The healthcare digital marketing checklist
The dramatic rise of digital marketing in recent years has made every industry look at it with keen interest and big hopes. Healthcare, too has jumped into this arena. Healthcare professionals have started relying greatly on the internet for information. For example, endocrinologists could be looking for less painful syringes for their patients; doctors could be looking for educational webinars to learn new trends and technology insights, a diagnostic lab owner could be looking for vendors for buying fully automated testing equipment, a dentist could be looking to upgrade equipment, or an oncologist could be researching about precision medicine companies. They are the audiences and potential customers of healthcare and life sciences companies. Thus, it makes sense that these companies make themselves seen in the digital space. It can help them reach out to those untapped audiences and spread worldwide.
If your vision too speaks of such brand awareness and growth for your healthcare company through digital marketing, you have reached the right place.
Transitioning from traditional to digital marketing requires not just a shift of means but also a shift of perspective. As somebody in charge of taking your company on the digital journey with measurable results, you will have many new factors to think about:
- Internet and device usage by your audience
- Local as well as a global audience
- When are they most active on certain platforms
- Browsing behavior
- How much time do they have at hand to spare for you
Here, it is important to note that the audience for digital marketing by a healthcare company is mostly healthcare professionals and organizations. This includes doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, procurement heads, clinics, diagnostic labs, and research lab owners.
If you can attract the audience with something relevant, you can make a memorable experience for them, which will help you achieve your marketing goal.
The Healthcare industry has always been people-centric, and traditional marketing was the way to go about it. However, with half the population using the internet and more than half using social media, companies need to connect with these potential audiences in the digital space. And it must be done right!
As a marketer or someone in charge of marketing in a healthcare organization, you could be facing challenges such as:
- Not knowing where to begin
- Not having enough knowledge of marketing tools
- Not having a sufficient budget
- Not learning how to engage with audiences in the digital space
This blog is your Digital Marketing for Healthcare – 101. Read on to get your first few steps right, so your digital journey is as smooth as possible.
Steps to go through before you start digital marketing:
1. Setting Objective – What do you want to gain from your digital marketing efforts
Your sales team may be doing a great job at getting leads and helping them move down the funnel, but you may have realized by now that there is a large chunk of the audience on the internet that may not be aware of your company or the quality care, products, and services you offer.
Healthcare being a people-centric industry, creating the right reputation in the minds of audiences is critical. Marketing managers have the tough task of gaining the attention of potential customers, building a story about the company, and developing a reputation of trust and expertise. But all these initiatives cannot be fired-up in one go, with no clear objective.
The first thing you need to have is a clear idea about your objective for choosing digital marketing. Your objective could be any one (or more) of the following:
- Building brand awareness
- Building brand reputation
- Getting more website visitors
- Getting new leads, quality leads
- Engaging with audiences
- Increasing sales
- Reducing the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
Digital marketing efforts must be like a well-oiled machine, in which every part knows its job. Hence, all the posts, engagements, images/videos, virtual events, and website content must sing together and work together towards achieving your objective. In fact, even the traditional marketing efforts going on simultaneously must be in sync with the digital marketing efforts.
Else, you could simply spend money and not see any relevant results.
2. Setting the Budget – How much value do you want to get out of digital marketing?
Needless to say, the budget for marketing is often tight. It is a small percentage of the company’s revenue (7-12%) (1). For a healthcare company, spending on infrastructure, research, and investment in advanced technology may take precedence. That’s why senior management or digital marketers can have a tough job justifying expenditure on digital marketing. Remember, no value is added if you don’t spend the money on marketing. To attract more, you need to pay some.
Once you have set your objective, you can set aside a budget, choose means that will incur the least cost, and observe metrics patiently for returns. You can read more about how to allocate budget for digital marketing.
Typically, you need to set aside a budget for:
- Software that aids digital marketing (SEO, Marketing Automation, Analytics, Content Creation)
- People you hire
- Paid campaigns
If your objective is simply brand awareness, you can use a mix of paid ads or organic content (SEO). If your objective is to get more website visitors and better leads, then set aside more budget for paid ads and sponsored social media posts will help. If your objective is to build a reputation of expertise, then the expense of conducting webinars and creating educational videos and infographics will have to be considered.
Thus, align your budget with the objective and be ready with it before you kick off your marketing efforts or hire an agency. Then you will know how much you can spend. Do not go overboard with any particular idea and overspend.
3. Defining the Target Audience – Define your target audience and build a buyer persona
For any campaign to be successful, understanding the needs and identity of the target audience is crucial. Only then can the message have an impact as intended. Typically, the audience for digital marketing by a healthcare company would include – doctors, nurses, clinics, diagnostic or research lab owners, hospital administrators, or procurement heads.
