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7 Ways to Tell Your Life Sciences Marketing Is Behind the Times

November 8, 2018

It’s 2018, do you know where your marketing is? If you follow a well-defined strategy, perform quarterly goal assessments, and conduct regular competitive analyses, chances are your marketing is in good shape and among the top brands in the life sciences industry. If, however, you’re on a set-it-and-forget-it marketing schedule or you’re like many brands in the life sciences industry who are slow to adapt, it’s time to bring your marketing efforts into the modern era.

Now is a good time to do some major reflecting and 2019 planning. If you missed your mid-year review, have no fear. We checked with Adobe’s 2018 Digital Trends report to see what kind of trends have emerged based on high-performing companies who exceeded their top 2017 business goals and outperformed their competitors.

The research shows a focus on the customer experience, as well as the content required to facilitate this. Additionally, we are entering a ‘design and creativity renaissance’ as brands recognize the importance of these capabilities to differentiate themselves and complement their data and technology excellence.

Is your marketing strategy in-line with the newest trends? Or are you still pushing for tactics that are almost old-hat in other industries by now? Make no mistake, change is coming for us all. Sooner or later, digital trends inevitably make their way into the more old-fashioned industries. The silver-lining? Life sciences organizations get to watch how the more youthful and “hip” industries go about implementing trendy marketing tactics. And if you’re reading this blog, chances are you can be among the first trail-blazers of your sector.

You can no longer afford to hesitate on a well-defined, digital-first marketing strategy, as the opportunity will soon pass you by. With Amazon and Google planning on moving in on the healthcare and pharma industries, the time to get up-to-date is now.

If any of the following describe the current state of your marketing, you need a marketing refresh.

1. When advertising, you’re only using a handful of demographic parameters to reach your audience

We’re in the pay-to-play era of digital marketing. There are a number of other businesses out there vying for your audience’s attention. Some of them may have a larger budget than you, but with our help, you have better strategy and creative.

Consumer sentiment seems to be split on ads. Those who view them negatively see them as annoying intrusions or creepy ways companies use your personal data. When done correctly, ads should be relevant and valuable to your audience. And in order to be more relevant and valuable, you need to know who your audience is and what their needs are.

Google and Facebook remain the most influential platforms for advertising, with each platform offering their own audience customization. But if you’re still only using a handful of targeting parameters such as gender, age, location, etc. for every campaign, you’re missing out on far more valuable opportunities.

The more data you have on those who interact with your brand, the more targeted your ads will be at every step of the customer journey – from awareness to decision. For example, building a lookalike audience using your customer data helps build your brand awareness by creating new audiences based on traits from your current customers, visitors to your website, or your brand’s social page fans. Using technology to track website visitors can also help your conversion goal by serving your ads to people who are already familiar and interested in your brand.

There is an incredible opportunity in online advertising, and targeting specific types of people based on your business’ goals has never been easier.

2. You’re not taking advantage of influencers

You’ve put in a lot of time, sweat and money growing your brand’s following on digital platforms. Maybe even some tears. Marketing is a lot of work! So how does it sound to have someone else create branded content for you, served to a sizeable online following that closely resembles your target audience? That is influencer marketing in a nutshell – a trend that rocked 2018.

“Influencer” is the name given to someone who has a significant following online. They’re like internet celebrities. In the life sciences industry, the list of influencers may harder to find, but there are industry experts and role models out there in everything from research to biopharma. These people have developed trust from their audience who read their blogs, watch their videos, and interact with their posts.

If you don’t know where to start finding influencers, you may be surprised to focus your search internally first. Employees can be your biggest brand advocates. They’re knowledgeable about your businesses and most likely present on social media platforms making them perfect candidates. They may not have a huge following, but look past numbers and instead focus on their activity, authenticity and engagement. With some strategic boosting, you could help them grow their following.

Influencer marketing pays off. On average, businesses generate $6.50 for every $1 invested in influencer marketing. Additionally, 81% of marketers who have used influencer marketing judged it to be effective – deeming it to be a trend that is going nowhere fast.

3. Video is not your highest content marketing priority

Video is the fastest growing format of content by a significant margin. Over half of consumers state that they would like to see more video content from marketers of all sectors. It will represent 82% of all internet traffic by 2021. This is a golden opportunity that should be taken advantage of, especially now in 2018.

