Okay, so you’ve invested sweat and tears, time and money to optimize your practice website for design, feel, and functionality (including mobile!).
But now what?
If you want to show up on the first page of Google above your competitors, then you need to have fresh, dynamic, and engaging content. If not, your practice website might well end up with a fate similar to that of your favorite ghost town along I-(insert your favorite country highway here).
Developing content to reach your ideal patient at the right time with the right message takes planning, talent, and diligence. In the same way, you wouldn’t entrust your taxes to any hack with a calculator, the content you create for your website should have a professional look and feel to it.
This week, join us as we share 25 tips and strategies that you can use right now to improve your content and attract the ideal patients to your practice.
Tune in to Discover:
- Different types of content and how you can leverage them
- How to define your target audience and develop a content strategy
- How to create content to leave your competitors in the dust
- Grammar, style, and design tips to capture potential patients’ attention
- How having a WordPress website makes it easy and affordable to publish your own content
Jennifer: Hey, guys. Welcome to the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast. I am Jennifer.
Corey: I am Corey.
Jennifer: And we are here today to talk to you about 25 content marketing driven ideas that you can use to grow your practice, to gain more patients, and to retain more patients. Let’s go ahead and get into it. We’ve got 25 ideas. Let’s go with number one. Make sure you’ve got a CMS. Corey, what’s a CMS, and why do we need that?
Corey: A CMS is a content management system. That’s a fancy way of saying it’s the thing that your website is built in. Most of the websites built today, I think it’s over 50% actually, are built in WordPress throughout the world. All of the websites that we build are in WordPress. Most agencies use WordPress as their tool. If you have a newer website, you’re probably on WordPress. If you have an older website, you’re probably not.
Corey: WordPress is great because it’s really flexible and you can add all sorts of functionality to it, but it makes it really easy to house all of your content. If you’re writing new blog posts or even if it’s a small event post, that you’re gonna be at health fair or you got a new doctor coming on board, WordPress makes it really easy to manage those things and publish it yourself.
Corey: A lot of the older websites that were not in a CMS, they were kind of locked down. If you have one of those relationships where you have to go back to the website developer and say, “Will you add this for me?” and then you get charged for it, you need to get out of that relationship and get into a content management system, preferably WordPress, and then you can do that stuff yourself and save a bunch of time and money.
Jennifer: Good points, Corey. Definitely, if you’ve got a website and you want it to be in WordPress because it’s the best CMS that you could have out there. Let’s talk about content. There’s so many things that for people in marketing for a medical practice have to think about on a day-to-day basis. Content sometimes is the last thing on their mind. They know they need to be doing it, but why content?
Corey: Well, people are looking for content. If you don’t have any, you’re not gonna show up in any of these searches. If you’re looking directly for your practice or a physician name, yeah, you’ll most likely show up. But if you’re looking for a specific gastroenterology procedure and you don’t have any content on it, you just have the word on your web page, you’ll never show up. You’re automatically shooting yourself in the foot. You’re not even at the starting gate to start the race.
Jennifer: We have a new client that’s digestive focused. They’ve got a website, and we were looking at it just the other day, and they’ve got a lot of content on their site it looks like on the surface level. But when you click on their procedures, let’s say you click on colonoscopy, it’s a PDF link that when you click on it, it opens a PDF that talks about colonoscopy. What that doesn’t do is it doesn’t get recognized by the search engines. Content is your true SEO tool, and it’s truly the way that you’re gonna show up in those organic rankings. As we become more familiar with this digestive group, we’re gonna take the content that’s currently in those PDFs and expand on it and put it actually into their CMS, or their content management system, so that it gets recognized by the search engine. A robust content strategy that’s an ongoing thing is critical if you wanna show up in those organic listings.
Corey: Absolutely, and we’ll get into some different kinds of content later on down the list, but I do wanna just point out that there’s two forms of content. One is organic, which is kinda what we were talking about with the colonoscopy page example. That’s where Google will send out its little magic robots, whatever it does, scan the page and say, “Okay, if someone types in something that’s relevant to colonoscopy, we’re gonna show this page because that’s what its about.” That’s on the organic side, so the more of that you have, the more likely you are to show up.
Corey: Then there’s that paid side. The paid side is essentially advertisements. You’re just buying digital ads. Just like you would buys ads in a magazine, you can buy ads on websites, you can buy ads on search results, and all of that stuff will drive back to content pages on your website.
Jennifer: That’s good information, Corey. Let’s go to number three, which I think is the first thing that you really have to do after you’ve kind of understand having the tools in place and understanding why you’re gonna go after a content strategy. The third thing is you actually have to develop a content strategy. How often are you gonna be posting? What type of content are you gonna be posting?
Corey: There are a bunch of different types of content out there. When you say content, I think most people think written. They think of a blog post or an event post, and that’s certainly true. But then there’s video, that’s content. There’s audio, there’s podcasts, like you’re listening to right now. There’s infographics, there’s charts, there’s quizzes. The list kinda goes on and on and on.
Jennifer: Then it’s a matter of as you’re developing your content strategy, what’s gonna work for your practice and what are you gonna have the time to do in-house or whether you outsource it? What’s your audience gonna respond to? Things of that nature. Speaking of audience, number four on our list is who is your target audience?
