Wednesday, February 23, 2011
As the healthcare market becomes increasingly competitive, hospitals and healthcare organizations will become increasingly more sophisticated in how they manage their digital communications strategy. Typically, in a hospital, content is the most valuable marketing asset: information about conditions, treatments, doctors and research are a core part of any hospital's marketing strategy.
With the introduction of content strategy, a formalized method for planning, creating, executing and governing your content, hospitals can now turn to some easy and worthwhile tools to manage their content better. Here is a short list of some content strategy tools you should start implementing immediately:
1. Content Audits
Typically, when hospital Web teams or marketing managers get ready to redesign a clinical service line website, or other part of the hospital's Web site, they neglect to do a thorough content audit. A content audit is usually a typical spreadsheet, with lists of what pages exist, page titles, types of interactive tools and how outdated the content might be. I would recommend doing a qualitative content audit as well as a 3-D content snapshot. Telling a story about how the content is performing in cyberspace will give everyone involved in the project critical pieces of information that are lost in your standard content audit.
2. Editorial Calendars
I was on the phone with a client yesterday, and she wanted me to get started on rewriting a clinical service line. The reason? A major print and radio campaign launches in the fall. This lead time was remarkable to me; rarely are clients so prepared. Rewriting and redesigning a great section of a hospital website can take up to an entire year so it's important for marketing teams to plan ahead. Therefore, looking at a year-long plan and creating an editorial calendar around daily, weekly, monthly and project-based content projects will help everyone manage better: budgets, time management, production schedules and last-minute client requests to "just change this one page."
3. Content Value Matrix
How much content really exists on your site? And how effective is most of it? If your analytics show that your users are spending most of their time on your logistics pages (maps, parking, cafeteria), then you're not leveraging your content. Testing the effectiveness of healthcare content is going to become critical, as consumers become more sophisticated about healthcare choices. Maybe we don't need to spend time developing these huge 60 page sites about all the different types of breast cancer, when this information already exists on five other reputable sites. Or, maybe we do. Testing content and asking users what they really want will become the next best practice.
Below is a content value matrix that I think all Web and marketing teams should start asking about their content's value. If readers can't sucessfully perform all five of those actions around the content, then you need to change it. Now.
4. Workflow Guidelines
Most hospitals manage their content through Content Management Systems. These allow for workflow guidelines and enforcement of publishing rights. (For example, you can set who is allowed to actually press "go live" and who is allowed to edit within the CMS.) Having ordered workflow guidelines gives everyone on the team a sense of responsibility for their part of the content lifecycle. It should also avoid content rot (where content just sits and doesn't change for years).
5. Style Guides
Style guides are important for establishing tone and brand. They are also critical in a hospital organization for knowing how to refer to certain diseases with different spellings and how to refer to departments and divisions. If you don't have a style guide for your healthcare organization, start one today. It's easy--just open up a Google Document or some other file sharing program and start typing commonly used phrases and names, according to the alphabet . Make it a living, breathing document. And, if you are responsible for branding at a hospital, please stop putting your full name on every page. Trust me, patients know where they are, and repeating your name 1,000 times doesn't really send the message that it's all about them.
What content strategy tools are you using at your healthcare organization? Have a sucess story? I'd love to hear about it.