Producing great content for the healthcare industry can be a bit like getting lost in the woods; easy to deal with if you know how to handle yourself in the bush, but straight up panic-inducing, if not.
The stigma in writing and tailoring great content to the healthcare industry is that most writers think they have to be doctors or nurses to do it well – or that they have to elevate their vocabularies to speak directly to doctors and nurses – and it’s easy to understand why. It’s a competitive, complex topic that holds issues of legality and compliance.
Good writers have to interact with, and research topics of authority – there’s no avoiding it. Plus, doctors and the entire world of healthcare deserves our respect; so it feels nearly disrespectful to write about the importance of the healthcare community in layman’s terms. At the same time, generating great content means addressing the fact that most people won’t understand the Latin names for conditions, or the in’s and outs of molecular biology.
So, generating the right content for healthcare-based clients is like a delicate dance – on one hand, there’s a level of seriousness and authority that needs to be addressed, but in such a way that’s engaging for a broad audience to read.
If watching reruns of House M.D has taught us anything, it’s to embrace the seriousness of healthcare with a free-spirited attitude… and that rocking a blazer with jeans and running shoes is legit, but that’s another post.
Reimagine your Perspective
Producing content for healthcare is really no different from any other industry. It’s about sourcing credible references, doing good research, and showing the topic respect – just as any professional content writer will show a topic about law, retail or manufacturing. The difference, perhaps, lies in the singular perception of healthcare – it’s strictness, or rigor. The mark of content regarding healthcare is one of unwavering importance.
Remember that, and tailor your perspective to that of your readers. With healthcare, your reader is likely someone who is seeking the best physician, surgeon, or facility available to them. They’re probably searching for solutions, information, or even treatments for a list of specific symptoms or emotions associated with health – so put yourself in their shoes.
As you’re writing, ask yourself a few key questions:
- Can you easily interpret the information you’re writing?
- Are your definitions and terms understandable to younger readers?
- Is your clinical content accurate without being confusing or overwhelming?
- Are you offering actionable explanations?
- Have you addressed the questions of your readers?
A great way to discover more about your potential readers is to employ the use of a well executed buyer persona. These are structured processes that critically map out ideal target buyers, demographics, and psycho-graphic analysis to more effectively target your content.
The purpose of a buyer persona is to clearly define the goals, pain points, and challenges that your potential buyer faces as they go about their decision making process, also known as the buyer journey. This process serves to ensure that you are speaking to your audience in a way that caters to their needs in self educating about the problem or solution they are researching. The buyer persona leans heavily on the modern day shopper, because they prefer to self-serve and self-educate on their own terms; this puts them in control of where and how to buy solutions to their problems.
Identify Your Target
The beautiful thing about an inbound marketing content strategy is acknowledging out of the gate that you’re aware your ideal prospect is already looking for answers to their questions. This means that your biggest hurdle is finding out what those questions are and using this insight to formulate specific and tailored content made specifically for the audience that’s going to find it most useful.
Step 1 in any content marketing campaign is accurately and confidently identifying your target. In healthcare content, you can assess the niche business you or your client is in, and tailor your buyer personas and audience demographic analysis to create the perfect content calendar for attracting the right people.
However, “healthcare” doesn’t have to mean doctor or hospital-centric content either, there are a plethora of health-related topics that can act as great jump-off points for attracting a broader demographic whose interest is on health, wellness and event training. Plus, in terms of numbers and traffic generation, there are many more people who are not medical professionals who are looking for advice and resources on health. For example:
- Weight loss/diet blogs – giving information on tips and tricks for losing that last 5 pounds, or highlighting weight loss journeys.
- Training blogs – more of a wellness sub-topic, but training, weight-lifting, or running blogs are an attractive platform for those who primarily use exercise and physical activity to improve their health.
- Nutrition blogs – Blogs that are focused on healthy, organic food options that promote health and even suggest relief from health-related ailments like diabetes, iron deficiencies, high cholesterol, tooth decay, etc – all beneficial answers for those researching for alternative health treatments or changes to their lives that put health first.
- Healthy living blogs – more open ended in scope, but healthy living blogs can support healthcare related topics by insisting that a new, healthy outlook on life and the activities that you find solace in can actually help to improve your mood, spirit and overall health in time. Niche topics like hiking, canoeing, yoga, gardening, jogging, etc – all aspects of healthy lifestyles that can be used to combat certain medical or healthcare related topics.
A great way to build some background information on your ideal target demographic is to start with larger, more broad topics, and dial in on something tighter as time goes on. This funnel-style of target identification will help you to wean out the crowds that aren’t interested in your content, or typically like to find their info elsewhere. Further, it mimics the natural sales-funnel ideals of a success inbound campaign – as a balancing act that needs to be addressed at every stage.
