Table of Contents
- How digital marketing changed the healthcare industry
- Five obstacles facing healthcare digital marketers
- Four considerations for digital marketing in healthcare
- Examples of successful healthcare marketing
- Creating a digital healthcare marketing strategy
- Questions and answers
Almost every business relies on digital marketing to connect with customers. The healthcare industry is no exception. As societies age and people prioritize healthy living, interest in healthcare services increases. According to Deloitte, healthcare spending accounts for $320 million today and will likely reach $1 trillion by 2040.
The health industry is overdue for a digital transformation. Healthcare will soon transition from treating illness to promoting health and well-being. Science and technology, as well as trust-building with the help of digital marketing are essential to the new mission.
In this post, you’ll learn about digital marketing in B2B and how it can benefit healthcare brands. Discover the steps you should take to execute a well-thought-out strategy and the challenges you may face. See how healthcare companies redefined their brand with digital marketing in a traditionally offline industry.
How Digital Marketing Changed the Healthcare Industry
Historically, outbound and in-person sales used to dominate in B2B healthcare. Sales reps reached out to buyers, answering their questions and guiding them during complex purchase journeys.
However, even before the pandemic, buyers decreased their reliance on sales reps. In a pre-pandemic survey of over 750 B2B purchase managers responsible for complex purchase decisions, only 17% reported spending time with supplier sales teams. In other words, if three suppliers compete for the same customer, each can only hope to capture 5.6% of customer time.
By now, many healthcare businesses understand that customers don’t want to interact with sales representatives as they did in the pre-digital era. Buyers now find the information they need online, and interacting with sales reps is optional. As digitally-savvy younger buyers make their way into purchasing positions, B2B sellers without a digital marketing strategy and a way to meet the expectations of digital buyers are left out.
As with every business, not every healthcare customer is created equal. Healthcare marketers must understand their customer goals and work to help them succeed.
Here is a look at digital marketing usage throughout various healthcare sectors:
Medical products manufacturing
Healthcare manufacturers are historically early adopters of technology to improve their manufacturing processes. While manufacturers actively pursue technologies such as robotics, automation, accelerated prototyping, and 3D printing, digital marketing technologies are overlooked.
With closer customer engagement and feedback collection, healthcare manufacturers can better align their products with customer needs. Digital marketing helps manufacturers expand their market share, create new B2B and D2C relationships, and build ecosystems around their brands.
Healthcare products distribution
When doctors, hospitals, and retailers want to buy healthcare-related products, they start their research online. To make their products discoverable, improve the customer experience, and grow sales, medical supplies distributors must invest in digital marketing.
Healthcare organizations can use various digital marketing strategies to promote their products. For example, they may focus on SEO, optimize website design and functionality, or educate customers using email or content marketing.
Laboratory service providers
To stand out in the competitive laboratory industry, marketers must position their brands as thought leaders and innovators. Their digital marketing efforts should use content to educate customers and focus on optimizing the customer experience.
Customers prefer to lean on self-service portals to engage with laboratories, submit materials, or request samples. Laboratories that focus on offering value through educational content and ease of use should market these highly-desirable selling points.
Five Obstacles Facing Healthcare Digital Marketers
Digital marketing includes more than creating an attractive digital website. An effective digital marketing strategy raises brand awareness, effectively targets the right customers, and helps build a trustworthy brand that attracts more customers.
The healthcare industry is large, diverse, and complex, with numerous barriers to digital marketing innovation. Here are just a few:
1. Reaching customers
Both consumers and business buyers gravitate to online research to discover new suppliers and research products. Businesses that have already invested in search engine optimization hold the top rankings in the Google search results and will be difficult to dislodge from those coveted spots. Marketers should invest in pay-per-click advertising and actively participate in forums and local medical practitioner networks to get noticed.
Secondly, there’s a rising interest in self-help and home remedies. Where allowed by law, healthcare marketers can target the general public rather than B2B customers.
2. Complex sales process
Unlike B2C transactions, B2B sales can be quite complex. Purchasing organizations may rely on committees, medical professionals, IT advisors, and industry consultants to make purchasing decisions. A single purchase can take months.