Corey: Coming up with a target audience is something that’s often overlooked because I think sometimes when you start down this road, you start at step four, ’cause you think you know what the audience is, you know what they wanna hear. That may not always be the case. If you can figure out what your audience wants and who they are, you’ll be better off for it.
Jennifer: We’re recording this right now from a conference out in San Diego where we’re talking about content and social media and just digital advertising and digital marketing in general. A couple years ago, you always heard the phrase, content is king. The idea was the more content you produce, the more you showed up in the organic search rankings, the more that you would convert potential patients to actual patients.
Jennifer: Now, a couple years later, we’re hearing that content is no longer king. It’s actually the audience that’s in control. Even if you have a smaller audience, it’s more valuable to be putting out there valuable content that is specifically targeted to the small audience and an audience that’s gonna respond to your content versus trying to just put out a lot of content. Instead of having quantity, we’re again focused more on quality, but quality of those human interactions and not just quality of the content you’re putting out. Again, content used to be king, now audience is king.
Corey: Does that make content queen?
Jennifer: I’m the queen, yeah. I do wear a crown.
Corey: The thing about what you were just saying, I think it makes sense to bring that offline, too. It’s similar to if you run a magazine ad and you reach 10,000 people, supposedly, that’s what the magazine people will tell you, that’s how many you’re actually reaching. But if only a couple hundred are looking at your ad, and then only a couple dozen have any sort of need for your service, and only one calls, well then, did it really make sense that you had this big audience. The quality of the audience matters more. What we’re hearing is that you need really good content, but then you also need to put it in front of people that it makes the most sense for, which is what we’ve been saying for a long time. We wanna get the right message in front of the right people at the right time, ’cause they’re gonna turn into patients.
Jennifer: Yeah, and we’ll talk about voice a little bit later, but the fact is you don’t wanna put something out that’s written academically or written from physician to physician or peer to peer like you would in a medical publication publishing your doctorate analysis to a consumer-
Corey: You’d lose me after six words.
Jennifer: Yeah, you wanna talk to the right audience. The only way that you can get your voice developed is to take time to develop those personas and to take time to understand who your audience is so that you can create the content that works for them.
Jennifer: Number five on our list is something that I often go back and kick myself in the rear for not doing when we get deep into a content strategy, and that is to build an editorial calendar.
Corey: Editorial calendar, it sounds like it could be a lot of work. It doesn’t have to be. It can just be a list of the stuff that you’re gonna do, but having this road mapped out will save you a lot of headaches as you start your content strategy.
Jennifer: I will say this, with our consultanting side of our businesses, the way that we work are in these tiers. You come in as a basic client in a mid-level or a high-level, and it’s all based on certain numbers of things that you get as a client. We know going into a relationship if somebody’s gonna have four blog posts a year, six blog posts a year, or ten blog posts a year. We know how many visual or infographic or long-form written or video testimonials that we’re gonna aim for. Then what we can do is we can plug it into an editorial calendar and then back into those deadlines so that we know that we’re consistently delivering content, but we’re not overtaxing ourselves or our clients, and we’re not under-taxing ourselves. Having an editorial calendar is a blueprint to make sure that you’re hitting your targets that you wanna be hitting throughout the year. I think it’s sometimes an overlook because it’s so simple. It’s an overlooked piece of the process, but it’s a valuable piece of the process when you get extra busy.
Corey: Like we said, sometimes when you start down this process, especially if you’re doing it in-house, you may be thinking you’re gonna start at step four, so you miss the audience, you miss the calendar, you miss the approval-
Jennifer: You’re just trying to create something.
Corey: You wanna start running before you start walking, so it makes sense to have the calendar, like Jen was talking about, before you head down that path.
Jennifer: There’s plenty of free templates out there for calendars if you don’t know what you’re doing. The easiest ones sometimes is just to create it in Excel or in Google Sheets and to go for it. Don’t overthink it.
Jennifer: Number six, I think this is another one that sometimes people don’t think about from the get-go, but determine who’s gonna be in charge of your content. Are you gonna do it in-house or are you gonna outsource it?
Corey: And who’s gonna have ownership of whatever you’re going, because most likely, it’s not gonna be you that’s writing it, right? It’s probably gonna be someone that you work with, someone on your team, or if you outsource it, then it’s gonna be someone on their team. Either way, someone is gonna have to manage this process and make sure that everything is getting delivered, it’s up to the level of quality that you want, and if you don’t like it, then you need to know what’s gonna happen after that. How long do they have to turn it around? What are the deadlines? Which, again, is why it makes sense to have the calendar in place before any of this starts ’cause it all feeds on itself.
Jennifer: I couldn’t agree with you more on that one. Number seven is keyword research. What do you have to say about this, Corey?
Corey: This is something that there’s a bunch of free tools out there. I’m gonna give you two that are my personal favorites. One is the Google Keyword tool. You have to sign up for an AdWords account to get that, but you don’t actually have to pay any money. As long as you create your account, it unlocks for you, and then you can log in to the Keyword tool and search for specific keywords in your area. Then you can see how many people are actually looking for that. Going back to the colonoscopy example, you could say I wanna look for the term colonoscopy within 15 miles of my office in Salt Lake City, Utah. Then it’ll say, well, 3,000 people a month search for this term. Then you know that that’s a good term. Then also it’ll give you some values and things like that. Super useful to see what people are looking for.
