It seems like Obamacare‘s been in the news forever, with lots of people coming down on different sides of the argument about whether it’s a good thing or not. Here at Readz, we’re looking at the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from a different viewpoint, in terms of what it means for content marketing.
If you’re surprised by the idea of linking the two, consider this: one of the key provisions of the Act means a huge change for the health insurance market place. You see, under the Affordable Care Act, consumers get to check out different health insurance plans via health exchanges, putting them in the driving seat when it comes to their health. That’s not something that’s been easy for them to do till now.
Still not with us? Obamacare means that members of the health insurance industry are effectively competing against each other online. They will need to differentiate themselves from each other and like any other business, that key differentiator will be the quality of the information they provide and how they provide it. That’s content marketing, however you look at it. And it means a major mind shift for the healthcare industry.
Until now, healthcare marketers have paid less attention to content marketing than other industry segments. According to research from MedCity Media and MarketingProfs, while marketers as whole spend 31% of their budgets on content marketing, that drops to 23% within the healthcare sector. And while 43% of healthcare marketers plan to increase spending on content marketing in the next year, that’s still significantly less than the 51% who plan to do so across all marketing sectors. Despite the gap, the fact that they are spending more on content marketing is not only good news, but a business necessity.
According to the research, the main aim is to raise brand awareness, something that will be crucial in getting a good stake in the health exchanges. The ACA is complex, and anyone who can make it understandable to consumers and consistently give them reliable information to help them make decisions will lead the pack. But it will require a mindset shift. Till now marketing within the healthcare sector has looked very different from in other places. In part because of the regulatory climate, healthcare marketers tend to outsource content production to qualified experts rather than produce it all in house, according to one study. They have been very focused on print based resources. In fact, it’s safe to say that they lag behind most in their marketing efforts but that now has to change.
To get up to speed, healthcare marketers have to think both about strategy and delivery.
Like any content marketing strategy, a strategy for the healthcare sector needs to think about building awareness of the healthcare brand. A good content marketer can do that by creating content that builds relationships with potential patients. Most of us are online for at least part of the day and we turn to search engines to explain symptoms and see whether we need to visit a medical professional. As with other content marketing strategies, understanding your buyer personas (healthcare is such a huge area that there will be several) and researching their needs will be crucial.
A healthcare content marketing strategy could include answering their questions about health exchanges in particular and the ACA in general, filling the information gap that exists for this new and complex area. Being the provider of that information can start a relationship of trust. Haley Hite says it’s about creating empathy with your readers – understanding what has brought them to your website and what they might be looking for. That’s how you establish a relationship of trust and get them returning to you time and again and recommending you to others.
But delivery of that information is also important and – sorry, healthcare marketers – providing paper-based resources just won’t cut it anymore. People are now used to getting information in different forms, such as email newsletter, blog posts and white papers. They are also used to being able to consume information on demand. And now this audience is overwhelmingly using mobile devices and looking at information during leisure time, probably while they are watching TV.
That means a challenge and an opportunity for healthcare marketers – first to stand out from the competition by providing information that people want on health exchanges and the ACA. Second, to make sure that your content marketing strategy includes a mobile component. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that you should think mobile first. Make sure that your content looks great on mobile and is easy to navigate and you will be well on the way to marketing successfully to the Obamacare generation.