Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Content Strategy Secrets of the Cleveland Clinic

Content strategy matters in healthcare. If you want to produce cohesive, controlled content that gives your customers a consistent experience from channel to channel, you need to establish a content strategy and use it for distribution of your content. That means answering these critical 5 questions:

  • To whom are we talking?
  • Who are we? (as a brand)
  • What are we saying?
  • How are we saying it?
  • When and where do we say it?

The below slideshare is from a set of slides Ahava presented at Content Marketing World 2014 with Amanda Todorovich, Digital Manager, Cleveland Clinic’s Health Hub.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What is Modular Content?

This blog post is too long.
This email newsletter is too short.
Our customers have 5-second attention spans.
Our analytics say they want to read for 7 minutes.

What’s a great marketer to do with so much conflicting data about what makes amazing content?

The answer is to build modular content, or content that fits together with a satisfying click. It’s about tying your business objectives to your customers’ buying process so you create content that’s the right size and length for where your customer is in the buying process.

Sounds easy, right?

Nothing with content is ever easy. (Unless you hire us.) But modular content is something you can learn how to build. Here are five tips below that will help you create content that's the right length for your organization’s needs, without reinventing it each and every time.

5 Tips for Building Modular Content That Gets your Customers to Click

  1. Use aspects of an asset; not the whole thing: When designing the idea behind a piece of content, don’t think about length or size, think about what purpose the content serves for your customers. (Tweet this!) So go ahead and create long-form content. But go back later and divide it into bite size chunks (think: bite, snack, meal) that will work on the different channels you swim in with your customers. Or, put the pieces together from the very beginning so shorter pieces create the longer form content. Backwards or forwards, both processes work.
  2. Support sales: At the end of the day, marketing and sales need to make peace and learn to work together effectively. Sales is your best insight into the questions to which your customers crave answers. So work those relationships and get sales to help you figure out which pieces of content work best at the beginning, middle and end of the funnel. Try questions like: What do customers ask when you first speak to them? What kind of validating content do they seek? How do you answer them after they buy?
  3. Think about the customer loop: Instead of the funnel, think about the customer loop (below). What types of content would appeal to a customer when you’re building trust? Long form or bites? Depends on the customer, depends on the questions. That’s why steps one and two are so critical for this process. 

  1. How does the content work together?: Modular content only works when bits and pieces can be combined to create an overall magical journey for your customers. Think about a white paper: Can you pull out quotes to use on social media? Can you produce 1-minute videos that speak to the heart of the matter concepts? Can you give an executive summary and tease the full piece?
  2. You’re not doing surgery; you’re creating a journey: Modular content isn’t about doing surgery on your content and cutting it up into pieces. It’s about envisioning the whole story you want to tell to your customers and figuring out how to tell it. Think about kids: you build on their knowledge as your raise them. A 3 year old knows not to touch things in a store; a 9 year old knows that sometimes you can if you really want to buy it. That’s because maturation creates opportunity for sophisticated concepts. So, too, it is with customers.

Treat your customers as travelers on a journey of knowledge about your products and services. Your modular content will keep them clicking for more.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

4 Tips for Reducing Readmissions with Digital Marketing

This fall marks the third year of Medicare’s Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP). Whether you’re part of a Level I trauma center or a small community hospital, it could be costing your organization millions of dollars, and there’s something you can do about it.

Starting Oct. 1., the third phase of HRRP enacts its steepest penalties to date (up to 3 percent of Medicare base payments) when patients are readmitted within 30 days of a hospital stay. As marketers, we should be leveraging digital marketing channels to help engage patients in their care. Here’s how:

1.    Bolster your website: With more than 80 percent of Internet users looking for health information online, your website is a great platform to tell patients before their visit about what to expect, how to stay healthy when they go home and where to go for additional information.

2.    Make it mobile-friendly: Pew Research Center found that 1 in 3 cell phone users are using their phone to look for health information, but the benefits don’t stop there. A mobile friendly site makes it easier for patients to get directions and find parking. Enabling click-to-call features can help them connect with your nurse line and pharmacy when they have urgent questions.