Corey: Another tool that we use quite often is called Answer The Public. What that does is basically you can go to their website and you put in whatever term you’re looking for, and it’ll spit back out all of the questions that people are asking about it. We’ll have links to this stuff on the show notes so you can get there so if you need them, they’re available. They’re totally free, they’ll give you more content than you know what to do with.
Jennifer: Absolutely. It’ll frighten you and you’ll be glad you have the editorial calendar. Number eight is something we’ve somewhat touched on before, but it’s find your voice. How do you suggest that we go about finding our voice, Corey?
Corey: There’s a couple different things you can do, but I think from just to hit the ground running and start on this path, you wanna make sure that you’re writing on, I would say, anywhere between like a fourth and sixth grade level because that’s the recommended benchmark to make sure that people can understand what you’re saying. You wanna be professional and approachable, and not overthink what you’re doing, because if you’re trying to just stuff as many words and keywords and phrases and industry jargon into your content, then no one’s gonna look at it.
Jennifer: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. I think there’s actually another podcast episode that we did just in the last couple of weeks with Lawrence Lefcort, who is our director of editorial content here at Insight, and he talks a lot about finding your voice. We’ll make sure that episode is in the show notes so you have access to it because it’s a good one if you want to see how he goes about approving content or moving content through the cycle for himself, and how he goes about finding voice. He’s a professional writer. He’s been doing this for upward of 20 years. I think he has a lot of great tips for you as well.
Jennifer: The next one is something that we struggle with at times. Number nine, determine your approval process. What are some of those best tips that you’ve got, Corey, for going about getting things approved?
Corey: After your stuff is written, or you’ve created your video or your infographic, then what happens? I think if you’ve never done this before and you want to get started, it’s important to have at least two to three other people at your office look at this, look at the content before it actually goes in front of who’s going to approve it. That would be, I think, my number one tip. You read it, then go print it out and actually read it off of a piece of paper, then give that to another two or three people on your team. Then once you make all of those changes, then either give it to the director of the practice or the physician or whoever’s gonna have the final say. I think printing it and then sharing it with several other people before you take it to the top to get it approved is probably one of the best ways to make sure you get all of the errors out of it and everyone’s happy with the piece of content that you’re gonna produce.
Jennifer: I really like using Google Docs and being able to have a shared document so you can track historical changes. I think you can track historical changes on Word, too.
Corey: You can. They just did that.
Jennifer: I think that sometimes understanding and determining your approval process is something that’s overlooked and it seems like it’s so simple, but when you’re producing a lot of content, not having a process in place from step one will lead you into all kinds of dark holes. Having a process in place of who’s gonna approve it, how long these changes are gonna take so you can keep things moving. Otherwise, you’ll have a pileup of content while you’re waiting on the approval process to move through. It’s just one of those things you’ll wanna think about from day one.
Corey: It’s also great when, we’ve been in this situation, too, where someone along the line, a physician and he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed-
Jennifer: Or a practice manager.
Corey: And he reads something on the website and he goes, “Well, who approved this?”
Jennifer: Well, say, “What? You approved it on this date.”
Corey: Exactly, so it’s great to be able to trace that back and say, “Actually, we had your approval and changes here.”
Jennifer: It’s easier to have a plan from the get-go than it is to have a plan after the fact. A little CYA.
Jennifer: Let’s get on to some types of content. Number nine, using video. What kind of advice can you offer about the idea of using video in your content plan?
Corey: Video is kind of the wave of the future. If you’re not using video as part of your content plan, you need to be. It doesn’t need to be professionally done. It can be, that’s great, but if it’s not, you can pull out your phone and use that. On Amazon, there’s plenty of tripods you can buy and you can put your iPhone in there and hit the record button, then suddenly you’ve got video content. It makes sense to, what we like to do is, is get video content of some of the most common things that we know that the providers are hearing or some of the website pages that are performing the best. We’ll focus on those first, get some bio videos of the physicians explaining why they went into medicine. What’s great when you have the video content is then you can turn around and make it written content, so it works in a couple different mediums for you.
Jennifer: I think there’s a lot more that we can extrapolate and speak further to, but you’ve got recorded video, which is great for patient testimonials and procedures and getting to know your doctors, and those recorded videos become long-form. But then you also have live video from a content strategy perspective, going live in the office with a physician.
Jennifer: Right now as we’re recording this, it’s athletic trainer, is it awareness month? Or just athletic trainer month. We have an orthopedic surgeon getting ready to go live saying thank you to all of our athletic trainer partners out in the community.
Jennifer: You can use news stories to have a response from a physician. I’ve got one this morning that I’m looking at exploring. On the front page of the USA Today is an article about surgeries that have gone bad at out-patient surgery centers and the bias of out-patient surgery centers, and it’s specifically targeting spine surgeries. We have a bunch of spine surgeons. We might float this out there as a news story to see what they have to say about it. If a quarterback breaks his arm on the field on Sunday night, you might get your doctor on Monday talking about that kind of break. Those are great things for live video.
