The ferocious arena of digital marketing is one that is in a constant state of change. Trends change, algorithms change, rules change, and consumer behavior changes. The fickle battle between competitors adds an additional layer of attention that must be paid to a company’s marketing effort. However, if you pare it down to the industry level, things get a little more complicated.
Let’s take the pharmaceutical industry, for example. Not only do you have to contend with competitors and overall trend changes within the digital marketing universe, you must pay attention to patient/HCP behavior and FDA regulations.
How, then, do you evaluate and approach digital trends in this industry? Let’s explore.
Consumers: Patients and Doctors and Hospitals, oh my!
Let’s take a step back and explore the changing landscape of the consumer within the pharma world. Back in the day, before the Internet reigned supreme, consumers would pull out their handy dandy phonebook, and find a healthcare provider. Doctors would use mailers and word of mouth in order to acquire new business. Now, the world is largely digital. The consumer has adjusted their search and reach tactics to the online world. However, the same amount of care is expected within the landscape.
Consumers want to find other humans online. The human factor is extremely important in healthcare marketing because the relationship between doctor and patient is a delicate one. Patients still want to find that “family” doctor they trust and so, if that is not presented online, any effort you put into keeping up with trends will be moot. Make sure you’re warm with a “patient-first” rather than “sales-first” mentality.
Trend One: Efficiency and Ease
Most patients searching for an HCP have a problem that may or may not be urgent. However, in the eyes of a patient, if something’s wrong, they want to find a solution quickly and easily. The role of efficiency in pharma marketing is becoming more important as the sales funnel continues to move further into the alternate universe of the online world of Google. Now, quite a few patients want to get from point A to point Z of the funnel online. Making sure your process online is informational, succinct, and easy to access is paramount. The technology you use and the tools you employ must be excellent for user experience. Examples of tools that, if they aren’t easy to use, will turn a potential patient away quickly, you may need to QA:
- Find a doctor-type tools
- Set up a consultation
- Online chat
Trend Two: Mobile Drives Our Busy Lives
Not only is the world becoming more digital than ever, the trend is also shifting from desktop to mobile. With the rise of mobile search (thanks, smart phones!), consumers are able to access a wealth of information while they’re riding the bus to work. When you take it a step further and add in digital assistants like Siri and Cortana, the trend towards mobile will only continue to drive upward. Making sure your online presence is ready for the mobile space is critical.
Your mobile site must be optimized (or you won’t show up in search), your tools must be easy-to-use on a smart phone (or else you may dissuade the patient entirely), and you must be localized and personalized (for those consumers who use digital assistants to “find a heart doctor in NYC”). Consider apps for any tools you have. Apps are meant to make the mobile experience seamless for consumers.
Trend Three: Content is Key
Being technically sound with a smooth user experience is only half the battle. What will a consumer get out of coming to your site? Is your site in place strictly to sell something? If so, the consumer doesn’t need to feel that way. A future patient wants to be engaged and educated; they want to know that you are not only there to offer a service – but to help them find a solution to a problem. Having solid content (blogs, articles, case studies, etc.) is a great way to become a trusted authority in the eyes of your consumer. There are three ways to create a stellar content strategy:
- Interactive Conversations
Offer solid data for their problem. How many people suffer from their ailment? How has your product/service assisted in solving this problem? Where are the numbers behind that? Add in case studies and testimonials to explain how you have the solution they’re looking for. Add in articles and blog posts in order to educate your patients. Ease the stress that they are going through by giving them a little more insight into their issue. Finally, interact with your patients. Virtual care is a trend that is on the rise. You can show a patient your value by giving them “digital” face time with your knowledgeable staff.
Though the trends are endless and will continue to develop as time goes on, the age of digital marketing is becoming clearer in the world of pharmaceuticals. You must learn about the consumer within this space – most of them aren’t browsing, but looking for a particular solution now. If you can offer that solution, you must employ a solid digital strategy that will cater to the needs of today’s online user.