In this article, I will be discussing what content marketing and how it is beneficial to life science companies looking to implement it. After covering the basics, I will discuss how content marketing can be used for scientific brands, examples of scientific content marketing and how is best to get started and implement it for your business.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is an inbound marketing approach that focuses on creating a variety of content, designed to attract and retain a targeted audience. Content created as part of content marketing strategy should be informative and useful for its intended audience, rather than trying to pitch or sell a product or services.
Content marketing also works well as a wider inbound marketing strategy, encompassing SEO and social media to ensure that content reaches the right audiences at the right time. Great content also contributes to your outbound marketing; having little to no content to share means you have no marketing assets when it comes to sending emails to your subscribers, running PPC or doing outreach with PR.
Examples of content marketing
Content marketing is for big and small businesses alike.
In fact, there are many occasions where content marketing can provide a larger proportion of business to smaller businesses rather than the well-established corporations.
However, content is content. There are various ways you can share and promote content, with some channels providing a better ROI than others. As long as you produce high quality content, you are likely to see some sort of benefits.
How Life Science companies can benefits from content marketing
Content marketing done well can have multiple benefits. Content marketing directly impacts your website which in turns impacts your brand; do it well and you can reap the rewards from the following:
Let people discover you
How do you starting letting know people about your brand if they’ve never heard of you before?
Produce high quality content that is interesting or useful and share it. Having more content available through more channels that is easily accessible will increase your chances of relevant visitors finding you.
Build trust in your brand
By providing content or solving problems related to your area of expertise or business, visitors will start to associate your brand with their problem. If you can demonstrate that you are an expert in any given field, people are more likely to trust you and listen to anything else you have to tell them.
Grow a loyal fan base
You can generate fans or advocates without asking. If you can get people to trust and engage with your content, they are likely to share it, whether that be online or via word-of-mouth. And people always share information that is useful or interesting.
Set yourself apart from competitors
The likelihood is that your competitors are also doing their own content marketing. But if you can make your content even better and more useful that theirs, then you will stand out. You don’t even need to make more or better content, simply make you content available on more online channels and you will be seen as the most authoritative in your niche!
Hubspot estimate that it takes on average eight touchpoints before you can convert a visitor into a sale. If you had to pay for each of these touchpoints, the price of acquisition per customer would start getting expensive. Letting content marketing take care of first or additional touchpoints whilst you work on something else sounds like a sensible marketing plan.
Content marketing in science
When it comes to creating marketing for scientists, you need to be thinking past publishing peer-reviewed studies.
Peer-reviewed papers can technically be classed as content marketing – they can get published in journals and publications after all – but it is only the minority that ever get accepted. Even then, the specialism of each paper usually means that the audience is incredibly small and highly targeted.
Therefore, when we think about a content marketing strategy for scientific brands, we need to look at the bigger picture. How can we generate or repurpose content that is informative yet understandable, and how can we use it to reach a wider audience?
Examples of scientific content
In this next section, we will look at a range of content marketing types and how they have been utilised by brands in the science industry.
Remember, the idea is to position your brand so that you can demonstrate an area of expertise related to your business, but in a format that is easy and informative to understand.
Blog posts are an incredible versatile format. You can publish long form content, industry reports , how-to articles or anything else. Combined with knowledge of SEO and keyword research, you can generate organic traffic that continues to drive visitors – long after you first publish your post.
Let’s have a look at an example. Here’s a screenshot from Sigma Aldrich on how to clean laboratory glassware:
This is a great example of a content marketing blog post. The content of the article is incredibly informative to users looking for tips on how to clean laboratory glassware. Although it isn’t promoting its own products directly, it gently directs users to what Sigma Aldrich do as a business, but also helps with SEO, creating relevancy to products and services that the wider brand offer.
A hybrid between charts and pictures, infographics were once the incredibly popular but quickly became a saturated tactic for link-building. However, high quality infographics with top quality data are incredible useful to share with audiences via social media or even email.
Here’s an example of a simple infographic sharing a basic insight to the everyday tools that a forensic science technician might use:
Although it doesn’t share any exciting or new information, the way the data is shared is incredibly visual. The format makes it a great asset to use for sharing on social media or via email for example. Also, if somebody else shares this infographic on their site, it should be shared with a link to your site as reference. With the right outreach strategy, creating and using infographics as link-builidng assets is a viable strategy to build authority to your scientific website.
Everyone’s doing a podcast these days. But the thing is, you can talk about almost anything. Discuss industry topics, case studies, interviews, the possibilities are endless.
Podcasts offer a unique form of content marketing as they offer a convenient solution to consuming content on the go.
This example from Scientific American produces content on a daily basis, offering podcasts of just a few minutes long as part of their ’60 second science’ channel.
The benefits of podcasts as a marketing channel are vast; they are relatively inexpensive to setup and run, there’s lower competition than other marketing types and you can quickly become an influencer in your niche.
Anybody can create a video these days, and if you are trying to explain how to do something in the lab, creating a video – like the one below – should be your first point of call.
With smart phones equipped with top quality cameras, and online platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo, you can share video via these hosting platforms or even embed them on your own site or other social media pages.
You should be making the most out of any video that you make; have one long video for a piece of content on it’s own, break down long videos into shorter clips that can be used for social media or to add into blog posts for example.
Don’t forget, hosting video on platforms like YouTube and Vimeo can bring even more traffic if you use the right keywords in your titles and descriptions!
Whitepapers are long form articles that share information in a detailed or authoritative way. Usually published in the form of reports, information is usually more detailed and presented in a factual way.
