People searching online for gyms, doctors, weight loss programs and wellness centers are raising the bar for your marketing content strategy.
A million years ago, content was easy. Your website was the only game in town. Stuff the right keywords in your meta tags, sprinkle them liberally on every page, and you were good.
But, duh. Google caught on. The rules changed. New technology showed up. That strategy hasn’t worked in forever — even though we still see an amazing number of freelancers doing exactly that for clients who don’t know any better.
Here’s what you need to know in 2019:
1. It’s a multi-channel world
So you need a multi-channel content strategy.
We’ve done a ton of client analysis in the fifteen years we’ve specialized in marketing for fitness businesses, medical practices and healthy lifestyle businesses like weight loss programs.
Here’s what we know:
Folks who want pizza tonight may call the first place that’s listed in Google’s Local 3-Pack.
That is NOT how people buy health and wellness.
Your prospects don’t click on a single Google Ad and then call. They don’t visit your website once and then drop by. They don’t see one organic post on Facebook and decide to schedule a complimentary diagnostic assessment.
Here’s what really happens:
Customer A clicks on a Google ad, then goes direct to your website two days later. That weekend they see your Facebook ad and tap “Like”. Three weeks later, after pondering it on their daily commute, they tap the message button on your Google My Business knowledge panel.
Customer B asks their phone “OK, Google, what are the health clubs on my way home from my office in San Antonio that have free child care that are open until at least midnight” — and over the next few days and weeks, looks at Google My Business reviews, talks to their friends, and finally grabs your guest pass through a Facebook bot running on Instagram.
You needed to show up in the right way, at the right time, in all those places to win those clients.
2. Message consistency matters
Off-site lead sources like Google My Business, Facebook/Instagram, Google Ads, Bing Ads and referring websites make the initial connection with your prospective member or client.
They generally deliver them to a live interaction like chat or a phone call with your staff, or to an asynchronous (non-realtime) interaction like a Case Studies page on your site or inviting them to complete an interactive self-assessment tool or download an informative guide or checklist.
So a winning sales strategy starts not with your website content — but with the content on those sites that are upstream in your potential patient’s buying process.
That means content freshness and message consistency across all these platforms is critical. This includes:
- Special offers
- Program and service details
- Audience consistency
- Logistical details like NAP and business hours
If you’re serious about getting customers, you cannot have inaccurate, outdated, incomplete, or inconsistent information in the channels your prospects routinely visit.
Deficient content in any of these channels is the equivalent of a raging fire in your business. You want to do everything you can to prevent it, and when it happens, you need to jump on it immediately, take care of the immediate crisis, and make sure it never happens again.
Worst case scenario (and yes, we have seen all of these, routinely):
- Your Yelp call-to-action has your Winter Ski Coaching Package — in July
- Our Google My Business services list still includes the “Weight Loss Bootcamp” program you no longer offer because you shifted your women’s fitness focus to yoga, barre, spin and Pilates
- No official hours posted posted on Google My Business
- You’re still using pictures of your former location on your Facebook page
- The group fitness course descriptions on your website bear no resemblance to the actual group fitness schedule posted in your facility
Fortunately, consistent use of a calendar is an easy fix for some of these problems. 🙂
Set an annual date to update your business hours. Set a quarterly date to refresh program descriptions and calendars. Use a checklist to make sure you don’t overlook any channels. And so on.
However, the more serious and complex issues require much more thought, analysis and experience. For example:
- Developing a set of crisp, truly meaningful and persuasive marketing messages that resonate with your target customer
- Deciding which content best matches each stage of your sales funnel
- Understanding your true competitive differences from your prospect’s perspective and developing content that highlights them
- Optimizing content for the nuances and latest policies of each channel
3. Mobile, mobile, mobile
I’m pretty sure everyone knows by now that most consumers find your business on their phones, and not on laptops or desktop computers.
Don’t believe me? Look at your Google Analytics and Google My Business data and your Google Ads and Facebook ads placement data.
I promise you that anywhere from 70-90% of consumers begin their health, wellness and medical buying process with a tap/type search on their phones like “”fertility specialist near me” or “fertility specialist near [San Antonio business address]”.
In some cases, every step of the buying process happens on their mobile device. For higher-stakes purchases, prospects often switch to a laptop as they move forward from the earliest stages of research.
One exception: if you sell corporate wellness solutions to employers, or healthcare-related technology to medical practices, then laptops and desktops probably still account for the majority of your traffic.
The implications are obvious: design first for mobile.
Most of your prospects don’t live in a world of 15″ and bigger screens anymore. They may have one on their desk at work, but that’s not the tool they conduct their personal business on.
Tell your marketing team:
- Show me the mobile version of the ad first
- Show me how the website will look on a phone first
- Show me how the email will render on a phone first
Break the habit of desktop myopia.
4. Expect more complex & detailed voice searches
Let’s look more closely at our earlier voice search example, where Customer B asks their phone “OK, Google, what are the health clubs on my way home from my office in San Antonio that cost less than $70 per month and have free child care that are open until at least midnight.”
It’s easy to see why digital marketers often describe voice searches as “conversational searches.” It’s true — these searches are much more likely to sound like the way people really talk to each other.
But the really important point to understand is that voice searches are generally more complex searches.
They pull together many decision criteria into a single query. In fact, it’s the voice equivalent of a product configurator, which is often very complex to design.
You can see why consumers would love to search with that level of specificity. Imagine how much hassle and wasted time it would save!
And even though voice search is in its infancy, you can already see why we emphasize things like making sure your Google My Business listing is 100% complete and current at all times — after all, Customer B only wants to know about clubs that are open until midnight.
You can also see why it’s becoming more important than ever to populate your marketing channels and your website with strategic content and not “throw something together in a hurry” content.
It’s a task that, as always, begins by understanding all the nuances of your prospect’s eventual purchase decision.
5. IoT VoiceFirst browsers are entering the mix
The “Internet of things” (IoT) refers to the many connected devices that live in our homes today — from Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home devices to smart door locks, smart Instapots, and smart thermostats.
Devices like Alexa have built-in VoiceFirst web browsers — which means that over time, some of the tap/type and voice searches that happen on mobile phones will move to IoT devices.
Now, this technology has a lot of maturing to do before it seriously displaces tap/type for more complex queries.
Right now, mobile voice searches and VoiceFirst searches on IoT devices work best for simple research and informational queries and very simple transactional purchases (ordering an Uber or something from Amazon, for example).
Over time, however, it’s one more complexity that your marketing strategy will have to evolve to handle.
Worth considering now: Does your marketing team even begin to think this way?