For medical device marketing companies looking to remain competitive next year and beyond, digital direct-to-patient strategies should be a top focus.
As 2017 approaches, the medical device market’s prospects are looking rather bright. A 2015 report conducted by intelligence firm Evaluate Ltd. projects that the medtech market will continue to see an average of 4.1% growth year over year, reaching $477.5 billion by 2020. Combined with a temporary medical device tax suspension (pending further legislation), those profits could potentially soar even higher.
However, this news may be something of a double-edged sword — in light of this massive market potential, competition has reached entirely new heights. According to SelectUSA, there are more than 6,500 medical device organizations in the U.S. With so many players in the market, how can any one company make itself stand out and ultimately be successful without breaking the bank in the process? The answer lies in emerging digital marketing tactics that capitalize on existing consumer trends and preferences, as well as digital’s advanced data analytics and tracking, in order to deliver better results at a far lower cost. Here’s how to do just that.
Shifting Consumer Expectations
By the end of 2016, nearly 360 million Americans, or 89% of the population, will be online surfing the web. More than 77% of these users conduct health-related searches online, and Google alone now processes over 28 billion medical inquiries per year.
But it’s not just the massive user base that medical device marketers should be paying attention to — it’s the fact that the internet’s widespread proliferation has fundamentally altered the traditional path to treatment, empowering consumers to go online, conduct research, and make their own decisions about their health.
Recent data from Google confirms this: 43% of consumers now say the internet is their first point of reference for health-related info, whereas only 14% regularly seek out the advice of their physician. While physician referrals are of course still a vital component of any comprehensive med device marketing strategy, digital direct-to-patient (DTP) campaigns will likely become the new best practice in 2017 and beyond.
Turn Patient Preferences into a Competitive Advantage
Patients are only going to become more empowered in 2017, meaning medical device marketing can no longer exist simply as a means to raise awareness and increase brand visibility; it must provide educational resources and actionable advice. And in terms of DTP strategies, many are already recognizing the value of a co-marketed microsite approach, which caters to consumers preferences both through more local-minded, personalized engagement from brands, and by offering people the opportunity to conduct research and make their own decisions.
Co-marketed microsites target a specific geographic area, highlighting the physicians and medical practices that prescribe or utilize the device for treatments or procedures; it’s important to note that the technology is introduced secondarily. This emphasis on the local provider plays to the fact that 96% of consumers prefer “local” products and vendors, citing the high degree of personalization as the primary draw.
Moreover, patient portals are designed with a patient’s level of understanding in mind — in general, these portals contain symptom- and condition-related information, as well as various treatment options, animated demonstrations of how the device is actually used, and patient success stories or testimonials. In this way, the site itself becomes a resource to which a local doctor can refer a patient, boosting both engagement and empowerment on the patient’s path to treatment, while keeping things on a “local” scale.
Tracking Your Success
As DTP marketing strategies continue to improve in 2017, so will the tools used to measure their impact. In order to remain competitive in the future, medical device companies must continually be tracking the leads these campaigns are producing (through phone numbers and form leads), as well as the revenue being generated.
This kind of transparency will allow for detailed insights into a campaign’s performance so it can be continually optimized over time, thereby improving outcomes with maximum efficiency. At the end of the day, a med device company’s ability to remain afloat in a competitive marketplace largely depends on its ability to recognize emerging trends and adapt quickly. And for those who are able to capitalize on these trends with a comprehensive, patient-first digital strategy, 2017 will undoubtedly be a productive and profitable year.