Healthcare marketers are tasked with a growing list of responsibilities: Support an expanding list of service lines, stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices in marketing; reach multiple audiences across communication channels – all while you meet the organization’s business and marketing goals.
It’s no surprise that given these pressures, 51% of respondents to a recent WriterGirl survey admitted to not having a documented content strategy. It can be a challenge to take time to sit down as a team to evaluate content marketing efforts.
Then, there’s the question of how to create a digital content strategy. The first thing is to understand how a content strategy can benefit your department and your organization.
Benefits of a digital content strategy
Here are three ways a content strategy can help your team achieve marketing goals.
A content strategy improves your team’s efficiency
Our survey asked marketing leaders what kept them up at night. For 37% of respondents, it was the challenge of too few staff members. A content strategy, while it can’t clone your best workers, can put the guardrails your team needs in place to stay focused.
A solid strategy gets everyone on the same page
At many organizations, lots of players are involved in planning and implementing content marketing. Each of these individuals plays a key role. Service line managers outline business goals and opportunities. Digital team members create, manage, measure and execute communications.
A content strategy can streamline internal communication between these departments and set clear expectations so that individuals aren’t operating in a silo (a challenge of 24% of our survey respondents).
Strategy makes your content marketing efforts stand out
Improving content marketing is an evergreen goal for marketers. We want to reach more audiences across more channels. Survey respondents back this up: 40% would spend an unexpected budget surplus on content marketing to improve blogs and email communication.
How to create a digital content strategy
With all the benefits in mind, what steps are needed to create an effective strategy? A content strategy should guide all content creation. It’s a framework to reference time and time again before, during and after marketing efforts to make sure content hits the mark and supports business goals. Understanding what that right strategy is begins with research.
Research is the backbone to every content strategy, but don’t let that deter you and your team from undertaking this step. Research doesn’t have to be overly complicated. If your department doesn’t have the time or budget to support formal research, try one of these informal research approaches:
- Competitor audit. Take a peek at competitors’ websites and social accounts to see what they’re posting and their audience engagement. Look for opportunities to set your content apart from what’s already in the marketing place. You can also evaluate other organizations that do marketing well. Look to them for best practices and ideas that you can adapt to work for your audience.
- Content audit. Take a look at your own content. What blog posts performed well? What didn’t do as well as you expected? Is there a type of social post that gets more engagement? You can also work with your development team to get a better idea of the web pages users visit; how long they stay and where they go next. This insight can help you identify areas of the website that may need more content or places to link to helpful blogs – ultimately expanding reach.
- Stakeholder interviews. Talk to people: Service line managers, development and marketing team members. What ideas do they have? Are there any new opportunities coming up that will need to be supported with content marketing? You can schedule in-person interviews or create a free email survey.
- SEO research. Search engine optimization research can – and should – inform your digital content strategy. Ask: What information are people looking for? How are visitors getting to your site? Could your content be optimized better for search or a particular keyword? Which keywords are your competitors ranking for that you can improve?
Writing the content strategy
Once you’ve compiled and reviewed research, it’s time to answer the big questions and crystallize the content strategy. Look back at what you’ve learned about your content and ask:
- What is the ultimate goal of the strategy? For example, Ask your team: What are the opportunities or challenges do we face when it specifically comes to content?
- Who is your audience? You’ll likely have more than one audience, so be sure to clearly identify your primary and secondary audiences. This makes it easier to check in throughout the year to ensure you’re reaching the right audiences at the right time.
With this framework into place, it’s time to put pencil to paper to develop your organization’s content strategy. Think of your strategy as the “how” you will address the opportunities or challenges identified during research.
Here’s an example if you found your content sounds too much like your competitors:
Content strategy: Elevate content with brand voice to connect with audiences and differentiate from competitors.
Or, maybe you work for an academic institution and a business goal is to highlight groundbreaking research:
Content strategy: Bring forward groundbreaking research work and innovative treatments available to patients in a meaningful manner.
This strategy offers clear guidance: While content should feature new research and innovative technology, it should be presented in a way that makes sense to the reader. (It also serves as a way to get buy-in across leadership on plain language and a reminder when copy starts to get too technical.)
A content strategy doesn’t do any good saved on a computer but never referenced. Spend time sharing the strategy with others outside the department and explain its purpose. Regularly check in with team members to make sure everyone is using the strategy as a touchstone for planning and implementation.