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Although the healthcare industry was slow in the acceptance of content marketing, it has definitely gained momentum, and it’s time that we find its place within ophthalmology.
Editor’s Note: Welcome to “Eye Catching: Let's Chat,” a blog series featuring contributions from members of the ophthalmic community. These blogs are an opportunity for ophthalmic bloggers to engage with readers with about a topic that is top of mind, whether it is practice management, experiences with patients, the industry, medicine in general, or healthcare reform. The series continues with this blog by Julie Gough-Nelson, marketing director, Shepherd Eye Center, Las Vegas and Henderson, NV. The views expressed in these blogs are those of their respective contributors and do not represent the views of Ophthalmology Times or UBM Medica.
Overall, the message was “Content is King.” This practice is not a new one, but has been around the communications industry for nearly a decade.
Although the healthcare industry was slow in the acceptance of the practice, it has definitely gained momentum, and it’s time that we find its place within ophthalmology.
Within the specialty of ophthalmology, the geriatric population is the primary demographic, especially for those practices with a focus on cataract surgery. With that said, many patients are often brought in by family members or friends who can help them make healthcare decisions. Knowing both of these facts is important as we craft messages for our audiences. In the September 2012 Pew Internet Project, it was reported that 72% of Internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year and that half of online health information research is on behalf of someone else-information access by proxy.
By now it’s probably evident that content marketing is important and definitely not losing momentum. Hopefully, the prospect of content marketing has you excited and ready to dive in head-first.
6 step content marketing plan
Hootsuite provides an excellent step-by-step walkthrough of the process. A brief outline of planning content marketing for your business is as follows:
1. Align goals with the overall business goals. If your practice has recently added a subspecialty like corneal transplants and you are looking to strengthen that presence in the market, you’ll probably have a different approach than if you are primarily a refractive surgery practice simply trying to maintain the market share.
2. Define your audience. Whether it’s the 65-year-old cataract patient, or the 30-something LASIK patient, you must know to whom you will be talking.
3. Identify which types of content resonate with your audience. The media outlets that best meet the needs of your cataract patients may not be the best for adult caregivers who are helping make these patients’ decisions or the busy mom looking for a pediatric ophthalmologist with flexible office hours.
4. Create an execution plan. Every new strategy must start with a plan, in writing. Let the features that make your ophthalmology practice unique guide the process.
5. Create a content promotional process. Simply tossing a blog post up on your website or sharing trendy ophthalmic news on Facebook or Twitter is not enough. There must be a method. You need to know what kind of content works best and on what type of schedule. You must then be dedicated to keeping things up to date. You don’t want to be sharing a study on a new premium IOL only to find out there is more recent information to help influence a patient in the decision-making process.
6. Learn how to measure your efforts and be willing to make adjustments as needed. All the tactics in the world don’t mean much if you can’t quantify the results that are being seen in the practice. Whether it’s impressions or engagement or calls for informational brochures, find what works for you and change it up if something isn’t working. Health care is unique in the fact that many people are researching your company and services long before they ever need them.With content marketing, you are able to deliver engaging content to patients when they need it, where they need it, and how they need it, so that when it’s time to select their ophthalmic professional, your name will be the one that comes to mind.
A buzzword or something more?
While some articles have suggested that “content marketing” is a buzzword, it’s really an inaccurate label placed on the marketing industry practice.
Even three years ago, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) aimed to set the record straight. Among the cited reasons why “buzzword” does not hold true for content marketing is that the industry is more than 100 years old; while the name to describe the practice may have changed, the concept has remained the same.
Moreover, the word is accepted by industry leaders, although not always understood by the average person.
Finally, the label “content marketing” is actually the most accurate term for the set of activities and practices it defines.
The official Content Marketing Association (CMA) definition of content marketing is: “The discipline of creating quality branded editorial content across all media channels and platforms to deliver engaging relationships, consumer value and measurable success for brands.”
Although “buzzword” may not be an accurate label used to describe content marketing, it is of no less importance to the healthcare industry and the ophthalmology specialty.
Here to stay
The fact of the matter is that content marketing is here to stay. So, just what is the state of content marketing, three and a half years after the article surfaced claiming content marketing is merely a buzzword?
CMI recently released the 2016 benchmarks and trends of content marketing for business to consumers (B2Cs). Overall, 76% of B2Cs plan to use content marketing.
In the past year, the percentage of reported businesses having a documented content marketing strategy increased from 27% to 37%.
Another 44% of businesses reported having a strategy that is not documented. The budget allocated to content marketing has also seen an anticipated increase from 25% to 32%.
With more businesses spending additional money on content marketing, it should be no surprise that businesses have also made a greater commitment to content marketing tactics.
Between 77% and 80% of marketers plan to do more content marketing this year. At least 80% of surveyed businesses plan to use illustrations, photos, e-newsletters, videos, and website articles in their strategy. Infographics are also gaining in popularity.
As much as 90% of content marketing strategies will include social media, which is no surprise given the self-reported success B2C marketers feel they are having with Facebook.
Still, marketers report that in-person events and newsletters are the most effective content marketing strategies. The overall goal typically hinges on brand awareness and the biggest challenge faced by marketing professionals is producing engaging content.
Secret to producing engaging content
So just what makes content engaging?
First, it’s important to remember that your audience is inundated with thousands of messages each day. That number used to be just a few hundred, but with the proliferation of online communication, the number of messages a health care consumer sees in a day is staggering.
To a degree, consumers are aware of the quantity of messages they are bombarded with each day, and many make conscience decisions to avoid them, which makes it even more imperative to home in on what they want to see.
Gone are the days of merely pushing out a message to anyone within earshot or eyeshot. Marketing must engage. It must pull in the viewer with compelling content. But just what makes content interesting and engaging?
Really, it’s quite simple and not much different from what makes a news story interesting and engaging.
Steve Olenski, a Forbes contributor, shared tips on proving content marketing ROI in a recent article. Additionally, Olenski shared the important attributes of content marketing campaigns.
Those attributes include making sure content is relevant, personable, authoritative, and search engine optimized. Patience is essential as you wait for results to become visible.
Two more words that describe the approach a marketer needs to have were shared by CMI founder Joe Pullizi with the Content Marketing World Audience in September: Be authentic.
Even with the best of intentions, content marketing cannot be successful unless you have the support of key decision makers in your ophthalmology practice.
Once you do, you shouldn’t choose content marketing simply because you think of it as the trendy thing to do, or because your competitors are doing it. Do it because you know there can be a return on investment and because you have thought it through.