If you have experimented with posting video on social media, you know these post types typically receive more engagements. And each year social media platforms think of new ways to incorporate different types of videos – from live videos, to ephemeral ‘stories’ on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat that last for 24 hours. Video is evolving, as is the way we consume video.

It is for this purpose that your marketing needs to put video creation to the forefront of your content strategy.

4. Email is not your primary form of communication

Email marketing may not be a shiny new trend, but 73% of marketers deem its ROI as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ according to Econsultancy’s 2017 Email Marketing Industry Census. While social media is meant for informal interactions, email is meant for serious communication.

Many people felt social media would ring the death knell for email marketing, but this ‘conventional’ form of marketing is far from dead. Email marketing is cost effective, estimated to bring in $40 for ever $1 spent. Email is also one of the most highly targeted forms of communication with segmentation capabilities, personalization, and automated functions built into systems for even the most novice marketers. Lastly, email marketing is easy to track from individual email reporting metrics to cross-platform campaigns.

When used as part of a bigger communication strategy, email is a powerful tool that can build customer loyalty and drive sales. However, 75% of life sciences marketing leaders admit they either broadcast identical messages across email and other channels or they don’t coordinate between email and other communication channels at all.

As marketers prioritize marketing automation and personalization in 2018 and beyond, email plays a big part. Rather than increasing volume, shifting focus on increasing the platform’s effectiveness further is the kind of sophistication your audience expects these days.

5. Your digital marketing is not in sync with your offline marketing

From paper records to digital files, you may have been in the industry long enough to see the convergence of digital and analog. While marketers see a brand’s web presence as different from a physical address, your audience’s mind perceives one continuous brand.

While rebranding or a brand refresh is no easy task, many people forget the work doesn’t just stop online. Do you have a sense of all the consumer-facing marketing materials your brand sends out? These are all part of the customer journey in which a seamless brand presence must stay consistent.

Driving your offline audience to your online platforms and vice versa is another way to sync your digital and offline marketing. Hashtags, QR codes, and email lead sweepstakes are all tactics that drive offline prospects to online channels. Consider using these at events, tradeshows, and other offline venues. Event hashtags allow attendees to communicate on social media, driving brand awareness and ample networking opportunities. QR codes and promotions that ask for email addresses (or business cards) drive leads to online promotions as well.

6. You’re not collecting and/or utilizing your data

Hypotheses, testing, tracking and analyzing. Marketing is a science! In fact, many marketing departments have a dedicated role for data-scientists whose job is to specialize in crunching numbers, tracking, automation, and machine learning.

The challenge is not only collecting data, it’s boiling it down into meaningful conclusions and insights. The more you know about your audience, the more you can optimize the customer experience. So how can you break through traditional customer care models to adapt?

2018 is the year companies committed to delivering personalized experiences with the customer at the heart of all initiatives and collaboration. Your customers expect a seamless, connected journey across touchpoints.

Leveraging data from different sources is a challenge many. A lack of integrated marketing technology reduces the chances of providing a seamless customer experience.

Over the next three years, AI will play a growing role in helping marketers to deliver more compelling real-time experiences. It would seem life healthcare and life sciences marketers agree, as 50% say AI is important for 1-to-1 marketing.

Before you hire a data-scientist, look into marketing software that can cover all your marketing needs. At the very least you should be using Google Analytics to track your marketing efforts and audience behavior.

7. You keep brushing off the importance of mobile

Everyone has a smartphone nowadays. A large portion of your audience is using their smartphone to interact with your brand online. While many B2B businesses or traditional industries have their audiences using desktop more than mobile, you don’t want to miss out on any potential opportunities. Using simple tracking methods such as Google Analytics will show you where your traffic is coming from, and what happens to those website visitors once they reach your website. If your mobile visitors are bouncing, you miss out. We also recommend a website audit that shows you exactly where your website needs technical improvements to help improve the user experience.

Here’s the biggest reason why your site should be mobile-friendly — Google has always aimed to help the largest number of searchers possible, which is why they announced this year that they will officially be using mobile first indexing. Because mobile searches surpassed desktop searches in 2018, Google will be indexing websites based on their mobile version – not their desktop version (as was done in the past).

For the life sciences industry, these are no longer the trends of tomorrow. Those who adapt will succeed. If your marketing needs a refresh, contact us today and we’ll help you create a successful plan of action.