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Why It Pays to Create Long-Form, Specialized Healthcare Content

By Kristen HicksSep 14, 2015

healthcare-content-2Inbound marketers have been struggling with the question of length for years. Should we focus on making the kind of short, “snackable” content that makes sense in the fast-moving world of busy lives and social media? Or are longer pieces that pack in more information better? The answer, as in so many marketing questions, is that it depends on what’s right for your business and audience. For healthcare marketers, making focused, thorough long-form content a part of your marketing efforts can be worth the extra time it requires for a few key reasons.

Healthcare is complicated.

That’s not a controversial statement. The many years that doctors are expected to spend studying and training before we entrust them with the role speaks to the massive amounts of complicated knowledge they have to learn about how the body works. And new research is always cropping up to complicate things further.

The fast-paced news cycle means that new research inevitably gets oversimplified or exaggerated in reporting, leaving people either confused or convinced they know something that isn’t accurate. When it comes to a subject as big and important as health, the information your audience needs most isn’t usually the kind that makes for exciting headlines and easy summaries — it’s the stuff that merits in-depth coverage.

Everyone’s healthcare needs are different. 

Healthcare content that covers general advice and concerns is common. How many blog posts and articles have you seen that discuss the general health advice everyone already knows: drink lots of water, exercise, eat your veggies? There’s nothing wrong with those articles, but most of the patients at your hospital are coming in with more specific concerns.

They don’t necessarily need to know they should exercise more (though it is good advice); they need to know how to deal with the particular health concern they’re facing at that moment. Content that does a deep dive into answering the questions a person with a broken leg, pregnancy or skin cancer diagnosis needs to know will be more relevant and meaningful to those patients in that moment than any more generalized health advice.

Focused content means more meaningful relationships with a smaller number of visitors.

Healthcare marketers can choose to play a numbers game and get as much content out there that reaches as many people as possible. That can pay off, but your competition is fierce if you go that route. By homing in on more specific audiences and crafting the content that’s hyper-relevant to their needs, the number of people who find your content useful will decline, but their relationship to it (and your brand by extension) will be more meaningful.

Doctors and other staff members can help with this; they see firsthand the types of questions and concerns people have when dealing with specific health issues. Use that knowledge to craft focused customer personas that guide the content you create.

Long-form content performs well (with readers and Google).

While shorter content still has an important role to play in many inbound marketing plans, long-form has been gaining many advocates in the marketing world who have found that it’s good for SEO, it’s well-received by readers and it’s a good way to build a reputation as an authority.

While the rise of social media seemed to suggest people wanted fast and short content, analytics have continued to show people will stay on a site and read long articles (but only if they’re good, of course). And Google likes long-form content, too. According to a recent analysis of the top-ranked sites for 20,000 different keywords, content of more than 2,000 words tends to dominate those top spots.

Long content provides many opportunities for repurposing.

As you would expect, longer content takes longer to produce. That’s the bad news — you will have to allot more time and money to creating it. The good news is you can easily end up with more content than just the original long-form piece. Consider ways the content can be tweaked, broken up or reformatted into new content.

Re-purposing your long-form content means the labor you put into creating it goes much further. You can use some of the research and information you’ve already collected for webinars, blog posts, podcasts — anything you can think of that your audience might be interested in.

Creating high-quality, in-depth, focused content isn’t easy. If you’re going to put the time and work in, it’s important to spend some time planning to ensure you get the most out of it. Consider your audience, create a plan for distribution and promotion and think before you start about ways you might repurpose it when it’s done. That extra effort in the planning stage can ensure the content you work hard to produce reaches the right people and pays off for your healthcare institution.

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The Author

Kristen Hicks

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based copywriter and content marketer specializing in helping businesses connect with customers through content online.
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