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It’s not a big secret that it can be tough for healthcare brands to connect with patients. With healthcare issues in the news and the often high-stress situations that accompany the industry, healthcare often gets shone in a negative light. Couple that with often watered-down messaging due to compliance standards, it gets tough for patients to see big organizations as friendly or approachable. All of which, unfortunately, makes our jobs as marketers difficult.
Don’t fear though! If doctors, nurses and ancillary staff can connect with patients, we can too! With a little focus on our marketing bedside manner, we can create content that is relevant, personal and impactful.
Here’s three content angles that we’ve found help healthcare brands show their personal side and build strong relationships with patients.
1) Paint the whole picture.
Healthcare is complex – it’s more than just your primary care physician and hospitals. There’s a network of services that help support communities with broad health initiatives to revolutionize treatments for horrible diseases. But it can be tough for patients to look past their direct experiences and what they hear in the news.
Creating content and messaging that offers insights into the workings of hospitals, government regulations, the benefits of healthcare systems and all the research and community initiatives offers you the opportunity to showcase your mission and values to the public.
Remember: Many patients fear healthcare – fear of not recovering, fear of not understanding treatment options, fear of not being able to pay for treatment. Telling the story of your organization and how it works will help patients better understand their current situation and help reduce fears of what’s to come. They want to know they’ll have access to best treatment, the best healthcare providers and the most comprehensive coverage. Letting them know how your company operates helps them understand the whole healthcare puzzle to put their fears at ease.
2) Tell stories.
Stories are the most effective way of connecting with your audience. Our brains are programmed to retain stories better than any other form of communication because we envision ourselves as the protagonist, helping us better understand how a situation, product, service and so on would have an impact on us. Because healthcare can be overwhelming, stories are a great way to help ease patient fears and provide useful information.
Telling stories of employees and patients is also a great way to bring a human element to your marketing efforts. Mayo Clinic did just this by adding a blog dedicated to telling stories that they simply call Sharing Mayo. They share inspiring stories of Mayo Clinic staff and patients. They’ve been able to put people first by letting clinic staff tell the story of how they were inspired to become healthcare professionals, which often ties back to real life events. Through these stories, they are able to make connections with their readers.
They’ve taken it a step further by letting patients tell their own stories. Sharing patient stories can be a scary leap for healthcare marketers due to HIPAA and other compliance standards. By letting patients tell their own stories through videos, interviews and first-hand accounts, they aren’t violating anyone’s privacy, and they’re sharing third-party validation of their treatments and staff. With these stories, they’re humanizing their brand and building trust.
Stories aren’t limited to recapping experiences. Brands have a great opportunity to connect with potential patients through stories that connect with wider audiences. It’s no secret that many people underuse preventive care in the U.S., and getting people to sign up for these procedures doesn’t always feel like a sexy marketing task. But by telling the broader story of how preventive care can impact the lives of patients and their families helped Indiana University Health spread the word about preventive care:
What stories can your brand tell to build trust and inspire action?
3) Create content people seek.
Stories are a great way to build a personal connection with your audience. But they aren't the only content that connects with patients and their families. Answering patient questions through direct, easy-to-consume content is a great way to ease fears quickly and help prepare patients for a tough road they may be facing.
So how do you know what patients are asking?
Many patients use search to research potential treatments, conditions and primary care providers. In fact, according to Pew Research, 77% of online health seekers say they began looking for health information on a search engine. Starting with search data, both on and off your site, is a great way to research potential content topics.
When looking at Google search data, use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to research topics related to your products and services. You can add in a URL for a specific product page to see what keywords Google suggests targeting, and this can help lead you to specific topics. Also, using a research tool like SEMRush, you can pull all keywords ranking for your website as well as competitor and general industry websites. Filter the results to show keywords that include “who,” “what,” or “how” to see questions people are searching in Google. You can also filter by number of words in the phrase. Phrases four words or more tend to be more detailed to help you understand what people are exploring.
If you are using Google Site Search to power search on your website, enable Site Search in Google Analytics. This will allow you to see specifically what people are searching for on your website. If users are searching for a phrase frequently, you have an opportunity to create content relevant to this phrase to help meet user needs.
Once you’ve narrowed in on the topics users are seeking, begin planning content! What can be added to a conditions or treatment page? What warrants a blog article? Use this to fuel your team’s editorial calendar.
Whether you’re building out marketing campaigns, blog strategies or on-page content for your healthcare company, there’s one key item to keep in mind: to connect with patients you have to address their needs, fears and assumptions first. The right angle of the messaging is the angle that helps your end-user! Stick with this, and you’ll create content that is engaging, relevant and needed!
Want to talk more about effective healthcare marketing? Reach out to us today!