The State of Healthcare Content Marketing in 2017

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Content marketing best practices are constantly evolving in accordance with shifting consumer trends and preferences — here’s what medical marketers need to know.

It’s no secret that content generation has become a core component of any successful consumer-facing marketing campaign — but the word “content” can mean a lot of different things, and it’s not always clear where you should spend the bulk of your time and energy in order to maximize your ROI.

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) recently released its 2016 B2C Content Marketing Industry Trends report with some great insights into how different companies are using content, and the kind of results they’re seeing. Below, I’ll outline a few key insights from the report, then talk specifically about how they apply to the medical industry.

The Big Picture

In the survey, CMI defined content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Based on this definition, CMI reports that 76% of B2C companies across all industries were investing in content marketing in 2016. They’re also investing more — in 2016, B2C marketers on average allocated 32% of their total marketing budget towards content, up from 25% in 2015.

The way they’re distributing that content is changing as well. In the past year, digital advertising methods like promoted posts, social media ads, and search engine marketing (SEM) officially overtook print and other offline channels as the preferred method for paid distribution. The report also suggests that Facebook has become the off-site channel of choice for most B2C marketers, and that it’s also generating better results: in 2016, 66% of survey respondents rated it “effective,” up from 58% in 2015.

In terms of content types, the report suggests that infographics are on the rise — 62% of respondents created infographics in 2016, compared to 45% the year before. They’re also becoming more effective in terms of consumer engagement, with 63% reporting positive results, up from 43% in 2015.

What Does This Mean for Medical Marketers?

While this report takes a holistic view of the state of content marketing, these statics are highly relevant for medical marketers as well. They indicate a broader shift in the consumer mindset, as the internet has empowered people to go online, conduct extensive research about products and services, and make informed purchasing decisions for themselves — a topic I’ve written about extensively in the past.

The healthcare industry doesn’t exist in a vacuum — medical marketers need to recognize broader trends and adapt their strategies accordingly. For example, the fact that infographics are on the up and up has to do with shifting habits of content consumption. As people’s inboxes, search results, and social media feeds become increasingly inundated with text-based content, they’re becoming overwhelmed.

As such, graphics and other visual-based content has emerged as an increasingly effective way to communicate your brand’s value proposition or demonstrate your expertise. Consider that 55% of consumers will stop reading a given page in less than 15 seconds — it’s difficult to convey a message if no one’s actually reading it.

This isn’t to say that blog publishing is no longer an effective way to connect with your organization’s target audience — the order of operations is simply shifting. By diversifying your content strategy, you’ll be able to guide patients along during the path to treatment more effectively and maximize your results.

For example, publish a social ad or promoted infographic post to capture their initial attention; then write a genuinely informative blog post or video that showcases your practice’s expertise to help them make up their mind; then finally, make sure you’ve got an intuitive website with easy-to-find contact information or an online appointment booker to clinch the conversion.

Content consumption habits may be shifting constantly, but at the end of the day, most patients are looking for a sense of trust and security — so above all, make sure your content effectively conveys all of the expertise and value your medical organization has to offer.

Medical Practice Marketing, Digital Marketing, Physician Marketing