Scientific professionals are in the business of breakthroughs. Behind every research-backed achievement and revolutionary product is an incredible story of scientific discovery. But any organization that keeps those stories locked in their lab could miss out on a powerful tool to build brand awareness — content marketing.
Certain fundamentals of an effective content marketing strategy are universal: copy that people actually want to read, eye-catching visuals, targeted distribution that doesn’t just reach the right audience, but also compels that audience to take the right action.
But life sciences marketing presents a unique challenge. The sector is brimming with highly technical experts. Your audience will likely include corporate leaders and researchers who know more about one specific niche than anyone else in the world. So, how can you craft content that resonates with a company on the cutting edge? Start with these 6 tips.
6 Content Marketing Tips for the Life Sciences
Be an Iceberg
Before putting anything on paper, think less like a Madison Avenue copywriter and more like a scientific journalist. Editors in any top-notch newsroom will tell you no amount of excellent writing can disguise bad reporting. The same is true in the life sciences. Your audience will spot inauthentic or surface-level information immediately.
Just like an iceberg, your finished content should represent only a small fraction of your accumulated context, data, and research. You can’t do this just by brainstorming on a whiteboard. You’ll need to go where the action is. This means digging through first-party studies, interviewing the scientists and employees with hands-on experience, or partnering with an agency that has in-depth industry expertise. Credibility is essential, but gaining it requires doing the work.
Data Is the Headliner
Scientific innovation doesn’t work without data. Neither will your content. A catchy slogan only goes so far with an audience that expects any claim to be backed by research and provable statistics. That’s why well-crafted data visualization can resonate more effectively than a block of text. From infographics to gorgeously rendered technical illustrations to images taken directly from lab trials, your campaign needs data-forward visuals (as long as they are accurate) that pack as much punch as the corresponding copy.
A picture might be worth a thousand words. But in the life sciences, a well-placed and accurate chart that proves an innovative breakthrough might be worth a thousand leads.
Don't Shy Away from Awe
Achievements in life sciences have changed your life, whether you realize it or not. The products and technologies these organizations develop make the world a healthier, more sustainable place to live. Their work, quite literally, unravels the mysteries that make life possible and then harnesses those mysteries to make life better.
That’s a powerful message; one that an infographic or chart can’t fully capture. Tapping into that humanity—that “awe”—can be your secret content marketing weapon. In fact, impactful storytelling is one of 2024’s B2B content marketing trends. Feature the real humans behind the data, and you have a potent narrative. You can do this most effectively through content types like:
- A short-form documentary-style video that blends first-person interviews with your data-driven visuals.
- A podcast series with a curious host (like a CEO or member of the organization’s leadership team), interviewing fascinating or game-changing employees.
You are sharing the story behind work that a group of people likely dedicated decades to achieve. Capturing that passion creates messaging that moves people.
A Lot of People Don’t Need to Find Your Content. The Right People Do.
“Going viral” is a buzzy phrase that simply doesn’t apply in life sciences marketing. The industry is so specialized that—in many cases—it’s more valuable to reach two decision-makers than earn 20,000 blog clicks. Your distribution strategy should be less like a sprinkler and more like a pressure washer. You need to figure out who the right audience is and then target them with precision. Here are two strategies that work:
- When it Comes to SEO, Think Specificity: Your audience is likely using highly technical (and often brand specific) search terms. Rather than typing a generic phrase into Google, they already know the company or product they want to find. That means your SEO strategy should start with intensive keyword research that isn’t focused on volume (which is likely inaccurate anyway), but rather takes advantage of niche search behavior. Don’t know where to start? Our SEO toolbox will help.
- Appear Where Your Audience Goes: Do you know the newsletters, academic journals, podcasts, and publications that the decision-makers in the life sciences industry consume? If not, start building a list (our newsletter is a great one to add). Then research if and how each presents sponsored content, or if there is an opportunity for “earned media” (featuring elements of your content organically, at no cost to you). Appearing in a half-page New York Times ad will get tons of eyeballs, but it probably won’t drive the same results as a strategic placement in an obscure, but influential, journal.
AI is a Great Intern. It’s Not a Virtuoso
Yes, someone needed to build the scaffolding that reached the Sistine Chapel ceiling. But it’s Michelangelo’s brushstrokes we remember.
Like an excellent intern, Artificial Intelligence can make you a more efficient content marketer, suggesting headlines or even analogies (like the one it suggested for the paragraph above). But it still cannot replace strategic, sharp, and human-created copy. In fact, research from MIT shows audiences have a negative bias toward AI-generated content. That means your work has a higher impact when you personally put the final brushstrokes on the masterpiece.
Your Finish Line Is Their Action
You’ve finished your beautifully packaged e-book, deeply-researched whitepaper, or painstakingly produced video. Your audience discovers it, engages with it, and loves it. They take a sip of their coffee and can’t help but ruminate, “Hmmm, how fascinating!” Then they go about their day.
In content marketing, engagement is not enough. You must compel your audience to do something. We call this a “Call-to-Action” or CTA. And the first step in building an effective content strategy is establishing the specific CTA you’re aiming to achieve. It could be collecting emails, converting sales, or driving attendance to an industry conference. Regardless, any good CTA has three common features:
- It’s Clear: Use verbs. Make sure they are prominent, simple, and active. “Join Us” is better than “Sign up for our Event.” “Never Miss an Innovation,” is better than “Here is the sign-up form for our email newsletter.”
- It’s Brief: Your CTA should never be longer than a sentence. It’s most effective as just a few words. Your endgame might be a multi-year contract with distribution exclusivity, but getting there requires multiple, smaller steps. A simple “Connect with Our Team” might be the very next one that leads toward the final signature.
- It’s Measurable: Figure out how best to capture data. Whether it’s a QR code in printed materials, UTM tracking information in a link, or email open and click-through rates, a measurable CTA ensures you know exactly how your content performs.
Conclusion: Niche Audiences Still Need Creative Content
Life sciences content marketing can be tricky. But the industry isn’t just overflowing with innovators. It’s filled with stories of human and scientific achievement. If you can package those stories accurately, using data mixed with a bit of awe, you will have powerful content that drives results.
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