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How Smart Content Solves the Engagement Problem



A recent study by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, revealed that content marketing acceptance and usage is high across all industries, with no single industry reporting less than 70% adoption.

And yet just like in previous years, marketers continue to lament that their number one challenge is creating relevant and engaging content.

Why is engagement still a problem?

Well let’s look at it from the consumers point of view. If you think about it, customers are accidental content consumers. They don’t visit a business website merely for their reading pleasure.

They’re there to buy, to get product information or for support. If they happen to encounter relevant, or engaging content while they’re at it, then that becomes additional information that helps to support their buying decision.

The funny thing is that smart content becomes important not because consumers want it, but because your product depends on it. And yet smart content must be insanely customer centric.

Content that runs deep

Imagine what might happen if you broaden the emotional frame of a product and invoke sentimental values, as is the case with this 2012 Chevy Silverado ad?

Notice how even for ‘a big honking man’s man pick up truck‘, the brand experience was transformed into something that really runs deep – family feelings.

Switching your brand story

Brands that are struggling with engagement should try switching up the way they are telling their story. Instead of talking about what they do and what kind of products they create, they could talk about how their customers experience their products.

Of course content must still address product utility, performance, efficiency and all that other fun stuff. But there must be some ‘additional information’ that captures a consumer’s emotional faculty.

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital tells a compelling story on their website. Their message to parents of desperately sick children is one of hope and encouragement:

“Here we see potential”

“Here we see a future”

“Here we see transformation”

I can only imagine what that re-assurance must feel like to a parent who has all but lost  hope.

I agree with emotional intelligence expert Robbie Kemper, who says:

“When you touch the heart of the consumer, their minds and checkbooks will open.”

Allow me to paraphrase that statement:  When your content touches the heart of a consumer and her checkbook opens, that is smart content.

What do you think? Does smart content solve the engagement problem? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

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healthcare marketing

How to Perfectly Match Content to Patient Life-Cycles



Let’s face it.

Healthcare organizations (HCO’s) have a ton of content although not all of it is made publicly available for patient consumption and education.

As healthcare marketers start to think about their content strategy, the question becomes how to leverage all that content for lead nurturing, engagement, and eventually encouraging new patients to make and keep appointments.

The answer is as simple as for any other industry. Match specific content to the relevant stage of a patient’s life cycle.

For the purpose of content marketing a patient’s life-cycle has four to five stages.

#1. Awareness

This is when a person first becomes aware that they have an illness. Awareness comes about either through self-diagnosis (e.g. checking your symptoms on WebMD) or through medical testing (e.g. taking a plasma glucose test for Type 2 diabetes)

#2. Consultation

If an illness is serious enough, a person will consult their primary care doctor to confirm their diagnosis and start on a treatment plan.

#3. Treatment or patient care

An illness may require a patient to be admitted to a hospital for a period of time. Other times medical treatment does not require an overnight stay in a hospital. However outpatient care is still administered either from a medical office or an outpatient center.

#4. Hospital discharge

If a patient had been admitted, discharge is the point at which he or she leaves the hospital and returns home or is transferred to another facility. At this point medical follow-up is still necessary to ensure a successful recovery.

#5. Aftercare

This is the road to recovery where a patient’s care is usually returned to their regular primary care physician who treated them prior to hospitalization. (Caution: This is the point where transfer of information and hence communication could be jeopardized between the hospital doctor and the primary doctor).

Create content for each stage

Now that you know the different stages of a patient’s life cycle the objective is to create content that resonates with them at exactly the point where they are. For example, a patient who has just discovered that she has breast cancer does not need to join an online support group for ‘cancer survivors’ – she’s not there yet.

So let’s see what kind of content resonates with patients at each stage of the patient life-cycle.

1. Awareness

The first thing a patient will do at this stage is search for relevant information about the illness or possible treatments. HCO’s should focus on two things. Search and educational content (blogs).

I recently interviewed several nurses for a client project that I’m currently working on. One of things that kept coming up was their observation that more and more patients are starting their healthcare information search on Google (as opposed to a particular health website). Make sure that your content is highly optimized using these tips. Patients at this stage will also need:

  • A  health blog
  • Health information tabs on the navigation bar of your homepage (by topic, by key word, and so on)
  • Newsletters and free guides to help them discover new resources and tips
  • The ability to search on your site via a search box

Take a look at how Cleveland Clinic does it:

2. Consultation

At this stage a person will either schedule an appointment with their own doctor or search for a doctor online or offline. If you’re a hospital marketer then you will have a ‘Find a doctor’ tab on your website. It may look  something like this:

In terms of content patients at this stage may also need:

  • Easy-to-read  physician blog posts and resources.
  • Printable FAQ’s or ‘Questions to Ask Your Doctor’ – patients may want to print out this information and bring it to their doctor’s appointment.
  • Video patient testimonials – to hear other patients’ stories , learn and be encouraged from their experiences.
  • In-person educational events for both patients and caregivers (where therapeutic patient education is provided)
  • A mobile app with a brief index of topics to provide quick information
  • A Facebook or Twitter page for curated content and to provide a more approachable environment for discussions.