For a scientist, producing a whitepaper type document may feel fairly similar to many reports you’ve written. However, the purpose of any white paper needs to be clearly defined.
You need to outline a problem and propose a solution.
This might border on writing sales copy when you propose a solution to a problem, but if you can use a whitepaper to target, answer and resolve issues that scientists are continuing to face, then it is a no brainer!
Ebooks are commonly associated with lead generation – allowing website visitors access to a file online or as a download once they submit their details – usually an email address. Content in ebooks is usually longer than a whitepaper or blog posts so allows the reader the read content when convenient.
This example from NASA is 200 pages long and is probably the most in-depth pdf about the earth as possible. Just high quality content that keeps NASA at front of mind of its readers.
Webinars are real time conferences although they are flexible in format. Whether they be video or audio streaming of live lectures and seminars or video conferences. These two examples taken from Scientix are past lectures/ courses that have been repurposed into additional content – in this case a video and a Slideshare presentation.
Webinars are a useful format because they look more ‘professional’ and can utilise the authority of one or more of your staff members.
Webinars on their own aren’t much use for content marketing, but promoting them on external channels – such as YouTube and Slideshare above can reach a wider audience. But you can also repurpose content into a blog post or podcast for example.
Although these webinars are free to access, webinars are a popular lead generation tactic; access to the content in exchange for some information – usually a name and email address.
Very much related to the above, but if you have any slide decks from online or real live presentations, sharing these as as downloadable files or even via LinkedIn’s Slideshare.
If somebody in you business has recently completed an external talk or presentation, why don’t you share the content on Slideshare? It takes little more effort than uploading an existing piece of content, which can then be embedded in other content such as blog posts.
Content on external sites like Slideshare is another channel for people to discover your content, and in turn, your brand.
Planning a content strategy
When it comes to thinking about your content strategy for your brand, you need to think about what topics you want your brand to be associated with and also why.
Here are some simple examples:
- If you are an e-commerce store for lab supplies, you may want to think about creating content about running an efficient lab or how to overcome common laboratory inventory issues.
- If you are an electronic lab book software provider, can you create some free templates for workbooks to record data?
- If your business offers manufacturing capabilities, can you create videos demonstrating how to minimise hazards such as flammability or dust inhalation for example.
Remember, the purpose is to inform and explain, not make an online sales pitch.
Saying that, when it comes to creating content, you want to ensure that the information and solutions you are providing, solve real issues.
By understanding and utilising SEO, you can research the topics people are looking to solve and understand and create content accordingly.
Another great way to find ideas for content that performs well, is by looking at known (and unknown) competitors and see what content they are producing and who is looking for it.
Competitors that already have a grasp of content marketing usually produce great and frequent content for users.
And more often than not, competitors that have generated content for a sustained amount of time are probably seeing benefits to their revenue as a result.
Finally, producing content is only the very start of your content marketing strategy.
You need to ensure that content is continually promoted so that it has maximum reach to the people looking for it.
Going back to the examples of content marketing mentioned above, there are multiple channels that content can be found. This makes it vital that content is repurposed for its respective channel and well as shared and promoted further.
An example of repurposing content could be writing a blog post that uses an infographic and embeds a YouTube video in it.
In turn, the blog post could be made into a podcast or a webinar, with quotes or statistics shared on social media.
Although it can sound complicated and a lot of effort, planning ahead of time or even utilising a content calendar can make planning your content strategy easy to handle.
Creating scientific content can be difficult for regular content creators if they do not understand the industry very well. They might be able to produce good content for generic or basic topics, but not for highly specialised content that requires great understanding.
Saying that, having experts in your business producing the content is the obvious way to go. Not all experts will be able to produce web-friendly content by themselves, so collaboration with marketers in your business will help overcome this issue.
Not only are staff in your business usually the source of expertise, they may well have relevant credentials that adds weight to any content they produce. This can be extremely beneficial when combining with a known SEO principal known as EAT.
EAT stands for ‘expertise, authority and trust’. This principal helps distinguish generic content versus content that can be attributed to a real professional in their field. For some subject matters, utilising EAT can add more weight than any other online promotion which may seriously benefit how content is found online.
If you don’t have experts in your business willing to write content, or you just don’t have the time, you can also outsource content creation.
There are lots of freelancers and small businesses that will jump at the chance for work. Remember that the old saying, ‘you get what you pay for’ usually applies in this situation, so make sure to see examples of previous work before hiring or run on a trial basis initially.
Lastly, another option you have for generating content is to partner with a similar company or competitor of yours. Although this might sound counterintuitive, combining resources may help with expanding on potential audience size and/or increase the authority of both businesses within the industry.
An overview of scientific content marketing
Content marketing is a well used marketing tactic to generate visitors to a website. Rather than trying to convert every visitor to a paying customer, it is about the long term strategy; prioritising awareness and providing useful information.
Content marketing is a broad subject which means that a range of content types can be created and promoted in various ways, such as blogs, videos or podcasts for example.
When it comes to creating scientific content, making sure you do proper research to understand what opportunities there are to help solve and inform users is vital. This ensures that all content you create has the best potential for reaching the audiences you require.
Creating content isn’t easy, but making sure you utilise internal or external experts will make the job of marketing teams easier and produce significantly higher quality content.
Remember that content marketing is a long term strategy and best used alongside other outbound marketing techniques. It is crucial that content marketing is planned properly and constantly reviewed to ensure maximum ROI at all times.