For example, a sales/persona funnel needs to maintain a funnel shape, this means dictating where your energy goes as readers progress further down the rabbit hole. Our fearless leader, Todd Mumford, notes sales funnels should always be fat at the top – liken that to appealing to a large audience with broader content topics. Further down the line, the sales funnel is thinned by visitors entering and beginning to make their sales-related decisions – liken this stage to readers determining how specific or relatable – or not – your topics are for their research purposes.
At the end of the topic funnel, you’ll have gathered some invaluable information about your readers as you experiment with different topics, focus and voices. Similar to the way a sales funnel will inevitably thin to a point when customers are ready to make a purchasing decision; when you can help someone to make a buying decision, your content is always a deciding factor – know what content gets your reader to the end of the sales funnel, and you’ll know what type of health-related content is capable of attracting the right readers – and whether or not your content is able to answer their questions.
Tone & Voice
Voice is so, so critical in successful healthcare content. Writing is hard enough, but knowing when to use a friendly, upbeat tone, or a professional voice is paramount to break through to a considerable audience. This skill is all about practice – writing a lot will of course inevitably make you better at writing for specific sub genres of people; healthcare content and its related niche markets are unique in that different types of writing will generate a spark with a different audience.
ThoughtCo tells us that tone is a web of feelings stretched throughout an essay – so whatever you do, healthcare content should always offer a boost of some kind. Negative aspects to health are abundant, and important, but should never finish your content posts. Writing meaningful healthcare content is all about hearing and feeling the tone of your readers as well. Remember, marketing and content creation is all about building friendship, and meaningful relationships based on trust: give your readers something to grab onto, and don’t take advantage of their trust. It’s a precious commodity that needn’t be tampered with; health should never be tampered with.
Offer motivation when you need to. Offer sobering facts to encourage your readers to make beneficial changes in their approach to health. Exchange ideas and promote innovation to instill a sense of good tidings and good expectations.
Discuss benefits, SEO implications
When writing for healthcare applications, content producers are fortunate in that readers are likely searching for symptoms and specific names of conditions or illnesses. Your inbound marketing team can help you to decipher which words and phrases produce the highest search numbers that can be implemented into your content as sub-headings and titles, and lightly implemented into the content itself. What SEO does, is improves your pages appeal to search engine results. It’s a technique that helps your site and therefore your content, to rank higher in organic search results. Search engines like Google are typically looking for title tags, keywords, image tags, internal link structure to build context upon, and inbound links.
What SEO is NOT about, is littering your content with transparent, ill-placed words as often as possible. Optimization is more of a dance; a masterful, crafty dance. In fact, more search engines will dock your site based on an obvious overabundance of keywords, known as keyword stuffing. Never push, or allow your keyword placement to feel unnatural.
Let’s imagine your client sells diabetic socks. A good idea would be to target a portion of your content towards those looking to better understand and self-educate on the benefits of keywords like ‘increased circulation,’ ‘blood flow,’ and ‘transmission of blood to the feet,’ resulting in reduced swelling, soreness, and inflammation.
See what we did there? We took a beneficial product that a reader may or may not be aware of, and marketed it as a benefit to specific problems that we can accurately perceive a broad readership may already be looking for answers to. Remember, the right people already have questions and need answers to those questions – your keyword research will be to hone in on and decipher which problems are questions are most-asked, and tailor your expertise to answering in the best, most comprehensive way to help build trust with your readers, and authority on the subject.
Content marketing is at a bit of a crossroads. As the discipline evolves, and readers develop new ways to engage with and interpret content, some writers and marketing outfits have lost their touch. Only 30% of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing, down from 38% in 2016. This means that content marketers need to re-dedicate their approach to content creation.
Healthcare lends itself well to this reinvestment of marketing prowess, because much like content marketing it requires consistency, measurable results and dedication. Marketers and content writers need to add consistency to their marketing efforts and stay true to the process. Just like an incorrect cut in surgery can cause massive hemorrhaging, unfocused marketing can do the same to an organization’s bottom line.
Content marketers also need to take the responsibility to comply with best practices. Content marketers and writers need to be careful when writing about sensitive topics like healthcare and refrain from offering medical advice outright when not properly vetted by a PHD for liability concerns. Some of these potential areas of consideration can significantly delay effective marketing from taking place. It takes a well oiled process with an intimate understanding of the industry to keep consistent marketing sustained.
At its core, healthcare content creation is about insisting that readers acknowledge that optimism in their ability to help themselves is key to the success of the material itself. We’ve written at great length on the importance of writing with respect, and with humility – but writing to inspire confidence, trust, and camaraderie via healthcare and health-related content can represent much more.
Generating the right healthcare content, it would seem, revolves around a writer’s ability to identity with, and to develop strong, positive strategies with tone and voice, as much as SEO and keyword research. A content writer could spend months compiling the most factual and hard-nosed piece on the internet – but if it doesn’t speak to someone; help them identify in a positive light – there’s a good chance it’ll be skipped over.
Respect, friendship, accuracy, and trust always rule the day.