The extended sales cycle presents challenges for setting sales budgets, monitoring spending activities, and evaluating the effectiveness of digital marketing efforts.
Healthcare marketing professionals must navigate in a highly regulated industry. For example, healthcare businesses and their subcontractors must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which safeguards patient data.
Many healthcare marketing professionals fear violating regulations and thus limit their digital marketing activities.
4. Status quo mentality
The healthcare industry can be quite conservative when it comes to marketing changes. Every marketing decision is likely to be scrutinized and measured based on the effectiveness of improving health and saving lives.
Decision makers are busy doctors, practitioners, and healthcare executives. Championing organizational change takes time and effort they may not feel they have. As a result, there is a bias to maintaining the status quo.
5. Lack of resources
Many healthcare businesses and healthcare-affiliated consulting companies lack an understanding of how digital technology can improve the customer experience. They lack in-house IT and business development expertise to accelerate, execute, and sustain change.
Lastly, a lack of monetary resources, along with insufficient human resources and unwilling leadership can prevent many digital marketing initiatives from getting off the ground.
Four Considerations for Digital Marketing in Healthcare
There is still a place for attending trade shows, meeting doctors in person, and distributing physical brochures. But digital marketing is a more effective way to promote your products. Once you realize the power of digital marketing to help you meet business goals, it’s time to put together a digital marketing strategy.
1. Product considerations
Whether you sell medical equipment, supplies, technology products, or laboratory services, start by identifying the products well-suited for digital marketing. The following factors may influence the products you include in your initial efforts:
Many healthcare products are regulated by the Department of Health, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For example, medical devices fall under FDA compliance requirements for registration, device listing, and labeling, and more. Regulations may also control to whom and how you can market your products as well as the information that must be provided.
High-volume products and smaller, lighter healthcare products may be in higher demand. These products are also generally easier to ship and offer better margins. Business buyers are quite comfortable with spending large amounts online, so don’t let order value be the sole determining factor.
If you’re marketing customizable products that vary in size, weight, and chemical composition, you may want to narrow down your audience or create additional material to educate customers. If you sell customizable medical equipment, you may use digital marketing materials to support moving qualified leads through your funnel.
2. Market considerations
Once you’ve identified the products, it’s time to see what your competitors are doing. Involve internal employees, suppliers, and industry players in helping you ask the following questions:
- What is the market condition? Is it overcrowded or sparsely populated?
- Who are the main players in the market and what makes them attractive?
- How do competitors market products, and what customer experience do they offer?
- Do competitors enjoy positive feedback from customers on social media and review sites? Is there a way to improve on their tactics?
3. Customer considerations
Effective marketing requires a deep understanding of the customer. Whether you’re selling vials, dental equipment, or insulin pumps, your marketing approach will be tailored to customer needs. For example, insulin pumps may be sold to hospitals, private practitioners, pharmacies, or directly to customers. To get you started, consider the following:
- To whom do you currently sell?
- What are their pain points and needs?
- How often do they purchase?
- What is their buying journey?
- How can you improve their purchasing experience?
You can direct these questions to different personas based on unique characteristics. These can include unique motivators, challenges, demographics, responsibilities, and behavioral patterns. When you focus on specific segments of your audience, you maximize the returns on your marketing efforts.
4. Buying journey considerations
Every customer interaction is a chance to build trust, and the work of marketing is to maximize every interaction.
Establishing trust online isn’t easy, and it’s even more challenging in the healthcare industry. Medical practitioners and healthcare institutions may not have time to browse testimonials on review sites. Instead, they place importance on industry publications, professional directories, or manufacturer literature.
Customers use numerous channels to engage with prospective vendors online. They can use websites, email, and even social media. Customers using digital channels have high expectations for response and won’t wait days to hear from you. They expect a response in hours!
In this stage, the buyer begins the decision-making process. In this phase, you may want to focus on educating about the pros and cons of your solution. If there are multiple decision-makers, your efforts may target multiple segments. At this stage, you may offer a discount, a free sample, or other perks to convert them.
