How To Boost Patient Engagement With Content Marketing

Content is the key to opening the floodgates of traffic and revenue for healthcare businesses. When done correctly, content marketing can effectively nurture the leads by providing them with the relevant information on their journey to discovery and eventually getting them to convert. 

The value of content in healthcare, however, goes beyond patient education and is also proving to be effective for patient engagement and retention. The healthcare marketing strategy needs to cover all the aspects of the patient’s journey and act as touchpoints for patient interaction and engagement. 

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Why content marketing is crucial for healthcare organizations?

According to a recent survey, 80 percent of Internet users have searched for a health-related topic online. One in twenty searches in Google is for health-related information. While this is good news for healthcare organizations and practitioners, on the flip side, not all the information available on the internet is reliable. 

The dubious sources of information have to be combated and the best way to keep them in check is to create content yourself. While the concept of content marketing in healthcare is in no way new, the challenge here is to implement it in such a manner that engages the patient before, during, and after the treatment.  

How to formulate an effective content marketing strategy for your healthcare organization

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1. Define the target audience 

Beginning with the audience in mind is one of the main tenets of content marketing. What you can do is always secondary to what the audience really wants. Being overly self-promotional is never a recipe for marketing success. Instead define who your primary audience is, what answers are they looking for, what problems they are hounded by and then create content to address these issues specifically. 

While building content on your own website is the way to go, getting organic traffic through SEO and keyword research may take time. Content promotion is essential to ensure that the content you are creating reaches its intended audience. Target audience profiling comes in handy in such cases. 

Instead of taking an omnichannel approach, you just have to be on the platform your target audience is at. Once you have a clear picture of the target audience documented, use that to determine the secondary marketing channels you should be targeting for promoting your content and you have an engaged audience on your hands. 

2. Create content that converts

Create content around what your audience is searching for. A conversion-optimized content strategy that focuses on passing the readers through the various stages of the content marketing funnel not only ensures relevant traffic to your website, but it also gives your audience the answers to the questions they are looking for. 

The content that you create should cover all the stages of the patient’s journey. This includes the awareness stage when they are just looking for information, the consideration stage when they are likely comparing different treatment options and providers, the decision stage when they finally avail the treatment, and the retention phase covering post-treatment care and follow-ups, to ensure maximum patient engagement. 

3. Make storytelling a part of your content strategy

Healthcare organizations are uniquely positioned to act as the gatekeepers of information that has the potential to improve the lives of both patients and their caregivers. Creating actionable content that results in improved patient outcomes needs to have storytelling as an important component. 

The human aspect of care cannot be neglected in any aspect of healthcare and marketing is no exception to it. Compelling storytelling that talks about struggles patients go through and their journey through recovery can create a compelling and empathetic bond that has the potential to boost patient engagement irrespective of the stage of content consumption they are in. 

Northwell Health focused on emotional storytelling in their content creation strategy and came up with an effective campaign that met up with great success. Not only did the audience connect with the content, but they also tagged and shared it across different platforms resulting in organic reach, referral traffic, and social proof as a result of their strategy. 

While the content plan definitely works, there are certain privacy considerations you need to keep in mind as well. You need to ensure that you do not share any sensitive patient information via blog posts or social media content. Accidental HIPAA violations are something every practitioner and healthcare provider needs to be cautious about. 

4. Ensure that the content is consumable  

Making sure that the healthcare information you publish on your website is consumable for the patients when they are on the go is indispensable for any healthcare organization. Your website should provide an engaging user experience irrespective of the device being used. Ensuring mobile-optimized, responsive design on your website is an absolute must-have when formulating a digital marketing strategy for your business.

An easily comprehensible, easy to understand content that is free of jargon is another necessity for ensuring “consumability” of the content by the readers. You can also experiment with different channels of content to see what fits best. Existing content on your blog can be repurposed in the form of video content, podcasts or infographics for patient education and engagement. 

Email marketing to existing patients is also an effective strategy for ensuring patient engagement. A link to blog posts containing post-care instructions, in addition, to follow up reminders and emails can successfully engage patients in their own care plans while building long term trust and loyalty. 

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5. Measure the results, amend and repeat

The success of any strategy can only be quantified when the results are measured. Selecting the right metrics to track the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy is essential for gauging the level of success your efforts are met with. 

Traffic alone is just a vanity metric but coupled with other metrics like scroll depth, bounce rate, and conversions, it can help you in figuring out how your audience is engaging with your content. The ROI of your marketing efforts need to be quantifiable and your content strategy needs to bring in a constant stream of predictable revenue for your business in order to be termed successful. 

Collection of audience feedback when figuring out what is working and what isn’t in your marketing strategy is also a way to boost patient engagement. Asking for feedback makes the readers feel a part of the organization while giving you actionable insights to work on and improve at the same time. 

Closing words

In a highly digitalized world, the patients are now more empowered than ever. Having a content strategy that engages with them at every touchpoint of their journey and effectively nurtures them towards converting is crucial for boosting their engagement and in turn improving health outcomes.  

Healthcare marketing is less about promotion and more focus on patient education and engagement and content creation is key to achieving that goal. Taking the patient from awareness stage to treatment and ultimately becoming a loyal customer needs to be the area of focus for healthcare brands for unlocking the true power of healthcare marketing. 

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Rahul Varshneya is the co-founder of Arkenea, a healthcare software company that builds custom mobile and web apps for founder-driven businesses and enterprises. Rahul has been featured as a business technology thought leader in numerous media channels such as Bloomberg TV, Forbes, HuffPost, Inc, among others.

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