5 Ways to Boost Your Health IT Content Marketing Response

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Not satisfied with response rates from blog posts and case studies? Here’s how focusing on the end user can boost your health IT content marketing.

Health IT Content MarketingIf you’re in charge of your health IT content marketing strategy, these are the last words you want to hear.

“As an engineer, I select products and services based on requirements and not based on marketing materials, procurements by other local institutions, or the sentiment that “no one gets fired by buying vendor X.”

Sigh. This quote is from blogger John D. Halamka, MD, MS. What he says carries weight.

Among his many titles he is Chief Information Officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Chairman of the New England Healthcare Exchange Network (NEHEN), Co-Chair of the HIT Standards Committee, a full Professor at Harvard Medical School, and a practicing Emergency Physician.

That a doctor is skeptical of marketing materials shouldn’t come as any surprise, but if your content marketing is falling short, you’re not alone. According to a HIMSS B2B Content Marketing survey, only 4% of B2B health tech content strategist found their efforts effective.

Content marketing is ideally suited for health IT

These findings are disappointing. But the issue isn’t content marketing. It’s a proven to tool to engage prospects and increase response rates.

I agree with Cari McLean. If there was ever a field that could be benefit from content marketing, it’s health IT.  As she wrote in Why your health IT marketing is probably not working

There are very few purchases in healthcare IT that are simple, impulse buys. The majority of healthcare IT companies have to execute a complex sell into a complex organization who has multiple stakeholders and gate keepers that they have to influence to make the sale.

The problem may be the focus of your health IT content marketing. To improve response rates, consider the following:

    • Focus the end user, not features
    • Appreciate end users have different needs
    • Rethink thought leadership
    • Customize content while building consensus
    • Tailor your content to customer’s buyers journey

Focus on the end user, not features

As marketers we love talking about products and their features – what they can do, how they are best of class, etc.

What often gets lost in that discussion is what does it mean for the customer. How does it solve their pain points?

Focusing on the customer isn’t new, but it bears repeating.  How many times have you seen young startups with a solution in search of a problem?  Tech often falls in love with the engineering. Customer service is less sexy. Truth is at a certain level, there are very few technical differences between solutions. The point of differentiation is how those solutions solve problems and meet end user requirements.  

See Do EHR Quantitative Performance Metrics Drive Sales?

Appreciate end users have different needs 

In putting the need of end users first, we can, however overlook competing interests and workplace dynamics.

Take a lesson learned by Sahil Patel who heads up ER Express. See 6 Sales Tip to Engage ED Doctors and Nurses and Get Buy-in

Initially, we would go in and say our solution would help bring more patients in the door. And the doctors would be clapping and giving us positive signals. And the nurses would be crossing their arms.  This is not what we want.  And we would walk out scratching our heads.  How can this be?  They are working the same ED – one saying they want more patients, and the other saying we have all the patients we need.

Focusing on his solution, Sahil wasn’t paying attention to the internal dynamics of his customers and the multiple needs of his end users. Doctors are rewarded when they have more patients. For nurses, more patients is just more work. It’s an oversight he quickly corrected in his discussions with customers.

Successful content marketing must take into these complex relationships. End users want the same results, but often have different needs. Our content must balance these different interests.

Rethink thought leadership

Attempting to be stand out in a crowded field, we often strive to be thought leaders. Our content serves as their voice of authority.

How often do we read about companies touting their “innovative” vision, their “revolutionary” approach or their goal to “disrupt” the market. Demonstrating expertise certainly establishes credibility, but an expert perspective or unique vision doesn’t guarantee significant impact on customers’ decision making.

In fact, for time strapped doctors, nurses and medical staff, disruptive workflows are the last thing they want to hear.

While not specifically addressing the health tech space, I liked what Brent Adamson and Patrick Spenner had to say in Avoid These Common B2B Content Marketing Mistakes

Their advice and mine — Avoid making thought leadership the centerpiece of your content strategy.

Generally speaking customers don’t want thought leadership. Most times, they’re just looking for the best answers to the questions.

As the authors wrote:

[A] “smart or expert perspective” has no significant impact on customers’ decision making. Only content that teaches customers something new about their business and provides a compelling reason to change their behavior proves sufficient to influence the decision process.

Customize content while building consensus

Mark Anderson CEO of Houston-based AC Group observed,

“EHR products themselves are often designed with one person’s perspective in mind. That’s not how healthcare works. We have 10 different people working on the same chart.”

See Beyond Words: Make Your EHR Content Marketing Stand Out

EHR systems enlist multiple end users. Purchase decisions involve a team of stakeholders. In making your case, content must address the needs of each end user in specific terms. But there are limits.

Returning to Brent Adamson and Patrick Spenner, a strategy that resonates too personally with each stakeholder can also backfire. Why you ask?

In short, personalizing content for each of a group of diverse stakeholders, often with differing priorities, amplifies disconnects rather than overcoming them. Thus, an effective content marketing strategy must anticipate those disconnects and present a broader vision that allows purchasing group members to see their role in a collective solution.

In marketing, target “collaboration champions” who can build purchase consensus and demonstrate the value for the entire team.

Tailor your content to your customer’s buyers journey

Content must not only appeal to the needs of multiple end users; it must appeal to the changing content needs of each end user.

Effective content evolves to reflect the questions that customers are likely to ask at each step along the way in making a purchase.  It’s called the “Buyer’s Journey.”

Your prospects begin with questions. Armed with information, they start comparing different solutions. And when ready to buy, they have specific questions about your solution and seek incentives to pull the trigger.

Your content must align with this evolution. This can mean a progression from blog posts to white papers and then case studies. At each stop, your content must correspond to questions your prospects are asking.

Concluding Thoughts

One of the key findings on the HIMSS study was that lack of consistency, both in quality and frequency, can undermine the performance of your health IT content marketing.

But as this post reveals, content must also be dynamic to reflect the needs of your multiple stakeholders. It must also recognize that end users will be seeking different types of content as they move toward a purchase decision.


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