Retention and loyalty
After your customer makes the purchase, your work isn’t finished. You can collect more information about the customer experience you offered, or gather ideas about improving your efforts. If customers are happy with your service, ask for a referral or a testimonial.
Remember that your buyer journey stages may vary and have more or fewer steps. It’s worth keeping it in mind when putting together your marketing strategy.
Examples of Successful Healthcare Marketing
There are many ways customers can discover you online. And when they come across your brand, they’ll consider multiple factors in deciding if you make the shortlist. In many cases, they may already be familiar with the company and want to learn more about how your products can help them. Here are a few successful healthcare marketing strategy stories.
SEO or search engine optimization gets content noticed by search engines. Search engines push relevant websites to the top of the listings. So, you must match site keywords to the search terms your target audience uses.
Select target keywords based on:
- The overall popularity of the keyword. That is, the keyword’s search volume, or how many people search using this keyword.
- The competitiveness of the keyword. For example, it may be difficult to rank for keywords for popular products.
- Phrases and long-tail keywords. These are longer, more specific keywords and phrases that are not searched often, but they can indicate a strong intent to purchase.
When focusing on SEO, don’t forget destination sites where you can publish in industry directories. Many medical professionals are strapped for time and start their research on directory sites. These serve as a go-to resource and offer medical professionals everything they need for their practice.
Qmed is the world's only directory of pre-qualified suppliers to the medical device and in vitro diagnostics industry. It attracts suppliers as well as customers looking to purchase a wide range of products.
Another aspect of SEO is website optimization. This means ensuring your pages have the correct SEO HTML tags, H1 headings, and internal tags and links between product pages. For your eCommerce category pages, make sure you include accurate descriptions, relevant keywords, or FAQs that cover the most common questions about your products.
Igual is a healthcare equipment and product wholesaler based in France. Through its eCommerce website, it offers users technical characteristics, downloadable documentation, and related products.
Aside from making your website appealing to search engines, it must also be appealing to visitors. If you don’t offer customers needed information, they’ll move on to competitors.
Midwest Dental supplies midwestern US dental practices with the latest technologies and supplies. The distributor published ordering tutorial videos to ease the learning curve for its customers.
Email is effective because it can be personalized. Effective, persuasive messaging and strong calls to action direct the reader to the desired action. There are many email marketing tools, from MailChimp to Hubspot that allow you to target messages, run multiple campaigns, and perform A/B tests to generate the most ROI.
FullScript is a B2B marketplace and distributor of vitamins and supplements. Their promotional emails invite readers to a particular article showcasing the health benefits of their products. Best of all - there’s a call to action to keep reading after a few sentences.
Quality content reigns supreme when it comes to engagement and is an effective way to bring potential customers to your site. Stand out by offering your audience multiple content types such as infographics, articles, guides, videos, interviews, pod casts, and product comparison sites. Provide new and educational information about the topic. Content marketing can include:
- A resource library of whitepapers, instructions, tutorials, and user guides.
- A blog of informational and comparison articles about different products.
- Articles of interest to target personas in the medical industry.
Midway Dental Supply is an independent dental supply company that services Indiana, Michigan, and northeastern Illinois. Their Midway Educational Center serves as a learning portal to educate dental professionals about the latest developments in the industry.
Creating a Digital Healthcare Marketing Strategy
Now that you understand healthcare digital marketing basics, put what you’ve learned into action.
1. Stay updated in your industry
The healthcare industry changes every day. Keep up with developments in your industry. Customers rely upon your knowledge and expertise. Leverage this in the content creation process. Lastly, don’t forget about your competitors. Learn from what they do right and improve where they fall short.
2. Involve internal teams early on
To get the most out of your teams, you need early buy-in. Your employees provide a valuable resource to identify customer needs and pain points. They’ll also offer you industry knowledge and input on engaging with customers during various stages of the purchasing process.
