How Have Medical Device Marketing Strategies Changed in the Digital Age?

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Medical device marketers are being forced to change their strategies in accordance with shifting consumer preferences — here’s why this may be a blessing in disguise.

Despite several years of flat or falling sales, the medical device industry seems to be on the up and up. According to the latest report from market research firm Evaluate, the global medical device and technology industry is expected to grow at a rate of approximately 5% annually over the next five years, reaching nearly $530 billion by 2022.

While this kind of steady growth is, of course, welcome news, it’s somewhat hampered by shifting consumer habits, which have made it difficult for companies to generate new residual revenue if they’re relying on a traditional marketing approach.

The internet has fundamentally altered the traditional patient path to treatment, inserting itself ahead of physicians as the go-to resource for preliminary healthcare research about symptoms and treatment options. As brand affinity and comparative shopping continue to shape the medical consumer journey, digital direct-to-patient (DTP) marketing is becoming an increasingly impactful revenue driver for medical device companies. But it’s not just enough to invest in digital DTP — medical device companies will need to make the right changes to their strategies if they want to increase their share of the industry’s growing revenue stream.

1. Co-Marketed Microsites Work

Recent data suggests that more than 96% of consumers today prefer “local” products and vendors, citing the primary draws as perceived credibility and personalization. It’s therefore not entirely surprising that in recent years, the localized microsites have proven more effective than the traditional patient portal.

Our own research supports this notion — over a 15-month period, we compared the performance of a traditional patient portal versus more than 40 co-marketed microsites for a major medical device company. We found that despite being marginally more expensive on a per-click basis, the co-marketed microsites delivered a significantly higher ROI: the average cost-per-lead (CPL) was lower ($53 to $147), the average cost-per-appointment (CPA) dropped by 65%, and conversion rates increased significantly.

What’s more, because most clients are heavily invested in the success of these DTP marketing campaigns, they’ll often take on some or even all of the marketing costs, thereby increasing the returns for the medical device company by a significant margin.

2. Content is King

Content marketing now plays a key role in a medical organization’s ability to establish credibility and brand affinity with its target audience; however, all too often, digital content is something of an afterthought. An event will take place or a new product will be launched, then the scramble to generate content ensues.

Instead, medical device companies should outline a content strategy in advance, mapping out key objectives and dates throughout the year, then coordinating their blog, PR, and social media calendars accordingly.

Publishing a consistent stream of high-quality, informative content won’t just help bolster trust — it will also help increase search engine rankings, ensuring your content is visible when users with associated conditions are conducting online research for treatment options.

3. Track Your Performance

The shift to digital DTP comes with yet another hidden benefit: a heightened ability to track campaign performance and optimize on a rolling basis for increased ROI. For example, when your patient portal or microsite generates a new lead, you can follow that lead through the entire patient journey, determining whether or not the resulting appointment ultimately led to a procedure using your device.

This kind of transparency not only helps you adjust your digital marketing efforts to improve performance over time — it allows you to expand on your traditional role of education and positioning to make a direct and significant impact on the company’s residual revenue stream — and provides the hard data you need to demonstrate the concrete ROI.

As we head further into 2017 and beyond, it’s pretty clear that digital DTP marketing is going to be a baseline requirement for any medical device company that wants to remain competitive in an increasingly patient-centric market. Luckily for the industry, this new direction just so happens to be more beneficial from a revenue-generation perspective than the traditional approach.

Medical Device Marketing, DTP Strategy, Digital Marketing