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Direct-to-Patient Digital Marketing: How to Stand Out Online

March 22, 2017

It is becoming increasingly important for businesses of all industries and sizes to focus on the web in their marketing efforts—medical device and pharma companies included.

Traditionally, medical device and pharma companies have primarily marketed themselves through traditional methods like print ads, billboards, commercials, etc., as well as face to face meetings with physicians and hospital executives. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, you could miss out on opportunities for your company by ignoring digital marketing and SEO.

This is especially true for direct-to-patient marketing. According to Pew Research Center, 72% of internet users said they have looked online for health information. Digital marketing and SEO can help your message reach more of those people.

Digital marketing and SEO have evolved quite a lot over the years as search engines have become smarter. Industry best practices continue to change to keep up with search engine updates.

Ready to get into digital marketing for your company? These are some of the primary things to focus on in developing your strategy.

Woman sitting on living room floor laughing looking at smart phone

1. Voice Search

Intelligent personal assistants like Siri, Google Now, and Alexa have brought voice search to the forefront. SEO for voice search is a bit different than SEO for search engines like Google.

For starters, people phrase voice searches differently than they do when they type them out. People tend to type very short phrases when typing a search query, but often use more conversational phrasing in voice search. This is something you need to consider when writing up the content for your website. Consider how your target audience might phrase search queries in voice search, and build out your content that way.

Also, while SEO has traditionally focused on ranking in Google, intelligent personal assistants gather information from a number of sources. If your company ranks well for a particular device, medication, or procedure in Google, it doesn’t necessarily mean that people using voice search will find you. If you want to stand out in voice search, you have to diversify your SEO efforts to focus beyond Google.

View of hand holding mobile phone

2. Mobile-First Marketing

Mobile functionality has become increasingly important over the past several years. In some cases, it may almost be more important than desktop. That isn’t to say that people aren›t using desktop computers anymore, but 2016 data shows that mobile usage makes up 65% of the time spent online. In many cases, mobile usage is surpassing desktop usage, and that’s something your company needs to consider when planning a digital marketing strategy.

There are several cases when mobile usage could be useful for medical device and pharma companies. Doctors are busy and often need to look things up quickly. If your product information is easily accessible from a mobile device, that could be a big win for your company. Doctors need to be able to be able to find this kind of information quickly to guide patients through treatment options.

Mobile marketing can also be helpful in direct to patient marketing. According to Pew Research Center, 52% of smartphone owners have looked up health information on their mobile devices. If you can make your educational content accessible on mobile devices, patients can look up information and find answers to their questions wherever they are. This can go a long way for your company’s branding because you’re helping patients get the information they need at the exact moment they need it.

View of hands typing on notebook computer

3. Balancing Paid Search & Organic Traffic

Paid search can work quite well for medical device and pharma companies because you can target your ads to the right audience. Paid search is especially helpful if you’ve just launched a new website or have a new direct-to-patient campaign that you want to draw attention to.

Organic traffic is also important, but takes time to build up. Paid search can help to supplement that traffic in the meantime, but it’s important to focus on search engine optimization so that you have traffic coming in through multiple channels.

Organic ranking in search results may take longer to achieve, but provides longer-lasting results. On the other hand, paid search only drives traffic to your site while the campaign is running. If you have to stop the campaign or reduce your budget at any point, you’ll lose out on that traffic. So, while paid search can be very helpful in driving traffic, you need to balance that out with a focus on organic traffic to keep your site traffic long-term.

Digital marketing is constantly changing and evolving, and it’s important to keep up with all of the latest industry standards if you want to compete. In the medical device and pharma industries, taking a digital focus can put you in front of more potential customers and patients, allowing you to connect with the people who can benefit from your products.

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