One thing is for sure: there’s no shortage in communication platforms in our modern world.
In the medical industry alone, practitioners are swamped in emails, patient portals, networking channels—and good old fashioned phone calls.
As digital marketers, it’s kind of our job to not only communicate a message, but to also know where to speak to our audience.
Communicating to the Medical Industry
Each industry audience is vastly different in how they want to be spoken to.
So, it’s hugely important to understand what channels are most effective in reaching your medical industry professionals.
Recently, HealthLink Dimensions conducted a survey and published a report on the preferred communication methods of healthcare professionals. Healthcare Dimensions, who “provides healthcare data solutions…to improve master data management, compliance and marketing initiatives,” surveyed 787 physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants to publish the Annual Healthcare Professional Communication Report 2017.
This report gives us insight into the best methods of communication in the medical device field.
Here are the most important pieces we found:
There are a lot of places for medical practitioners to get information online. UpToDate, ePocrates, medical journals, and, of course, WebMD are all popular online sources; yet, medical professionals continually emphasize that email is the best platform for communication.
If you are marketing medical devices—email is the proclaimed source of choice.
75% of nurse practitioners and physician assistants and 66% of physicians say they favor email for communication regarding industry information.
And how do these practitioners read their emails?
Well, almost 53% of NPs and PAs use their desktop computer to read emails, while 52% of these NPs/PAs and 46% of MDs use their mobile devices.
What This Means
As a medical device marketer, your audience should receive regular product information emails; particularly regarding product updates, as 50% of these doctors stated email is the most efficient way for medical product organizations to deliver any updates.
Further, these emails should always be responsive—meaning it is accessible and easy to read regardless of the device it’s viewed on—mobile, desktop, or tablet.
Sure, like most of us, medical practitioners may utilize social media in their spare time (when they have any). But unlike other industries, medical professionals rarely use social media platforms for their career.
- 66% of NPs and PAs do not use social media for professional communication purposes
- 63% of physicians stay off social sites for work and never communicate with patients this way
Those medical professionals who are on social media (only about 1/3 of the group surveyed) use sites for networking with peers and colleagues only, including:
What This Means
Digital marketers love social media, generally because it’s a large outpost audience just waiting to consume content you send their way—often for free.
But for those marketing medical devices to the medical industry, over-utilizing social media platforms would be wasteful.
While you should always have a presence on social media (a congruent brand theme, regular content, all necessary information), spending a lot of money on social advertising and focusing your digital strategy on social media is largely inefficient.
That being said, over half of the medical professionals surveyed agreed that social media platforms have potential of becoming more valuable to them in the future, in which case they would use it more often.
So, keep your ear to the ground for any shifts in the industry’s social media reliance.
This targeted marketing style allows you to control the types of audience you advertise to—from age, gender and geographic location, to the time of day, publisher, and frequency the ads are shown.
While social media is not proving to be a favorite among medical professionals, display advertising is very popular.
Just over 1/3 of the surveyed medical professionals would click on an ad if it is relevant to their practice.
Let that sink in.
What This Means
This is pretty huge. Retargeting lists and display advertising are great ways to get leads—and spread brand awareness.
While not all medical professionals would click on your ad, most would remember your message: who you are and what you do.
Content: Educational and Patient-Centric
Regardless of the platform you use to communicate to medical professionals, the most desired and consumed content is educational.
This includes information on medical device products, as well as educational material helps patients, or helps doctors help patients.
Almost half of the surveyed professionals often use printed educational materials and websites for patient referrals (this is important to remember).
Along that same vein, it’s important to recognize that all content consumed—from diagnosis information to product descriptions—is typically for the betterment of the patient. In fact,
- About 63% of NPs/PAs see an impact with patient education resources, apps, and assistance programs.
- 55% of physicians believe patient-centric initiatives are helpful.
What This Means
The content you create for your target audience should be valuable, educational and pertain to how your product will help the doctor help their patients.
Remember: Almost half of the surveyed professionals often use printed educational materials and websites for patient referrals.
This means if your content is useful for the doctor and/or patient, your website will be used as a reference over and over again.
As medical providers become increasingly busy and overwhelmed with work, they look for other reputable sources to help them inform, support, and diagnose patients.
If you offer educational, patient-focused content, medical practitioners will come—and stay.
You can even offer educational resources that aren’t directly related to your product, instead focused on helping your target market with their biggest needs. In fact, we recommend this.
We Covered “Where” and “What,” What About “How” and “When?”
We talked about where to find your target audience (email and display ads, mostly); we even touched on what medical practitioners want when it comes to content (educational information and resources).
But now, let’s shift focus to how and when to speak with your audience and apply what we learned to digital marketing—our expertise.
From your website content to email blasts to digital ads, it can be tempting to use jargon and buzzwords. But make sure to always avoid generalizations and keep it specific.
Medical practitioners are interested in the best devices to help their patients.
They want proof, specific examples, and an understanding of how your product works—along with educational resources, either for their patients or themselves.
But remember, whether you’re creating content for doctors or patients, each audience has a different tone they respond to. It’s inappropriate to speak to doctors the way you would speak to a patient—because their need for the product, medical education, concerns, and questions are different.
On that note, you must be extremely careful in your wording depending on your audience. Content that is acceptable for a doctor could be deemed misleading if put in front of a patient.
However, always assume your audience is intelligent, concerned, and has no time to waste: be empathetic and break down (sometimes complicated) information to be consumed easily for patients. Use concise text and clear calls to action (CTAs) that don’t require much time for busy doctors.
Just as it’s important to know where to find your audience, it’s almost as important to know when to reach out to them.
Statistically, emails are forwarded the most at 7am.
The absolute best day to send emails and promote content is Tuesday; and if you send a second email in one week, Thursday is best.
Avoid sending emails on Mondays and Fridays—and any weekday around lunchtime.
If your medical device marketing has you feeling overwhelmed—don’t worry. In your thriving industry, even the best businesses have a hard time standing out.
Solutions 8 actually specializes in digital marketing for medical device businesses—check out some of our articles that help medical device manufacturers specifically with their digital marketing.
Whether you need a whole lot of help, or just some guidance: