Regardless if you’re a CMO, a sales rep, or even a leading healthcare professional, putting your confidence in a complete stranger is hard. Marketing medical technology and services to someone you’ve never met in person is no different.
It's crucial to establish a relationship as early as possible, so your brand can be trusted.
In this article, we’ll share marketing strategies for reaching HCPs more effectively online while forming close loyalties along the way.
Today, it’s increasingly common to find new sales leads online. It dramatically cuts down on travel costs, in many cases it’s physically much safer, and it gives you access to a more diverse group of potential customers. And the biggest benefit: You can more accurately measure your return on ad spend (ROAS).
25% of US physicians rely more on digital resources, like medical information, websites, and medical apps since the pandemic.1
The perceived downside, of course, is that these virtual meetings don’t seem to hold the same weight as traditional in-person ones. Therein lies the opportunity.
Healthcare—and the adoption of new technology—has moved at an accelerated pace during this time. Even after medical facilities return to normal, many predict the short-term digital behaviors will continue.2
If you’re looking to reach a niche group, now may be a perfect time to conduct an online focus group to understand challenges specific to your target’s specialty and their preferred communication methods.
As of March 2020, less than half of healthcare professionals were considered accessible to sales reps,3 down from 80% in 2008.4 With COVID, less than 20% of practices have resumed visits, so this accessibility to the customer has been decreasing more and more.
Health providers have pivoted to digital channels to make those same connections with brands. And by infusing those exchanges with the information and research they need to advance their practices, there’s potential to have even more high-quality interactions in the online space.
So, where to start? Research where your target customer spends the most time and incorporate digital placements to complement your in-person efforts. Some research tools we use internally include Brandwatch, Medscape, Mintel, and eMarketer.
While email marketing through medical society newsletters should be a part of any marketing strategy, it's not the only way. As mentioned earlier, digitally savvy physicians interact with social media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Doximity, even when they’re off the clock, which creates a natural entry point.
Placements in sources that HCPs already read and trust is another option that provides credibility to your brand. Since 9 in 10 doctors turn to medical journals for the latest studies,6 exploring digital editions can complement a traditional print buy.
A huge asset to these methods is measuring performance while driving your target audience to take action. Encourage them to learn more on your website or make the next step by offering gated content or a demo in exchange for their email address.
Once you’ve made contact, it’s time to prove yourself as a helpful, reliable partner. 63% of HCPs say that sales rep visits are more valuable if they provide resources unrelated to the product.8 Show how your product improves patient outcomes and what makes it better than what’s already out there.
What’s resonating? A Kantar study says being less product-centric in communications, providing more value through brand websites, and offering objective information related to their field all add usefulness to HCPs.
That's because even when they’re stretched thin, professionals prioritize staying up-to-date in their industry. Three-quarters say they utilize instructional videos, and two-thirds listen to non-Continuing Medical Education (CME) podcasts or webinars.6 In the absence of in-person meetings, any of these channels could be an attractive avenue for delivering information about your product.
Consider creating a designated list on your preferred email marketing software (we like MailChimp), thanking them for their interest and sharing a bit more information about your company. 68% of physicians prefer to receive information via email.9 So be communicative and friendly, but don’t necessarily expect them to respond. In the next few weeks, follow up with more helpful resources to develop the relationship.
When setting up your initial email, keep it light and brief. Also, 85% of healthcare professionals want to see the company or product name over rep or KOLs names in the From field, so that could increase your open rates.10
Physicians frequently leverage digital tools in their practices. From telehealth apps and secure patient portals, these interactions often take place on mobile phones. Since we already established that most physicians begin and end their days on their phones, it's time for healthcare marketers to incorporate mobile-friendly content into their digital strategy.
The most impactful thing you can do—if you haven't already—is to make sure you have a responsive website. HCPs should be able to quickly find the information they're looking for with easy navigation. Besides having images and text scaled to their screens, consider featuring helpful calls-to-action, like Schedule a Demo or Download Our Report, prominently on the home page.
While developing a strong relationship with HCPs is essential, earning consumers' trust and admiration also plays a role in market demand. Even if your product solves a very niche problem, there are online communities for everything. First, consider how you ultimately help patients.
Once there is enough market presence for your product, it's time to educate consumers about how you promote their well-being.
Then, look at what these patients have in common. Do they suffer from the same symptoms, or maybe they're seeking to skip appointments all together? Understanding these key facets will help you modify messaging and content to suit a prospective patient's needs.
It will also help you determine potential mediums and audience targeting for your outreach. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer a wide net of the general population, with many targeting opportunities based on interests and affinity groups. Niche endemic sites offer first-party data that can ensure your message is relevant and reaches your specific audience.
For example, a technology offering the most accurate breast imaging equipment could consider creating a Facebook campaign reminding women about the importance of regularly attending their annual screenings. Or for perinatal testing, it could be beneficial to offer a digital resource where expectant moms can set email reminders for essential screening milestones in their babies' lives.
Solutions like these provide value to your end-user and create areas of opportunity for your sales team. Armed with emails and zip codes from your most engaged consumers, you'll have concrete numbers—and contacts—to prove demand for your brand.
Within a month of campaign launch, one client saw about 4% of website visitors visit a doctor within 30 days.
Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are the new helpline, and users expect a prompt response when they reach out with questions. As more medical professionals are active on the internet, many look to social media to find information on a product or service.
Patients are also becoming involved in their personal health and are reaching out to brands to see if products and services are right for them. Addressing their questions, comments, or concerns creates a positive consumer experience and ultimately builds credibility.
Choose someone from your team (or marketing agency) to check your social channels daily. Map out what popular conversations might look like and plan a thoughtful response so that they can respond quickly and appropriately.
Understanding patient needs is crucial to the healthcare industry—and understanding decision-makers' needs is no different. Healthcare professionals need a helping hand and want to feel that their pain points are being addressed with care.
As marketers and brands, we have the unique ability to support these hardworking providers through the products and services we market to them and how we share meaningful information and resources online. With this albeit non-traditional route, we can also be agile to their changing needs and position our brands as their committed partner in the process.
We hope this article enabled you and your team to see new possibilities with your medical marketing efforts.
Please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime.
1 July 2020 Medscape COVID-19 Phase 2 Survey Physicians