3. Set objectives and an action plan
Set your objectives – it could be to improve your SEO, boost your content strategy, or increase email opens. Use these goals to identify the tasks necessary. Think of adjacent activities that need attention – building up eCommerce capacity, beefing up IT resources, and allocating resources in the budget.
4. Review progress and analyze results
Aside from analytics and reports, you may want to host regular in-person meetings to discuss progress. From time to time, you may want to readjust goals or fine tune metrics for tracking progress. These can include milestones such as completing specific tasks or quantifiable metrics such as traffic data, open email rates, and conversion rates.
To help B2B businesses make the most of their marketing efforts, we created a guide to help manufacturers and distributors navigate the B2B marketing landscape. It’s a beginner’s guide to help offline B2B businesses new to digital marketing or those who have been so far dissatisfied with their progress.
Industrial Marketing In The Digital Age: A Guide to Digital Marketing for Distributors
Questions and Answers
What is healthcare B2B marketing?
Healthcare B2B marketing involves increasing awareness of your healthcare products and getting customers to purchase them. It involves performing research on your customers, the market, and the purchase journey to create a marketing strategy. Then, you’ll have to build a website, optimize SEO, and create content to build traffic to your website.
Why should healthcare brands use digital marketing?
Early internet traffic was minuscule, and websites were built for aesthetics. Over the years, healthcare customer expectations have become more demanding, and websites more complex. Today, a small-scale distributor can compete with national suppliers. In today’s digital landscape, Digital marketing becomes the most effective to attract customers and grow your business.
What is a good B2B healthcare marketing strategy?
To market their products online, healthcare brands should start with a high-quality digital presence. This means a well-functioning, SEO-friendly website that will work on any device. As they grow their presence, brands should focus on creating content around their niche and educating customers about their industry, products, and services.
B2B Healthcare Marketing, or Business-to-Business Healthcare Marketing, is the process of healthcare organizations and/or healthcare providers collaborating to increase business with consumers and patients alike and to provide them with the best services possible.What is the difference between B2B and B2C in healthcare? ›
One of the most prominent differences between B2B and B2C healthcare marketing is the consumer base. B2B is typically marketing to healthcare organizations, whereas B2C marketing is targeting patients. B2B is a distinct form of marketing. B2B marketing audiences expect a higher level of education and content than B2C.What is B2B marketing strategy? ›
B2B marketing is the way businesses generate demand from other businesses for their products and services. Just like B2C (business to consumer) marketing, B2B marketing includes many types of content, and it can take place across multiple online and offline channels.What marketing strategies can be adapted to increase customer delight in healthcare services? ›
- What is healthcare marketing?
- Use consistent healthcare branding.
- Evaluate the online patient experience.
- Build a responsive healthcare website.
- Test site speeds.
- Optimize organic search engine results for prospective healthcare consumers.
Healthcare marketing strategy involves leveraging a collective group of marketing channels both digitally and offline designed to specifically target new and existing patients for practices and hospital systems to improve patient care and generate growth and revenue.What is included in healthcare marketing? ›
Healthcare marketing is the process through which healthcare providers use strategic communication to attract clients, maintain close contact with them, and guide them in their recovery process. Healthcare marketing is not aimed at generating more profits.Why is B2B marketing different than B2C marketing? ›
B2B refers to businesses that are focused on serving other businesses instead of themselves. Some examples include software, manufacturing equipment, and repair services for long-haul fleets. B2C refers to businesses that are focused on the needs and interests of their customers, who are often individuals.What is more effective B2B or B2C? ›
While the buying process may be longer, a B2B customer is not likely to purchase just one or two small items like B2C customers will. Instead, you're more likely to sell large quantities of products with a B2B client. Additionally, you have a greater opportunity to reach out to B2B customers to make repeat purchases.Are medical device companies B2B? ›
Medical device manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors are using websites driven by powerful B2B eCommerce platforms to meet B2B buyer needs. They are creating a B2B digital customer experience that feels like a B2C while meeting the unique needs of the industry.What are the four types of B2B markets? ›
To help you get a better idea of the different types of business customers in B2B markets, we've put them into four basic categories: producers, resellers, governments, and institutions.
