digital health marketing

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Who This Guide Is For:

  • You’re a digital health marketing leader who wants to build a marketing strategy for B2B campaigns to acquire customers in the digital health ecosystem.
  • You’re the business lead for a digital health brand and you want to understand marketing options available to bring in more revenue and to guide your marketing strategies.
  • You’re a marketer, salesperson or anyone who wants to get into digital health and you want to know more about this explosive growth industry.
  • You’re a content manager for a digital health brand who wants more insight on marketing and content strategies that speak to the personas in the digital health ecosystem.

 

What You’ll Learn:

  • What digital health is and the size of the market opportunity
  • Which technologies, stakeholders, and companies make up the digital health ecosystem
  • How to approach a marketing strategy for digital health
  • Effective digital health marketing tactics
  • Metrics and best practices for measuring digital health marketing efforts

 

1. What is Digital Health?

Digital is now part of everything we do and of course this applies to the world of digital health. People use digital to manage their lives, their businesses, and increasingly their health. Take a look at how much data is created on the internet in one minute.

digital stats

Digital and non-digital marketing are no longer separate – and one enhances the other. For example, with search marketing marketers can create targeted outreach with great content, engage customers on social media, and leverage campaign analytics to build customer engagement and loyalty. Marketers can more easily prove their value to their company executives and provide better value to a company’s bottom line than they might have with more traditional marketing methods.

Digital has already fundamentally changed the way marketers in the health industry operate. As the digital landscape evolves, the digital health marketing industry will surely follow. Digital marketing is now critical for any company's growth.

 

How big is the digital health market?

The digital health market is huge – different estimates are made based on which technologies are included in the forecast. Global Market Insights predicts that the market will exceed USD 504.4 billion by 2025. Marketers and sellers to this space should understand this growth trajectory, and find ways to capitalize on the opportunity by understanding the ecosystem, learning how to identify and resonate with the players, determining tactics for acquiring customers, and ultimately grow revenue.

Another way to look at market potential is by looking at the amount of funding that is happening in the industry. This assessment of digital health funding by Rock Health from 2019 tells a remarkable growth story.

Digital health market

 

Why digital marketing for digital health?

With over four billion internet users globally, and more than 3.4 billion active social media users, digital marketing is a way to reach a much larger audience than you could through traditional methods alone and better engage prospects, turn prospects into leads, and ultimately convert leads into long time customers.

 

Three reasons why digital marketing is important for life science and health tech teams:

  1. It creates a repeatable process of revenue generation and lets you add value to your company.
  2. It’s measurable and allows you to make data-driven marketing decisions.
  3. It lets you build direct relationships with customers and prospects which you can turn into brand loyalty and revenue.

 

2. Who Makes Up the Digital Health Market?

Now that we know the market potential for digital health, let’s look in detail at the categories, stakeholders, and companies in the ecosystem.


Digital Health Categories

When discussing digital health, people often include different categories in their definition. Below is a comprehensive view of digital health categories known at the time of writing. But in this fast-growing segment, categories change frequently, and new examples emerge.

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Digital Health Stakeholders 

It’s helpful to understand the various stakeholder groups in digital health, because this list includes key buyer personas you will need to map your buyer journey.  

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It’s also important to remember that digital health means different things to different stakeholders and those perspectives are important when it comes to messaging, and determining the audience for your content. 

 

Stakeholder 

“Digital Health” means 

Providers 

  • Hoping to increase patient engagement/acquisition/retention with technology 
  • Concerned about training burden and learning curve 
  • Worried about how they will keep up with technical innovation while still maintaining a high level of patient care 

Patients 

  • mHealth / Health and wellness apps / mobile = getting their time back! 
  • Telehealth and home monitoring solutions that enable virtual visits 
  • Saving time when doing paperwork related to provider visits, or clinical trial data entry 

Payers 

  • Interested in how home monitoring solutions can lower overall healthcare costs 
  • When and how do they decide to reimburse digital health technologies? Despite high demand from patients, the majority of payers are not reimbursing healthcare apps  why the chasm? (http://view.ceros.com/amerisourcebergen/digital-health/p/1) 
  • How do they integrate their systems to the digital health ecosystem and keep up with the technology curve? 

