Custom content busting barriers in healthcare marketing

Because consumers have become so jaded about advertising propaganda, the marketing world is turning toward a more engaging, less in-your-face way to get client messages across.

Eighty-eight percent of B2B marketers now use custom content marketing as part of their marketing strategy, reports a 2015 Content Marketing Institute study. In addition to Artcraft Health, prolific users include big players like P&G, Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Cisco Systems, plus a number of small businesses worldwide.

While some report spending more on content marketing than traditional marketing, when it’s done right it provides an excellent ROI. Research indicates, for example, that organizations using blogs for strategic content marketing generate 67 percent more leads than those that don’t. And according to Aberdeen, the website conversion rate is nearly six times higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters.

For Artcraft Health, the methodology provides an excellent means to address the often difficult-to-reach audiences that populate the medical world. For example, the company strategically marries audience segmentation and custom content to engage and inform potential clinical trial participants and caregivers, paving the way for easier trial recruitment and better patient experiences. 

Why it works

The demand for custom content has grown as consumers have become wary of traditional advertising, increasingly avoiding it by watching DVDs or Netflix instead of TV, ignoring magazine ads, surfing past online pop-ups and adopting ad blockers. Now that so much entertainment content is available without the inconvenience of commercial add-ons, many audiences just don’t see the value in paying attention to conventional ads.

The marketing world is increasingly addressing that trend by incorporating marketing messages into informational or entertainment content specifically aimed at providing value for target audiences. Conveniently, technology that allows for better identification and segmentation of those audiences is evolving at the same time, allowing savvy marketers to design multiple custom content campaigns for different customer groups with varying interests and priorities. For the healthcare world, that often involves seeking better access to patient databases so it can help those with specific medical issues.

“Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling,” explains the institute, an Ohio-based organization offering content marketing training worldwide.
“It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The belief is that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.”

Though the right balance of branded and informational content can be difficult to achieve, skilled marketers are able to blend brand mentions and persuasive messages into blogs, articles, videos, podcasts, graphics, photos and even live events so they achieve advertisers’ objectives while maintaining customers’ interest. The resulting content can be posted on social media, used in email and mobile campaigns, featured on company websites and even incorporated into packaging. Goals typically involve driving traffic online, influencing consumer behavior, reinforcing a brand and positioning the company as a thought leader in its field. 

All that is ultimately intended to spur revenues; 85 percent of B2B marketers in the institute study pointed to lead generation as their most important content marketing goal this year, with sales listed second. Additionally, 72 percent of marketers in the institute study called the creation of engaging content a top priority for their departments.

“Thought leaders and marketing experts from around the world … have concluded that content marketing isn’t just the future, it’s the present,” the study says. “Regardless of what type of marketing tactics you use, content marketing should be part of your process, not something separate.”

Some major benefits of a customized content marketing campaign include:

  • Content marketing can be implemented across multiple channels, including company websites; microsites; outgoing emails; magazines; apps and social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Vine, YouTube and Pinterest.  All can be cross-referenced to maximize the amount of time people spend with your brand. The more ways customers are exposed to your customized, relevant messages, the more likely it is that you’ll generate trust and loyalty. A good example of successful multichannel content marketing in action is a campaign by Mixify (supported by Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper) offering advice, tips and tools for a young demographic about smart food and exercise choices; channels include TV spots, websites and live events.
  • It can be effective across industries and brands, even if brand benefits lack glamour or are difficult to convey. Such brands can rely heavily on straightforward content like how-to guides and case studies, and they can also be highly creative. Consider a recent infographic from the Cleveland Clinic titled “The Color of Pee,” which addresses which urine colors are healthiest. The infographic has been viewed more than 1.8 million times and picked up by websites all over the world, the institute reports.
  • Posting strategic content with key words can boost your SEO so your visitor numbers reach even higher. As fans of your content increasingly link to your site, you’ll gain better domain authority and improve your organic search rankings. New Jersey-based Meda Consumer Healthcare recently employed a platform that provided on-page meta data suggestions for titles, tags and keywords for optimizing pages of custom content, leading to a 38 percent increase in organic traffic in the first month.
  • Your brand reputation should be enhanced as viewers increasingly recognize your content and begin to perceive you as an industry thought leader. ExxonMobil has succeeded in such positioning via a microsite that promotes STEM careers, featuring info about resources for attending college and inspirational stories about successful movers and shakers in STEM fields.
  • In the medical world, content marketing is particularly effective in breaking down inherent barriers related to distrust. “The big problem you face as a provider of healthcare is that you need to connect on a human level, even when we’re talking about convincing someone to purchase a product or service from you,” notes A.J. Agrawal in Forbes. “Your strategy should be based around humanizing your staff. Tell their stories by creating personal profiles.” Agrawal also recommends proactively answering FAQs, offering giveaways in exchange for email subscriptions, presenting in layman’s terms and focusing on prevention when possible.

Others recommend maximizing the use of emotion when it comes to healthcare content. “People's health is always going to be an emotional subject,” writes Jack Simpson on “Healthcare companies need to tap into those emotions with their content, but not gratuitously. The content should be more about helping people get through their problems.” Examples of effective content marketing in healthcare can be found here, here and here.

Artcraft Health innovation

In addition to custom content, Artcraft Health also uses personalization in its marketing via its CODE™ or Custom On-Demand Education program. The proprietary system uses an iPad or tablet application to create a dialog between physicians and Artcraft Health sales reps, allowing for personalization of each doctor’s patient education materials. The process starts with a simple drag-and-drop navigation by the doctors and ends when customized materials (printed with the doctor’s name and contact information) arrive at his office seven to 10 days later. Artcraft Health is now working on making similar materials available via SMS texting, email and mobile. 

Ultimately, those who don’t engage in custom content marketing are likely missing out on an important trend driven by changing customer preferences. It’s worth investing time and energy into making it happen, with an eye toward multiple rewards once your campaign gets rolling.

“Your first few months of a content marketing strategy might not yield much in the way of results, but your next few months will start to see growth,” notes Jason Demers on “By the time you're a few years in, your return could easily quadruple your investment (or more), consistently. Content marketing is inexpensive, safe, available for anyone in any industry, and beneficial in many different areas.”




BlogLindsey Kuhl