By Jeff Walter, Senior Editor

Everybody knows that search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial to 21st-century businesses vying for online market share, but it shouldn’t take precedence over the customer experience.

That last part is the main takeaway of Google’s new search algorithm, which it has dubbed the “helpful content update.” This change, the technology giant says, is “part of a broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.” The update, announced August 18, was set to begin rolling out last week.

In a nutshell, the new system works by deploying a signal that detects and penalizes sites with high amounts of unhelpful content. Even helpful content will be less likely to perform well if other content on the same site is not helpful. This emphasis on quality over quantity means some businesses would be advised to remove website content that falls short of the standard. 

What distinguishes helpful content from its evil twin?

To Google, it’s a matter of whether it was created primarily for people (and by people) or for search engines. Would the intended audience find the content useful, or feel let down by “click bait”? Does it demonstrate firsthand expertise, or is it simply others’ recycled wisdom with no value added? Will readers learn anything from it? Will they have a satisfying experience?

While analytics, traffic monitoring and website scanning can help organizations assess how they are faring with the new algorithm, a bit of soul-searching is also in order: What is the real purpose of the content we’re providing?  At Hammock, we’ve long preached the gospel of “help not hype.” That means taking time to get to know the audience and what kind of information is likely to engage them, and then delivering it. Data, perhaps? How-to guides? Informed predictions about coming trends?  

If you haven’t been providing helpful content, it’s not too late to change your ways. The pressure is on to share what you know!

Image: Getty Images

 



About Hammock Healthcare Idea Email |
This post is part of Hammock’s award-winning Idea Email series. Idea Emails are sent every other week and share one insightful marketing idea. Idea Email comes in two flavors: Original and Healthcare. To subscribe to the original Idea Email (general marketing ideas), click here. To subscribe to the Healthcare Idea Email (healthcare marketing ideas), click here.

 

 

Every healthcare organization has stories to tell, and case studies based on success stories can be a powerful form of content marketing. A thoughtful and well-executed case study can:

  • Promote your organization’s role in helping a client address a challenge or make an improvement

  • Provide actionable strategies and insights that other clients—and potential ones—can use for the betterment of their own organizations

  • Prompt other organizations to look into your services for the first time or expand the scope of the work you are already doing for them

Unfortunately, many organizations find it daunting to convert these stories into studies that produce results. They struggle with finding the right client or story to feature, they overcomplicate the story by getting bogged down in minutiae that nobody really cares about, or they fail to make the story relevant to a larger audience.

At Hammock, our decades of experience in helping healthcare industry clients tout their successes have taught us some essential lessons about what makes a great case study:

  1. It addresses a common problem. Today’s healthcare organizations share an array of challenges, from controlling skyrocketing costs to improving the patient experience to recruiting and retaining qualified staff. What relevant lessons can others learn from your client’s experience?

  2. It focuses on results. What improvements can you point to as evidence that the client emerged from the process in a stronger position than it was before it engaged with your organization? If you have statistics to support your story, use them; quotations from client leaders can also be impressive. Can you help other organizations achieve the same results?

  3. It relates the story in a compelling way. A case study should engage readers’ interest by making them care. It should be clear, concise and unambiguous, offering relevant details about your client’s journey from point A to point B (or point Z). However, it should avoid getting so far “in the weeds” that it’s too specific or technical to be widely useful. Use of multiple formats, such as blog post, website, e-book, video and social media, can give the story staying power while accommodating people’s varying preferences.

  4. It spurs people to respond. A strong call to action encourages people to learn more about your company, whether by making a phone call, scheduling a demo, downloading an e-book or otherwise engaging.

We would welcome the opportunity to talk with you about how we can help you turn your success stories into case studies that help you build on those recent successes.

Image: Getty Images

 


About Hammock Healthcare Idea Email |
This post is part of Hammock’s award-winning Idea Email series. Idea Emails are sent every other week and share one insightful marketing idea. Idea Email comes in two flavors: Original and Healthcare. To subscribe to the original Idea Email (general marketing ideas), click here. To subscribe to the Healthcare Idea Email (healthcare marketing ideas), click here.

 

 

By: Jeff Walter, Editor

You know that old trees just grow stronger
And old rivers grow wilder every day
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello”
— John Prine, “Hello in There”

Like countless Nashvillians and music lovers (we happen to be both), we mourned the loss of singer-songwriter John Prine to COVID-19 on April 7, 2020. Prine, also a Music City resident, released his self-titled debut album a half-century ago in 1971, gracing the world with such now-standards as “Sam Stone,” “Angel From Montgomery,” “Paradise” and “Hello in There,” that last song an unflinching first-person depiction of the loneliness suffered by many senior citizens (written with jaw-dropping empathy by a 22-year-old).

We think Prine would be happy about the way his family is remembering him—and doing some good in the process. “You Got Gold: Celebrating the Life & Songs of John Prine” is a series of special concerts and other events planned for various Nashville venues Oct. 3-10. Proceeds will benefit The Hello In There Foundation, newly established by Prine’s family “to honor his memory and continue the love, kindness and generosity he shared with the world.” The foundation’s mission is “to identify and collaborate with individuals and communities to offer support for people who are marginalized, discriminated against or … otherwise forgotten.”

Two Nashville-based nonprofits will receive this year’s inaugural grants from the foundation. Room In The Inn provides shelter, emergency services, transitional programs and long-term solutions to help homeless people rebuild their lives. Thistle Farms provides safe housing, healthcare, counseling and employment for women survivors of trafficking, prostitution and addiction.

The Prine tribute concerts, which wrap up on what would have been his 75th birthday, represent a beautiful example of content marketing, a frequent topic of the Idea Email. While they honor the memory of the beloved singer-songwriter (and perhaps sell some CDs and merch in the process), they also serve a higher purpose not directly tied to sales. 

We have previously written about the various forms that content marketing can take—from blog posts and e-books to sales presentations and customer welcome kits, from onboarding material and internal letters to employees to bylined articles for industry publications and public events. Earlier this month, we discussed preserving your company’s or organization’s history and future. Thanks to the Prine family for an outstanding example of how this can work. And thanks to John Prine for all the timeless and wonderful music (along with the love, kindness and generosity).

Photo credit: Laura Fedele



About Hammock Healthcare Idea Email |
This post is part of Hammock’s award-winning Idea Email series. Idea Emails are sent every other week and share one insightful marketing idea. Idea Email comes in two flavors: Original and Healthcare. To subscribe to the original Idea Email (general marketing ideas), click here . To subscribe to the Healthcare Idea Email (healthcare marketing ideas), click here.