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6 Lessons in Loyalty Building From Health Care Content [Examples]

Remember the marketing plan your team crafted with excitement in the fourth quarter last year? Yeah, that’s been thrown out the window. Marketers have scrambled to grapple with our new reality during lockdown and what that means for our content, email campaigns, and social media posts.

I’ve loved seeing how health care marketers have handled this challenging situation. They’ve had to scrap planned posts (“Spring Break Sun Safety!” “Healthy Breakfasts for the Morning Rush!”) and create COVID-19-related content to educate and inform their audiences. Many health care communicators are working around the clock to develop and publish content.

And some health care organizations have really knocked it out of the park with their on-the-fly content marketing plans. The one thing they have in common? They’re not trying to go viral or get off-the-chart web conversions. They’re focused on giving their audience members the information they want and need during a tumultuous time.

Right now, it’s about forging relationships and trust.

Health care #content now is about forging relationships and trust, says @ahaval via @cmicontent. Share on X

Here are six ways health care organizations are building loyalty during this difficult period that we all can learn from:

1. Answer your audience’s questions using clear language

During a pandemic, everyone is searching for health information. People want to know how to protect themselves and their loved ones and what to do if they get sick. Even though we’re saturated with content about COVID-19, there is conflicting advice everywhere you look.

The first easy (and necessary) way to build trust and connection with your audience is to provide clear, accurate answers. Follow Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines to make sure your content complies with its EAT score (for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness). Adhering to those standards will help more people discover your content.

The first easy (and necessary) way to build trust and connection with your audience is to provide clear, accurate answers, says @ahaval via @cmicontent. Share on X

See it in action

Johns Hopkins Medicine has a robust Q&A about the coronavirus. And it also created helpful interactive tools, including a symptom checker and infographic. While some people may appreciate a straightforward Q&A presentation, others may like the engagement the tools provide. Johns Hopkins meets multiple audience needs in different ways. 

What it means for you

People are looking for coronavirus information now, especially as we move into the “opening up” phase. It’s not enough to post, “We’re back!” Use plain language to share what your organization is doing to keep employees and others safe. Don’t worry about producing content as often as you used to. Just make the content that you do provide as helpful as possible.

Let your audience and potential customers know if:

  • Physical distancing (keeping 6 feet of space between people) will be practiced and enforced
  • Virtual and online services will still be available − particularly telehealth
  • They need to wear a mask for any in-person services
  • They need to wait in their car instead of a waiting room
  • There are any other special instructions they need to know

2. Recognize and elevate heroes, especially on your team

We’re all thankful for our health care workers, now more than ever. Many of us want to express our gratitude or help, but we don’t know what to do. Give your audience an outlet for their thankfulness and raise up people who do positive things. It’ll help your customers or patients feel connected to each other and your organization. 

See it in action

UMassMemorial  built a special webpage. Everyday Strength lets its audience express gratitude and share positive stories about their health care workers and community. These feel-good notes and posts encourage the frontline health care team.

But this interactive feature also gives consumers a boost, creating warm feelings toward UMass. And as people resume routine or elective care, the warmth and positivity engendered by the Everyday Strength page may encourage people to choose that health care organization.

What it means for you

Recognize internal employees. Truck drivers, postal workers, grocery clerks, and delivery people all have hero status now. No matter what industry you work in, people are going above and beyond.

Some ideas:

  • Interview your everyday heroes. Highlight them on your blog and pull out quotes for social media.
  • Start a hashtag for sharing positive stories.

3. Be transparent to earn trust

According to a Label Insight transparency ROI study, 94% of respondents said they were more likely to be loyal to a brand they believed was being transparent.

says @ahaval via @cmicontent.CTT: 94% of respondents say they are more likely to be loyal to a brand being transparent, according to @LabelInsight via @cmicontent. #study Share on X

See it in action

Hunterdon Healthcare in New Jersey has been straightforward about how its hospital is handling the coronavirus. It posts daily updates on the number of COVID-19 patients in its hospital, and the CEO shares video updates every few days. He gives detailed information about how COVID-19 is affecting the hospital, including the number of patients:

  • Being treated for COVID-19
  • Awaiting test results
  • In the emergency department
  • In the emergency department with COVID-19 or awaiting test results
  • Being released from the hospital after recovering from COVID-19

These videos help build trust and connection with the audience members who rely on this community hospital for care. 

What it means for you

People appreciate when you tell them the bad and the ugly, not just the good, because it means you’re committed to honesty. Hunterdon Healthcare could have kept the lid on the number of coronavirus patients, worried that it might prevent people from coming in for care. But instead of hiding those numbers, it displayed them. This approach will likely attract patients because people know this hospital can be trusted.

As we move through each phase of this pandemic, with the constantly changing rules and guidelines, be up front. Explain what the situation means for your customers and how it will affect them. Update information as often as possible.

4. Bring your brand’s unique spin to your coverage

Before COVID-19, hospitals created content based on what their potential patients were looking for. Don’t stop now. Continue to get into your customers’ heads to provide the content they want.

See it in action

The target audience for Children’s Hospital Colorado is parents who want information on keeping their kids safe and how to talk to them about what’s going on. So the hospital created a kid-friendly video, in which one of its infectious disease experts answers children’s questions about the coronavirus.

What it means for you

Tap into your unique offerings: What does your audience care about that only you can provide? Use that as your guide to creating content.

5. Make your audience smile

It’s tough out there. We’re inundated with bad news. Taking a light tone (when appropriate) or sharing something entertaining can make a positive and memorable impression. There are plenty of success stories out there – find yours. 

See it in action

Children’s National in Washington, D.C., filmed its health care workers and employees doing a choreographed dance to the song Everybody (Backstreet’s Back). Seeing health care workers have some fun is a balm we could all use right now.

And Ochsner Health in Louisiana shared a video of its 1,500th COVID-19 patient being released from the hospital. It’s easy to see why the post has been shared over 2,700 times. Masked workers line the halls cheering her on while a musician plays When the Saints Go Marching In on the trombone. Cue the tears.

During a challenging time, find ways to celebrate the joy, says @ahaval via @cmicontent. Share on X

What it means for you

Find ways to celebrate the joy. During a challenging time, we all want to feel hopeful and optimistic. Don’t have the bandwidth to create playful content or videos? Share someone else’s and give them a shoutout.

6. Reflect our new reality

After weeks of social distancing, seeing groups of people huddled together seems unnatural. Some hospital websites still prominently display photos that seem jarring now.

Pictures of a support group with everyone sitting close together without masks? Images of doctors and patients shaking hands? It seems quaint and perhaps tone deaf. You don’t have to scrub every image on your website, but the home page and high-traffic areas should have imagery that reflects our new normal (or what some are calling the “new abnormal”).

Your home page and high-traffic areas should have imagery that reflects our new normal, says @ahaval via @cmicontent. Share on X

See it in action

Cleveland Clinic’s home page hero image shows a telehealth session on a computer. It’s an inviting, warm photo that reflects our current situation. This is how many people want to see their doctor now – from a distance.

What it means for you

Take a look at your content and imagery with a critical eye. Review it and update anything that doesn’t seem appropriate for right now. You’ll need to do this periodically as we enter different phases of the pandemic.

Health care organizations are at the forefront of dealing with the coronavirus. And their marketers are showing us all how to handle this crisis with compassion, honesty, and even humor. The people who engaged with their content and found it helpful will remember and appreciate them even when this crisis has passed.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute