Content marketing requires three things: good ideas, smart executions, and great distribution. For health care institutions looking to use content marketing to attract and engage patients, a distribution strategy is essential to your success.

But creating the right marketing distribution plan can be tricky and requires as much research, data, and structure as the content itself. To plan your marketing mix to perfection, you must identify your audiences, research their preferred channels, and develop a plan based on clear objectives.

Identify Your Audiences

If you’re familiar with our blog, you won’t be surprised that we’re starting with audiences. To develop a content marketing distribution strategy for your health care institution, you must understand who your audiences are before you can understand on what channels they gather information.

You might start by breaking down your audiences into three key buckets:

1. Those who know they will need care in the foreseeable future. This audience might include:

  • Pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant soon.
  • Someone who just moved to a new community.
  • Someone planning to have elective surgery.

2. Those with pressing or chronic illnesses. This audience type is likely to need comparative quality information. They’re willing to seek out the type of information only you can provide.

3. Those caring for a loved one. In both cases above, there may be caregivers within the family who will take the lead in researching health care information.

Begin Your Channel Research

With your targeted list, you can begin to perform quantitative and qualitative research to help you identify potential channels to distribute content. For instance, an expecting mother may use Google to find an OB/GYN near her or may seek online forums tailored to expecting mothers. You’ll want to position your content to rank for the right keywords or to be shareable on these helpful forums.

Some questions you’ll want to find the answers to include:

  1. Where do your audiences currently get information related to their health and health care needs?
  2. Where do they go when they need instant answers to time-sensitive or important questions related to their health? 
  3. Where will your audience be receptive to your message?
  4. How do your audiences like to receive/consume information?
  5. Are there certain content formats that they prefer over others (email, video, etc.)?
  6. What are their trusted resources?
  7. What are channels they don’t consider credible?
  8. Do you have partners (sponsored or free) who can help you deliver your content?
  9. Who are influential people within your field?

Build Your Distribution Channels Based on Objectives

With your audiences defined and your research complete, you can begin to compile your distribution channels into a strategy based on objectives. That last part is key. If your distribution strategy is simply a list of channels on which to promote content, you’re unlikely to see the results you’d expect.

Your distribution objectives will be derived from your overall marketing goals, but at its simplest, you should break your strategy into four objectives:

1. Build an Audience

To build your audience, you’ll want to good marketing mix of channels: owned, paid, and earned. You want to optimize your content for search (SEO), promote your content on social media channels, and use paid media to give your content the boost it needs.

Additionally, look to online groups and communities made up of your targeted audience. Share content, participate in discussions, and include links back to your site where visitors can get more information.

2. Establish Trust/Authority

Trust and authority depend greatly on the content you create, but you can also gain authority by where you place your content—namely, in respectable publications. You can submit content to online publications to be a guest author or sponsor content that’s meaningful to your audience.

Link-building is another crucial piece of establishing trust. Producing data-driven insights that influencers want to link to and share will increase inform search engines like Google that you are an expert and authority on a subject matter. This in turn improves your SEO rankings on those topics.

3. Maintain or Re-engage Your Audience

Once you have an established audience, you want to capture that engagement and keep your audience returning again and again. Email newsletters are a standard practice for this re-engagement, but growing your social media followers can also help you maintain your audience.

Personalizing this content is key to keeping engagement high. Don’t just enroll everyone into the same email newsletter. Allow subscribers to select the topics that matter to them. Not only will you deliver custom content, but you’ll also learn a lot about the habits and interests of your potential patients.

4. Extend Your Reach Through Your Established Audience

Word of mouth is still the strongest driver in the health care industry. The recommendation of a satisfied patient or visitor speaks volumes—especially when compared with advertisements.

With that said, provide the ways and means that enable your visitors to share your content with their circle of friends and family. Your engaged users can become your best advocates and help you grow a loyal, super-engaged audience.

Conclusion

Distribution is arguably the most important component of any marketing strategy. The best creative ideas and plans amount to nothing if you can’t deliver the message to the right person who needs it most.

To ensure health care success, your marketing distribution strategy must be based on a fundamental understanding of your audience, grounded in deep-level research, and deployed across channels that meet your institution’s objectives.

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The Healthcare Marketer's Guide to Creating a Content Strategy