3.    Consider a branded facility app: Roughly 3 percent of healthcare facilities today offer a branded facility app. In addition to differentiating your hospital, an app can help patients manage appointments, view lab reports and easily locate support services during and after their stay.

4.    Use in-house video marketing: According to an Arbitron study, 3 out of 4 patients and caregivers found that video display of health-related information in hospital waiting areas and cafeterias enhanced their hospital experience. Consider offering quick tips emphasizing the importance of medications and follow up care.

Effective discharge planning has been the holy grail of reducing readmissions, but why wait until patients are practically out the door to teach them about taking care of themselves?

Consider this stat: According to a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report, 1 in 5 elderly patients is readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of leaving. It’s easy to see why when you consider that toward the end of a hospital stay, a patient’s eagerness to go home or physical discomfort may prevent them from hearing or remembering their discharge instructions. 

Using digital marketing channels can help prompt patients and their families to talk more openly with your clinical team about their care. These conversations in turn can lead to care that is more patient-centered and hopefully reduce your organization’s risk for readmissions.

Coming Soon: Embracing Hospital Readmissions as a Marketing Strategy

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Do You Want to Steal Our Online Writing Process?

We know how hard it is to create great content. We've worked through every imaginable obstacle during the past eight years (almost nine, partay!) to create a content process that produces enviable, imaginative and “juicy” content to engage your audience.

Want your customers to thank you for your content? We know how.
So, what’s our secret sauce? We share our process with you below. It’s what has made our recent projects for Time, Inc. and T. Rowe Price so successful. If you want to have everyone staring at you while you walk down the hallways like you’re wearing a cape, keep reading.

Our Writing Process

  1. Gather strategic information: Our writers are former journalists. They know the scent of a great story. We review all of the information we can find about a project before we start interviewing stakeholders. Our ears are open with “minds like water,” so we can follow a fantastic storyline once it comes up.
  2. Interview the appropriate stakeholder: We’ve rejected jobs because clients didn’t want to give us access to stakeholders and subject matter experts. How can you write engaging, personal content for your customers if you don’t get their questions answered from your best possible internal resources?
  3. Create an information architecture or template: Doesn’t matter if it’s a blog post, email newsletter or website, you need a template that works for that particular project. After our research and interviews, we’re prepared to do just that.
  4. Write the content: Don’t let your 8th grade English teacher haunt you forever. Everyone has writing muscles; they just need practice. Try writing every day for at least 10 minutes. Write whatever comes to your head. While I was writing my book, there were days that I just starting writing about content to see what came up. Inevitably, there were a few gems I used in the book.
  5. Edit the content with your client: Great content comes from great editing. Don’t leave it all on the floor; leave what doesn’t matter to your customer. Or, save it for some other format or project.
  6. Edit the content with the stakeholder for factual verification: You have to make sure your content is correct and valuable. Only the stakeholders can finalize the details and particulars that make content magical.
  7. Finalizing the content: Does compliance and regulatory need to review? Do you need executive sign off? Make sure your content is camera ready; or in this case, web or print ready.
  8. Quality assure (QA) the content and links: If we’re talking about digital content, you need to proofread it once it’s inside the CMS or social media channel. Make sure all the links point to the right place and the titles and phrases make sense. For print? You can’t read it over too many times; a second, third and fourth set of eyes doesn't hurt either.

Hundreds of Aha Media customers can’t be wrong; this process works. You probably will need to tinker with it in your organization. But trust me, it’s set for a repeatable lifecycle of success, otherwise known as a recipe for awesomesauce content.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How Do You Upcycle Your Content?

Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to spend four days in Seattle, working with clients and meeting with friends and colleagues who live in that beautiful city. I decided to take a day to myself and go whale watching, something I had never done.

While on the boat, I got to chatting with a woman who told me she upcycles clothing. When she described what it was, my mind (as it often does), jumped to content.  When I went to Google ‘upcycling content,’ it became clear that other people had already thought about this. However, I think it’s good to put some definition about what upcycling content is and why we need the term in our industry.

What is upcycling?

Similar to recycling, upcycling is the process of taking a material used for something else, and mixing it with other things to make it more luxurious or better.

Why is upcycling content different from repurposing content?

