Performance Marketing Expert

Making the Next Move in Healthcare Marketing: Native Advertising

According to eMarketer, the healthcare and pharma industry spends the least on paid online and mobile media, and growth is expected to remain sluggish over the next several years. A lack of investment in online advertising could be hindering many organizations from effectively reaching their target audience. Investing in native advertising, in particular, could be just the right move to strengthen their content strategies and reach more consumers.

From my experience working with a number of healthcare organizations—from payers to providers to lifestyle brands—I’ve recognized that thinking about content strategy like a game of chess highlights an opportunity that most healthcare marketers overlook. Marketers can agree that there is great value in creating compelling and relevant content. If we think about the content as the “king” – the most important piece on the chessboard, content syndication is “queen” – the most powerful piece in your arsenal. Without it, your strategy loses a tremendous amount of power and you lose out on a lot of opportunity to improve the experiences patients or consumers are having with your brand.

While you may be producing compelling and engaging content, it needs to get in front of the right audience to make an impact. Every healthcare provider should consider the following when developing a content strategy:

  • Focusing on your owned assets is the bare minimum, not a scalable strategy.

  • Content is critical in driving consideration and preference.

  • Scalable content distribution, such as native advertising, will help you win against your competition.


Owned assets alone won’t drive business impact

Despite an overall competitive landscape, most organizations’ content efforts have significant gaps, and those that are quick to fill the gaps have a tremendous opportunity. Focusing content distribution solely within owned assets like your website and social platforms won’t drive the reach and scale needed to impact the bottom line.

  • Integrating new content into your website is the foundation for executing a successful long-term SEO strategy. You can drive improvements in organic rankings and traffic by ensuring the content being created is built out to benefit the end user/reader. While doing so, consider complementary efforts, like paid search, that can help make an impact sooner.

  • Using social networks to syndicate your content is an easy win and can drive brand advocacy and engagement. But, as Facebook has moved more towards a paid model, it’s tough to get your content noticed organically. Many marketers are turning toward paid social ads and promoted posts to get seen by their audience, but must remember that a targeting and content strategy, in addition to well-defined goals, is critical to ensure your investment is adding value.


Content development is an investment of time and resources, and while turning to your owned assets for promotion is a great first step, a syndication strategy should have just as much thought and preparation as the content creation process. As you’re thinking about your budget and marketing strategy, consider allocating resources towards testing content and promoting it across channels. Your audience is engaging with you in more ways than ever before, so make sure you can reach them throughout their journey.

Content Drives Consideration and Preference

Aside from getting your content in front of patients and potential customers to drive awareness, what makes content syndication even more important is the power content has in healthcare decision making. At a recent Google Brand Health conference, the business value of creating relevant content was highlighted time and time again.

  • People want the content healthcare providers create. In fact, four in five individuals are looking for new ways to live a healthier lifestyle.

  • People look for content when they are actively engaged in critical decision points. 60 percent of patients like to compare and validate information from doctors with their own online research.

  • Brands can win market-share by being there at the moments that matter. One in three smartphone users has purchased from a company or brand other than the one they were planning on due to information provided at the moment they needed it.


Connecting With Your Audience Through Scalable Content Distribution

Without a solid impact to the bottom line of your business, the tireless efforts to create and version your content become an expense instead of driving profit. So what do you do next if placing great content on your website and social media platforms is only reaching your current fans and impacting SEO health? What other tools can be used to reach new customers effectively, cost-efficiently, and immediately?

Native advertising places sponsored content on relevant pages, serving your content to the right audience in a way that is non-intrusive and integrates with the user experience. The marketing channel provides a way to reach new or existing audiences in an effective and efficient way, but is often underused in the healthcare industry; leveraging it effectively can become a key differentiator for helping reach your audience.

What makes native advertising so effective within healthcare specifically?

Healthcare is a need-based decision

Aside from getting your content in front of patients and potential customers to drive awareness, what makes content syndication even more important is the power it has in healthcare decision- making. When patients seek healthcare providers, time is usually limited. Because they are often looking for quick or specific information, gaining engagement from patients otherwise can be difficult. What better way is there to identify a person who has been anxious about a new mole on their back than with a compelling article about when to get a mole checked? Create content with the customer in mind and develop content that appeals to them. Brands that act as a trusted resource for information in the moments that matter will reap the rewards.

Native initiates opportunities for direct response while building brand awareness

The beauty of native is that you can identify users who are raising their hands and saying they are interested; prospective patients will either click to schedule immediately or be primed for future engagement. You can then use your own first party data to effectively nurture site visitors to schedule an appointment through remarketing or email after their initial engagement with your content. Also, being in front of prospective patients with great content will add you to the consideration set the next time they need to schedule an appointment. The value doesn’t start and end with the first click. Native positions advertisers to drive value several steps down the road.

The market wants content, but nobody is meeting patients where they are

If people are actively seeking out your content, they will find it. However, few healthcare providers are thinking about the vast number of passive media consumers. While they may not actively seek out content on your site, you can use native ads to reach them in the places they are already visiting. This provides a major opportunity to get ahead of the competition.

By understanding what your current and potential consumers are searching for and recognizing the opportunity to get in front of a passive audience, you’ll be making strides in adding value to their lives and building trust and credibility for when they do need to turn to you. Adding native advertising to your content strategy provides an opportunity to best position your content and get it in front of a relevant audience at the right time - you can even think about it as achieving the checkmate necessary for driving preference and adding value to your audience.

To learn more about the benefits of native advertising and how you can make content syndication part of your strategy, reach out to Rise.

08/12/2016 at 05:11