3. Treatment

At this stage a patient is preparing for treatment which could be a scary experience if surgery, chemotheraphy or other ‘risky’ treatment methods are involved. Patients will need to a lot of empathy, support and encouragement. Here are some content types that could be useful:

  • An online patient forum for idea-sharing and communication between patients and  physicians
  • A social media community for informal interaction with others affected or impacted by the same condition.
  • Podcasts, talk-radio shows, and videos to help uplift and encourage patients.

4. Discharge and Aftercare

When a patient leaves hospital they may feel tired or groggy and will just want to rest. This is where content could be focused more on the care-giver than the patient. A care giver could benefit from the following forms of content:

  • Printable guides and resources to help care for the patient
  • Online support such as Tweet chats, Google Communities or weekly Google Hangouts for supporting and encouraging caregivers.
  • A playlist (on HCO’s website, Spotify or other platform) of relaxing music to listen to, or videos to watch.
  • Newsletters to keep both patient and caregiver informed about new trends, topics and technology.
  • A blog with resources and tips about caring for a loved one

Quick Wrap up

Providing relevant content to patients means that healthcare content marketers should adopt a highly patient-centric perspective in terms of ‘what would I want to know at this stage?’ 

The answers might vary depending on demographics, culture, digital capabilities and so on. However you can send out a survey to find out what kind of content resonates with patients during their journey to wellness. Alternatively you could also interview patient-facing staff such as nurses, call-center reps , social workers and others who spend more time than anyone else interacting with patients.

Over to you: What did I miss? What other content types is your HCO using to target patients at different stages of the patient life-cycle?

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healthcare marketing

Email: Favorite Tool for Physicians to Learn About Social Media



A recent survey conducted by Medical Marketing Services Inc. (MMS) the industry leader in providing email marketing services to healthcare professionals, found that 94% of physicians prefer to learn about social media and new apps via email.

The survey was conducted in February 2012 and the results presented at the ePharma Summit in New York on February 6th.

Here’s a summary of the key findings of the survey:

#1. Huge interest in email

94% of physicians still look to the email inbox as their favorite place to learn about social media and new mobile apps.

#2. Overwhelming use of PC’s/Laptops

Almost 71% (three-quarters) of physicians surveyed read their email on PC’s and laptops compared to only 29% who read email on their mobile devices. Even though email content should be mobile optimized it appears that physicians do not depend on their smart phones for email consumption.

#3. Afternoons, best time to read email

Most physicians read their email in the afternoon. About 37% read their email after 6pm and only 33% read their email before 9am. The trend in email reading times should give healthcare marketers are clue regarding send time optimization.

#4.  50-50 preference for HTML vs plain text

Half the doctors surveyed prefer HTML emails and half of them prefer plain text emails. Again, healthcare marketers should use both versions when communicating with physicians.

#5. More doctors on Facebook than Twitter

When it comes to social media, 36% of physicians use Facebook professionally, while only 5% use Twitter professionally.

#6. Rx Guides most sought after smart-phone service

32% of physicians prefer Rx Guides as the smartphone service of choice, while 21% prefer drug samples.  Only 9% of physicians want eDetails on their smart phones.

#7. Apple devices most popular with physicians

While most doctors download medical apps on their smart phones, Apple devices (iPhones and iPads) are the most popular platforms amongst physicians.

Key Takeaway

Physicians have a very high interest in email communication, so much so that they don’t want to be rushed through it. Their inclination towards afternoon consumption of email via PC’s or laptops, is a good indicator that they are setting aside precious time to focus on email communication and are doing so in a more leisurely fashion. Healthcare marketers have a great opportunity to get physicians to focus on their email content if it:

  • is sent at the right time
  • includes both HTML and plain text versions
  • includes information about Apple-compatible apps
  • includes social media and particularly Facebook information

What are your thoughts? How do you see email impacting communication between physicians and healthcare marketers? Please leave your comment in the box below.

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A Practical Approach to Content Analysis



If you tell a client or an employer that their content has issues, they will obviously want to know what kind of issues you’re talking about and why they are issues.

Knowing the answer to the question,“How do you know if your content is any good?” may not be easy. But it is extremely important if you want to show your client or boss how content measures up against the competition, and where it needs improvement.

Pie chart showing types of content on a web site

In order to judge content, you must become familiar with it, understand how it relates to other content and measure it for specific content qualities.

A thorough content analysis allows you to flag problem areas, apply qualitative ratings, and illustrate real-life business reasons for improvement in a way that a client or an employer can appreciate. Read full article here.

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