The "build-it-and-they-will-come" approach just doesn't work. Hospital marketers must create purposeful content in order to truly connect with consumers and, ultimately, drive them to change their behavior.
Increasingly, hospital marketing departments are beefing up their content marketing strategies, but many ultimately flounder when they fail to achieve the desired results.
That's because not all content marketing is created equal—the "build it and they will come" approach just doesn't work. Hospital marketers must create purposeful, thought-out pieces of content in order to truly connect with consumers and, ultimately, drive behavior change.
"Achieving long-term engagement with audiences requires concerted comprehensive strategies and content is the key element to the experience," says Rachel Weatherly of Sapient Government Services.
"Publishing helpful content—particularly content that can help a patient or potential patient change their health behavior—can deliver a positive brand experience, influence facility selection, and deepen loyalty."
Here are three ways hospital marketers can boost engagement via content.
1. Tailor Content to Your Target Audience
Before creating any piece of content, think about the specific group you're trying to reach and how to best interact with them.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN, has clearly done this with the content on its patient education website, which focuses on creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, targeting this audience in a unique way.
The site, My Southern Health, plays on their location—where the majority of its audience group resides—and the pride they have in their region and their way of life.
"It's uncluttered and well-curated," Weatherly says. "The content of the site is presented in a way that's easy to scan for information and dive deeper as desired. And the site uses plain language that is relatable and speaks directly to their audience."
2. Make an Emotional Connection via Language and Tone
My Southern Health's plain language and relatable tone helps its content to stand out amidst the noise of other content offerings. And, once the site draws readers in, it is the content that deepens engagement with readers.
"Digestible, actionable information that relates to the needs of the audience through their engagement journey causes a person to pause, consider their next move, and possible change their behavior," Weatherly says.
"Aligning with the cultural perspectives and health literacy levels of key audience members is also critical."
"Creating inclusive or targeted content that is delivered in a way that encourages engagement, comprehension, and recommends action is challenging, but also necessary, as the populations often most in need of the information and support are also the ones least able to prioritize their health," Weatherly says.
3. Create Actionable Content to Enhance Engagement
Once your content does the job of connecting with its target audience, it's time to drive users to the next step in their engagement journey.
"Hospital and health system content must not only give the patient the who, what, and why but also when and how, making it relevant, 'real' and actionable," Weatherly says.
"Always asking what is important to the patient, will they connect with the information provided based on the relationship and experience with the organization, how to frame content that makes it digestible and empowering, and what format makes sense at the time, are just a few of the best practices needed for successful content development."