What is content marketing? Copyblogger provides a great definition, “Content Marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.”

If you work in a healthcare marketing role, you’re likely hearing the term ‘content marketing’ or ‘marketing automation’ / ‘inbound marketing’ all the time. It’s the latest, the greatest, the best thing since sliced bread. In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute (yes – there’s a whole Institute focused on the subject) 93% of B2B marketers use content marketing. That percentage speaks loudly.

What’s interesting about the stats from the Content Marketing Institute is, yes, it seems like almost everybody in B2B marketing is using content marketing, yet only 42% feel they’re doing it effectively. If more than half feel their efforts are ineffective, there’s a problem and there either has to be a shift in the way they spend their marketing dollars, or they have to incorporate ways to make their content marketing efforts count.

Below are a few tips that are fairly easy to incorporate into your healthcare content marketing strategy and will hopefully make you feel (and see) that your time, energy and marketing dollars aren’t going to waste.

1.    Define Goals:

Before jumping into a content marketing initiative, it’s important to determine what your goals are. Without goals in place, it’ll be difficult to evaluate whether or not your strategy was a success.

Like any marketing campaign, you have to decide what’s important to your business up front. Are you trying to build a database of leads, increase site traffic or set up in-office sales demonstrations? List out key performance indicators (KPIs) ahead of time and shape your strategy around increasing those specific metrics.

2.    Provide Value:

In content marketing, there are thousands of pieces of content developed each day. How do you make your content stand out in a crowd? Define your target audience then determine what they’d find valuable.

For example, if you’re trying to market wheelchairs to a hospital or doctor’s office, wouldn’t a “Step-by-Step Guide to Handling Patients Without Injury” be of value to the facility’s staff? Then, when it becomes time to purchase new wheelchairs, your brand will be top of mind and one they trust. Useful pieces of content go a long way compared to content that’s one big sales pitch.

3.    Make a Distribution Plan:

The theory “if you build it, they will come” doesn’t work in content marketing. When putting time and effort into developing valuable content, make a distribution plan part of the strategy. Can you push your content to a targeted email list? Do you have social media channels in place? Can you allocate a portion of the budget to paid reach?

4.    Measure Results:

The beauty of content marketing is that there are some really wonderful tools out there that help you measure the results of your actions. Between marketing automation software such as HubSpot, Marketo and Act-On and website analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, you can track how well your campaigns are performing and make adjustments in real-time.

Implementing these simple suggestions into your content marketing program could be the change you need to see that content marketing can be effective when approached with a plan.