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3 Strategies Ecommerce Brands Can Steal from a Healthcare Marketer’s Playbook

Marketing can sometimes feel like a frustrating game of whack-a-mole.

A potential customer “pops up” with a signal of intent to buy, like a Google search. It’s your job to hit ’em with your brand message, value proposition, and all that hard-earned social proof before they purchase.

But you miss.

And they disappear again.

Now, imagine if you sold something that your customers had no interest in learning about until the precise moment they needed it.

Oh, and they will only buy from someone they really trust.

Sounds like a marketer’s nightmare.

For OrthoCarolina, it’s a typical Tuesday.

Why? Because healthy people rarely spend their leisure time learning about orthopedic clinics. But when they’re injured, they have to make a trust-based decision immediately.

Dealing with the realities of healthcare marketing have made the marketers at OrthoCarolina a super savvy bunch.

They’ve developed a playbook that makes their clinic the trusted choice long before their audience ever needs care. (It’s one of the reasons they’re the largest private orthopedic clinic in the country.)

Now, imagine if you had that playbook. You’d have a huge base of loyal, trusting customers who automatically choose your brand when their needs arise.  

No more marketing whack-a-mole.

What follows is OrthoCarolina’s core strategy for developing a funnel of people who trust their brand and loyally choose their clinics — even if they never think about orthopedics before they need to.

Meet the marketers: Amanda Fowler and Julie Campbell

They are, respectively, the Communications Manager and Marketing Manager for OrthoCarolina. They’re also the brains and brawn behind OrthoCarolina’s content marketing strategy.

OrthoCarolina's Marketing Team poses for a picture outdoors
Julie Campbell (far left) and Amanda Fowler (far right) stand with the rest of OrthoCarolina’s Marketing and Communications team.

Amanda describes the biggest marketing challenge she faces at OrthoCarolina like this:

“Obviously, we have to connect with someone when they’re hurt. But we don’t know when that trauma is going to happen. So we also have to integrate our brand into people’s lives before they need care, so they already trust we can help them when the time comes.”

There are three steps Amanda and Julie take to embed the brand into their audience’s lives. It’s a solid process any ecommerce marketer can follow to grow their own traffic and customer base.

1. Use licensed content to engage a variety of audiences at the top of the funnel.

Having a huge, varied patient base of over one million people is a good thing. But it also compounds the challenge Julie and Amanda face.

“Really, anyone can be a patient of ours,” Julie says. “Nailing down one target market is difficult. And each group wants something specific to them, in their language.”

To complicate things further, they also need to engage people across the entire patient cycle: before, during, and after care is provided.

That requires a lot of content.

Amanda dedicates most of her time to producing orthopedic and provider-specific content, like their excellent series on improving office ergonomics, for example. It’s perfect for connecting with people who are dealing with common orthopedic concerns like carpal tunnel syndrome.

But with a lean marketing team, there simply isn’t enough time to produce all these articles and the types of blog posts that build trust with healthy people who don’t need orthopedic care quite yet.

“It’s just so time-consuming to write content,” Amanda says. “I don’t know how we’d do what we’re doing plus write the lifestyle pieces. We’d have to hire more people or divide our time and produce less in each category.”

Instead of adding staff, Amanda publishes five licensed articles from Matcha’s content library directly to OrthoCarolina’s blog each month.

“I tell my team, ‘Look, there are five new posts on the website,’” she says. “It looks really impressive to have that level of output, but I know it took less than an hour to publish all five of them.”

Licensed content is content produced by a professional publisher that’s available for brands to use on their own blogs. Matcha has about 15,000 licensed articles to choose from, with topics ranging from travel to fitness to parenting and beyond. They’re all ready to publish, with proper formatting and professionally sourced images.

“With Matcha content taking care of those educational and lifestyle topics, we can focus on our specific orthopedic and provider-driven content,” Julie says.

As a result, OrthoCarolina’s blog is both beautiful and functional, packed with useful content for mountain bikers, runners, active families, and other potential patients in the Southeast.

Screenshot of OrthoCarolina's Blog

Ecommerce Insight

Most ecommerce brands sell to a variety of audiences. Say you sell yoga mats and accessories. You have your typical target audience, but you’ve recently learned that many distance runners are also taking up yoga to recover from long runs.

How are you going to meet this new audience before they know they need your products?

