Question: What do you do if you have an awesome idea for a blog post that will capture the interests of one of your life science buyer personas, but you are struggling to get started with your copy, structure your story or ensure you transmit your message effectively?
Answer: You choose one of the five common structural templates below and use it as inspiration for your scientific content creation to help you quickly and easily frame your story – so that you can deliver your insights in a way your readers will love!
1. List posts
Lists are a popular blog style because their content is highly digestible. They are especially useful for life science marketers because they provide a way to easily educate prospects about complex topics where many different points are required to fully explain the nuances of your argument or a product’s applications/benefits (as is often the case with more technical subjects).
Lists are also likely to grab reader attention by “quantifying” the value the blog will deliver. For example, ‘The four main ways to beat sample contamination’ is likely to be more effective than ‘How to overcome sample contamination’, as it highlights there are at least four key factors (and also that we’ll only be talking about the most important ones).
Blog posts leveraging the list format range from bullet-point lists (i.e. a single sentence per point, as is often seen on websites like BuzzFeed) to posts where each list point goes into much more detail (a bit like this very blog post). In detailed lists, each section may have an overall template that is then repeated. For example: image, sub-header and text – which itself may also have a recurring structure. To give you an idea of what we mean, you could end the text of each list section with a CTA, a joke, an italicised summary sentence, or a pro-tip (as we often do on the BioStrata blog).
TOP TIP: we’d generally recommend that life science companies focus on providing more detailed lists, rather than simple bullet points. Scientists tend to crave information and detail and will find the blog more useful if each key point is backed up by a more thorough explanation, supporting data/examples etc.
2. ‘How to’ posts
Sometimes called the ‘what, why, how’ template, ‘how to’ posts aim to teach the reader how to carry out a specific action or achieve an outcome. This approach is great for tips and tricks posts, or for providing technical advice.
For example, many scientific assays are complex and prone to not performing as desired. With the ‘how to’ content pattern, you’d start by briefly outlining what the problem is and why it matters, before getting into the meat of the piece: how to solve the problem. This penultimate section could be a bulleted list of actions or steps for the reader to follow – a format which tends to resonate well with life scientists as they are familiar with following protocols to overcome technical issues.
TOP TIP: segment your audience and use this to draft blog posts targeting people with different levels of prior knowledge. If you understand your buyer personas well and create posts for audiences with differing levels of technical competency, then you’ll be able to create ‘how to’ posts that sit in the Goldilocks zone – just about right in terms of depth, complexity and expectations around prior knowledge.
3. Case study posts
Case studies make great consideration-stage content for life science companies, as they illustrate the real-world applications of a given solution and indicate that your company is a trusted expert that understands the area and can help solve common challenges.
Case studies often have a typical format: you start by summarising the case study and then you introduce the customer and their challenge. Next, you describe the solution and approach taken, before ending with the results and an overall conclusion.
TOP TIP: in the life science marketing world, it’s uncommon for companies to give permission for their case study to be shared externally (i.e. on a website), so you need to make sure you get their explicit written permission for this. In some cases, you can get permission to produce a case study if you agree to anonymise or remove sensitive information (e.g. the target receptor of a drug), so don’t give up too easily if a customer is not keen at first (and look for a way to highlight how all parties can benefit from publishing the case study)!
4. Interview or Q&A posts
Interviews and Q&As provide insider information that most readers don’t have access to and allow life science companies to demonstrate thought leadership, tap into the knowledge of their customers and showcase the power of their products/services. Examples include interviewing a practising scientist who uses your product/service or interviewing the internal product developer to give insight into how your brand’s R&D team developed the product to deliver against unmet customer needs.
The ideal template for an interview is an introduction to the interviewee and the topic discussed, the interview transcript itself, and a conclusion or summary. Bear in mind that most interviews are recorded as videos or podcasts, so it might be that you can create multiple content pieces across a range of formats from a single interview. You don’t want to miss out on attracting prospects who enjoy interacting with content through audio and video (rather than the written word), so repurpose the interview to reach as many people as possible.
TOP TIP: don’t limit yourself to talking about your company or products as this can come across as too 'salesy'. In fact, don’t just restrict yourself to your internal SMEs or key customers. If you secure an interview with your industry’s biggest fish, it will drive traffic to your site regardless of whether your product is mentioned.
5. 'Pros, cons, action' posts
Also called the review post, the ‘pro, cons, action (PCA)’ template looks at both sides of a given solution before concluding with a verdict or providing suggested next steps. PCA posts work well for life science marketers as scientists like to understand everything about a product or service before making a purchase. You also don’t have to limit yourself to a literal interpretation of the PCA template (i.e. only using this content pattern to write product reviews). Applied more abstractly, PCA posts can look at the state of a current technology, industry, challenge or global initiative.
Let’s use a global problem as an example: malaria. When writing about malaria with the PCA format, a life science company could consider the progress (i.e. ‘the pro’) made towards solving the world’s malaria crisis. They’d then follow up with how the industry is still falling short (i.e. ‘the con’), before ending with the next steps necessary to overcome malaria (i.e. ‘the action’). This big-picture, abstract use of the PCA template is a great way for life science companies to build thought leadership.
TOP TIP: don’t be too salesy about your own products and don't be negative towards competitors. Your readers will find posts that are derogatory and/or excessively self-promotional as inauthentic and won’t trust you. Instead try to be unbiased and factual to build a reputation as a reliable source of trustworthy information.
Getting started with the five life science blog templates
Using systematised content templates are an effective way for life science marketers to put their creative content ideas into structured, easily digestible formats. Content patterns also help improve user experience and your website’s search engine ranking. Although there are many out there, the five most essential templates for life science marketers are lists, interviews, reviews, ‘how to’ posts, and case studies. These can also be mixed and matched, especially within eBooks, to create content that’s truly unique.
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