In a previous post, I talked about customers being accidental content consumers.
The point being that consumers visit a business website when they need a specific solution, not because they’re looking to read the company blog.
healthcare, financial) when they have a specific problem (sudden illness, financial crisis etc).
Even then, they’re likely to browse several sites in search of answers before deciding to go with a particular solution.
So what kind of content do consumers want in regulated industry websites?
Consumers want answers to their questions. They want information that will help them solve a health problem, a financial crisis, or other information that will help to improve their lives.
In healthcare for example, consumers and patients want reliable and consistent information. They want to understand their symptoms, know what is causing them and figure out how to treat the problem.
They don’t want to spend too much time online. The faster they can the answer, the quicker they can make a decision towards a solution and get on with their lives. Too much text-oriented content will likely not be read, and a website that takes too long to load will be abandoned altogether.
Consumers want content they can understand. Regulated industries are notorious for jargon. Consumers are not subject matter experts – they just want to understand in simple terms how they can find the solutions they’re looking for. Any language that creates a communication barrier is redundant.
Consumers want credible information. Credibility comes in the form of reputation, expertise and credentials. But (these days) it also comes in the form of peer review. We have social media to thank for the emerging ‘social consumer‘, who is more likely to make a purchasing decision after consulting with his online friends.
So how should regulated companies respond?
Despite their conservative and risk-averse nature, regulated companies could borrow a leaf from companies in other industries. They should focus on creating smart content that:
- invokes emotional sentiment
- differentiates them from other providers
- answers their customers key questions
- engages their prospects enough to influence a purchasing decision.
The only thing they might do differently is to stay close to their legal team to ensure that nothing is said, that shouldn’t be said.
The opportunity for regulated industries
Whether regulated companies embrace content marketing or not, they should at least acknowledge that consumers are already talking about them with or without their permission.
But smart content marketing gives them an opportunity to participate in the conversation.
Of course there are more risks in regulated industries and they have to comply with the rules. But even then, a closely monitored blog or Twitter account can bridge the gap between them and their customers and provide a platform where a two-way conversation can begin to take place. Johns Hopkins Medicine is doing a great job on this front.
In other words, there’s no reason why content marketing and regulated companies couldn’t work it out.
Over to you: Do you work in a regulated industry? How successful has your organization been in incorporating content marketing? Please share your comments in the box below.