Here at P3 Inbound, we often talk about how content marketing can improve your search engine ranking and help you attract more of the right patients.
It’s more than just writing content, however. To truly be successful with your marketing content, you have to know what patients are looking for. Your content may be very informative and well-written, but if it isn’t answering patients’ questions and guiding them through the process, it isn’t serving you well. Patients don’t want to feel like they’re being “marketed” to, but they do want to know that they can trust you to take care of them.
These are our top tips on creating the content your patients want to see.
1. Do market research.
Before you start writing content for patients, it helps to know what types of content patients are seeking out in your area. Market research can help you identify what patients are searching for, which can then help to inform your content. If you skip this step, your content may not serve your practice or patients as well as it could. After all, if your content isn’t what patients were looking for, they probably won’t take the time to read it.
Market research can help to identify common questions surrounding a condition or procedure, how patients are searching for treatment, and what terminology they are using. The more closely you can match your content with that information, the better off you will be. This will help you create content that is not only very useful to your patients, but also helps you rank in relevant searches.
2. Be educational, but avoid medical jargon whenever possible.
When patients are seeking out health information online, they may be wondering if they have a particular condition, or they may be seeking out more information about their diagnosis or recommended treatment. If your content is heavy on medical jargon, it could be an obstacle to patients who want to learn more.
It’s not that your patients are unintelligent–the average person just doesn’t have a need to learn medical terminology. When your content is heavy on medical jargon, it’s just more information that your patients have to learn before they can decide how to take action. Try to simplify your content and explain as much as you can. Better informed patients are better equipped to make the right decisions for their health, but they need to be able to understand the information to get to that point.
Simply-worded content also makes it easier for your patients to quickly scan the content to find the information they need. The average American reads at a 7th – 8th grade level, so keep this in mind when writing your content. Think shorter, less complex sentences, smaller paragraphs, and headings to break up the content and make it easy for anyone to read and understand.
3. Answer common questions.
When patients are reading content on a practice’s website, they are usually seeking out answers to questions they have. They could be wondering if they have a particular condition or how your practice treats that condition. Patients undergoing surgery may also have questions about pre- and post-op recommendations.
Your market research may help to identify some of these common patient questions, but you should also pay attention to the questions patients are asking while they are in your office. Take note of the questions that you and the rest of the staff are asked frequently. This type of content can serve as a resource for your current patients, reinforcing the things discussed in your office. It can also be helpful for potential patients to learn more about your practice.
When answering these questions, try to provide information that aligns with how you typically advise patients. Of course, you have to be careful not to come across as though you are giving exact answers, since outcomes often vary from patient to patient. We recommend using phrases like “typically,” “on average,” and “though each patient is different…” to avoid setting unrealistic expectations.
4. Guide them through the treatment process.
When patients seek out health information online, they are looking for guidance. Your content needs to guide patients through that process of figuring out if they need to seek treatment, and if so, what options are available. Your content should follow that same sequence so that it matches up with the patient’s decision-making process. The final process could vary slightly depending on your patients and treatment area, but it could look something like this:
- What symptoms indicate a particular condition?
- What is this condition and what does it mean for the patient’s health?
- When should a patient seek treatment for this condition?
- What are the treatment options available for this condition?
- How does your office handle each of the treatment options?
- If a patient is undergoing surgery for the condition, what do they need to before and after the operation?
Whether you separate this content into a few different pages or cover everything on one page, your content should follow a similar sequence and your website structure should help guide patients through that process.
If your content isn’t what patients are looking for, they may turn to a competitor for answers, and you may lose out on opportunities. Seek to provide the answers patients are looking for, and you’ll be on the right track.