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Connecting the Dots With Content Marketing

Wendy Blackburn

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Takeaways From the First-Ever Pharma Content Marketing Conference

At the recent inaugural Pharma Content Marketing conference, hosted by ExL Pharma in Philadelphia, Intouch Solutions’ Nathan Stewart, manager of search marketing, presented: “Connecting the Dots: Needs + Meaningful Content + KPIs.” Nathan expertly covered the topic from the perspective of a long-time inbound marketer and SEO specialist with a passion for content marketing.

Nathan explained how, once you understand the needs of your business, the needs of the patient and the needs of the channel, you can overlay those needs with your brand’s unique patient journey to formulate a measurable content plan. Then you can measure and optimize accordingly. Easy, right?

I particularly liked Nathan’s Venn diagram; what is a presentation, anyway, without a Venn diagram? But to build on that, an example is always helpful:

  1. Let’s say Brand X is the market leader with their treatment for the under-diagnosed Condition Y. As brand manager, your strategic imperative is to drive diagnosis and treatment for Condition Y — preferably, of course, with Brand X. That’s your business need.
  2. Consider the patient who experiences symptoms of Condition Y and goes online to search for information about what’s happening to them. That information on Condition Y is the patient’s need.
  3. And let’s assume that market research shows that the Brand X target market searches for information on unbranded websites. Websites, of course, have their own unique needs for engaging content and creating a positive user experience. What content must you create to get your target to your site and keep them there? That mix of content needs to optimize organic search, paid media, advertising and email marketing. That’s the channel need.

The right content for the right audience at the right time must meet the requirements of the business, the patient and the channel.

In this example, a content plan that might meet all three needs is an engaging, unbranded Condition Y mobile tool that shares information about signs and symptoms and offers a call to action to help a patient find an accurate diagnosis.

Further along in his presentation, Nathan also described his tips for how best to connect the dots between efforts and results. Once you know your three needs, as outlined above, you can determine which one(s) are being met by each piece of your content. Each piece of content should be measured based specifically on its individual goals. Will Item A drive organic search and meet the channel need? Will it work directly on the bottom line and meet a business need? Will it answer a customer need? Is it capable of doing two or even three of these? Its success needs to be tracked on the basis of those answers.

In the example above, key performance indicators (KPIs) could include visit counts, bounce rate, and pull-through of referrals to professionals to measure the success of the diagnostic tool and specialist finder.

One of Nathan’s key points was to not ask or expect content to do something it wasn’t designed to do. That is, if you develop informative content without a call to action, don’t be surprised if it isn’t converting your readers to seek out diagnosis. If you write only branded information, don’t expect your readers to appreciate what you’re doing to expand knowledge of the condition overall.

His rubric helps clients to see why non-business-need content can be very valuable, and it is an extremely useful tool for conversations about what content is needed.

Nathan is passionate about content marketing, and it showed in his presentation and deep knowledge of the topic. The model he describes can, and should, be applied to outlets besides the brand’s websites. Think about social channels, such as blogs and the brand’s Twitter feed; paid channels, such as content centers and advertising; and the entire public relations strategy. A content marketing strategy should span the worlds of paid, owned and earned media, and it doesn’t have to mean creating a whole bunch of new content. Sometimes it’s just reviewing and re-jiggering what you already have. Ideally, you’ve always been writing and creating smart, accurate, helpful content.

Content marketing is truly what its name says: marketing your content to give it the best possible chance to help your target audiences.  

See Nathan’s full presentation on SlideShare here, or visit us at the Content Marketing for Life Sciences conference, scheduled to take place in Chicago on June 12–13.



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