When it comes to marketing a pharmaceutical, medical device, or digital therapeutic, brand managers know that raising awareness is key. That’s why an enormous portion of brand marketing dollars are spent on DTC and HCP advertising, from TV spots to TikTok videos and everything in between. According to Fierce Pharma, the total dollar amount the pharmaceutical industry spent on advertising in 2021 topped $7 billion, which was up just slightly from 2020.
Most of us are familiar with the ubiquitous call to action (CTA) of consumer-focused ads: “Talk to your doctor.” That’s where the advertisement ends, and the consumer journey starts. Often, the first step in that journey is to learn more about the therapeutic by doing online research. If that research leads to your brand page, you’ve successfully achieved awareness. You’ve made an impression on this person, whether an HCP or a consumer, which has caused them to want to learn more. This is something to celebrate - your advertising has done the first part of its job.
But awareness is only part of the journey
Once a consumer or HCP visits a brand site, the next question is: How do you help them navigate to where they actually want to go in their journey? Brand sites are necessarily dense - but digging through a content-heavy resource to find the right information or next step isn’t likely to give your website visitors the experience they’re looking for. That’s why, after awareness, engagement is the critical next step in the consumer or HCP journey.
If you’re stopping at awareness, you’re missing out on the chance to guide your consumers and HCPs along the path that is specifically right for them - the path that gives them the information and resources they’re looking for in the format they want. And if you can deliver on that when your competitors can’t, you’ve got a strong differentiator.
Here are four reasons focusing on engagement can give you a leg up on the competition.
According to research firm KR&I, there are four clear-cut factors that influence outcomes in searching for health information online: ease of navigation, relevance, empathy, and credibility. In the study, relevance is determined by whether the user found what they were looking for.
Specifically, the study found: When users found what they were searching for, 39 percent scheduled an appointment with a healthcare professional, 49 percent bought a medication or tried a recommended treatment, and 38 percent talked to another person about what they learned. Forty-six percent of users took these actions that same day, and another 30 percent within a couple of days, directly working to positively influence their own outcome. (Fierce Pharma)
This data shows the value in making sure that website visitors find what they need. So engaging with your consumers and HCPs 1:1 is critical to make sure you understand what they specifically want, vs. a one-to-many approach that may miss the mark.
Another factor named in the KR&I report is empathy. KR&I found that a friendly environment makes people feel understood and reduces negative emotions. There are other data points to support the importance of empathy as well: Edelman Brand Barometer found that 83% of people want a compassionate connection that communicates empathy and support with the specific struggles that they face. And this isn’t just true for consumers: According to recent research by Indegene, empathy, along with relevant and easy-to-discover content, made a difference in improving interactions with HCPs as well.
If you have a way to engage 1:1 with website visitors - whether through live chat, a personal phone call, or something else - you have the opportunity to give visitors the empathy they’re looking for. And if you can deliver empathy when another brand can’t, you’re increasing your chances of gaining trust.
Another reason engagement can give you a competitive advantage is because it gives you the opportunity to deliver something that everyone has come to expect: instant service. In these days of Amazon, Uber, and Netflix, we’re all accustomed to getting exactly what we want, exactly when we want it. And this experience has become so commonplace that people expect to find it everywhere. Instant service has not yet come to the life sciences industry, but it will - and the brands that are the first to embrace it are going to have the competitive leg up.
This one isn’t particularly earth-shattering, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth mentioning: Your best reference is always going to be current patients recommending your brand. The ideal state is getting your website visitors to talk about the great experience they had with other people they know - and making sure that they have an unforgettable experience on your site is the way to make that happen.
How do you do it? You may be picking up on the trend: Again, it’s 1:1 personalized engagement and - here’s the key - making sure that engagement is with someone who can truly help. Personalized engagement isn’t an advantage if the provided guidance isn’t good; if anything, that can actually have a net negative effect. If you’re going to invest in personalized engagement, make sure you have reliable, well-trained, expert resources who are equipped to give your website visitors the information they’re looking for and help them walk away with a great impression of your brand.
If you make sure that you have a way to engage seamlessly and personally with website visitors, while also giving them the expert guidance they’re looking for, you’re much closer to that word-of-mouth reference you’re hoping for.
Here’s how we can put it simply: Many brands are very on top of awareness - but very few brands are on top of engagement. If you can use engagement to increase relevance, provide empathy, deliver instant service, and improve the experience of your website visitors, you’re going to have a big leg up on the competition.
Wondering how to activate 1:1 engagement for your brand? Drop us a line.