Jennifer: Then I think video in general, too, you’ve got video that might be two, three, four minutes long, like a patient testimonial. Interestingly enough, we were having a conversation with our social media person yesterday and said that our longer form patient testimonials are getting one, two minute views, which is a little bit against the grain from an industry standard. Patient testimonials, people will dive into, but then you can also take your long-form patient testimonials and cut them down to those 15 second videos, which do very well on social media.
Jennifer: Videos are a great way to really expand and make your content strategy more dynamic. Once you get the video once, there’s a bunch of stuff that you can do with it. Wouldn’t you agree?
Corey: Absolutely. It’s funny, the average view, I think it’s like six seconds. When Danielle mentioned that people usually watch ours for like a minute and a half, two minutes, that was pretty cool.
Jennifer: Yeah, it was good numbers. It goes back again that you’re creating content for your audience, so just because the industry standard says one thing doesn’t mean you can’t go against the grain. You just have to know who your audience is.
Corey: For sure.
Jennifer: Number 11, using long-form written content as part of your strategy. What do you say about that, Corey?
Corey: Long-form content is probably one of the hardest to produce just because so many hours and so much focus has to go into it, but from a search perspective, remember we were talking about that way earlier in tip number two, with the search engine optimization, they love long-form content. The longer, the better. It used to be, let’s say, 600 to 1,000 words. What we’re hearing now, the stuff that performs really well, and I hope you’re sitting down, it’s like 6,500 words are some of the best performing content. I’m not saying that you have to do that, because that’s a book basically, but the longer, the better.
Corey: Long-form written content takes a lot of work to get done, but you can reap the benefits of it forever, because once it’s up on your website and it’s indexed, people will continue to search for it and that piece of content will continue to come up. It’s kind of like this little lead generation engine that just keeps giving you back content and visitors and potential patients.
Jennifer: I think kind of how we mentioned it with video and all the different types of video that you can do, long-form’s similar, too. You can go after a 7,000 word blog post or you could go after a 1,500 word blog post, which goes more in line if you’re transcribing and taking the information maybe out of video. When you’re sitting down to write your content, you can do a long-form and you can do a short-form, and you can start thinking ahead about how you’re gonna promote it on social media, so write it all at the same time.
Jennifer: You can do maybe a long long-form and then a shorter one that might be reproduced in a print publication, or a shorter one that might just be a snippet, and then you can tie it to a video and things like that. Long-form content is definitely for the long game, and it’s nothing that you can’t go back and update later on. Maybe you start off with a couple thousand words and it, over time, develops into that little mini novel that Corey was talking about.
Jennifer: Number 12, using graphics or visual representations in your content strategy.
Corey: I’m sure you have a Facebook, and I’m sure you’ve been on it recently. You scroll down your newsfeed, and you’ll notice as you go down there, it’s mostly videos or graphics or motion graphics. You may be looking at a cooking video and it could be a slideshow of the recipe, but you’ll see that there’s text overlay and things are sliding in and sliding out, and the colors are changing. That’s what we’re talking about when we were saying using visual representations or graphics as part of your content strategy, because that’s just a written recipe somewhere that they probably also recorded, and then for social media they created this visual graphic that makes you stop scrolling, that’s the whole point of it, and pay attention to it for 12 seconds or so, then hopefully click through to the website.
Corey: We’re taking that idea and applying it to the social media for your practice. Again, if you have what we were talking about earlier, with a video patient testimonial, you’ve got your long-form written content, you’ve got your video, you can create a cool graphic that’s just gonna get people to stop and interact with it, have a conversation on social, and then hopefully click through to the website ultimately.
Jennifer: I think one of our better performing infographics that we’ve done is the half marathon training infographic, which ties to a group of podiatrists. That half marathon raining infographic is the visual representation that has lived on forever. I think that started as a blog post, which led to a visual graphic, which has just done well in perpetuity.
Jennifer: Another one that we’ve had some success with recently is we did a series of blog posts about choosing a physical therapist. We said 10 things you need to know before choosing your PT. That started as a written blog post. I think it started as a video, then it became a blog post, then it became a bunch of short things, and then now it has recently become a downloadable piece of gated content that we’re getting ready to launch, which is an e-book basically that just breaks down the 10 things you need to know about choosing your PT. Using graphics, whether it’s in books or whether it’s in little visual representations or infographics, definitely just a different way for the consumer to absorb that level of content.
Corey: As everyone’s attention span continues to shrink, you need to up your graphics game.
Jennifer: You need to realize that just depending on the day of the week, your audience, who you’ve clearly identified, is gonna want to absorb your content in different ways, so you have to be able to present it in multiple ways in order to get maximum use of your effort.
Corey: Yep, exactly.
Jennifer: Number 13, backlinking. What is this all about and why is it so important?
Corey: Backlinking is something that’s important for SEO. Essentially, it’s one of the signals to the search engines that you know what you’re talking about. If you write an article on colonoscopy, say you write one of these 2,000 word pieces, and then an industry publication picks it up and links to it, that helps lift your website out so that even if it’s a local search, Google will look at that and say, “Oh, well, this piece of written content about colonoscopies is linked in like six other places, and those are all pretty reputable, so this one must be reputable, too. We’re gonna show it higher than some of these other ones that aren’t linked anywhere.” A backlink strategy is a good way to show up above your competition and kinda bolster whatever you’re doing from the organic side.
