Content Strategy: What is it and why do you need it?

You’ve decided you want content to drive your marketing efforts. But what kind of content? How do you decide the topics and the approach?

It seems to be that the general advice handed around is to start your research about what content you want by looking at keywords. Perhaps searching out the keywords others in your field are using and then taking the most valuable of them to guide the content you commission.

So if you thought that keyword research was the way to go you might look at keyword stats and see how many clicks a particular keyword search receives every month. If you are in the healthcare market, you might notice that there are 201,000 searches every month for the keyword ICD10. That’s a huge amount of traffic. So if you were thinking of ways to drive traffic to your site, having several articles discussing what ICD10 is (it’s a code used to categorize each distinct illness), might look appealing.

Looking a bit closer you might see that competitor sites have actually already written articles on ICD10 and you think that might explain why they’re getting a lot of traffic. You see one of these competitors is on page 1 of Google for that search term. Maybe you’re rubbing your hands with glee now thinking of all the traffic you could syphon off them if you wrote better articles and more of them. So you dig in.

And then you discover that all the articles your competitors have written on ICD10 have zero clicks. Even though they come up on page 1 of Google, nobody is interested enough to even look at them, never mind read them. Now that looks bizarre, because up to now you’ve been convinced that all you have to do is show up on page 1 of Google for a relevant search term and you’re made. Apparently not so. That competitor’s site didn’t get its traffic because of its articles on ICD10. So why was that? Were the articles boring? Did the titles put people off? What is it that all that huge amount of traffic is looking for?

Eventually it occurs to you to ask yourself the questions, who is going to be searching for ICD10, and what are they looking for? So, with your thinking cap on, you conclude that it’s clinical staff who are going to be interested in those codes. The ICD10 codes came in one and a half years ago, there are 68,000 diagnosis codes and 87,000 procedure codes, which is massive. No one’s going to have all those codes in their heads, or an easy reckoner chart they can put in their pocket. As you read around to find out their needs, you work out that first staff need to be trained on the codes, and then they need to constantly look up those codes as they see patients every day. How many clinical staff are there in the country, and how many patients are they seeing every day? That explains the huge amount of monthly search traffic.

So you think that you could do some training videos to draw them to your site. But then you see that the World Health Organization has already got some free training on ICD10, and any training you’re going to offer isn’t going to be more credible than them. No matter how pretty you can make it, the fact of the matter is the medical profession need credibility for their work more than they like ease of use.

So onto the next option. If you can’t offer training, you could offer a code lookup function. Researching some more you notice there are a couple of sites that offer that, and they seem to be getting a good amount of visitors. Now you’ve homed in on what might work. Because you are confident that you’ve got a good head for design, and it won’t be too difficult to create a code lookup page that is more user friendly and attractive, you sit back and think you’ve hit a goldmine. You smile at your competitors who have spent their time and energy writing articles on their site that no one’s reading, because they haven’t grasped this simple thing.

But then it occurs to you that maybe you aren’t interested in clinical staff coming to your site every day. You’re much more interested in the hospital admins. They are the people who make business decisions, they are the people you want to reach. Hospital admins may have been interested in reading up on ICD10 when it first came out, but they’re not going to be looking up codes now. That’s not their job. So you sadly look at that huge amount of traffic that’s no use to you, and you ditch all your research up to date and start again. Because now you’ve learnt why you have to know exactly who your audience is, you have to know how to narrowly define them. Until you do that, you won’t know what they might be searching for.

What do hospital executives search for? And where’s the intersection between what they’re searching for online, and what you want them to read about you? Now you’ve come to the right questions. They are the questions which will help you design a thoughtful content strategy that will make all the difference.