Clinicians 

  • Overwhelmed by the vague definition of digital health (apps, sensors, social media, EHRs, data mining) 
  • Concerned it will be too disruptive to their practice  new processes, new technologies to learn, massive amounts of data to deal with 
  • Sometimes not convinced of its value in producing better outcomes for their patients 

Regulators 

  • Struggling to keep pace with innovation and update their guidance 
  • Key issues HIPAA, FDA /EMA and other regional approvals 
  • Blurred definitions with drugs and devices between medical grade (health intervention) and consumer grade (lifestyle management) 

Digital Health Companies 

There are different types and sizes of organizations vying to get in to the digital health space. At a high level, the categories include: 

  • Technology giants 
  • Healthcare institutions 
  • Academic research institutions 
  • Digital health startups 

And within each digital health category there are several players. Take for example the number and variety of companies in the eClinical space 

 

The 2019 Meeker Internet Trends Report highlighted a list of top digital health companies This list is a good place to start to understand some of the players who are getting noticed by a leading internet trend spotter. 

  • Collective Medical: real-time HCP collaboration 
  • Zocdoc: creative medical scheduling to reduce downtime 
  • Solv: telemedicine that focuses on patient convenience 
  • Teladoc: industry leader in telemedicine in a growing market 
  • Nurx: on-demand drug delivery
  • Doximity: one of the original collaboration tools for HCPs 
  • Oscar: digital health management as a health insurance company 
  • Rally Health: incentivizing positive habits 
  • Clover Health: matching users with Medicare Advantage plans 

 

3. How to Approach Your Digital Health Marketing Strategy

It should be no surprise that when marketing to digital health stakeholders, a mostly digital approach is most effective. There are many approaches to choose from and it can be overwhelming to know what to do, especially if you are working with limited resources. Here we’ll focus on approaches that have proven successful for attracting and converting digital health customers, and that can be easily outsourced and scaled up or down depending on your business cycle. 

 

B2B marketing is about meeting the needs of other businesses, though ultimately the demand for the products made by these businesses can be driven by consumers. We’re going to look at three B2B options: 

  • Inbound Marketing 
  • Account Based Marketing 
  • A hybrid Inbound and ABM approach 

 

Inbound Marketing 

Inbound marketing attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t want, inbound marketing forms connections they’re looking for and solves problems they already have. Inbound marketing strategies that attract your target audience and buyer personas are tied to content creation and development. 

 

Inbound Marketing in Five Steps 

  1. Attract: Create and publish quality, informative content that provides value to your target audience. Focus distribution on channels that help your brand get found by those who need the information: social and organic search results are popular choices. 
  2. Convert: Optimize this content for lead generation with devices such as calls-to-action, ebooks, and webinars. 
  3. Engage: Keep leads warm and continue educating them. Use engagement channels like email and retargeted ads to continue your distribution efforts. Routinely publish new content that keeps leads coming back. 
  4. Sell: Bolster your position as an advisor on the topics you’re publishing content around. Use intelligence about what content a prospect has read to better understand their problems. Prescribe your solutions to these problems. Use tools that make the buying process easier and more personalized.
  5. Delight: Repurpose much of the above marketing effort into helpful actions that your customers will also love. Aim to make their experience with your brand great. Turn them into promoters of your brand, that will help grow your business with longer customer lifecycles, upsells, and referrals. 
Image Credit: HubSpot via New Breed Marketing 

Account Based Marketing (ABM) 

ABM is a B2B strategy that directs marketing and sales resources to focus on a targeted list of customer accounts. ABM forces these two teams to align because personalization at the account level requires sales and marketing to work together to create account-specific messaging. The goal is to achieve higher revenues faster by putting more resources and attention on high value and high probability customers in the hopes of accelerate a sale of higher deal value. 

 

ABM in Three Steps 

  1. Target: Marketing works with sales to identify key accounts that would make great customers, and identifies the types of content and marketing activities that will work for this initiative. 
  2. Engage: Put marketing activities into motion that will create initial touchpoints with prospects from target accounts. 
  3. Activate (aka land and expand): after landing some target accounts, expand your footprint within the business. Influence more prospects within the account. Use customized sales and marketing tactics to bring prospects to qualified services discussion. 

Image Credit: Terminus 


Final Step: Measure 

The reporting you do on a routine basis is important for any marketing strategy, but especially ABM or Inbound Marketing. You’ll need to have a true sense of what’s working well and what’s not. Lean into the successes and mitigate low ROI on everything else. Make sure your sales and executive teams understand the full value marketing is providing to revenue generation. 