Corey: How to do that, in a nutshell, is reach out to industry publications or blogs that make sense and just ask them if they’re interested in this piece of content that you created. You just wrote it, you think it makes sense for their audience, it’s mutually beneficial, ’cause they’re looking for content as well, and ask if they’ll link to you. Or there’s probably some other places that have already linked to your website that you may or may not know about, so just Google your practice name or Google the name of your physicians, see where they’re listed and click on those links. If they’re on there and there is not a link back to your website, just email the contact form on that particular entity and say, “Hey, I saw that you posted this. Could you link to our website?” If they say yes, great, you got a backlink. If they say no, well, move on.
Jennifer: If it were only that easy, just move on. Backlinking is one of those things that is often overlooked. It’s like an afterthought it seems like, and it’s one of those clear differentiators that you can pretty much guarantee that if there’s you and the practice down the street, that the practice down the street is not doing it, so a little bit of effort into backlinking your content will go a long way.
Corey: Absolutely, and I think people don’t look at it because they either, one, don’t know what it is, or two, don’t really understand it ’cause it’s like this big confusing thing, and you just sort of like turn the other cheek. It’s pretty easy, and it just takes a couple of emails. Most people, they’re pretty amicable and they’ll give you the backlink.
Jennifer: Absolutely, and you can run a report and see how many backlinks you’ve got and where they’re coming from and things of that nature, too.
Corey: Yep, there are some tools out there that’ll let you do that as well.
Jennifer: All right, number 14. This one’s very helpful. Have a video release handy.
Corey: If you’re gonna do a patient testimonial, we all know that they need to sign a release that you can use their image and their likeness. If you don’t have one of those, we can get you one. Just reach out to us on the website or @drmarketingtips on Twitter, and we’ll make sure we get you one. It’s pretty standard. You probably have one in your practice already, but just make sure that when you go somewhere, like if you’re gonna go on location to do a video, that you have this handy so that you can have the patient sign it right there.
Jennifer: Corey, do you use the same video release? Is it a video/photo release?
Corey: Yes, it’s an image release essentially, saying that we are going to use your likeness in further marketing material for XYZ practice.
Jennifer: Okay, great, and we’ll have that on the show notes for everybody.
Jennifer: Awesome. So 15, AP style guide or other guidelines. What do you mean by this?
Corey: One of the things that we run into all the time where someone else writes content or if it comes from a doctor is everything is a little different depending on what rules you feel like remembering. We always go with AP style. As an example, when you refer to a physician the first time, you would use their full name, comma, M, dot, D, dot, or DO or whatever, or DPT, et cetera. Then after that, you say Dr. Jones or Dr. Smith or Dr. So-and-so.
Corey: We mention this because if you’re inconsistent and someone’s paying attention, they’re gonna notice that everything is kind of all over the place. Sometimes you capitalize random words or sometimes the name of your specialty is capitalized, but sometimes it’s not. These are little things that if there’s any serious grammar-heads out there paying attention, they’re gonna go, “Well, if they’re messing this up, I don’t know if I really want them to do my surgery.”
Corey: It sounds silly, but we’ve heard that patients have had reactions like this and either canceled appointments. It doesn’t put your best foot forward. You want to be consistent, and you want to make sure that upfront you’re going to use one style and everything is gonna fall under that style, especially if you’re not gonna do this in-house and you’re gonna farm it out to either a freelance or an agency or something like that, you wanna tell them this is what we want so that they write everything and produce all the content the way that you want, because if you don’t tell them, they’re gonna do what they think is right.
Jennifer: I think one of the important things to do when you are developing your brand standards guide is to include a style guide for your own content in that brand standards. I know that every client that we work with, one of the things that we do when we peruse their website is we create a brand standards, and that’s specifically so that you can determine what colors you’re gonna use for your logo, where you can use your logo, if you’re gonna use M dot D or if you’re gonna say Dr. Smith or if you’re gonna capitalize certain words, so the things that Corey was talking about from an AP style guide standpoint, you’re laying this all out from day one in your brand standards. No matter who you’re working with, whether it’s visual content, written content, videos content, you can send them this one document and then everybody has a copy of it and they know exactly what your expectations are, and they can create content within those guidelines. I think it’s important to have brand standards.
Corey: One that’s missed a lot and it always bugs me is phone numbers. Sometimes there’s a parentheses around the area code, sometimes it’s just dots, sometimes it’s just hyphens, sometimes it’s all three depending on where you’re looking, and it just bothers me.
Jennifer: Yeah, and then it’s one of those things, too, if you’re smart and you print off your content, if you print off let’s say you have an ad, and you print off an ad you did six months ago versus an ad you did yesterday, and you look at them side by side, you’ll always notice something different, depending on who’s doing it.
Corey: Yep, for sure.
Jennifer: Number 16, this is another type of content but FAQs. What do you mean by that?
Corey: You know, or someone in your practice knows, what type of questions patients are asking all the time, so it makes sense to turn those into written content for the website. It can either be a video or it can just be an audio recording you start and you just have a conversation with somebody at the practice, and say, “What do patients ask you the most?” That’s a great starting point, and then you can take that back, transcribe it, and come up with a FAQ section for your website, because odds are, if they’re asking people in the practice, they’re also searching for that online before they get there. If you can provide them with the answer, you’ll be that much more favorable in their eyes.
