We have been toiling away developing regular fresh content for this cosmetic surgery practice for a full year. I was inspired to write this post after I sent some suggestions and recommendations to my client (the marketer) today. Being the middle man, he will provide whatever part of my recommendations he sees fit to the end client.
Let's look at what we've been doing, some particular challenges related to this client, and what I suggest as we go forward.
Client Goal: Increase new patient consultations coming from the website
The History of the Project
Objective in early 2013: Make content location specific for better local Google page rank
I began this project rewriting web content that had been poorly constructed and adding some geo targeting to the copy, that means adding the location into the copy so that search engines can recognize the business as specific to that area.
Objective mid-2013: Make website dynamic by adding regular fresh content
At the same time that I began working with my client, content marketing was gaining momentum and he wanted regular fresh content for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. We decided to work together on three blog posts per week of 300 words each. I outlined 50 topics before we got started and ran through them week by week. I was given carte blanche on topics as long as they related to plastic surgery.
Objective late 2013: Improve the quality of press releases and increase the depth of the content on the site
I am not clear here, but I think my client was distributing press releases online through a service which also did the writing for them. My client wanted high quality press releases and was willing to pay the price difference each month to have me write them. At the same time, based on the results of the latest Google algorithm update, SEO experts were touting more depth and more length to content for increased page rank. We added a monthly in-depth article of about 2500 words to be published on the blog. Around the same time, the word count on regular blog posts was increased from 300 words to 500 words per post.
Objective early 2014: Move to more in depth writing; forget press releases
Again, based on expert advice, my client requested more of the longer articles, now four per month, in addition to three shorter 500 word blog posts per week. The longer articles have defined topics based on the procedures the client would like to do more of, or highly searched terms in that geographic area.
I am the subcontractor and therefore not responsible for any of the interactions with the end client. My client, the middle man, is in control of the project, but is at the mercy of his client's budget. While plastic surgeons have some of the highest revenues of all the medical specialties, they do not have an unlimited marketing budget - no one does, right?
Our end client understands the value of the service we are providing, but must balance it with the other needs of his business, as well as the skepticism of his old school, offline business partner. This means that my client, the middle man, is constantly having to explain, justify, pull teeth, in order to get funding for his recommendations. We work in chunks, month-to-month, which precludes any proper long-term planning. This is to the detriment of the client.
I couldn't hold my tongue anymore. Today, in a fun, long conversation with my client about a complete website revamp - it's about 8 years old and needs to be refreshed - I told him that I felt that our end client would really benefit from some strategic content planning. Of course, he agrees. I know that. We decided that if I make the suggestions on proper strategy, the client might be more receptive than if it is coming only from his "marketer".
Here's what I suggested:
1) Revisit the goal of the website: The goal of the website and online presence is to generate patient consultations for the cosmetic surgery practice. We know that current SEO practices include good quality content as their cornerstone. We also know that personalization is the key to creating an emotional response from prospective patients. These patients are not always going to buy in to a procedure on their first view or visit. They need to see a site and a practitioner’s presence multiple times in order to gain trust in them. Though a prospective patient may visit the website more than once, it is more likely that they will visit once, and then go back to their busy life. In order to ensure they have the multiple experiences with the surgeons at cosmetic surgery practice, it would be beneficial to gain more access to the prospective patient where they are most often online – in their inbox. By reaching their email box, they can read content when they are ready.
2) Refresh the website, improve navigation and capture email addresses: The basic content on the website is good. A new web framework could make the content easier to access and more engaging I also strongly recommend capturing emails for regular ‘touches’ and follow up contact.
3) The blog: While there is a lot of good quality content on the blog, planning, categorizing and focusing on practice priorities would be effective. We have been doing this on an ad hoc basis, but weekly or monthly features would allow readers to anticipate and look forward to upcoming posts. Personal stories from patients and staff would add to that connection and level of trust.
4) Email marketing: By waiting for patients to come to the website, the practice's marketing is currently passive. By collecting emails on the website, a very targeted list of prospective patients could be accessed regularly. By providing these leads with a good mix of educational information (80%) and marketing (20%), they will build their trust in the practice and will be more likely to eventually become patients. I recommend beginning with a monthly newsletter. As an additional method of collecting qualified email addresses, I recommend repurposing some of the existing blog content into an ebook.
5) Social media: This client has attempted unsuccessful forays into social media before. They have a decent Facebook following. I recommend building slowly on that with only high quality updates, however infrequent they may be. There is so much more to do for this client, I do not recommend starting into any other social media tool at this point.
It will be interesting to see what I hear back in this case. What do you think? Am I missing anything big for a medium budget client?