What you need to know about the audience:
- Basic demographic and geographic information, interest
- Hobbies, professional role
- What do they desire, and what drives them
- What are the challenges they are facing
- Internet usage pattern – devices used; channels used
- Where are they on the customer journey
Clearly, defining the audience is critical in getting good returns on the investment. Take the example of a brand wanting to announce the launch of a new diagnostic system. Suppose the target audience is large diagnostic clinics (simply because of the cost of the equipment), but due to faulty targeting, only small or medium-sized clinics and doctors are viewing the ads, and the whole exercise becomes futile.
Knowing about your target audience helps you:
- Develop messaging that is absolutely relevant for them
- Address their implicit and explicit need
- Create content that drives action
- Deliver information to them when they need it and where they need it
- Efficiently utilize the budget
Make My Persona is a very interesting tool offered by HubSpot for creating persons as per your target audience. There are many criteria that you can define and then use these personas for launching campaigns.
Read more about identifying the right audience and creating buyer persona
4. Deciding Goals and KPIs – Set short-term and long-term goals and KPI to measure success
Every person responsible for the success and growth of a brand must be aware of the goals. As a healthcare company, say your goal for the year is to generate more sales for the new diagnostic equipment you have introduced. The digital marketing team must be aware of it and should incorporate that goal into the marketing initiatives. Else, efforts will be wasted, budget will be exhausted, and messaging will be diverse and confusing.
The more specific you are in setting the goals, the better the results will be. Your goal should be:
- Set for short-term- For example, your short-term goal could be to get 1 million impressions for the 3-month-long product launch campaign
- Set for long-term – For example, your long-term goal could be to get more website visitors and a conversion rate of, say 3%
- SMART – Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Value goals such as ‘Be recognized as an expert in the industry will not work, as you cannot measure it in the end.
When setting the goal, you also need to define the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Achievement of KPIs will indicate the success of the campaign. Some of the commonly used KPIs are clickthrough rate (CTR), conversion rate, customer acquisition cost, and customer lifetime value, return on investment (ROI). KPIs must be tied to the goal. Defining SMART goals will help you succeed in your digital marketing campaigns.
5. Choosing the right agency
Digital marketing can sometimes become overwhelming with all those tools and data to handle. It is also true that you cannot do it all, especially if there are about 1-2 people in the marketing team. While marketing is a crucial activity for the success of a healthcare company, it requires skills that may not always be available in-house. That is why you will see most companies hiring a digital marketing agency. The good thing is that many out there have promising abilities to make your campaigns real and meaningful. However, choosing an agency requires a bit of thought.
Things to consider for choosing a digital marketing agency:
- Domain expertise – Does the agency specialize in your domain? Find out how many healthcare and life sciences clients they are working with. Go through the case studies to understand the solutions used to achieve the desired result.
- Specialization – There are many aspects of digital marketing (SEO, Paid ads, marketing automation, etc.). An agency could be a master of all or specialized in one or few of these. Choose an agency that will serve your goals.
- Technology partner – Almost all the digital marketing steps require the use of software and tools. It is an added benefit if your agency partners with any of these tools (such as HubSpot, and Marketo). It means they know the tools in and out and can execute the campaigns well.
- Content Expertise – An agency having content expertise also makes a strong case. You do not want an agency to simply launch the campaigns and track metrics, but you also need their expertise in creating powerful content. Not only should they have great content writers and designers, but also subject matter experts who will ensure the accuracy of the content. This is necessary for medical content.
- Pricing – Choose an agency that provides services within your budget.
- Local vs. global – While most planning and execution happens digitally, their local or global experience could make a difference.
The agency you choose will be your partner in achieving the organization’s goals.
To conclude, digital marketing needs some very clear thinking and planning in terms of objective, budget, target audience, goals, and your digital partner to make your campaigns a success. The more time you spend defining these aspects, the easier your digital journey will be.
Now you know what are the things to consider to start digital marketing. Here is a short guide for choosing the right digital marketing agency.
How Ethosh can get you started with digital marketing, the right way?
Ethosh has helped many start-ups and Fortune 100 brands experience digital revolution. At the base of it lies clear planning and apt choices. Our digital marketing minds, with their industry experience and right technological support, can come up with a 360-degree digital marketing solution tailored to meet your needs. Partner with Ethosh for creating a program that will build customer confidence and trust at every stage of the buyer journey and quickly turn new customers into brand advocates.
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