Jennifer: Since we just mentioned acronyms, can you define what FAQs are?
Corey: I can, it’s frequently asked questions.
Jennifer: Fantastic. All right, number 17. Long versus short blogs, how long is long enough?
Corey: This is something we touched on earlier that what we’re hearing performs the best is incredibly long, so it’s like 6,500 words, but I think you can probably get away with 1,000 to 1,500. That’s probably about right. When we say short, usually you wanna never go shorter than 250 or 300 words, one, ’cause the search engines just don’t like that. They don’t think that whatever, if it’s less than that word count, it’s probably not worth looking at, so they don’t like to show that stuff. But you do probably want something that’s like 400 or 500 words, in case you do decide ever to print that content, which we’re gonna talk about in a later step.
Jennifer: Won’t it show up as an error in a website report if you have pages that are too few words?
Corey: It’ll show up as an error in like an SEO report because it’ll say this page, it’ll give it like a red X or something because the content’s so short the search engine won’t show it, because it thinks that whatever they land on is not a quality piece of content. The search engine, their whole goal is to provide the searcher with the best, most relevant example, so they’ll come back and use Google over and over and over.
Jennifer: That makes sense to me. Short is okay, but not too short. Long is all right, the longer, the better.
Jennifer: But you don’t have to go long.
Jennifer: But you gotta be in it for the long game.
Corey: Yes, correct, and you can’t go too short.
Jennifer: Don’t go too short. You can go too long. Gosh, that’s a lot of work. All right, number 18, how do you know what works? Knowing what works, what isn’t working, what kind of tools do you recommend?
Corey: If you are on a CMS, like we talked about in step one, then you most likely have Google Analytics installed. It’s a free tool from Google. If you don’t have it, if you don’t have access to it, then contact whoever runs your website and ask for it, ’cause you need it. It breaks down not only how people come to the website, how they get there and what they’re looking at, but it’ll actually, if you drill down, it’ll tell you what your top however many pages are.
Corey: What we suggest is taking a look at the top 10 pages on your site. You can do that over time. You can set dates, so you can say I want all of last year. What were my top performing pages? Then you want to optimize the heck out of those pages because odds are, most of your traffic is coming from those pages, so you want them to be as good as possible. If you know, going back again to the colonoscopy example, if that’s the number three most visited page on your website, and it doesn’t have a video, well, now you know what content to get. You wanna put a video on there, and you wanna make it as robust as possible, make that page as good as possible, to get more people in there.
Jennifer: A lot of times, it will be a piece of content that you had no idea that it was performing as well as it is. For years, we had a piece of content which was the number one traffic driver to an orthopedic website for us, and it was on bone cyst removal, which is a piece of content that we never really focused on, but because it was so segmented, it honed in on a particular area, it did very well. It played very well across the board. I think we had a site once, a practice we were working with, an ENT, who just went gangbusters with a particular piece of content and it drove traffic to their site for years. Then one day, it was gone.
Corey: It just stopped doing as well.
Jennifer: It stopped working. Do you remember what that was?
Corey: I think it was showing up as the number one search result when someone typed in why do I lose my voice? It drove in thousands of views to their website. Then one day, without changing anything, it just stopped doing that.
Jennifer: Which is why you need a strategy that is ongoing, because sometimes your content is gonna work and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s just gonna hit, it’s gonna do well, and sometimes you think you’ve put all the right pieces in place, and maybe it doesn’t perform. You just never know what’s gonna happen honestly.
Corey: That’s a great point. I would say if you can get a piece of content to hit and actually be really good, like one out of 10, you’re doing something.
Jennifer: You’re doing a great job at that point. All right, let’s talk about number 19, updating what works. I think this is a good piece of information because sometimes it isn’t so much going out and creating something fresh, sometimes it’s just a matter of updating what’s already working.
Corey: Yeah, so building off of what we had said before, if you know that you have one particular page that is really kicking ass and taking names, then make that page as good as possible. Or if you haven’t updated it in six years, then go back in and add more information to it, because, and we see this all the time, where someone will come up with a procedure page, and it’ll be performing, so they just kind of leave it there ’cause they don’t really pay any attention to it, but over the years, that’s actually not even the way the procedures done anymore. You have to go in and update that, and you wanna make sure that you have the latest information, whether it’s a new minimally invasive technique, whether it is now an out-patient surgery, or out-patient surgery isn’t an option. It makes sense to update this piece, one, because you know it’s working, two, because you want to set the expectation for the patient or whoever’s reading it that this is what’s going to happen when I come in.
Jennifer: Yeah, or maybe something has changed technology-wise.
Corey: Exactly, yeah.
Jennifer: You don’t need to get rid of the whole thing, but you just add to it. Maybe you have a new doctor, so maybe it’s a piece on spine surgery and before you had three doctors doing spine, but now you have four, it’s okay to go in there and update it ’cause Google sees it as an update.
Corey: Yep, exactly.
Jennifer: Awesome. So let’s talk about number 20. Taking it offline. This is something that sometimes we’ll say because we go so far in the digital that why would you ever print something? But there’s something to be said about taking your content offline. What do you think about this?
