Mapping content marketing to moments of relevance

Finding the right moment for marketing: Building a content strategy around moments of truth

Content marketing nirvana occurs when these stars align:

  • The content has editorial value of interest to the audience
  • It’s delivered in the right context
  • And it drives business value for the brand

But very few content marketing marketing or publishing operations can nail all three, especially at once. Which is why we always seem to hear things like:

  • “My content is great but my distribution channels are not”
  • “I have an amazing marketing automation stack but no content to fill it with”
  • “We have great content and audience engagement but it’s not driving business growth”

Developing a content strategy that blends the art of editorial, the science of audience insight, and the ever-important economics of driving business is easier said than done — but it can be pulled off with the right approach.

We hit on this topic recently at Content Marketing World with Gina Czark, VP of Content Management at Northwell Health, a forward-thinker at a forward-thinking healthcare system that achieved their vision of launching a truly editorial content brand (affectionately dubbed The Well) — with big gains in earned audience (and savings on media) to show for it. Here are some highlights:

 

Content Strategy Must #1: Serve a true purpose in the community

If you’ve Googled anything related to your health recently, you’re familiar with the ensuing gauntlet of suggested symptoms.

Early on in planning the content strategy for Northwell, the team discovered that the economy of healthcare content on the web is driven by a simple formula:

Anxiety = Pageviews = Impressions = Revenue

Transitive property: Anxiety = Revenue.

But instead of monetizing anxiety, our mission was to quell it. Not only through the organization’s collective expertise and storytelling, but by providing resources and next steps for people who needed empathy, assurance or guidance. It looked something like this:

  • Identify triggers that prompt audience anxiety
  • Create content that adds value or solves a problem
  • Generate interest, leads and subscribers

That became our rallying cry — our purpose was to reduce anxiety in Northwell’s target audience: Women who are running their household’s health.

Content Strategy Must #2: Know the moments that matter to your audience

By organizing our audience’s daily lives into occasions of relevance – or moments – we could plan content based on the context of people’s lives instead of an arbitrary internal marketing cadence.

We glean a ton of value out of the personas developed at the brands and partners we work with. It’s great, important work — but it tends to focus on regular, predictable activity across demographics or personality types. They don’t always address the situational cases that happen in people’s lives. So while persona data is an important input, it doesn’t tell the full story.

To put it into context, in the healthcare space, we observed “flares” in activity around certain moments people experience at any given time in their lives:

  • Nagging guilt flares (“This will be my last cigarette”)
  • Routine flares (“Is a colonoscopy going to hurt?”)
  • Obsession flares (“My favorite actor just died from a heart attack, could that happen to me?”)
  • Extreme flares (“I just found a lump.”)

All of these trigger a flurry of activity that’s bound to result in online research and then, like clockwork, spike anxiety. These were the moments that mattered most to our audience, and the moments they would most need and appreciate our help. Our content planning would focus accordingly.

Content Strategy Must #3: Every piece of content needs its own distribution plan

By organizing our content planning around moments of truths in people’s lives, we were able to pair each piece with it’s own promotional plan, targeted only to the most relevant audience segments.

We used the moments — and a ton of behavioral analysis — to create a map of the most in-demand content for our audience. We then built a publishing process and plan around creating that content and getting it distributed to the right audience segments through hyper-focused outreach and paid media.

In other words, every time we produced something for The Well, it had to have its own media plan for micro-targeted distribution. It was natural; the woman getting a mammogram probably isn’t worried about fertility, so why should she see it in her feed or her email inbox?

We used Northwell proprietary data and a lot of layers of audience segmentation data to get so super-targeted that sometimes our segments were only a few hundred people. Yes, this means media planning is much more involved than the typical paid media approaches brands and agencies are used to – but therein lies the magic of why it works. (Just ask Northwell’s audience development mastermind Christina Stolfo, who will actually be speaking about this in October with Gina Czark at Social Media Strategies Summit in NYC, if you’re around!) But the approach worked — our relevance scores spiked, our CPCs dropped dramatically, and our community grows daily – every moment, you could say.

There’s much more to the story of The Well, which is why we’ll be publishing more posts like this (and a full-blown case study!) in the coming weeks. If you’re interested in hearing more, make sure to sign up for our newsletter below!

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