Reaching patients online requires a specialist approach. How do you deal with the guidelines which apply to drug promotion? And how can you achieve your goal and create something effective despite those restrictions? Every day, we are looking for ways to reach patient target groups for our clients. A good example is a disease awareness campaign. We develop and manage such campaigns for medical indications like diabetes, HIV, dermatology and oncology. At national level, but also in various European countries at the same time.
This page shows some of the online marketing methods that we commonly use.
Our approach in brief: first we study the product, segment, company, the market and target group. After that, we determine the online goal, derived from the company’s objective. Now it’s time to establish KPIs which will enable us to make the online objective measurable. In an online marketing strategy, we then describe the most effective way to reach the target group and achieve the objective with a selection of online channels and media. We subsequently implement the strategy ourselves, in partnership with the client.
There are three important phases when setting up an online campaign: research, strategy and concept. In the research phase, we look at the current online landscape. For example, a pharmacist wants to set up an online campaign for a disease in partnership with a patient association. It is important to know what online content already exists about that disease. And where there are opportunities, of course. The research also reveals which search terms are used by the target group in Google. Are the ones you originally thought of really the terms they use? We also explore which social channels the target group uses and whether these are relevant for the campaign.
Extensive research is in fact the start of the strategy phase. It’s now time for strategic considerations, application of theoretical models, selection of channels, etc. The intensity of this phase varies with each project. One client is keen to build on an existing online strategy, while another prefers to develop a strategy from scratch. In the above example, the strategy offers insight into the relevant channels for promoting a possible platform. For example, a patient community on Facebook or sponsored content on a website like Dokterdokter.nl. The strategy also explains how a potential campaign website is searchable in Google and what tone of voice is suitable.
In the concept phase, our creatives start work. They read the research and the strategy and give full rein to their creativity. For us, this is one of the most enjoyable phases. Brainstorming sessions produce ideas about the concept of the campaign. We usually develop different directions to present to the client. This might involve a concept which is mainly informative, one which plays on the emotional side of the patient or one which is extremely prominent. Together with the client, we choose one direction which we elaborate in full.
At Medical Digitals, we make various website platforms for patients. In many cases, a platform is the heart of an online campaign. Here are some examples of website applications for patients.
Clinical disease websites
For a pharmacist, care institution, medical manufacturer or (sector) association, it is interesting to develop a clinical disease website. Such a platform is a good way to provide patients with reliable and relevant medical information. It also helps boost the visibility of a treatment. In recent years, we have launched several clinical disease websites. Please contact us for concrete examples.
High traffic & complex CMS
For European online campaigns, we encounter high volumes of traffic on one domain. Our systems, and the specialists behind them, guarantee that high traffic runs smoothly. We are also familiar with complex Content Management Systems (CMS). Over the years, we have got to know multiple systems, such as WordPress, Drupal, Umbraco, October and Sitecore. Furthermore, our talented developers are quickly able to adapt to new systems.
Many corporate websites of Life Sciences & Health organisations are outdated. We still see non-responsive websites, non-user-friendly tools and dead links. Many web designs are also very old fashioned. We understand that many local corporate websites are bound to rules from the global organisation. That makes it an interesting challenge for us to update and modernise an old corporate website. There are often more options than you think. A while ago, we wrote an analysis blog about 5 corporate websites of pharmacists.
Content on the website
Usually, we don’t just design and build platforms, we also provide all the content on them. This ensures a fast lead time for the project. That might include the website texts as well as photography, animations and videos. Read more about content.
Before we create a platform, we analyse the patient journey and highlight where conversions need to take place. In this phase, we determine the extent of innovative functionalities and the technologies we use. We also create a visual concept as a starting point for the platform.
How do you ensure that extensive platforms are easy to navigate? And that all the creative choices are focused on the patient journey? We accompany our client in the User Experience process to develop a well-considered product.
In this phase, we make a framework of all the pages. We show how they are related. The strategy behind the website is visually elaborated here. This overview makes the customer journey tangible and conversions clear.
We make wireframes of all the pages of a platform. A wireframe is a blueprint of a web page. This shows where the various content forms come on the page. We outline where the header, body and footer will come. It also provides insight into the position of text, pictures, videos or other functionalities. Because the elements in this phase have not yet been designed, we can make modifications much more efficiently if necessary.
