Medico Digital Insights

What Headless CMS means for healthcare marketing strategies

Healthcare marketing

Read time

7 min


16th August 2022


Written by Hannah Weber



Your guide to Headless CMS

A headless CMS is a content management system that hosts content separately from the rest of the website, or frontend.

While it might have an odd name, the concept behind a headless CMS is simple: by removing the ‘head’ or the branded part of your website, you have the flexibility to use the content in as many locations as you want.

You may have heard ‘headless CMS’ called by another name, like ‘content hub software’. You might also have encountered some of the top headless CMS companies, including:

  • Magnolia
  • Otimizely
  • Acquia

In this blog post, we’re looking at how a headless CMS can benefit healthcare organisations and help you develop an effective omnichannel marketing strategy.

What’s the difference between a regular CMS and a headless CMS?

A regular CMS, or content management system, integrates both the frontend presentation layer (the website, including its branding and layout) and the content. Examples of common CMSs include platforms like WordPress, Drupal and Wix, which let you design a website and then upload content into a backend database.

Your company might own two or more ‘sister’ sites — each of these websites has a different front end and different CMS. In fact, a 2022 report from Storyblok showed that 48% of the organisations they surveyed had two to three content management systems. Nearly 5% of respondents were using six or more.

A third of those respondents using more than one CMS were only doing so because of a lack of an alternative.

In order to share content, you would need to manually duplicate content from the backend of one site to another. Each website’s CMS might have different quirks and content processes, making this a fiddly or time-consuming process. 

Google’s algorithm also penalises websites that it flags as having duplicate content, so your content may not be as successful even if you’re following SEO best practices. A headless CMS overcomes this by ensuring there is only a single ‘back end’ for the content.

Creating content in a regular CMS can also limit how that content can be displayed. For example, web content cannot often be easily displayed in a smartphone app — it needs to be reformatted first.

With a headless CMS, content can be housed in a cloud-based system and deployed to any website or online platform you own. The content is not housed in a specific website’s CMS — you can link it to any platform using API calls.

What are API calls?

An API is an application programming interface. In essence, it connects two different applications so they can send and receive data. If you use a headless CMS to store your content, you need an API to deliver that content to different websites or other platforms.

The primary purpose of the headless CMS is to store all of your content in a way that makes it usable across various platforms. The primary purpose of your frontend presentation layers is to display that content. An API call is simply the request the front end sends to the headless CMS for content.

Omnichannel marketing with a headless CMS 

A headless CMS can help your healthcare business make the leap from multi-channel marketing to omnichannel marketing.

As the name suggests, multi-channel marketing uses multiple channels to reach potential customers. It focuses on the best way to target patients or healthcare professionals on each channel — for example, we may consider using Instagram or Tik Tok to reach a young, female demographic, but LinkedIn will probably be a better choice for reaching colposcopists in the public and private sector.  

Omnichannel marketing, on the other hand, doesn’t focus on each channel individually. Instead, it focuses on the person’s full journey. Omnichannel marketing ties all of your channels together with a common message, voice and goal. 

Having the full picture with omnichannel marketing helps you advertise where your target audience is, and avoid wasting money where they’re not. It looks at when and where they became more or less active on that journey so that you can target your marketing accordingly.

Using a headless CMS makes it easier to tie together your campaigns and messaging, and can help you branch out beyond just smartphones, tablets and desktop browsers. Having flexible content hosted in a headless CMS means you can easily reuse campaigns on growing platforms like wearables and chatbots.

For example, the recent report on ‘The State of Content Management’ found that organisations were using one or more content management systems for a wide variety of platforms, including:

  • Websites
  • Mobile applications
  • Ecommerce or physical shopfronts
  • Augmented or virtual reality
  • Voice-activated speakers, like Alexa
  • Smartwatches

It also means you can personalise your content. For example, the hormone therapy Zoladex can help treat people with breast cancer but is also useful for those with endometriosis. The demographics for these conditions are very different, and the patients have individualised concerns. Using the same content for both demographics would be a mistake and result in a loss of engagement from both.

Combining an omnichannel approach with a headless CMS means you can identify where and how users are engaging with your content and easily deploy the content that is relevant to them when they need it. We explore how to successfully implement an omnichannel campaign for healthcare in this guide

Benefits for healthcare organisations

Storyblok’s 2022 report found that the most common improvements for businesses switching to a headless CMS were its time-saving capabilities, a reduction in budget spend and increased ROI.

While a headless CMS is not for everyone, it can have significant benefits for healthcare organisations by:

Eliminating tedious processes

Because a headless CMS hosts all written content in one place, that content can be deployed easily and quickly if you run multiple websites and platforms. 

For example, if you are a private hospital with multiple location-based websites, you may want to serve the same content concerning medical conditions, diagnostic procedures and treatments. 

By using a headless CMS platform, the same content can be seamlessly repurposed across multiple sites.

Streamlining editing and updates

Healthcare information constantly changes, with some sources citing healthcare knowledge doubling every few months. With a headless CMS, you can change and update text (or images) in one place, and changes will be applied everywhere that content is deployed.

This dramatically cuts down editorial processes and means your content editors can follow the ‘COPE’ principle: create once, publish everywhere. It also means content editors are freed up from needing support from web developers, which means they can focus their efforts on creating top-quality content alone, without worrying about the presentation.

Promotes scalability

Reusing your content in as many ways as you want drastically increases your ability to scale your business. You can develop new channels and campaigns with very little overhead cost, and update them all at once.

If you have excellent, high-quality health information, you may also choose to syndicate your content to other organisations — especially if it is written or reviewed by medical professionals. 

Having the content available in a headless CMS can make this process seamless, which will appeal to your syndication clients. Using API calls, they will no longer need to copy, paste and modify your content to fit their particular CMS.

Future-proofing your business

The healthcare marketing and delivery world develops at breakneck speed. Some organisations find themselves spending a considerable amount of time and money on content migrations whenever a refresh is necessary. 

A headless CMS is a content-first approach, meaning you can plug-and-play the content into whatever new system you choose.

In conclusion

Moving to a headless CMS means you can host reusable content in a separate place from the rest of your website, or frontend.

It can cut down on time-consuming editorial processes, letting you create once and publish everywhere, as well as scale up as the needs of the business grow. Since a headless CMS lets you reuse your content wherever you need it, it can play a vital role in an effective omnichannel marketing strategy. 

If you’ve already got the infrastructure but you’re missing the content or if it needs a refresh, Medico are specialists in copywriting for the healthcare sector.

Written by specialist medical copywriters, our content is not only accurate and authoritative, but also fine-tuned by our SEO team to ensure you get the maximum organic search visibility. We fully understand the SEO needs of headless CMS content and can offer a comprehensive approach, including technical support and link-building.

Want to learn more about opportunities for using a headless CMS? Contact us or visit our pages on:

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