How to Create Engaging Marketing Assets from Healthcare Data

HIMSS Analytics

Just recently, the AP Stylebook released a new section featuring detailed guidance for data journalism, writing, "The ability to analyze quantitative information and present conclusions in an engaging and accurate way is no longer the domain of specialists alone. Government agencies, businesses and other organizations alike all communicate in the language of data and statistics."

As a marketer, you may not see yourself as a journalist. But the healthcare industry's clear preference for educational content (as opposed to promotional) may force the role upon you. To be engaging, your content needs to be informative and relevant to your personas. Data, when presented well, can give your readers something they're looking for: news and ideas they haven't heard before from every other health IT marketer.

So how do you do it right? Who can you work with to ensure you're pulling out the right insights — the ones that matter most to your buyer personas — and are presenting those insights the correct way?

The Right Way to Use Healthcare Data in Your Marketing

There are lots of wrong ways to incorporate data in your content. You could just list out some data points without any meaningful commentary, for example. That type of content isn't likely to grab your target audience by the shoulders and say, "Read me. Share me. Now."

But you also don't need to spell everything out. So what do you do to gather the data and find the right insights to share?

1. Look both outside and inside

Data you use in your assets can come from anywhere. You could participate in the great content churn and just snag it from another company's blog. You can search a database you have access to, work with research firms as partners, or use your company's own data to create something truly unique. Any of these options work well — except the first one. You want your content to engage via novelty, and serve as a thought leadership effort.

That means that you should begin to develop a strategy for harvesting and sharing the data your company gathers about your customers and their experiences. Too often, marketers forget to look inside. But when you do, you'll find that the information you do own is full of gold.

For instance, if you find that 60 percent of doctors who use your product in their hospital system also use another product, you might be able to draw an important correlation about the value of implementing both technologies at once. But for that level of detail? You'll need help from your analyst.

2. Enlist your analyst

If you have a marketing or sales analyst on staff, it's time to pull them in for your initiative. Start with just one report. Come to your analyst with an idea for the main objective, e.g. "We want to show what's happening in the industry as a result of last year's compliance update. We want to show how our customers reacted." If this team member can find that information, they will. If not, you may need to adjust your process, and start with what you already have.

If you aren't already receiving reports from this person, ask for access to the reports s/he delivers to the sales team. There, too, you'll find plenty of good information your prospects and customers may not have otherwise had access to.

Your analyst should be delivering insights, not just raw data, so your work is narrowed down to creating a cohesive story based on those insights. Let's say you have ten pieces of information that don't fit together in any way you can discern. Don't use them! You want a report that has data points arranged into some narrative. For example, your report might be titled: 2017 Vendor Technology and Hospital Systems Report. For this type of content, you'll want to include only those insights that speak to the relationship between vendors and hospital systems and how that relationship is changing or growing. Work side-by-side with your analyst to pull out the details you need.

3. Mimic the best-in-class companies

It is more than acceptable to pull your strategy from some of the top tier data marketers. In fact, we recommend it.

4. Document your methodology

What if you wanted to create a report called: 2018 Vendor Technology and Hospital Systems Report? You'd need to include insights about what has changed since last year. But you won't be able to do that unless you've followed —and documented — a strict methodology during your original effort. To do "data journalism" better in marketing, you'll need a repeatable process. Begin establishing that process on your own first by documenting every step thoroughly, and refine it as you grow.

With your process documented, your analyst by your side, and an ability to look inside of your own organization for the insights you want to share with your audience, you'll be well on your way to offering more engaging, more original content to convert your prospects and delight your customers.