A good design is vital. It ensures that content is accessible and therefore contributes to the platform’s goals. When designing websites or applications, we check which target group we want to appeal to. We create a visual style which is recognisable and as simple as possible. In this way, we prevent interference, so that the reader is focused on the content.
When a platform has a lot of content, it is useful to define when which content is shown. We consider the following questions: ‘How will the next paragraph be shown when you scroll down?’, ‘How can we ensure that important call-to-actions are highlighted?’ and ‘What is the page transition?’. These micro animations ensure good interaction between user and content and make a platform modern and attractive.
For an optimal user experience, it is important to use the latest technologies. Our expertise covers a wide range of front and back-end frameworks like ReactJS & React Native, Vue.js, Node.js, PHP, Laravel, Bootstrap, BEM, CSS Grid, Sass and .NET.
We also regularly work with complex Content Management Systems, like Sitecore, Umbraco, Drupal, October and of course WordPress. Every platform has its own wishes and requirements. We therefore regularly anticipate when an organisation uses a technology throughout the company for developing products, for example.
This is the phase when we fill the platform with content. Our copy and medical writers work closely together with our strategists and designers to make sure that the message is communicated well. In text, image and video. We ensure that the necessary content always complies with the guidelines of the KOAG/KAG and the CGR. Read more about content creation here.
Going live is not the end – it’s just the beginning! Platforms are dynamic products. Scalability is important and Content Management Systems must be maintained. How do we ensure that the servers can cope with high traffic? How often do we make back-ups? How do we manage GDPR: what data do we process and what not? All these things are addressed in the after care of a published platform.
Content is the main theme in every online campaign we implement. We develop:
We specialise in textual and visual content for patients. This target group requires a specific approach. While a doctor attaches great importance to using the right medical terms, a text for patients must be written at an average language level and above all be easy to understand. It can also be a challenge to describe all the treatment methods and communicate the client’s message at the same time. This is specialist work. We are familiar with the applicable rules and know exactly how we can effectively create patient content that complies with the rules.
An example of patient content is offering information behind the login of a pharmacist. For example, a cancer patient can log on to the website of the drug manufacturer using a code on his pill box. In the area behind the login, he wants to study more about his disease, the treatment, living with it, etc. It is important that the content on the website is understandable and easy to read/view. Think of an animation video with a clear explanation about using the drug. Or an infographic which visualises complex information about the action and use of the drug in an easy way.
Online copywriters & medical writers
Our team includes online copywriters and medical writers. This combination ensures that texts are medically correct, read well and match the target group. This is essential in the Life Sciences & Health sector and we are uniquely aware of this. If the project requires it, one of our search engine specialists joins the team to write texts that are optimised for Google.
Besides text writers, our team also includes online designers who create house styles, animate videos and design social posts. These designers are involved in a campaign from the start. They create the visual campaign style and apply this to the various content forms.
When we started Medical Digitals in 2010, social media was still in its infancy. Only a few companies in Life Sciences & Health were using social media as a marketing channel. Things have changed now. In today’s online campaigns, social media is almost indispensable. It is an important link in reaching patients. Patients look on social media for tips and support from fellow sufferers, for example. In the patient journey, social media is also often the first contact moment.
In most cases, we lead patients from social media to a disease awareness website, campaign website or landing page. From there, we ultimately try to make conversions. For example, a download of an important document or an online consultation with a doctor. How we achieve such a conversion is described in the strategy of the website. Read more here.
Social media strategy
To obtain a clear picture of the goal of social media, a successful social media campaign always starts with a strategy. Likes, shares and clicks don’t just fall from the sky. For us, analysing the target group, objectives and possibilities is the basis for a strategy. However, we don’t do this alone but together with the client. Our strategists need the client’s indispensable knowledge and experience to be able to provide pertinent advice. This advice focuses on various issues, like choice of channel, content type(s), visual style, tone of voice or advertising.
Content creation for social media
Stories, carousel posts, link images or videos. The potential of social media grows by the day. However, the Life Sciences & Health sector is bound by strict rules. Our content specialists are aware of the latest trends and current legislation and regulations. We feel that’s vital. This is the only way to create effective, rule-bound social content for Life Sciences & Health.
Community management and webcare
Social media is accessible to everyone. And that means that every patient can respond to the content you publish. Which might sound worrying, but it is an opportunity to create a bond with the target group. We can help you do that. For example, by responding spontaneously and substantively to questions and comments from the community. This keeps the community lively. We naturally submit all the reactions to the client and only post them after official approval.