7 Marketing Tactics to Attract B2B Buyers to Your Business
- Account-Based Marketing. ...
- Social Media. ...
- Content Marketing. ...
- Gamification. ...
- Retargeting. ...
- Micro-Moment Marketing. ...
- Direct Mail.
It's any marketing strategy or content used by one business to target and sell to another business. For instance, companies that sell services, products, or SaaS to other companies or organizations typically use B2B marketing. Two good examples of B2B marketing are Monday.com's B2B brand strategy on LinkedIn.What are the 5 P's of healthcare marketing? ›
The 5P's (Product, Place, Process, Price, and Promotion) strategies are introduced to improve healthcare services. The healthcare marketing study recommend to add the 5th P (Process) as core of healthcare marketing plan approach to improve or establish any healthcare services.Why is healthcare marketing difficult? ›
A unique challenge of healthcare marketing involves insurance providers and their power over consumers' decision-making. With many different types of insurance plans, variations in coverage, a multitude of companies, it can be difficult to navigate.What is the target market for healthcare? ›
What is target marketing in healthcare? Target marketing in healthcare is the practice of marketing your healthcare center to your target audience by using strategies like audience research, segmentation, and more. With healthcare target marketing, you can better reach your ideal client or patient.What are the challenges to successful healthcare marketing? ›
- HIPAA Compliance Issues.
- Public Perception of Healthcare.
- Tight Marketing Budgets.
- Resistance to Change.
- The Power of Reviews.
- Market Segmentation.
- Marketing Triangulation.
- Reviews Are a Top Ranking Factor on Google.
- Video is the Preferred Way to Consume Content.
- Your Focus Should Be On Local SEO.
- Micro Influencers Can Extend Your Social Media Reach.
- Content Marketing Fuels Organic Website Traffic.
- Social media is where your patients are active.
- Create a seamless digital patient experience. ...
- Build a consistent brand. ...
- Build engaging relationships using personalization. ...
- Create a strong website. ...
- Evaluate the best marketing channels. ...
- Manage patient reviews. ...
- Use analytics to secure your budget.
Through its specificity, healthcare marketing is an interdisciplinary field because it uses certain concepts, methods, and techniques specific both to classical and social marketing. The specificity of healthcare marketing is that there are services and markets but no money equivalent.How can I promote my healthcare business? ›
- Build an Amazing Website. ...
- Claim your Local Listing. ...
- Start and Maintain a Blog. ...
- Send a Newsletter to your Patients. ...
- Send Surprise Care Packages. ...
- Invest in Paid Search Campaigns. ...
- Use Social Media to Engage with your Patients. ...
- Make the most of Patient Reviews.
The marketing concept rests on four pillars: target market, customer needs, integrated marketing and profitability.How is B2B marketing unique? ›
Multiple Decision Makers
The other reason why B2B marketing is unique is that you are targeting multiple decision-makers of another business, each with unique agendas and expertise. These decision-makers are typically involved at varying stages of a sales funnel.
Companies that sell products or services to other businesses or organizations (vs. consumers) typically use B2B marketing strategies. The purpose of B2B marketing is to make other businesses familiar with your brand name, the value of your product or service, and convert them into customers.Why is B2B marketing harder than B2C? ›
While a typical B2C purchase decision may be made in minutes, it might take months or even years for a business to agree to drop thousands or even millions on a product or service. One study showed that 74.6 percent of B2B sales take 4 months or more to close, with nearly half taking 7 months or more to close.Why is B2B marketing difficult? ›
REASON #3: B2B selling requires more knowledge.
It's not enough just to understand a product and be able to present it coherently. B2B selling generally involves diagnosing a customer's challenges and then coming up with a customized solution that may very well involve a long-term business partnership.
B2B healthcare marketing was focused on marketing medical equipment, devices and services to hospitals, while B2C targeted the consumer of healthcare products and services.What are the 3 most important qualities of a successful B2B sales person and why? ›
- Compassionate. Loyal customers are gained when they confidently place their trust in your company. ...
- Optimistic. ...
