Healthcare Advertising and Marketing Overview
Digital Marketing - Healthcare Professional and Consumer
Google estimates 1 out of 20 searches are related to healthcare; over 200 million are attributed to cancer drugs, 60 million to Alzheimers and 80 million to Strokes.
Adaptive healthcare marketers are continually changing strategies to reach key audience segments and universally marketing studies show digital is the predominant marketing resource relied on by brand managers and product managers, managed care and market access strategy teams of pharmaceutical manufacturers, medical device manufacturers, software and technology firms and healthcare service companies. The vendors they collaborate with including healthcare marketing and advertising agencies, healthcare public relation firms, medical education companies and others are equally accounting for clinical and digital attributes in the deliverables they provide clients for web and mobile based digital content encompassing broadcast, streaming and other Internet shared content.
On the clinician / provider side, hospitals, health systems, group practices and other healthcare provider organizations are pivoting marketing strategies based on customers / patients and the best ways to reach them. The access, convenience and acceptance of digital venues, especially smartphone technology, enables them to more effectively engage an array of patient types including seniors. Improved digital displays and app designs continue to increase the appeal of mobile.
Conversely, social media has also been a challenge for healthcare professionals as well as commercial healthcare industry stakeholders based on issues regarding inaccurate healthcare information. While "alternative health" evangelists have their place and potentially viable options, consumers can lead themselves to be misinformed with harmful consequences. One example is the issue regarding immunization safety. Without question on a global basis new immunizations created by clinical and technical innovation plus rigorous reinforcement of immunization schedules has saved millions of lives and dollars. Misguided anti-vaccination advocates have instilled mistrust and fear of vaccines with numerous individuals around the world --concerns are heightened surrounding this issue when it applies to parents choosing not to have their children immunized.
The re-emergence of measles in the United States and other nations where it was thought to have been wiped out has been suspected to be be partly attributed to consumers having negative views of vaccines from social media resources. The World Health Organization, Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other healthcare advocacy groups and government agencies have addressed this with social media leaders including Facebook, Twitter and others; in effect using fire to fight fire but nonetheless clearly demonstrating the power of digital venues and social media in healthcare and wellness promotion.
Broadcast, Streaming and Other Television Venues
Broadcast television still has its place as a healthcare marketing resource, it delivery has evolved due to cable, satellite and streaming options which has added complexity to designing advertising and media campaigns. One aspect of direct - to - consumer ( DTC ) advertising is the clinician audience. While the content of the commercials are cleared for viewing by a consumer / patient audience, it is certain they are engaging the clinicians (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc.) in the viewing audience as well. As healthcare manufacturer sales representative access to physician practices and health systems narrows, DTC advertising plays an important role in establishing ongoing brand awareness with clinicians whether or not they have direct dialogue with healthcare product manufacturer sales representatives.
While the content of the commercials are cleared for viewing by a consumer / patient audience, it is certain they are engaging the clinicians (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc.) in the viewing audience as well. As healthcare manufacturer sales representative access to physician practices and health systems narrows, DTC advertising plays an important role in establishing ongoing brand awareness with clinicians whether or not they have direct dialogue with healthcare product manufacturer sales representatives.
While broadcast television still consumes large quantities of promotional dollars, the ever widening selection of digital venues has underutilized options healthcare marketers need to explore. As technology changes, healthcare marketers need to improve strategies to reach clinician and consumer segments more effectively. Technical and regulatory considerations make this expensive and challenging but as digital audience preferences change, it is necessary to re-position accordingly to stay with them. These options are being closely scrutinized and compared for ROI performance whether they are social media ( Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, etc. ) or patient advocacy organizations and websites.
Mobilizing Healthcare Marketing Strategies
Mobile phones, i.e. "smartphones" as well as tablets are part of another audience phenomenon. Healthcare professionals, patients and consumers are increasingly engaging digital venues via mobile phones. The mobile phone is becoming the "go-to" tool for several reasons. They are at the ready; in pockets, purses, backpacks, briefcases, plugged into vehicles and on the desktop -right next to laptops and PCs. Persons watching televisions increasingly have their mobile phone and tablets by their side or even laptops. During programming or especially during commercials, viewers go to their secondary device (phone, tablet or laptop) and engage it. This audience user trend is called "two-screening" and presents challenges as well as opportunities for healthcare marketers and healthcare advertisers. Two-screening is an action which erodes the effectiveness of television advertising. Healthcare advertisers and healthcare marketers focus on specific audience demographics. They choose appropriate programming / times to deploy commercials through; the chosen audience segments are present and accounted for --but not engaged in the promotional content to be influenced by its messaging.
Telehealth or telemedicine technology innovation is an important enabler for even more advanced patient care and healthcare marketing opportunities. The ability to connect with patients in real time while collecting and sharing data is a futuristic wish that has been officially granted. Alphabet ( through its Google and life sciences unit Verily ) as well as Amazon, Apple and other contenders are driving the patient monitoring and wearable activity tracker technology sectors that could have been seized by decades old companies like Abbott, Becton Dickinson, Medtronic, Roche and other diagnostic or medical monitoring technology firms.
There is a better understanding and more ways to track how digital audiences access, save and share information but "Dark Social" continues to be source of new found opportunities to improve their digital campaign strategies and tactics. Dark Social is the dialogue exchanged between users which is not readily detected or monitored via direct search engine contact including dialogue started in one venue and then continued in another. An example is a discussion shared among many users on a community board in Facebook then continued via two users on private settings in Facebook. Another example is link sharing; in site analytics it appears users are arriving at the venue via directly inputting the link. In reality, the link was shared with them via mobile or email and the user engaged it through those venues but it originated somewhere else by someone else.
A Basic Framework
A basic framework is necessary to consistently manage digital healthcare marketing initiatives based on digital, brand, market sector, market access and KPIs. It is pivotal to manage the changes accordingly and realign digital marketing strategies and tactics as technology innovation, patient / customer personas, digital venues and marketplace changes evolve. Key elements are:
- social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, etc.)
- dark social (especially link sharing)
- inbound and outbound marketing strategies
- consumer and patient / advocacy group disease-focused venues
- healthcare professional dedicated venues based on medical specialty and their association members
- audience migration (users moving from one venue / app to another)
- Content development and content marketing strategy
- indications / therapeutic area(s)
- targeted patients / consumers
- targeted clinicians (nurses, physicians, pharmacists)
- brand phase (launch, 2-3 years old, established, mature, approaching generic)
- primary, secondary, tertiary salesforces connected to brand
- annual plan goals / objectives
Market Sector Examples
- conventional primary care
- hospitals, health systems, integrated delivery networks
- assisted living, long term care
- medical group practices ( both independent and hospital-owned )
- infusion centers, walk-in and closed door pharmacies
Managed Markets Market Access Strategy
- healthcare benefit / medical benefit / pharmacy benefit consultants and third party administrators ( TPAs )
- group purchasing organizations
- health insurance companies and managed care organizations
- pharmacy benefit managers