THREE THINGS YOU’LL GET FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1. What you should always outsource in your digital content marketing
2. What you may or may not outsource, depending on your time and budget
3. What you should never, ever, in any circumstances, outsource
My early pick for the word of the year this year would be ‘disruption’. Sure, people working in digital marketing would sneer and say we’ve been talking about disruption for 10 years now, but this year the word took on a more concrete definition. Like something from a Borges story, it popped out of books and into the real world. And if it hasn’t already, it should change the way you look at your own digital content marketing.
It popped into the real world in the form of taxi drivers rioting and blockading Uber drivers during June and July. While taxi companies seem to be taken by surprise by the ride sharing service, they’re not the only industry to feel the impact of the new, connected world.
Deloitte released a report (which you can find here) which identified 13 industry sectors which faced major digital disruption before 2017 (including healthcare, financial services, information media, retail, education, transport and logistics, professional services, recruitment, agriculture and more).
The services firm estimated that 32 per cent of the Australian economy would experience a “short fuse, big bang”—which is to say, digital disruption will hit those industries in the next three years, and that they can expect to see between 15 and 50 per cent change in their metrics.
Digital content marketing for your practice
How does this effect a small healthcare practice? Although you may not know it, it completely changes how you market your business.
In the past, building a website for your practice was easy—you would grab a brochure and throw it at some small design firm in your local shopping strip. They, in turn, would re-type the brochure and make a web page, which you never looked at. You almost certainly never saw it as an advertising or marketing vehicle, in the same way your Yellow Pages ad was.
Now your website is central to your business, because that’s how most of your customers are going to interact with you. It’s where they are going to first find out information about you—from who you are to where you’re based, to what you think about stuff. If you have a good website, there’s a chance they are going to spend more time on it than they are going to spend talking with you in the practice.
How often do you see your patients now? Once every six months? Once a year?
Do you honestly believe that’s the only time they’re seeking out health information?
No, neither do I. For example, for a year now I’ve been meaning to ask my dentist about home remedies for caries. But when I see him, I’m only in the chair for five minutes before he’s got his hands in my mouth. And at the end of it all, I’m coming down off the gas, so always forget.
The question is not whether they’re looking, but whether they’re looking on your site, or elsewhere.
[Tweet “The question isn’t, ‘are patients looking for health info’, but are they looking on your site?”]
What do you need to know?
With that in mind, the new digitally oriented world of marketing and content- or copy-writing services can be dizzying to understand. It’s a lot of work to do it all yourself. But what do you outsource? Is it true you can get your whole website created in India for a dollar? Do you have to take up blogging now? Can you take all the surgery photos on your iPhone?
We’ve been asking ourselves the same question with our business for years. This is what we’ve found out so far.
What you should always outsource
1. The build and design of your website – because you are not a designer. Even if you think you have a great eye for design, it will never be as good as someone who designs websites for a living. You can, and should, have input into the design, and a website designer should be able to show you a lot of options for you to choose from. But let them do the work.
2. Original photography – you shouldn’t take your own photos unless you are a very good photographer, and your photos win competitions and are exhibited. If you’re just a keen amateur, and your photos are considered excellent by your Facebook friends and your spouse, please get a professional in. The difference in the way your practice is presented will astound you.
3. The editing of the writing on your site – I mean all of it, from the home page through to the contact information. No-one can edit their own writing. And if you have written most of this yourself, your familiarity with the words on the page makes you blind to typos. Basic spelling mistakes on your site will look sloppy and amateur.
4. Analytics and other data you get from plug-ins – the data is important, so you have to gather it together. But there’s a lot of plug-ins that you can set up on your site that will capture that information.
5. A set amount of blog content – obviously I’m going to say that, because it’s in my interests. But even if you hire some other writer or agency, writing good quality content takes time. If you’re running or building a business, you don’t have a lot of that. And when you do have time, you’re tired.
What you may or may not outsource
1. Copy for the Contact Us, staff biographies and regular, non-changing pages – let’s face it, writing a couple of paragraphs about how smart you are or what your address is, is not that taxing. And do you really want to pay a copy writer—who is charging you either by the word or by the minute—to write out your address? Of course, you may be so busy that it’s just easier to get someone else to do this, and that’s fair enough. But it is something you can do yourself.
2. Promoting your practice through social media – yes, there is an art to using social media properly (read more about it here), and agencies who specialise in promoting businesses through it will be better at it than you. However, the whole idea of social media is that it’s social—and paying someone else to be social for you seems, well, anti-social. If you are going to outsource it, make sure it’s an individual you trust. Otherwise, if you don’t have the time, make it a measureable part of the job of someone on staff.
3. Regular updating and posting – the advantage of outsourcing that day-to-day task of updating your blog is you don’t have to think about it. Someone else can log in to the back end of your CMS (if you’re using a web-based one like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal) and schedule them for you. The advantage of doing it yourself is you don’t have to give anyone else your log in, and you maintain control of what goes up on your site at all times.
What you should never outsource
1. Your strategy – Like any other fundamental part of your business, you have to know why you’re doing this and how you’re going to achieve your aims. Whether you develop your digital marketing strategy with an agency or whether you figure out through reading around online, it’s vitally important that it be your strategy, that you understand it, and you have a goal for it.
2. Managing your own email list – I’ve written before about the importance of building an email list. But it’s also very important that you manage that list yourself (or that your practice manager or someone in your employ manages it) because you’re legally responsible for it. There are privacy laws that you need to know about, and other related things that you need to inform people of when they join your email list. Don’t trust others to be up on that, because it impacts your business directly.
3. Measurement – The only way you will know for sure if your digital marketing is working is if you measure it. There are independent ways to do so, either through Google Analytics or more sophisticated analytics sites. However you choose to do it, measuring your marketing is the way to know if you’re doing it right, or need to change it.
Bonus tip: Why you should shop local
One of the industries that was effected by digital disruption a few years ago was content writing. Several websites set up that offered access to a marketplace of freelance writers from all over the world, who competed with each other on price to get your business.
It was a great model for a client who needed a lot of content, but didn’t care what it read like (people who just wanted content on their website for SEO purposes).
We tried it (lots of other did as well). We found that while the price was great, there were often problems with the quality of the copy we received. Sometimes it was just gibberish stuffed with keywords. Other times it was clearly plagiarised from elsewhere on the web.
That was less of a problem before Google’s Panda update, which was a change to the algorithm the search engine uses to index and rank sites, which impacts where your site will appear in search results.
Google has made it very clear that good quality content will be rewarded with better search results, and poor quality content may result in a penalty (which, in its worst case scenario, involves being removed from search results entirely). The company has also clearly defined what it thinks good quality content is.
Local content providers – whether it’s us or your wife’s sister who’s a really talented writer — will be much better placed to provide you with high quality content, which will in turn be rewarded by search engines.
Ironically, as we move into the next phase of digital disruption, it will pay off if you shop local rather than international.