Healthcare technology is a field in which B2B buying decisions are made slowly, based on data and authority. That holds true whether you are talking about the technology involved in the care itself, or the technology that manages the vast amounts of information and data involved in healthcare.
That decision-making process naturally lends itself to content marketing.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is based on using a wide range of content types and channels to provide information and gain awareness in the market, including improving SEO and providing opportunities for online lead generation. The types of content created and used in a content marketing strategy can range from social media images to thought leadership articles, blog posts, videos, podcasts, whitepapers and reports, and more. Most content marketing today is digital in nature, but the broader umbrella can also include traditional print materials as well.
(Wondering how to classify your marketing approach? See the differences in digital vs. content vs. inbound marketing.)
It is key in content marketing, including for healthcare fields, to recognize that “content” crosses the traditional marketing/PR divide. Effective content marketing strategies need to integrate traditional PR tactics and channels with those viewed as more pure marketing channels in ways that create an overarching strategy focused on the same goals. By integrating all tactics and channels under a single strategy, marketers benefit from uniform messaging to all stages of the sales funnel, opportunities to repurpose content and data for multiple channels and greater return on investment in strategies such as original research and surveys.
Why should healthcare IT companies use this strategy?
Healthcare decision-making is information-driven and typically follows long decision cycles. As pointed out by HIMSS Media, factors such as the exacting compliance requirements throughout the healthcare industry’s infrastructure make it essential that leads be able to trust your company to take data quality, sourcing standards and security concerns seriously.
Content marketing, which leans more heavily into in-depth, non-promotional insights and guidance than quick-hit in-your-face advertising and promotion, is suited to the needs of healthcare decision-makers. By providing them with information that can be used directly or indirectly to address the pain points and problems healthcare organizations face through awareness level content and PR, marketers earn trust that can carry them into the next stage of decision making when those organizations are actively seeking software or other technology solutions.
What are the most important tactics to include?
Given the nature of healthcare as an industry, marketers need to focus on providing their content with two distinct characteristics:
- Valuable data
- Human stories
These two characteristics may seem at odds, but they are at the heart of how healthcare operates. Data is essential in decision-making, measuring outcomes, dealing with government regulations and requirements from insurance companies and more. But healthcare is also inherently all about human stories. Healthcare providers—even the CFO and CIO who make software purchasing decisions and may seem miles removed from patient experiences—are all part of an industry focused on caring.
Content marketers who can blend those characteristics will create messages that resonate more fully with their target market.
One of our longtime clients is a perfect example. We helped Intrado (previously West Corporation and TeleVox Solutions) find the humanity in its technology services through, as unlikely as it may seem, data.
While appointment reminders and automated messaging may seem cold and institutional, through a series of surveys of healthcare providers and patients, JONES was able to help the company uncover the human impact of those communications, as well as their impact on healthcare organizations, including opportunities for improved patient experiences, improved patient outcomes and even improved revenue flow.
Each of the campaigns JONES developed for Intrado’s healthcare division over a 10+ year relationship was designed to use original data from surveys to reach all levels of the sales funnel through multiple content channels and formats.
Awareness level content included multiple thought leadership articles placed with industry media to share the data developed along with insight from the company’s executives. Infographics also earned national media coverage from USA Today on multiple occasions.
A series of reports and whitepapers detailed the survey results and what they could mean in action for healthcare organizations, designed to reach buyers in the consideration stage actively seeking solutions to problems ranging from missed appointments to recovering copays or providing communications to help patients manage chronic conditions.
Case studies and testimonials from clients shared the real-life stories behind the data, both in terms of individual patient outcomes and overall performance by healthcare organizations to influence leads in the decision stage of the sales funnel. Videos and sales collateral were created to bring the same message both online and to in-person events such as the annual HIMSS conference.
Read more about some of the campaigns and content JONES created for Intrado/West:
- How A Technology Company Found the Human Side of its Brand Position in Data
- Client Success: Complete Content Packages Fuel West Marketing Strategy
- Q&A: How JONES and West Use Contributed Articles In Marketing Campaigns
- Secrets for Video Marketing Success: What West & JONES Did Right
It is also important to remember that even if your IT solution is focused on the healthcare industry, you need to consider the information-gathering preferences of all IT decision-makers as you develop your overall marketing strategy. Especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which pushed much of every business transaction into a virtual field, IT buyers want to be able to access at least part of the material they need to make decisions in a “self-serve” environment—this could mean including virtual product tours or demo videos on your website or in blog posts, offering free trial versions or potentially allowing for purchase without the involvement of a sales rep.
Why you need a partner who understands healthcare IT and the healthcare field
HIMSS Media said it well in their post on content marketing for healthcare: Healthcare is complicated.
From the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act (and any other government changes that may be yet to come) to the acronyms and jargon involved in the industry (on top of the typical IT jargon for those in the enterprise software field), the complexity of healthcare and all of the aspects that go into providing the technology and services needed by healthcare providers and organizations calls for a marketing team that understands it all AND can provide high quality content creation.
This industry is no place for “just OK” quality content—if healthcare organizations are trusting their patients’ lives and data to your solution, they have to trust you first.
Bringing on an experienced agency partner with a background of success in the industry can be the difference between just churning out random content and creating strategic content marketing campaigns that showcase your brand at its best and instill trust within the industry.
At JONES, our experience has taught us five lessons about marketing in the healthcare IT arena:
- Understand that you are marketing primarily to the CIO or IT director when marketing healthcare IT and software solutions.
- Focus on key trends and how to solve problems that impact both the organization and patient outcomes.
- Take an integrated approach to PR and marketing content strategy creation and campaign planning.
- Build content off solid data and concrete solutions.
- Deploy content across all marketing channels and levels of the sales funnel to maximize ROI on data collection and content development.
How can we help you put these lessons to work?
Schedule a time in my calendar for a no-obligation consultation if you’d like to discuss your content marketing strategy and plans, or download our Healthcare Success Stories package of case studies for more details on the healthcare IT and other related companies JONES has successfully guided in the past.