Corey: Having a printed newsletter, something that’s tangible is really shown to work. There’s a stat I heard the other day that printing a newsletter has an increase of a 2.6% stick rate. Essentially what that means is if you’re worried about patient retention, email them a newsletter because the printed newsletter from your practice is shown to bring them back in.
Jennifer: Do you mean email them a newsletter?
Corey: I’m sorry, print it and then physically mail them a newsletter.
Jennifer: Absolutely. So what we do with quite a few of our clients is we have content that we’re producing, long-form, we will write two versions of that long-form so that it’ll fit in a printed newsletter. We print the newsletters twice a year and then we direct mail them to every referring partner within our trade area. Then we will print the newsletters for in-house distribution, whether it’s in waiting rooms or in patient rooms, but then the marketing teams will use them as the marketing piece for that quarter, or for that half of the year. It’s just proved to be a tremendous benefit, and we hear all the time that people are reading about the practice in the newsletter, but it’s also a great referral piece because it has a picture of every doctor for that practice, what locations they’re practicing at, and it’s an opportunity to cross permeate what’s going on, and it’s something very tangible. It’s not that much extra work because you’re already creating the documents.
Corey: We just made one for a plastic surgeon that we work with, and he wanted some sort of trackable ROI, so he put a coupon in the front of it. The last meeting that we got with him, he was so happy that he got so many of these coupons back. It was a percentage off of Botox treatment, I think is what it was. He said it worked so well. It went above and beyond whatever he thought it was gonna do. They do work.
Jennifer: He used it, A, he sent it to referring physicians, but B, he sent it to patients that hadn’t been part of the practice in a while. He used it to bring old patients back, and it really worked out well. It’s just interesting to see what works and what doesn’t work.
Jennifer: All right, number 21. This is a little bit different part of your strategy. It’s kind of like your 2.0 strategy, but it’s important when you’re talking about content marketing to talk about what distribution channels that you’re gonna go after. You’ve got it maybe on your website, your content, or maybe it’s on other websites or maybe it’s on social. What do you think about this, Corey?
Corey: I think it makes sense to maybe on your editorial calendar that you created earlier, we talked about, maybe have another tab and say, these are the places where the content goes. That way every time there’s a new piece of content, you have a list so you’re not forgetting anything, so you can say it’s gonna go on the website, we’ve got XYZ partnered, because I talked to them about backlink, so I’m gonna send them this piece. Then you wanna make sure it goes up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Jennifer: I’ll take it a step further, just for our own purposes, with our consultancy side, we have our own content that we publish on our website. Then we have contributed content, which is part of the content strategy. For example, we post a blog post on our website every month, one time. We’ve produced two podcast episodes every month, which are promoted on our website and through social channels, but they’re basically our owned content. Then we partner with other websites that I have to produce original content for those websites. It’s contributed content and it’s something that I’m not allowed to put on our website, but that we see a lot of traffic because we’re contributing to it outside of the site. Up above and beyond just creating a backlinking strategy, from a contributed content strategy, this might be content that isn’t driving traffic to your site, but helps you build authority, and it might be part of your overall content strategy. Kind of like content that you own and that you house versus contributed content, which is kind of that 2.0 strategy.
Corey: For sure.
Jennifer: It is a lot of work, but it is something that does pay dividends down the road.
Jennifer: Number 22, we’re almost there. Let’s talk about staying on your brand message. I think it’s really easy to get off message, so what kind of tips do you offer for staying on message?
Corey: When we’re talking about staying on message specifically when it relates to content, and if you have any sort of a brand standard guide, then it’s really easy to do that because, again, you can just hand that to whoever’s doing this stuff for you and say, “Here’s our message, here’s how we say things, this is how you have to say it.” Then you can walk away ’cause you know it’s gonna be taken care of. If you don’t have that, it gets a little bit trickier. You can kinda get lost in the weeds a little bit, but essentially you just wanna make sure that if something is going to be written one way, one time, then that’s the way it’s gonna be. You have to make that decision and that comes with your taglines, so if you always use a specific tagline, make sure that’s in everything. On your video bumpers, if you have graphics before your video content, you wanna make sure that it says the same thing that your ads say, that your websites says, your phone number’s written the right way. It kind of all goes back to that.
Jennifer: I’ll say, too, for us we often lead with our patient stories, so we like to put the patients front and center in our marketing efforts. For me, that’s a matter of staying on message is leading with the patient story-
Corey: We’re talking about results and successes.
Jennifer: … and not leading with the physician credentials. Yes, absolutely. Just a matter of like really goes back to marketing 101. You have to determine what those messages are first, and then you go to content strategy that perpetuates those messages.
Corey: Right, ’cause everything that you produce, say that you’re gonna save patients time, or is everything state of the art? Is it the fact that you have a worldwide trained experts that you can’t find anywhere else in the area? You just wanna be consistent with whatever your message is gonna be.
Jennifer: Absolutely. Number 23, developing personas. This is something we need in the show notes ’cause we’ve got a great add-on piece that people can grab. But developing personas, what do we mean by that?