For inbound, look at metrics such as: 

  • Traffic 
  • Leads generated 
  • Conversion rate (leads divided by traffic) 
  • Break downs of the above by source or channel
  • Sales opportunities and pipeline value generated from inbound marketing sources 
  • Customers influenced by inbound marketing initiatives 

For ABM, look at metrics such as: 

  • Number of target accounts engaged 
  • Average contacts engaged per target account 
  • Lead scores and account scores
  • Specific key contacts (buying decision-makers) engaged with target accounts 
  • Sales opportunities influence by ABM campaigns 
  • Pipeline velocity: the conversion rate and speed at which opportunities are moving through stages of the buying cycle

Account-based marketing vs. inbound marketing 

Some marketers wonder whether they should dedicate their resources to ABM or inbound marketing. But it’s not an either-or decision. Both are core practices in the modern marketing toolbox, each with their own strengths and criteria where they are more effective. 

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Generally, When is Each Best?

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The best of each -- a hybrid approach 

While you are engaging individuals within target accounts with personalized content and interactions through outbound methods, you can reinforce your messages with your online presence; calling upon best practices for inbound marketing. You are trying to attract your target accounts through helpful content. You may even identify a new target account through your inbound marketing efforts – one that perfectly fits your definition of an ideal customer even though you had not included it on the original target list. 

Since your inbound success depends on your content being found online, you need to develop your content with SEO in mind. Many B2B organizations also find it effective to amplify their content reach using online ads. 

In short, these two approaches don’t compete. For some companies, one or the other is best. For many in the digital health space, due to the characteristics of the market, a hybrid approach will have greatest results. 

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4. Digital Health Marketing Tactics

Once you’ve decided on your digital health marketing strategy, it’s time to select your marketing mix – the combination of tactics you will place your bets on to most effectively attract and influence customers. Just as there are many marketing strategies, there are a multitude of digital marketing tactics. We’ll look at ones that have proven success in digital health. 

Pick your digital health marketing mix with your users and their unique needs in mind. A method that is not easily findable or ingestible by a target will not be effective. 

 

Start with a Content Strategy as the Backbone of Your Marketing Strategy 

A content strategy is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are providing truly relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their issues by giving them information, ideally in a format that lets them identify with a meaningful ‘story’ about themselves and what they care about.  

Content Marketing Institute’s annual research shows that the adoption of content marketing is widespread and that marketers are finding value in the approach. 

Regardless of what type of marketing tactics you use, content marketing should be an integrated part of your process, not something separate. Quality content is part of all forms of marketing: 

In fact, content marketing is the backbone of your digital marketing strategy and fuels other marketing tactics including: 

  • Social media marketing, because promotions and excerpts of your original content can fuel your company’s posting feed 
  • SEO, because search engines reward businesses based on the quality, volume, relevance, and routine publishing of online content 
  • PR, because you can syndicate content to other media outlets and cross-pollenate your audience with others 
  • PPC and online advertising, because it’s a machine that needs great content in order for it to work. (Google Ads uses a quality score, to judge the quality of your content, which affects your ad placements and costs) 
  • Email and automation, because you can use fresh content as a trigger to reach out to your subscriber base and be helpful. Bonus points for having enough content on a monthly basis to send out a newsletter. 
  • Event marketing, because you’ll want to use company to get out a message to a topic or audience that relates to upcoming events 

Three Things Your Content Strategy Gives Your Customers and Prospects 

  1. Reasons to keep coming back 
  2. Establishes company credibility as a thought leader in the space 
  3. Aligns your service or product as a solution to problems 

Content marketing is educational but is not about the products the company sells. The vendor offers such good information that you become loyal to the brand. It’s about your audience. It should be written from the perspective of what they care about. 