- Detail-oriented. ...
- Coachability. ...
- Communication. ...
- Driven. ...
- Passionate. ...
Expecting "tens of millions of dollars" in transactions before the end of the calendar year, General Electric Co.'s Global Exchange Services division today unveiled a business-to-business Internet marketplace available to all of GE's 100,000 trading partners.What is B2C business? ›
B2C business-to-consumer ecommerce, also called retail ecommerce, is a business model that involves sales between online businesses and consumers. B2C ecommerce is one of four major ecommerce business models, the other three being B2B (business-to-business), C2B (consumer-to-business), and C2C (consumer-to-consumer).What are B2B businesses? ›
B2B (business-to-business), a type of electronic commerce (e-commerce), is the exchange of products, services or information between businesses, rather than between businesses and consumers (B2C). A B2B transaction is conducted between two companies, such as wholesalers and online retailers.
B2B: Business providing a healthcare product or service to another business. For example, a pharmaceutical company selling to a doctor's office or a medical equipment supply company providing a hospital a new MRI machine.Are medical device companies B2B? ›
Medical device manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors are using websites driven by powerful B2B eCommerce platforms to meet B2B buyer needs. They are creating a B2B digital customer experience that feels like a B2C while meeting the unique needs of the industry.What is B2B and B2C with examples? ›
An example of B2B would be a chipset manufacturer that sells its products to other companies. Business-to-consumer (B2C) is the term used to describe a business relationship between one company and at least one individual consumer. An example of B2C would be a travel agency that sells flights to individual consumers.What are the four types of B2B markets? ›
To help you get a better idea of the different types of business customers in B2B markets, we've put them into four basic categories: producers, resellers, governments, and institutions.What is B2B Marketing example? ›
It's any marketing strategy or content used by one business to target and sell to another business. For instance, companies that sell services, products, or SaaS to other companies or organizations typically use B2B marketing. Two good examples of B2B marketing are Monday.com's B2B brand strategy on LinkedIn.Which is the biggest B2B company in the world? ›
- # IBM. IBM is one of the top B2B companies, with clients in over 175 countries and competitors ranging from small businesses to major global corporations. ...
- # Google. ...
- # Slack Technologie. ...
- # Zoom Video Communications. ...
- # Odoo. ...
- # HubSpot. ...
- # Salesforce. ...
- # Skype.
A hospital can trace the patient's situation online at any time, and provide information on healthcare to the patient (B2C) as well as share information and experience with other hospitals (B2B).IS Pharma a B2B or B2C? ›
Pharmaceuticals do, b2b. they buy from b2b companies and sell to pharmacy stores and then the pharmacy stores sell to the customer.How is B2C used in healthcare? ›
With B2C healthcare marketing, your goal is to get consumers to purchase your product or service. It's much more transactional than the B2B healthcare marketing you would be doing to connect with doctors or the medical organizations for which they work.Is General Electric B2B? ›
Expecting "tens of millions of dollars" in transactions before the end of the calendar year, General Electric Co.'s Global Exchange Services division today unveiled a business-to-business Internet marketplace available to all of GE's 100,000 trading partners.
B2C business-to-consumer ecommerce, also called retail ecommerce, is a business model that involves sales between online businesses and consumers. B2C ecommerce is one of four major ecommerce business models, the other three being B2B (business-to-business), C2B (consumer-to-business), and C2C (consumer-to-consumer).Why is B2B marketing important? ›
Companies that sell products or services to other businesses or organizations (vs. consumers) typically use B2B marketing strategies. The purpose of B2B marketing is to make other businesses familiar with your brand name, the value of your product or service, and convert them into customers.Which market is bigger B2B or B2C? ›
Unlike B2B businesses, B2C businesses work in a larger-scale market, and the target is much more spread out.Is Amazon a B2B or B2C company? ›
Companies like Amazon sell their products directly to consumers, i.e. Business to Consumer (B2C) marketing. On the other hand, companies like Alibaba.com are marketplaces where businesses interact with and sell products to other businesses, i.e. Business to Business (B2B) marketing.