What are the best marketing tactics for health technology?
I’ve been consulting to a digital healthcare business recently, helping to curate a cost effective marketing strategy for their new NHS approved service.
And even though this business is UK only - there is a huge wealth of competition. The UK health technology sector is booming.
According to a report by Vantage Market Research, the global Digital Health Market size is expected to reach USD 430.52 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 16.9% from 2020 to 2028.
Clearly, it’s a time of great opportunity and huge competition. So how can a healthcare business stay ahead of its competitors? What’s the secret formula and successful tactics to maintain visibility, ranking and engagement?
Here are my top marketing tips for health startups and lean scaleups seeking growth and higher awareness:
Know your patients
It all starts with audience understanding. A deep dive analysis of your customer and their influencers. This initial piece of research is where time should be invested. Because not everything is as straightforward as it seems!
Often the audience profile goes way beyond a primary customer persona - whether that’s B2B or B2C. A business can easily understand their primary customers but may not consider how important their secondary influencer market is. Sometimes deeper analysis reveals an unexpected result.
A case in point are elderly customers. They won’t always seek online information themselves but may receive shared information from family members or friends.
A marketing agency I worked for undertook some research for a glucose reading product and discovered that professional athletes were an unexpectedly large secondary market for blood sugar monitoring. A very different customer type compared to the vertical audience adversely affected by diabetes.
And recently a longevity supplement brand I worked for discovered through customer analysis that in fact customers as young as 18 were purchasing supplements to aid a longer life. We were evidently seeing the rise of the bio-hacker!
Diagnose the problem.
Once you understand the breadth and profile of your audiences, now seek to understand the range of problems your customer is trying to find a solution for. And then move to the associated language to use to successfully connect.
Ideally, hypothesise a number of different message clusters and be prepared to test which ones work most effectively. This can take a little bit of time.
Building trust for your healthcare product is a fundamental principle (I talk about this later ). Healthcare is a well regulated industry and being mindful and considerate about using appropriate language is very important.
In searching for healthcare solutions online, customers often know what product they’re looking for because they’ve already taken professional advice from their doctor. In this case, education is not the highest priority and price plays a more important role.
However when it comes to bringing new products to market, educational content is fundamental. And that could start with an open ‘did you know’ content conversation to provoke initial interest and engagement.
Do remember that healthcare messaging should never be too pushy. Personal healthcare products are about people’s personal health and wellbeing so messaging should always be professional, easy to understand, informational and definitely not too long or overwhelming.
A good healthcare mantra sits around 3 central pillars. Expertise. Authority and Trust. Putting your customer at ease as well as enabling trust is a key consideration.
Also remember this fascinating fact! 80/90% of healthcare purchases are by women. Even when the product is for men. Bear that in mind when you craft your language.
Build brand trust
As already mentioned, trust is fundamental in healthcare advertising and often educational information can help build a trusting customer relationship. This is where a well designed landing page plays a powerful role in the sales funnel.
Naturally, there are a significant number of questions in a customer’s healthcare research so create a resource where your business answers those questions and effectively markets that content through keyword alignment.
Through research, find which questions are frequently asked and by providing useful answers, this will increase the click through rate. A well designed landing page is a useful interim step that provides specific and easy to navigate information along the customer’s search journey. And key to its effectiveness is to ensure clarity and a friction free user experience. Be helpful about what you can do for the customer without trying to over promote.
According to BigCommerce, 72% of consumers say positive reviews and testimonials make them trust a business more and 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
That's a huge amount of credibility you can leverage with some well-executed testimonials from genuine customers.
So a very useful tool in building brand trust are independent customer reviews. If these are delivered through authentic video testimonials - that’s all the better - as it demonstrates the customers are credible and their feedback can be trusted.
The power and visibility of your brand will play an important part in the speed of customer engagement. It’s a well known fact that customers need to be exposed to your brand at least 3-5 times before converting.
Healthcare marketing can be called ‘a 5 touch journey’. However remember that all those multiple touches could happen in the same day! Often 70% of sales happen on day one. 25% of sales happen in the next 5 days and the remaining 5% happen later. Be as effective and engaging as possible in those early stages.
What’s the remedy?
From PPC to SEO, digital marketing offers us a wide selection of available tools with built in data measurement systems. However healthcare marketing also comes with it’s own set of challenges. Health industry advertising is highly and justifiably regulated.
Remarketing through Google advertising is restricted so programmatic displays are alternative ways to bring traffic back to the website without re-marketing.
A well designed and nurturing campaign that brings your customer through a responsive sales funnel is key. You may start with educational content at the top of the funnel but at customer conversion stage, don’t leave the follow up too long. Competing for customer attention in healthcare is intense and so ensure there is an aligned approach between the marketing agency and in-house sales team.
The Three Big C’s:
Consumer Safety, Consumer Privacy and Compliance.
At a high level, there are three significant global regulations that guide global healthcare marketing. These are; HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).
HIPPA is a US federal law that protects sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient's consent or knowledge. There are four key aspects of HIPAA that directly concern patients. They are the privacy of health data, security of health data, notifications of healthcare data breaches, and patient rights over their own healthcare data.
CCPA gives consumers more control over the personal information that businesses collect about them and CCPA regulations provide guidance on how to implement the law.
GDPR is a European law that came into effect in 2018. Essentially GDPR modernized the laws around the protection of personal data. and means that any company marketing (email, post, SMS, phone calls etc.) without proven consent is a punishable offence.
To add to these regulations, there are country specific regulations and in the US, there are localised state specific regulations too.
Watch your language!
Beyond countries and state laws, there are restrictions that digital platforms impose as well. For example, Google has country specific and health topic specific advertising regulations. These relate to general categories such as supplements and vitamins and also product specific categories like opiates.
There are also restrictions applied from healthcare regulators - which can be vastly different depending on different geographical territories. Sometimes regulations can be somewhat unclear so it’s often useful to test campaigns to understand what is feasible.
How to ensure you describe products correctly so you sail through compliance? Sometimes copy is rejected simply because of a subtle error that changes a descriptive inference. Do invest time in understanding what the legal copy parameters are that you could be facing. This will help remove potential stress inducing delay in the future.
Go Beyond Google
Don’t feel you’re confined to the Google universe! Research and understand which alternative channels and programmatic tools are available to you. There are a variety of apps and digital platforms that will enable robust alternative marketing in some circumstances. Having that knowledge is key and often this is where an expert or agency can be best employed.
The Google rule-book also relates to language content. Advertisers are not allowed to use hyperbole or make exaggerated health claims. What’s more, advertisers cannot use any language that infers a customer’s personal profile. For example in diabetes medication, we must not use language that infers the target audience is overweight.
The final analysis
There’s often no better data than recognising how well your business is performing - and that of your competitors’ performance too.
All social media business tools enable competitor tracking and of course sponsored Google advertising help you understand vital keywords and search traffic and trends for your competitors too.
And finally, don’t forget that whatever marketing tool and tactic you employ, track and measure its success. This is vital to enable success analysis and the necessity to change when needed.
A startup recruitment campaign I recently worked on revealed an unexpected insight never seen before. That PR was the most effective engagement tool. It would never have been visible unless we had set up the analysis process in advance.
So in brief summary?
-Undertake thorough audience research!
-Understand search trends and terms
-Build brand trust through education not overselling
-Be fully aware of healthcare compliance & language differentiation