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 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.
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.
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.
Now that we know the market potential for digital health, let’s look in detail at the categories, stakeholders, and companies in the ecosystem.
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.
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.
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.
“Digital Health” means…
There are different types and sizes of organizations vying to get in to the digital health space. At a high level, the categories include:
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.
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 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
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
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:
For ABM, look at metrics such as:
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.
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.
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.
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:
Three Things Your Content Strategy Gives Your Customers and Prospects
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:
Now let’s look at other marketing tactics that can round out your digital health marketing plan, and amplify your message.
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
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
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
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
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 approach. LinkedIn reports over 575 million users worldwide, 260 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.
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
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
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
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.
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.