By now I am sure you’ve heard about the benefits of blogging, and have been encouraged by patients, friends and family alike to blog. But like most successful practices, you may have been hesitant to jump in for lack of awareness of a blog’s true return on investment or ROI. Admittedly there are obstacles, and you may be thinking, “I’m not a writer. My blog will just get lost in a sea of online content.” But rest assured, blogging is one of the most versatile and rewarding marketing strategies a practice can pursue.
So Why Blog?
The answer that any first-time blogger will learn is simply “to improve the business”. In any industry blogging can elevate a person to an authority, an opinion leader or influencer. The elective healthcare industry is no different. Blogging credentials people and to prospective patients and differentiates them versus competitors. Relevant and insightful content doesn’t just get read, it gets shared amongst patients (and prospective patient audiences) leading to referral opportunities. Increased engagement creates a community around the blog, which builds trust, helping a practice to build long lasting relationships with their patient audience.
Blogging not only helps boost online reputation but also facilitates success in other peripheral marketing channels through search engine optimization (SEO). Well optimized blog content has the power to connect to a website, social media platforms, and other industry recognized related sources. In fact, 94% of people who share posts do so because they assume it will be helpful to others (source). All of this activity builds awareness, trust and credibility around a brand which are the characteristics that make patients think twice before going to a competitor.
How to get started?
Now that we’ve covered the value of blogging, it is important to understand the discipline. All of the benefits won’t just materialize immediately after the first post. Blogging is an art, a commitment, and a life style. Respectfully, this is why many practices choose to outsource blog writing or they have dedicated in-house marketing talent. Regardless of how or who writes blogs, a practice’s unique voice must be communicated so practice professionals will always have an important role to play. Blogging in the elective healthcare industry has become an essential tool in personalizing a practice. It’s an area used to introduce providers and showcase their unique skillsets, while promoting the larger message of what makes the practice unique. This is particularly important in highly competitive markets such as Cosmetics (both surgical and non-surgical) and Medi-Spas. However you choose to start, let these Four “C’s” to a well written blog guide you.
- Commit: Successful blogging is a long-term commitment so ensure that you set yourself up with this in mind. Think about your blogging platform and choose an established host that offers a robust customer support section (e.g. WordPress or Bogger.com) to be confident that your contentis always available. Just as one might hold a platform provider to high standards, bloggers must do the same for themselves. Ensure content is relevant, whether writing about personal experiences as a doctor, about industry news or anything in between so readers come to expect consistency in topic selection. Commit to an idea and keep writing. Setting content standards, frequency, and word count (at least 500 words per post) ensure readers know the practice is committed and the blog is worth following.
- Be Regular: Setup an editorial calendar. Know the topics well in advance to give lead-time to write. We even recommend writing a few blogs ahead, so that if/when something comes up, publishing the blog won’t be neglected to risk disappointing readers. Be consistent in quality, just as one would be in quality of patient care. Remember a blog puts the practice’s reputation online for the world to judge, so ensure they are thoughtful and bring value. In making editorial calendars remember to align them with industry events and internal marketing goals for the next 6-12 months.
- Creativity: Make the blog your own. This factor differentiates a blog from competitors and encourages reader engagement. People don’t follow or share boring blogs, so figure out what makes the practice unique and use it. Before focusing too closely on patient engagement, emphasize followership. Get people to click on the blog by having a compelling headlines (or blog title). Hook readers with thought provoking headlines, and ensure they know quickly why the topic justifies their time commitment. Also, strongly consider adding an image. Blog articles with images receive 94% more views than those without. (source)
- Content Creation: We mentioned creativity, but remember that a blog not only speaks to humans, it also speaks to search engines. Create content so that it works for a human audience first, but ensure it is original, optimized and cross-linked to support SEO efforts and overall digital marketing goals. Note in fact that websites with blog have 434% more indexed pages than those without (source). For guidance, there are many online tools to evaluate content. Sites like https://readable.io/ will rate all facets of blog writing from accuracy and readability to keyword usage.
Once a practice becomes blog savvy, they can use their blog for concurrent marketing efforts. For example, is the practice thinking of bringing the latest laser technology in house? They may want to post opinions on new industry technology and see what kind of feedback they receive. They can also use their blog to promote practice news and events in combination with social media like Facebook or Instagram. Remember a blog is an effective and flexible means of communication with the end goal of building a community around a practice brand. It’s never too late to begin blogging.
Written by Stephanie Boone