Targeting is a key benefit of online marketing, but anyone who has worked in the online healthcare space knows that it’s easier said than done. A digital tactic that effectively engages one population may work dismally with another. New tactics are being developed all the time, but since many are unproven for healthcare direct response, they can pose a risk to your campaign.
The best way to successfully target in the digital space is to take a deep dive into your audience’s digital consumption habits. Different patients go online for different reasons. Without compromising specific patient/caregiver identity, marketers can assess:
Understanding the digital landscape for your patient population will give you key insights on how and where to deliver your message.
Digital Research Tools
There are a variety of tools to help flesh out this landscape, including:
Primary and secondary market research allows for some initial profiling of your audience in order to understand key features of their demographic, lifestyle and media habits. There may be sufficient insights available through secondary research, while primary research can be conducted to gain a deeper, more specific understanding of your patients.
Social listening tools monitor all public conversations on the internet and can provide valuable feedback on the following:
Competitive intelligence tools can also be utilized to measure the volume of searches relating to a disease state. You can see historic trends to look for key seasonality of when people search certain terms, and can estimate the amount of competition you may have during a specific timeframe.
Once these insights are gathered, you can develop a well-informed strategic plan and determine digital tactics with the most potential to succeed. There are new digital marketing opportunities every day, but some of the more tried and true tactical elements typically fit within the following categories:
Two Patient Groups = Two Different Campaigns
Two examples illustrate two different patient populations, and how we used these tools to develop very different — but successful — targeted campaigns.
First, we needed to identify patients who had a heart attack or stroke to participate in a clinical trial. Through our market research and social listening tools we identified that these patients were:
Because this was a large patient population that was relatively passive in their online habits, we developed a broad digital campaign, including:
Facebook and paid search were the most efficient ways to reach this population.
In contrast, we had another clinical trial for patients with celiac disease. Celiac has a much smaller patient population with very different characteristics:
This population needed more narrowly focused tactics coming from a trustworthy source. Some of the digital tactics included:
The most efficient tactic for this campaign was advocacy outreach.
While the beauty of digital marketing is its ability to be laser focused, it is even more incumbent on the marketer to understand where to best point that focus. Once you understand how and where your patient lives online, you will be in a much better position to identify a strategy to reach them. This upfront investment in time and intellectual capital will surely pay great dividends as you engage patients in the digital world.