We're often asked if marketers still use print. Let's find out what the data says—and explore ways top brands are integrating content across channels.
If print is in fact dead, someone forgot to tell Facebook—as the world’s largest social media platform launched a magazine earlier this year.
By developing a custom magazine designed to advance their marketing plans and engage an audience often fatigued by digital content, Facebook is borrowing from the playbook used by other global consumer brands like AirBNB, Costco, and Red Bull (among many others referenced in this article from Content Marketing Institute).
In healthcare, this approach of leveraging print to connect with consumers, clinicians, and other constituents remains an integral part of marketing plans. The graph below from the 2017 Digital Marketing Trends in Healthcare Report illustrates that around half (42%-53%) of healthcare marketers use print magazines as part of their content marketing strategies—outranking microsites and mobile apps on the list of content marketing tactics.
In addition, this table from the 2018 By The Numbers report from the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development shows that the large majority of healthcare organizations produce community publications (80%) and employee publications (71%), while nearly half produce publications for physicians (44%).
Extending Print into Digital
For healthcare marketers currently publishing a magazine or newsletter, the goal is to meet your audience where they are across multiple channels. Your print content can (and should) serve your digital content—and vice versa. By using a behavior-based approach as you incorporate digital outreach into your marketing campaign, you can connect with your audience when, where, and how they prefer.
For example, give your print publication some digital legs and create an online format to post on your website and distribute via email. Not only can digital publications help lower your printing costs by offering your audience the chance to subscribe to emails instead of print, but they can also offer your audience new ways to interact with your content.
For example, while a print publication may contain web addresses and phone numbers that readers can use, a digital publication can contain:
- Buttons for readers to share articles on social media
- Direct hyperlinks to additional or exclusive content
- Embedded videos and audio clips
- Links to podcasts, interviews, and other subscription-based content
- Mobile-optimized versions formatted for smartphones and tablets
Some environmentally conscious healthcare consumers may also appreciate having digital options that limit their carbon footprint.
Let the Data Be Your Guide
Another advantage of extending print content into the digital space involves the ability to track where your audience is coming from and what they do once they’ve read your content or visited your website. Along with phone numbers and specialized URLs in print publications, trackable URLs embedded in digital content can help you know exactly how many people are coming to your website from sources such as social media posts and what links your audience is clicking once they get there.
If your engagement is strong on Instagram, you’ll know to continue investing in photography and short-form video content. If your engagement isn’t so strong on Facebook, you’ll know it’s time to try a new approach in order to reach a larger audience. If your audience visits your homepage instead of your contact or services page when they read an article, you might need a stronger call to action or directional cues to lead readers to the right place.
Web tools provide additional advantages that can show you how long people spend on your webpage, where their mouse hovers and whether your content is directly resulting in successful conversions. Based on the behavior-based data you collect from your audience, marketing automation tools can be used to tailor email and social media messages to provide content that is relevant to specific audience segments.
For instance, you may want to target cancer screening or joint replacement announcements toward older readers rather than 20-somethings who may be more interested in finding a primary care provider.
Avoid the One-Size-Fits-All Approach
While the thought of tailoring content to each of your platforms can seem daunting, the truth is that your print and digital publications can still serve as the backbone of your marketing efforts while feeding content to other paid, earned, and owned media channels.
A multi-page article in your hospital’s print publication may not be a good fit for a short blog post, but splitting the article into a series of posts or condensing it into a quickly consumable blog article may be a good way to pique interest in your larger publication, newsletter, or service line.
If your publication is print-heavy and you’ve acquired too many photographs for your current issue, these photos can be repurposed as Instagram and Facebook posts to encourage engagement across social media platforms. If you’re already scheduling an interview with one of your healthcare providers for an article, you may consider performing a video interview to edit and include on your website or digital publication. The possibilities are endless.
Additionally, your digital content may (almost paradoxically) result in a more successful print campaign. Much in the way that vinyl records are seeing resurgence in the music industry, print magazines retain a tangible appeal that is even being noticed by entirely digital companies (such as Facebook).
The bottom line: Market leaders create an integrated content strategy that enriches the reader experience and meets audiences where they prefer to receive content. With inboxes and news feeds being stuffed with more and more digital content, print publications delivered to relatively empty mailboxes can stand out, providing a tangible way to interact with your brand that may leave a more lasting impression with readers than an email. Offering the option to subscribe to your print publication within digital marketing materials can help ensure you’re sending it to the right place.
Take Your Content to the Next Level
True North Custom works with 500+ healthcare organizations to develop integrated content strategies that drive brand and revenue growth. Find out how we can focus your marketing and support your print and digital marketing efforts.