Six Content Types to Fuel Your Content Strategy 

Here are six effective content types to fuel a digital health marketing content strategy: 

  1. Infographics – graphics of a certain style that include visual representations of key data about a topic using charts and graphs. They are popular with customers and prospects and are typically shared heavily on social media and on websites. If done well with evergreen content and look and feel, they can endure for years. It’s worth spending some money to have a professional team help with the strategy, research, content development and design, and subsequent promotion.  
  2. Web content – We’ll address more about websites and blogs later as a marketing tactic, but websites have content of their own, and an SEO-optimized website also serves the best content marketing platform you personally own. If you are attracting the right people to your site with organic content optimization, then the sky’s the limit.   
  3. Podcasts– Podcasts are a different way to bring content to your audience that can work surprisingly well for a B2B audience that has a lot of commute time for example, where they are hungry for audio content that will both pass the time, and prove educational. It can also give your products and services high visibility in a different area such as iTunes.  
  4. Videos  Many B2B marketers shy away from video because they think it is too expensive, and too difficult.  But with both the falling cost of professional grade equipment and the increasing acceptance of the use of amateur video content to tell short, informal B2B stories, it is becoming more popular as a content marketing form 
  5. Long form content such as eBooks and in depth case studies let you provide high added value to your customers. The definitions of ‘what is long form’ vary, but a general definition is ~1200 words or more. As for any type of content, don’t overly focus on the word count, but rather on conveying the correct story that resonates with the buyer’s pain points and needs. Long form content done well can increase user engagement; for example, when customers find so much value in a well craft piece of content that they want to share it so it also shines well on their own brand. 
  6. Market research can be turned into more content. For example, take the results of a survey and write a blog post about it. You can also turn that type of content into infographics, social media posts, other content that highlights data gleaned from the research. 

Now let’s look at other marketing tactics that can round out your digital health marketing plan, and amplify your message. 


Automation 

Marketing automation includes software and technologies designed for marketing teams that help them more effectively execute marketing activities across various channels. It helps automate repetitive tasks, increases the possibilities around personalization, and allows teams to efficiently scale their marketing tactics. From marketing processes to multi-purpose campaigns, marketing automation pairs technology and automation for increased overall efficiency so marketing teams can focus on other (less time-consuming) tasks. 


Three Examples of Marketing Automation 

  1. Email marketing; delivering personalized emails at scale. include things like personalization at scale 
  2. A/B testing: Tools for split testing two different variations of a web page, such as a copy, images, layout, etc. to find which produces the best results 
  3. Social media management: Scheduling tools help with planning and execution around posting on social media channels, as well as monitoring important keywords, hashtags, and brand mentions 

Buyer Personas and Journey Mapping 

Buyer personas are a tool that helps you take a customer-centric approach to journey mapping: they help you to define the tasks that your customers or prospects want to complete, and their needs and pain points in doing so across the customer journey. By understanding these needs and pain points, you can start to define the ‘moments of truth’ that really matter to your customers; where your business has a role to play and what you need to do to make this possible. 

Journey mapping can unearth information such as what stakeholders consider the best life science news sites and where your customer target personas spend their time. For example, you can uncover great nuggets such as where specific personas favorite news sources are. 


Three Ways Customer Journey Maps Help Marketers Win in Digital Health Marketing 

  1. Enables better customer experiences by helping them achieve their goals 
  2. Giveyour content context 
  3. Positions you to drive better marketing results 

Blogs 

Blogs are an excellent way to let people know what you are thinking about, and to demonstrate authority and credibility in a topic area. It needs to be discoverable, and refreshed frequently and targeted to your regional audiences. When dealing with a global multinational company, ideally there should be a global version and local versions of blogs.  


Three Ways to Supercharge your Digital Health Blog 

  1. Get an influx of ideas by brainstorming topics with your team 
  2. Plan blog content that addresses FAQs that your sales and customer support teams routinely address, so that a marketing blog also supports your sales and customer support team 
  3. Set up a process to and assign resources to ensure that the blog is refreshed frequently 

Email Marketing 

Email marketing still remains one of the most popular ways to deliver and amplify content marketing by B2B marketers. It’s a relatively low-cost, effective, and immediate form of communication and once you build an email list, that list becomes part of your owned assets. When executed correctly, the ROI of an email marketing campaign can be significant – but there are a few considerations healthcare marketers must keep in mind when building out an email strategy.  


Top Three Things for Digital Health Marketers to Consider in an Email Marketing Strategy 

  1. Optimize for mobile delivery. According to a 2018 report by IBM Watson Marketing, 47.6% of healthcare industry emails are opened via a mobile device, while only 25.9% are opened at a desktop computer. Responsive design is critical.  
  2. Use educational content. Several studies have shown that this type of content performs best within the health industry as a whole.  
  3. Provide an obvious, straightforward call to action that prompts readers to take the next step you want them to take – schedule a demo, set up a meeting, download content, etc. 