Repurposing content means changing its format to suit your audience’s needs. Remember, content has three distinct parts:
  1. Information: What you are trying to say
  2. Format: The best way to say it for that audience (video for teens, executive summaries for busy execs, pictures for retail shoppers)
  3. Distribution: Placement on the appropriate channels where your audience spends their time
When you repurpose content, you are changing its format—so you are taking a video and turning it into an article, or publishing the transcript of a podcast. At Aha Media, we advise our clients to follow the Rule of 4—so for every piece of information you want to share with your target audiences, plan to produce it in text, video, audio and graphic content. That way, you’ll get the most out of your content.

What is upcycling content?

In my definition, upcycling would mean:
  1. Rewriting technical content to make it more conversational
  2. Cutting down longer videos to make them shorter
  3. Putting together different pictures to create a Slideshare or slideshow
So, upcycling is not editing content to make it shorter, or repurposing its format.  Upcycling content means taking content you already have (information combined with format) and making it better for your target audience. Distribution may change depending on what you’ve upcycled, or you may just use the same channels to show audiences improved content with some new elements added.

Let’s look at an example: You are a luxury hotel that has a small fan base that regularly publishes pictures on Flickr and Instagram. How about publishing that feed to your hotel’s website, or better yet, turn it into a slideshow that potential customers can flip through? You pick the best photos, give credit to the fans, and everyone wins.

What do you think? Are there examples of upcycling you’ve already done with content? Share those examples and we’ll post them to the blog.

Oh and the whales were great! Saw seven of them in the Salish Sea.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What is Content Strategy?

There are many definitions for content strategy, and all of them help shed light on what is a critical and important discipline within the greater field of user experience design, often abbreviated as UX.

I was recently in Seattle at an awesome event run by Misty Weaver (@meaningmeasure) and it occurred to me that no one has ever put all the definitions for content strategy in one place. (At least not that I know of.)

Please enjoy this slideshow and if you have any to add, let me know! (@ahavaL)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

3 Ways Mobile Changed Web Writing

You know what’s awesome?

You can count on it when it comes to all things digital. Technology is changing, consumption of media is changing, devices are changing.
Download our Mobile Glossary.
Best practices change as well, and it's our job to keep you up-to-date. Below are three major things that mobile consumption of media has changed for web writing. Does your team need training in this area? Don’t forget about our fun, highly-recommended digital writing workshops.

3 Web Writing Conventions Mobile Changed

Here are three web writing best practices that have changed:
  1. Optimizing content to “chrome” ratio: It’s important to know that in general, web design is moving rapidly with the advancement of responsive design (the ability to publish on multiple devices without changing the design each time). One of the trends you will continue to see is hiding the “chrome”, the user interface elements like buttons, menus and other navigational items. This is because on such small screen sizes like watches (yes, these are coming), menus can take up too much of the screen, not allowing the content to breathe. 
    However, hiding the chrome can often result in confusion for your customers, which makes your content and writing so much more important. Work with your designers to recognize that on smaller devices, hamburger menus and gestures may make the most sense, while on desktops, surfacing the chrome might make more sense. And don’t be afraid to put links into your body content, to help people find the information they want.
    The Hamburger Menu: So-called because it looks like a hamburger, this menu icon is popular for mobile websites

  1. Above the Fold: I will always think of the fold fondly. But, let’s be honest—with mobile devices, the entire concept of the fold is changing rapidly. With the advance of responsive design, the fold changes depending on the device. So how can you write for above the fold when you have no idea where it will be for the user? Further, people scroll much more easily on a touch device than they did when they needed to use a mouse. This relic from the print age is dead, so mourn it and move on!
  2.  Long vs. short pages: We used to argue that pages were too long, and people wouldn’t read that much on one page. Because of the ease of scrolling on mobile devices, people will scroll and scan and scan and scroll, until they find the information they need. In fact, choosing to click on a link and jump to another page is fraught when you’re on a mobile device, as you may be in a bad Wi-Fi spot. We’re still following the advice we always gave: Give people the information they expected and needed from that page and break up the text appropriately with headings.

Need help making your content awesome? Contact Ahava today for content writing, content strategy and digital writing training classes for your team.