Saturday, February 14, 2015

Multichannel marketing: The key for physician communications

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This blog is co-posted with the Health Link Dimensions Blog.


Digital technologies have given rise to an ever-expanding number of ways that companies can connect with their target audiences. Modern marketing has moved well beyond traditional channels, such as TV, radio, direct mail, print and in-person events, to include a whole host of electronic pathways: email, social media and search engines, as well as personal, professional and affiliate websites. More recently, mobile technology has complicated this mix even further.

Despite the cost savings of digital-only marketing campaigns, putting a company's entire budget behind a single channel not only risks missing the connection with high-value customers, but also will likely result in a waste of resources, both human and financial.

Customers connect using multiple platforms and devices.

The logic behind multichannel marketing may be best expressed in two common expressions:

  • "Don't put all of your eggs in one basket."
  • "Don't get left with egg on your face."

Marketing campaigns that utilize a single channel put an extraordinarily high expectation on a single method for communicating with a high volume of people. It's increasingly rare that one group of customers wants to hear from or connect with a company in one way. When it comes time to demonstrate return on investment, the egg won't just be on the marketing team's face.

To avoid this situation, there are very clear steps that companies can take to strategically employ a multichannel marketing campaign that does a better job of connecting with specific audiences.

Know your audience
In the context of physician marketing, understanding the potential buyer should rank No. 1 on a marketer's list of priorities. Doctors and other healthcare professionals frequently focus on very niche specialities, meaning an overly broad appeal will be irrelevant. At the same time, channel preferences are key for delivering the right message to medical professionals. In other words, it's what HubSpot calls developing buyer personas.

Choose the right channels
Knowing what to say to physicians is just one part of the equation. Marketers also must ensure they're using email, direct mail and social media in the right way to make the message stick. Here's what we've learned from a recent survey of healthcare professionals, research which will soon appear in our 2014 white paper, "Breaking through the noise: How to effectively communicate with healthcare professionals":

  • Email: For two years in a row, physicians have indicated they prefer email over all other channels for receiving various types of communications. In fact, more than two-thirds of medical professionals want to get industry news, product updates and announcements, research and educational opportunity information through email.
  • Direct mail: Despite the growth of digital marketing, print collateral continues to play a critical role in modern practices and healthcare systems. In fact, nearly 6 in 10 physicians indicated they value patient education materials. In many cases, these are brochures and similar items that doctors or nurse practitioners can refer to and help explain issues to patients. Considering 84 percent of physicians use them for patient education, this form of direct mail marketing is critical.
  • Social media: The rise of social networks like Sermo, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter have made it easier for physicians to communicate with their colleagues in the healthcare industry. More than one-third of physicians have used this channel for this reason, and roughly 60 percent said they saw value in social media and plan to use it in the future. As more healthcare professionals warm to this channel, companies will have the chance to engage with them more directly.

The key to an effective multichannel campaign is knowing your audience. Build customer profiles to focus on your ideal customer and learn what sort of message appeals to them. Rather than using every possible channel, determine the combination of marketing channels that are most likely going to resonate with your target audience.

HealthLink Dimensions is a sponsor of this year's ePharma taking place February 24-26, 2015.  As a reader of this blog, when you register to join us in New York City and mention code XP2006BL, save $100!  Have any questions?  Email jpereira@iirusa.com.

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