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Content Marketing for Medical and Pharma in 2017



Digital ad spending by U.S. medical and pharma companies has been on the rise. An eMarketer report revealed there was $1.93 billion in ad spending in 2016, and $2.17 billion expected in 2017, representing a 12.4 percent increase. That is up from $1.4 billion in 2014. The report also projects spending to rise up to $3.1 billion by 2020. Content marketing is vital in the industry. Healthcare marketing is big business on the web, as people actively seek valuable information regarding every health and medical subject.

According to C&EN Media Group, long-form content and technical information are essential for converting website visitors into business. Its analysis of the purchasing process in 2014 revealed half of survey respondents often sourced products via a supplier website. Two-thirds of respondents chose against a purchase because information, such as product specifications, was lacking.

The report also indicated helpful factors including technical comparisons, unique product features/benefits, and value comparisons. A CMI report in 2017 noted 76 percent of B2C marketers allocated nearly a third of their marketing budget to content. In 2015, content was about 25 percent of total marketing budgets.

Getting the Most Out of Content Marketing

In the pharmaceutical industry, there are many challenges for content marketers. The marketplace is competitive and marketers must focus on attracting and retaining an audience, while being attentive to business goals. A few considerations are more imperative in this industry. For example, all the facts must be correct; people with illnesses and injuries look for factual information, so there’s no room for error. Details about medicines and life-saving therapies and technologies must be accurate and concise.

Another consideration is the industry is tightly regulated. Credibility is therefore essential, and the process of validating and approving content is more complex than in other industries. The big guns check messages to make sure they are in line with U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines. A pharmaceutical company must be careful in this area. Content producers must avoid social stigmas based on certain conditions. The way in which information is presented, and consumer privacy is a priority as well.

Social media ads, including those on Facebook, and search engine marketing, have become more preferred compared to paid print/offline marketing channels. This is true for medical and pharma as much as any other industry. Infographics have become effective tools for engaging consumers. The report from CMI found that between 2015 and 2016, the number of respondents using these rose from 45 to 62 percent, and those rating infographics as effective for consumer engagement went from 43 to 63 percent in one year.

Tips for Success

In pharma, visual content is becoming increasingly popular. People often don’t take more than 15 seconds to read a page to determine its message. Content marketers are therefore shifting to graphics as audiences change their habits. But publishing a blog is still a popular way to disseminate information. An article can be very effective in explaining the path to treatment for a patient. Blog posts compliment social media posts and ads, videos, and graphics well. Healthcare marketers often succeed using a multi-faceted approach to content marketing.

However, there are limitations when it comes to creativity with content marketing for medical and pharma. Messaging in pharmaceuticals is somewhat indirect by nature (privacy is one reason). It must adhere to regulatory compliance as well. These issues can make it tough to explore a subject creatively, but addressing the matter with care and accuracy can build credibility that sets a medical company apart from its competition.

Diagnostic and Treatment Content

The content seen in this industry is often specific to a condition the website visitor has and is researching. There are some basics to consider here, such as:

  • Real-life scenarios: A medical story does not have to reveal a patient’s identity, but it should focus on an actual illness and how it affects a person’s life. Actual data can be used. For example, IBM has partnered with Pfizer to build a web-based database to measure the health and quality of life of Parkinson’s disease patients. Physicians can use the content to create tailored treatments.
  • Adapt the communication: Pharmaceutical companies have an opportunity to continue to address a patient’s health care needs. Some focus more on acquisition. Steering content towards informing people and their physicians regarding conditions and treatment options improves communication. Content marketers can outline an entire course of treatment. Communicating benefits may be a primary goal, but it’s important to express concern about the real-life experiences the reader has.
  • Inspire: A novel idea for content between Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Marvel Custom Solutions resulted in a comic strip about a scientist and sufferer of chronic inflammatory bowel disease. The lead character must fight off invaders who break into a lab. This comes naturally compared to opening up about his condition. The narrative is intended to encourage people to focus on making the right health choices, stick with their treatment plan, and live their life.

Medical/Pharma Marketing Influencers

Some of the big influencers have taken to social media. They include John Mack, owner of Pharma Marketing Network who posts industry news on Twitter pertaining to mobile technology, medical apps, and popular medications. Janet M. Kennedy of Healthcare Marketing Network raises awareness of various causes on social media, and encourages others to join a community of healthcare writers and communications professionals. Synthesio lists a total of 25 pharma marketing influencers who have made social media a place to share pharma product experiences and talk about benefits and side effects, among other topics.

Optimize Your Healthcare Marketing

Spending and messaging are not the only factors for effective content marketing for medical and pharma. Mobile marketing is crucial because four out of five people in the U.S. own a smartphone. It’s also common to look up information on a laptop or tablet. Website developers and content producers, therefore, need to think of the consumer on a mobile screen, and adapt the message accordingly.

Location-based marketing is a major necessity. An individual can quickly find a nearby healthcare facility. Marketing health products and medications becomes more practical as well. For example, someone could find the nearest store to make an important purchase. Digital video advertising, telemedicine, and even online provider information are examples of useful content. The more relevant information that is available, the greater the likelihood of conversion and retention.

Like what you see? Over the next few days, Iris Content will offer each industry its own specific report in a short blog and starting October 1, a series of larger state of the industry reports will be available for all relevant industries that have an online presence. If you are interested in trends in content marketing and what your specific industry should publish to stay relevant and improve ROI, come back for more professional reports from our team of expert writers.

Annie Ianko

Chief Content Officer

Annie has 20 years of experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.