PPC and Social Advertising 

Working with paid search and digital ads is an excellent way to amplify the reach of your digital health content. There are some special ways to approach online advertising in the life sciences industry. When it comes to B2B marketing, one social media channel stands out. 


Spotlight on LinkedIn for Paid Advertising 

LinkedIn Ads target specific companies and job titles and are a perfect fit for a hybrid ABM/Inbound approachLinkedIn reports over 575 million users worldwide260 million who are active on a monthly basis. Many of these users are your professional targets. And the most active users on LinkedIn are interested in sharing and commenting on good content in order to enhance their own personal brands. With LinkedIn advertisements, you can get as specific as paying to place content in front of the exact job titles, and the exact companies you’re trying to reach. Now that’s a B2B tactic worth leveraging. 


Events 

It’s a digital world but the industry conference business is still alive and well - even though the strategy has changed. Promote your event before and keep the momentum during and after with adjacent events such as executive dinners, and repurposing content into other vehicles such as follow-up webinars, roundtables, and focus groups. Events are a large investment, especially when you add on travel and expenses for your event team to support, so find ways to justify the value that a marketing presence at an event brings. Make sure your in-person branding materials such as business cards, align with the branding on your digital touchpoints. 

 

Three ways to justify your marketing spend for an event 

  1. Have an event plan that keeps costs under control – minimize travel and attendance to key personnel. 
  2. Make sure that you can capture leads and identify MQLs – often face to face meetings by sales reps are not recorded – find a way to get these tracked in your CRM. 
  3. Hold a post mortem after the event so that all teams, business and marketing, can discuss the results. They will feel more engaged, and you might discover and capture more MQLs. 

Social Media 

Social media is a key digital marketing tactic for companies in all industries. There are specific considerations for pharma and life science companies. 


Five Social Media Best Practices to Help Your Digital Health Marketing 

  1. Make sure your content is relevant, tuned in to current world happenings and less about your product or the followers. 
  2. Highlight 'real people. Feature them on social, real person on a webinar, real people in a booth. Get those people to have a profile and some activity on social media – for example, by making sure their LinkedIn Profiles are updated. 
  3. Research the best times to post on each channel by industry. Track your success, and update your timing as needed. 
  4. Tag other accounts in your posts as long as you are not prohibited by social media regulations at your company. 
  5. Publish often with large volumes of posts if possible – breaking content into short, digestible and buildable chunks. 

Websites 

Your website is a key factor to brand success. It is an always-on, full of content business card for an organization. Done right, it is the always-on storefront that works for you all day and all night. Done wrong, it can be an always-on embarrassment. Your goal is to make it brand safe, full of great content, and optimized so that it is ‘sticky’ enough for customers to spend longer on your pages, which increases your relationship with them and builds their interest in your products and services. 

 

Three Tips to Optimize your Digital Health B2B Website 

  1. Pay attention to the basics - like good copywriting, quality images, and simple, striking design.  
  2. If a company is global, plan for a regional site in all major markets – country and region-specific websites with local content are key to connecting with audiences in their own language and customs. 
  3. Don’t skimp on professional design and copywriting. Having a refreshed, easy to navigate site with readable and relevant content is much stickier than something that customers will want to avoid because it is confusing or not enjoyable to read. 

 

5. Wrap Up

The best marketers will tell you that no marketing strategy is ever really complete. And nowhere is that advice more telling than when it comes to digital health marketing. Take a dynamic life sciences industry, combine it with digital transformation and improving health; and you have a collection of non-stop moving parts which can make it difficult to keep up. 

 Difficult, but not impossible! 

 It's important to break it down into fundamental pieces.  

  • Get a grasp on the marketspace – the stakeholders, buyers, and economic influences 
  • Understand strategies like inbound, ABM or a hybrid model, and the building blocks within 
  • List the different tactics at your disposal, and where they fit into the strategy 
  • Make educated plans about which tactics and strategy to deploy 
  • Execute 
  • Measure everything along the way, and continually refine the plan 

Business priorities, customer behaviors, and industry dynamics have always changed, and you should continuously monitor your campaigns, and listen to the market. Make ongoing adjustments as needed to optimize and stay on track to meet your goals.

The good news is that by reading a resource like this, you’re already a step in the right direction in understanding and planning your marketing.  

And the great news is, if you are marketing a digital health company well, you are increasing the adoption of technology that helps health systems and people around the world.