The increasing connectedness across channels and devices due to the move of previously in-person interactions to virtual ones has resulted in a wealth of new opportunities and challenges for B2B healthcare marketers.
The whirlwind of change that occurred in 2020 and that continues to evolve in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic means that healthcare brands are having to scramble to adapt to a tsunami of events that include coming up with new patient care solutions such as improved access to telemedicine, constantly changing treatment solutions for the novel coronavirus – SARS-Cov-2 – and the emergence of new vaccines, including the new mRNA vaccine technology. Furthermore, these advances provide new opportunities for healthcare technology and pharmaceutical businesses to market new solutions to healthcare providers and other stakeholders.
Let’s take a closer look at the marketing strategies healthcare brands need to incorporate right now.
1. Account-Based Marketing (ABM)
Account-based marketing utilizes real relationships with real people in actual organizations and goes beyond things such as customer personas and target markets or audiences. At its heart is
identifying the right companies and the right decision-makers to target and then developing personalized campaign strategies that focus on content tailored to the specific information needs of those decision makers.
It requires time, research and absolute alignment between sales and marketing departments. ABM continues to grow in general across all B2B verticals, including the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.
2. Social Media Marketing
When it comes to social media marketing, as a B2B healthcare marketer, you most likely aren’t thinking about sites such as Facebook. Instead, your focus needs to be on healthcare professionals (HCPs) on LinkedIn. According to the most popular business networking channel, LinkedIn boasts HCPs and other key partners in the millions. They claim to target healthcare professional audiences including:
- 6.2 million physicians, surgeons, dentists and nurses
- More than 3.3 million hospital executives
- 3 million pharmaceutical professionals
- Over 720 thousand healthcare and pharmaceutical thought leaders
The tremendous number of HCPs and healthcare stakeholders active on LinkedIn makes it an essential social channel for B2B healthcare brands to focus their marketing efforts.
COVID-19 provided B2B healthcare industry brands with even more video marketing opportunities. In addition to traditional B2B video content channels, such as websites, email, YouTube, LinkedIn and others, the pandemic saw healthcare marketers incorporating video in areas once reserved solely for in-person interactions with HCPs and other stakeholders.
These include presenting to new prospects via virtual meetings using tools such as Zoom, GoToMeeting or Skype. Furthermore, in 2020, if your B2B marketing efforts include healthcare brands, you probably utilized video for product onboarding, webinars and remote events – and this trend looks to continue into 2021 as well.
4. Content Marketing
Besides social media, over the past few years HCPs and other stakeholders are increasingly using other digital media to search for a variety of providers, products and services including devices, patient treatments, medicines, facility supplies and MedTech. The COVID-19 pandemic no doubt pushed the number of HCPs and other even higher as in-person interactions gave way to safer online and app-based video meeting or video messaging services.
Healthcare marketers in the B2B sector would be wise to incorporate digital content marketing tactics such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), if you haven’t done so already. Beyond SEO, boost your content marketing efforts in 2021 on social media, over email and via video messaging tools. Additionally, advanced technology and artificial intelligence will provide other methods for you to deliver high-quality content to HCPs and other stakeholders. We’ll touch on that a bit more later in item number seven.
5. Multichannel Marketing
Multichannel channel marketing also sometimes called cross-channel marketing or omnichannel marketing involves managing all your healthcare brand’s campaigns across multiple channels. It allows you to integrate your messaging across a variety of platforms including digital, print, media, word-of-mouth and more.
For B2B healthcare marketers it means providing consistent brand messaging both online and off, including the following:
Online messaging channel examples:
- Social media
- Digital advertising
- Online case studies
- White papers
- Slide decks
Offline messaging channel examples:
- Print media
- Direct mail
- Face-to-face interactions
Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed more and more offline efforts online, so to keep your brand’s messaging across all channels consistent, now is the time for you to incorporate multichannel marketing into your B2B healthcare marketing strategy.
6. Advanced Technology, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
In order to adapt and conquer advanced B2B healthcare marketing strategies such as cross-channel marketing, ABM, video and content marketing, you need to understand and embrace advances in marketing communications (Marcom) technology, especially those being adapted by healthcare professionals, health organizations, pharmaceutical companies and other key industry players. Furthermore, the advances in technology in the healthcare sector provide invaluable tools for brands in the industry in account-based marketing efforts. Cloud computing, artificial intelligence and machine learning have provided capabilities embraced by the healthcare industry during the pandemic, and have enabled the following marketing communications tools.
If you’re a B2B marketer for a healthcare brand, e-detailing is vital to your efforts in targeting pharmaceutical and MedTech companies. E-detailing or electronic detailing is the term that’s used to describe the technology used by pharmaceutical companies to promote their products to healthcare professionals and other key partners. It includes the use of digital channels and tools to build relationships with HCPs and other stakeholders, and it also includes electronic support for your sales division.
Incorporating e-detailing into your healthcare marketing tactics provides a wealth of opportunities to provide interactive, engaging, customized content to HCPs – content that incorporates animations, video and augmented reality (AR). Plus, these content interactions are trackable and, thus providing you with the ability to garner the interests of individual HCPs. Meaning, you can deliver highly personalized and specific messaging.
Additionally, e-detailing provides the ability for your sales representatives and medical science liaisons (MSLs) to easily access up-to-date scientific documentation.
Customer Data Platforms (CDPs)
Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) are marketing systems that provide B2B healthcare brands with the ability to match customer data from their marketing efforts, create trackable individual profiles, segment customer data and optimize messaging and offers. CDPs are especially vital for your multichannel marketing efforts due to the immense amount of HCP and other customer data you’re collecting across a wide cross-section of marketing channels.
In other words, via a CDP, healthcare brand marketers can use data sources that include everything from HCPs online activities to your customer relationship management (CRM) data, to mobile apps, to engagement levels, device data and everything in between. All of that data is then fed into the CDP where it gets cleaned up, unified, enriched and segmented into markets for a host of cross channel campaigns including advertising, email, social media, push messaging, direct mail and website personalization.
Google’s Cloud Healthcare API
Google’s Cloud Healthcare API allows healthcare brands to store and access healthcare data in the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Google’s API incorporates all three key industry standards for healthcare data – FHIR, HL7v2, and DICOM – providing you with a host of tools that includes machine learning, data analysis and application development. Furthermore, incorporating the Cloud Healthcare API into your marketing strategy also means you will be able to interface with Google’s Cloud Publish-Subscribe (Cloud Pub/Sub).
Incorporate new marketing tactics and technology to stay ahead in 2021
Prior to the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic the United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of the Actuary predicted that healthcare spending would increase at a rate of 5.3% per year and reach close to $6.2 trillion by the year 2028.
Although, many patients deferred preventative care and elective procedures in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic placed an enormous strain on healthcare. The additional toll on the health industry coupled with rebounding economy in 2021 accelerated change and forced adaptations in public and private health organizations that will continue to impact marketing strategies for healthcare brands.
Healthcare brands who embrace the changes brought on by the pandemic, including the adoption of more advanced technologies and multichannel marketing will be better placed to take advantage of increases in healthcare spending and come up with new, better healthcare solutions that appeal to HCPs and other key stakeholders.