Have you ever driven during winter with a windshield that is only partially cleared by your wipers? Basically, you are driving by looking through a small patch of glass while the rest of the windshield is obscured. With such a narrow field of view, it is difficult to navigate, but you keep driving because you cannot afford to stop.
For years, this is how I felt as a marketing leader when it came to our content strategy. We always forged ahead but I was never comfortable with the limited view that we had and is the real genesis behind our recently announced HITMC Insights reports. Let me explain.
Limited data = blindspots
One of the tenants of a good strategy is to create content that your target audience want to read. How do you do that? One way is to poll your audience and find out directly. This is extremely powerful, but proper polling requires a lot of effort and the results need to be acted upon quickly before something new comes along that captures your audience’s attention.
Because of the time and expense, this is not something many companies can afford to do. Instead, many marketing leaders turn to social media interactions, email opens/clicks and blog pageviews to gauge what is popular with their audience. For example, if tweets from the company’s account about “cybersecurity” are generating a lot of likes and RTs, teams will produce more content on that topic.
Similarly, companies look at their Google Adwords performance and the terms where their ads are generating the most clicks will be prioritized as topics for content creation.
The flaw with looking at a company’s own data, however, is that it is extremely limited in scope. I doubt any company has more than 10% of their total target audience in their email list or as a follower on their social media accounts. This small slice of the target audience is naturally biased towards your company, otherwise they wouldn’t remain a subscriber to your newsletter/follow you on social media.
This begs the question – what is the other 90% of the audience reading? There is no way to know by looking at your own limited data.
Where can you get more data?
To increase your view, you need data from outside of your organization. But that’s easier said than done. Marketing data is a closely guarded secret by most companies and marketing leaders.
At one company, I was able to negotiate a collaboration between the marketing teams of 3 partner companies. After many months of discussions, the four of us agreed to pool our website pageview and email open/click data so that we could collectively analyze it. The results confirmed my suspicions.
When viewed in isolation, each company’s website showed a different topic that was the most popular. For one company it was patient satisfaction and for another it was cybersecurity. This wasn’t surprising given that each company offered solutions that were targeted at different healthcare market niches. However, when we looked at the second most popular blog topic on each of the websites, it turned out to be the same one – physician engagement. Combined, the views of blogs on this one topic was close to 50% higher than the most popular topic for each company.
If we hadn’t pooled our data we might never have prioritized this secondary topic in our content strategy. It was instant validation for our small coalition. [Note: Unfortunately, our group fell apart soon after one of the companies was acquired and one company’s CEO became uncomfortable sharing such important information with potential future competitors.]
Even though this data sharing coalition was short-lived, it proved to me that having more data is vital to a truly successful content strategy. I’ve been on the hunt ever since. Unfortunately, I was never able to find another reliable way to get this type of expanded marketing information…until now.
Early in 2019, John Lynn and I had a conversation about what more we could to help the HITMC Community. We tossed around many ideas, but at some point, I brought up the idea of sharing all the email, pageview and social media data from our various accounts/publications. I thought John would hate the idea, but instead he really warmed to it. As we began to riff on the idea, it was John who put forward the idea of adding other media sources to the dataset – so that it wouldn’t be just data from our own sites/accounts.
Over the following weeks, we refined the idea and we presented the concept to the HITMC Community at the annual conference in Boston. The feedback was positive.
So for the past year we have been working in the background to make changes to our email and website data collection systems in preparation for the day when we would share it with the Community. We also worked out a way to gather other publicly available information from other healthcare media outlets. The result of all this work is HITMC Insights.
HITMC Insights is a new monthly report that provides information on the trending topics in healthcare. We analyze the headlines of the latest articles published by 15+ healthcare media outlets to determine which topics are the most popular. We also focus on 10 key topic areas (cybersecurity is one of them and patient engagement is another) and their popularity/readership month over month.
The resulting report is packed full of useful information which content marketers and marketing leaders can use to create a superior content strategy. Thinking about writing a whitepaper but unsure of the central topic? HITMC Insights can tell you what topics are trending upwards and which are on the decline. Unsure of which blog posts to re-highlight to your audience? HITMC Insights can show you what is being written about most right now.
Instead of trying to navigate the road with just a 3” patch of clear glass in an otherwise opaque windshield, expand you vision with HITMC Insights. To help make it easy, we’ve made the first report (a special analysis of COVID-19 related topics) freely available. Go to this page to find out more.