Direct response ads are great, but they can be a money suck when you serve them to people who aren’t ready to buy. And as they begin to saturate your audience, they become less and less effective.

Instead, you can connect with those audiences by serving them content that’s important to them. You can teach them why yoga is great for runners and what poses are best post-run. They’ll read your content, and you can retarget them along the way to deepen the engagement.

Most importantly, you’ll be building trust with your new audience.

Even as a small brand, you can accomplish this easily with licensed content. It’s very effective at driving these top-of-the-funnel engagements, and it will free you up to work on what you’re great at

2. Find new ways to meet your audience where they are.

OrthoCarolina has used Facebook to engage with their audiences for a long time. They manage and support events all over the Southeast, and Facebook is an excellent way to promote them.

In early 2018, they had a brilliant idea to leverage another social media platform.

Pinterest has become a useful discovery platform for household DIY projects and recipes. But it’s not typically a place healthcare practitioners look to meet new potential patients.

Nevertheless, Julie and Amanda saw the potential there.

“We knew that travel and fitness were two of the most popular categories on Pinterest,” Julie explains. “The lifestyle content we were getting from Matcha fit there perfectly.”

They also learned that Pinterest users often searched “what is there to do in [insert city here]?”

With this knowledge in hand, they wiped their Pinterest account clean and began pinning content that answer this question.

Articles like ‘Scenic Road Cycling Rides Near Charlotte’ both answer a popular question and directly speak to road cyclists in the Southeast.

screenshot of OrthoCarolina's Pinterest board

The results were pretty exciting.

“We’ve run several ads on Pinterest directing people to content on our site,” Amanda says. “The impressions were really high and a lot cheaper than we expected.”

Ecommerce Insight

It would have been easy for Amanda and Julie to overlook Pinterest as a lead generation platform. People rarely go there to find an orthopedic clinic.

But they knew a large portion of their audience spends time on the site. So they learned what questions those people were asking while on Pinterest and shared content that answered them.

As an ecommerce marketer, you can follow suit by creating an audience-first social media strategy for distributing your content. Look beyond the places they go to search for your products, and learn what questions you can answer for them.

Let’s go back to our yoga accessories brand. We may not have had much luck running ads for our products on Pinterest. But we know our core audience is interested in nutrition and is always pressed for time. So we pin easy, healthy recipes that are quick enough to make after a mid-week yoga class.

Now, those healthy-eating, yoga-loving people have reason to click through to our site, where we can invite them to our newsletter and move them further down the funnel.

3. Increase the impact of your newsletter with educational, entertaining content.

Email is still a highly valued sales channel. 80% of retail professionals say that email is their greatest driver of customer retention.

But it’s a tricky platform for a healthcare provider.

Once they’ve recovered from their injury, most patients go right back to not thinking about things like doctors and treatment plans. That could mean low click-through rates on email and a stagnant, if not shrinking, subscriber list.

Amanda and Julie have a solution. They apply the same philosophy to their newsletter as they do to their blog: Place content that’s useful to healthy people right alongside orthopedic and provider-specific content.

“That educational, lifestyle content from Matcha is often among the most popular in our newsletter,” Amanda says. “It’s really nice because we can hit every aspect of people’s lives.”

Ecommerce Insight

Sure, when someone buys your product they’re likely (hopefully) a fan of it. But they don’t want to hear about your products 100% of the time.

Build in a mix of relevant, timely, educational content to keep the engagement going for a long time.

Here’s the cool part: You can even leverage the content that brought them to you in the first place. It’s a great way to extend the ROI of existing content assets. And those customers might just share your content, turning them into one of your most valuable marketing assets.

The 3 steps to creating a funnel of people who trust your brand before they need your product (just like OrthoCarolina)

“We’re in an industry that requires people to think about us on the fly,” Julie explains. “Our content strategy allows us to stay in front of people so it’s hard to forget us. But it’s not in an interruptive way. It’s offering value, and that’s where trust is built.”

Follow Amanda and Julie’s playbook, and you be able to:

  • Extend the length and impact of those relationships with emails that go beyond product marketing.


Avoid marketing whack-a-mole with the Matcha platform

Matcha can help you avoid marketing whack-a-mole with a library of 10k+ instantly publishable articles, tools to conver readers into subscribers, and a robust analytics dashboard.

Try the Matcha Blog Creator with a 7-day free trial. No credit card required.

Feature image provided by OrthoCarolina

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