Corey: When you’re trying to come up with who your audience is, or who they’re going to be, we find it really helpful to come up with these personas. We actually name the personas. We’ll create someone, say his name is Mike, and he’s 45, he has three kids, and he’s never had a colonoscopy. Then we’ll add to it and we’ll say, well, he’s really into cars and he gets most of his information from Facebook. We’ll go down this full checklist that we’ll provide for you guys so you can see. Then we know exactly who we’re talking to. If we’re creating some sort of an ad and we’re targeting 45 year old males in the area, we know what Mike is interested in and how to best target and message to Mike, ’cause he is who we wanna reach.
Jennifer: Corey says it all the time, when he’s creating ad campaigns that he’ll often just pull up the persona and try to get in their head, just so that he’s thinking along the right lines. I think this applies to creating your content. You wanna think about who your target audience is, that’s why you’re creating personas, and then you wanna write, on message, to that particular target audience. Developing personas from the very get-go, right up there when you’re developing your voice and you’re coming up with your editorial calendar, and figuring out who your audience is, that’s when you wanna develop personas.
Jennifer: It may seem like a silly part of the process that you’re going through, but it is one of those things that you’re gonna reference all the time, coming back and saying, “Who was that persona that we were targeting? Is it working?” Because it’s gonna start with actually taking time to develop them. We’ve got a good ancillary piece here that you can download it, and we’ll put it in the show notes. It’s actually a template for developing your personas to get you thinking along these lines.
Jennifer: Number 24, we’re almost finished. Gated versus ungated content. What do we mean by that, Corey?
Corey: Gated content, and I’m sure you’ve seen this, too, is when you go to a website and you have to give them your email for something, or they want to know your name and your phone number. Then when you press submit, then you get some sort of content. We do that sometimes with practices that we work with to try and develop leads. We just did it with an ENT practice where we asked for their email and in exchange for that, there is a brochure with a quiz on it that helps them decide if they’re the right candidate for this particular procedure. That’s gated content because it’s just not free and available for anybody. There’s an exchange that has to happen there.
Corey: Ungated content is anything where you can just find it, click on it, and see it. There are two types, and when you are coming up with your strategy, like we were saying a couple minutes ago, sort of 2.0, you’ve got your video, your downloadable resources, that would be probably your gated content. Maybe it’s a checklist, maybe it’s an e-book, maybe it’s a survey. The list can go on and on and on.
Jennifer: What I would say, too, when you have ungated content, it’s gonna do really well in organic search. When you have gated content, it makes perfect sense to put dollars behind it.
Corey: With gated content, it does make sense to drive ads and traffic to that, which again, if you have the persona already made, you know who the ad is gonna go to. Then you direct that person, we’ll call him Mike again, you send him an ad, he clicks on it, goes to your gated content. It’s a colonoscopy resource, and he says, “Well, all right, I’ll give them my email in exchange for this resource.” Now he has a full guide telling him what to expect, and that positions you as an expert in the field. It also differentiates you from every other practice around you, ’cause I can promise they’re not doing that, at least not yet, and it makes Mike feel like you’re the place he has to go to because you’ve given him this value already up front.
Jennifer: Absolutely, and it’s just the gift that keeps giving. The best part about gated content is you can totally track ROI, completely track ROI.
Jennifer: Number 25, I think this is a simple one, but it’s a good tip for our readers here. Including social from the beginning, what do you mean by that?
Corey: When you come up with your content, let’s say you’ve got a 500 word article, it makes sense right then before anything is published to come up with all of the social media assets that are gonna go along with it. You have this piece of content, it’s going through approvals, but before that even starts, and maybe it’s just on the bottom of the document, you write out what the social posts are gonna be, come up with your graphics, come up with your visual is there’s gonna be one, and then get everything approved at once. That way you can check it all off your list, and when that piece is ready to go, you have every other sort of spoke in the wheel, if you will, ready at the same time.
Jennifer: Absolutely, and going back to the idea of what your process is gonna be, our process is we work with the clients, Corey and I will work with the clients and have our team work with the clients, to develop and come up with the editorial calendar. The editorial calendar, once approved, gets turned over to our editorial director, who then in turn manages the process for getting the content created. If it’s a video, he’ll coordinate with the video team. If it’s a written piece, he may write it or he may assign it out, and he manages that process. But in that, he’ll write and present when we go for approval, the written piece of the social media component at the same time. Then once the piece is approved, he’ll make sure it gets into the proper spread sheets, so that then the graphics that go with it get created, then they get scheduled. It allows us to have one approval process versus maybe six or seven approval process, which is why it helps so much to start doing it from the beginning rather than doing those after the fact.
Jennifer: I think that’s it, Corey. That’s 25 content strategies or content ideas for implementing an effective content strategy for your medical practice. Anything else you wanna add?
Corey: Bonus tip, if you’re using WordPress, there’s actually a free plugin you can use that has a calendar on it, so everything that’s scheduled you can look through this calendar view and you can see where it is in the process and if it’s ready to publish and good to go. It at least alleviates that part of it of, oh my god, there’s so much happening, there’s so many pieces. Now you have like one dashboard where you can see, okay, I’ve got everything scheduled for the next three weeks, I can breathe a little bit.
Jennifer: Awesome. Awesome bonus tip. With that, I’m Jennifer.
Corey: I’m Corey.
Jennifer: And we are the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast. We’ll see you next time.
Corey: Thanks, guys.
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