- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On June 10, 2016
I’m presenting a webinar in 2 weeks on the subject of hospital blogging. I thought I’d start the presentation by talking about the benefits of publishing a blog.
I’m sure you’re already aware that blogging takes a bunch of time. If something is going to soak up so much of our most valuable resource then it should really pay off.
So I got to work looking for data to show the benefits of blogging, especially the ROI. This post covers my findings.
1. Marketers like blogs
There’s a ton of evidence that marketers like content marketing. Here’s a sampling from the Content Marketing Institute’s report B2C Content Marketing: 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends
- 76% of B2C marketers said they use content marketing
- 77% of B2C marketers say they produce more content in 2016 than in 2015
- 77%of B2C marketers say they use blogs as part of their content marketing mix
But I’m not so interested in what other marketers are doing. It’s nice to know the benchmarks but doing the same thing as everyone else does not always spell marketing success.
My question is do consumers of this content actually turn into patients? What evidence is there of this? That’s where the data is thinner on the ground. But I did find some.
2. Google seems to like blogs
One of the more compelling ways to think about whether a blog is worth writing is SEO.
A blog is really a tool for producing a web page. So if having good content on your web pages delivers a clear ROI then a blog could well be worth having.
One piece of data I know well from my own experience managing many websites over the years is the power of Google. Every site I’ve managed has had somewhere around half of it’s traffic from organic search.
If you assume half your website traffic is coming from organic search and you have a mechanism to convert traffic into leads (and then leads into patients) then it implies search engines are going to be important to your ROI.
When you’re trying to get search engines to send you organic traffic having content on your web pages that contains your keywords and getting inbound links to this content is still very important. A blog gives you a tool to easily publish keyword-rich pages. You then need to build inbound links by publishing quality content others want to link to and making friends.
We know from Google’s research that patients find hospitals from search so it would seem that hospitals that use a blog appropriately are going to capture a good share of traffic.
3. Blogs produce more leads than PPC
There’s a study by Kapost and Eloqua that analyzes the lead generation potential of content marketing. The study finds that content marketing outperforms advertising (like PPC) over the long run (the cross over point appears to be after about 2 years). See the graph below. This study did consider blog posts as one of the typical content elements so it’s fair to extrapolate the results to the value of a blog.
If you can turn leads into patients this data makes a strong case for having a blog.
4. Hospital blogs and patient engagement and loyalty
As documented in a recent True North whitepaper hospital marketers want to increase patient engagement and loyalty as well as generate leads. So can a blog do that?
Here are some metrics Neil Patel suggests reviewing in your analytics software to see how your blog posts are doing in driving patient engagement and loyalty.
- Bounce rate: How many people only read one post then leave your site? If they read more than one post they are more engaged.
- Session duration: How long does a reader stay on your site? If they stay on longer they are more engaged.
- New vs. returning readers: What % of your readers like your stuff enough to come back? The more reader loyalty you have the more of your visitors will be returning visitors.
One counterintuitive point I spotted in Neil’s post is in the graph below.
Sites with a lot of content, likely sites with a blog, actually have a higher bounce rate than other websites. Sites with more content are indexed more by Google but not all the pages that are ranked turn out to be a good fit for searchers.
From what I’ve seen over the years it’s pretty clear qualitatively that a blog can help with engagement and loyalty. By publishing quality content you can showcase the expertise of your physicians and staff. That makes your organization stand out as subject matter experts. When it comes to medicine most people are looking to be treated by experts.
If you’re interested in knowing more about how to run a blog and have time left to have a life too, sign up for my webinar here.