warming, informing and engaging. We aim to create connection, empathy and immediacy. We provide answers. And we want to help people make appointments or complete other tasks as quickly as possible.
Kristen: Content is one part of our marketing ecosystem that helps us achieve our business goals. Some primary content objectives are to build relationships with consumers and referring providers, enhance patient experience and position Children’s Health as a leader in pediatric health care. But ultimately, content is an extension of our organization’s mission, which is to make life better for children. More and more people are searching for health information online—and there’s a lot of misinformation out there—so we have an incredible opportunity to provide support and inspire confidence by producing content that is trusted, relevant and useful.
Target Audiences and Primary Channels
Rebecca: Our specific team has a video-first approach that actually defies the 20-second trends. There is an important place for that content—but we find tremendous value in offering more time which translates to more information, delivered with heart.
The key is distribution and tailoring the content to the consumer and the specific distribution outlet. We have found that people will watch longer form if they are interested and it’s well executed.
We have a mantra: “If content is king, distribution is queen.” Distribution matters and is critically important to our success as content creators. This means that content must be designed specifically for the audience receiving it. It must be designed specifically with the distribution channels in mind. We need to know who is watching, listening or reading. When you create with the audience in mind—then we find that it is more valuable for that consumer. Our distribution channels help us prioritize and strategize everything we do.
On one channel, we use emotional storytelling. These target women more than men and are two-minute, brand-elevating, emotional patient stories. These run initially in the morning on broadcast—and then are shared via social channels, waiting rooms and different screens across the system. These stories are designed to highlight strategic service lines through the eyes of those who have been helped. We have a clear call to action and a website for tracking interest and to help us gauge our responses. Just recently, a story moved a viewer so much that he called the president and donated another $100,000 to one of our institutes. We know that 40,000 people actively sought out the site to learn more about these patients.
On other channels, we create simple, easy-to-digest Q & A interviews. Often, these interviews preview community education events that highlight strategic service lines and topics. Just last week, a two-minute Q & A led eight people to call and sign up for a class about cataract surgery. This was designed for a very specific viewer who would be interested in the topic. On another channel, we know it wouldn’t have had the same effect.
On social media, we have become incredibly active in the Facebook LIVE world. Again in these interviews, we often preview special events and community education opportunities. This is unique because it allows and encourages access to our experts in real time. The engagement has been eye-opening for both our external audiences and also for our internal audiences. It has been a great tool to help with staff engagement and physician engagement. Our success in this channel led to our organization being chosen to be a LinkedIn LIVE beta testing site.
I think it’s important to note that none of our content is designed on its own. It lives within the overall marketing calendar—of which we are part of the team. It is part of an overall content ecosystem that also includes print, social media and community education events. Our content is designed to be tweaked and repurposed so that it makes sense moving from one outlet to the next—one video becomes a print/web piece—and then a segment on the radio. They all feed each other with the goal of meeting our consumers wherever they are.
Our content is also designed to cross pollinate. We want to be our community‘s trusted source so that we can help guide them wherever they are in their healthcare journey. All of this creates tremendous visibility so that we are top of mind when health decisions are being made.
Amy-Sarah: We have various personas that we think about, depending on the service line for which we’re designing content. One type of person is the well-informed, highly educated, prospective patient who is conducting online research and can afford to choose and care about reputation. The other patient we see comes to us more in a state of desperation; we’re the only NICU in the area, for instance, and we have the expertise to treat the more rare and tertiary conditions that local hospitals don’t. We also see patients without insurance and many people with low English proficiency. These are two very different sets of people, often requiring distinct considerations as we design content to meet their needs.
We find that YouTube videos that feature our doctors discussing their expertise work extremely well for conveying pertinent information and generating trust with the more choosy consumer patient. For the patients who won’t sit and read or download content from our website, social media interaction often helps guide folks who have immediate questions or problems about navigating services or their care.
Kristen: When considering our consumer-facing content, our primary audience are parents, typically moms, usually in their 20s–40s. We think a lot of about the “health knowledge seeker” when producing content. This is a mom who wants to be informed about her family’s health, and consistently does her own research before speaking to her physician. When considering our B2B content, we focus on referring providers and community healthcare professionals, as well as specialists around the nation.
We’ve seen tremendous growth in our organic traffic this year as a result of site performance improvements, dedicated keyword research and writing our content to rank in featured snippets. We always look at which types of content perform best per channel so that we do not have a blanket approach when promoting content. For example, our inspirational patient stories tend to resonate with our social audiences, while our educational content with quick, tangible takeaways performs well in email. We’ve found a lot of success in native advertising, both from a B2C and B2B perspective and are focused on finding that highly engaged audience.
Look for the next article in our “Conversations with Healthcare Content Strategists” series focusing on their marketing technology and other tools.
If you missed the previous article in the series, read Part 1: Keeping Up with Trends.
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