Another essential element is a webcare plan regarding how to respond to comments and a social media protocol. The social media protocol describes the specific procedure to be followed if an adverse effect (AE) is mentioned. We have developed several webcare strategies and social media protocols for both Dutch and European campaigns. This experience helps us seamlessly align new protocols with the existing way of working with respect to reporting adverse effects.
Influencer marketing is a relatively new form of online marketing in the Life Sciences & Health sector. We already have a lot of experience in this. For big international campaigns, we chart which influencers are relevant for the project. We then contact them to see whether a partnership is possible. Together with the client, we choose the right influencers for the campaign. Research has shown that people are more likely to accept something from an influencer than if the sender is an organisation. In our campaigns, we have found that a message comes across better and generates more if it is sent from an influencer.
To reach patients, it is essential to share content at the right moment and using the right channel. What if they don’t see the content? An online article, animation or social media post will then obviously lose its value. Advertising therefore deserves an important place in an online campaign. With online advertising, you reach a specific target group in a very focused way. There are numerous options. Here are some examples.
When we started our service, only a few companies in Life Sciences & Health were actively using social media. That has now changed dramatically. Today it is an important link in reaching patients online. In our campaigns, social media is often the most important source of website traffic. Social media platforms have access to a lot of user data. This makes it possible to target very specifically.
Due to the speed of online, people expect to receive an answer to their question in seconds. A patient won’t therefore go to page two of Google. So, make sure that your content is posted near the top of the first page. Search Engine Advertising (SEA) makes this possible. This specialism ensures that your website appears directly above the organic search results. After performing the keyword research, we know exactly which search terms your target group uses. This makes it possible to target very specifically. Our specialists know where advertisements may be placed or not and can write advertising texts in such a way that we comply with legislation without missing out on results. Read more about search here.
Patients consult different websites for information about their disease. Part of the revenue model of these websites often consists of native advertising: offering sponsored content which corresponds with the platform on which it appears. Because the sponsored content resembles regular articles on the platform, the user experience is almost the same. This makes native advertising less ‘aggressive’ than other forms of advertising. Every day, we are in contact with medical platforms in our network. If native advertising is interesting for your campaign, we consult our database for a suitable platform.
A website is usually the basis for an online campaign. Also in Life Sciences & Health. There are various ways in which such a website can generate traffic. For example, advertisements on social media or links from external platforms. But in many cases, Google is the main source of traffic. This is where many people start their search for information. As a marketer, you can ensure that your website is high among the search results for search terms relevant to you. Organic and paid. In brief:
SEO: Search Engine Optimization SEO activities contribute to the organic positions of web pages.
SEA: Search Engine Advertising SEA involves the design, publishing and optimisation of the advertisements which appear above the organic positions.
Keyword research forms the basis for both SEO and SEA campaigns. Google’s keyword planner gives us insight into the search behaviour of your target groups. For example: a pharmacist wants to target patients with an informative website about type 2 diabetes. For an online bicycle shop, selecting suitable terms is easy. For medical purposes, it’s different. What terms do patients use when they talk about type 2 diabetes? Diabetes? Age-related diabetes? Or just type 2 diabetes? And imagine that the pharmacist wants to use Google Ads. What terms are frequently used in competitor advertising? These are important insights which determine the SEO and SEA strategy.
Every day, our SEO specialists make sure that web pages get a good organic quality score in Google. Organic, i.e. without paying for advertisements. A lot of factors are involved here. For example, the technology of a website. Is the website responsive to several devices? And does it have an SSL certificate? Content also plays an important role. Are the texts optimised for Google? And do the images have the right tags in the CMS? We call technology and content ‘on-site optimisation’. Getting relevant links to the website is ‘off-site optimisation’. This contributes to the authority of the website. For the website about type 2 diabetes, it is interesting to get links from leading patients’ associations, for example.
Do you want to be shown at the top of Google search results? If so, choose SEA. This specialism ensures that your website appears directly above the organic search results. You do pay advertising costs, but it can be very worthwhile. It means you can focus very specifically on your target group and you can always control what you spend. Our specialists have experience with SEA in the Life Sciences & Health sector. They know where advertisements may be placed or not and can write advertising texts in such a way that we comply with legislation without missing out on results.