Reaching today’s busy physicians and C-suite executives is more challenging than ever for medical device manufacturers. Doctors, in particular, are so busy they have no time to see even additional patients, let alone talk to sales representatives. Shoot, many practices no longer even allow sales reps into their offices.
So with a market size of about $156 billion, how do you stand out?
1. Reach physicians with search engine optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of improving your website so that it ranks higher in search engine results for keywords and phrases related to your products and services. The main goal with SEO is to match what your potential customers are looking for with your product.
For example, if you provide medical equipment for the home, then targeting keywords like “home medical devices,” could be part of your strategy. The idea is to determine what your audience is searching for, then optimize your website for those words and phrases.
The main advantage of SEO is that you’re catching potential customers when they’re actively searching for a solution that your product provides.
Stay away from short, generic keywords. Many bigger companies will try to rank for them, which makes it harder to rank well. Plus, the vaguer the keyword, the higher up they are in the sales funnel, meaning it’ll take longer to convince them to buy your product. When you utilize longer keywords, you will see better results because you’ll have less competition and drive in more qualified leads.
Once you have your keywords selected, you’ll need to ensure that you are utilizing those keywords on your pages. You’ll want to use them in your title tags, headings, and within your content. This will help you rank better for those keywords.
When you are creating an SEO campaign, you’ll want to build links (called backlinks). Backlinks are links from credible websites to your site. Google essentially views backlinks as positive votes proving your website is authoritative and worthy of ranking well for the website.
An easy way to do this is to search in Google for related keywords to your product. Going back to our example, instead of “home medical devices” maybe search for “how to check blood sugar levels at home.” Find websites that rank for those topics, and contact them, suggesting you have a great idea for a blog post you’d like to submit to them to post on their site. This is called “guest posting,” and it’s a great way to build some quality backlinks to your website.
2. Generate leads who are ready to buy with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
In conjunction with SEO, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is an excellent strategy for marketing medical devices. PPC ads appear at the top of search results, above the organic (SEO) listings.
You can tell it’s a PPC ad by the little black “Ad” to the left of the URL, or by the “sponsored” title in the top right of the page.
There are two main benefits of running PPC campaigns:
- They’re effective. They only require you to pay when someone clicks on your ad. And they generate qualified leads, too.
- PPC advertising can also deliver immediate results. Your ads can start driving traffic to your website as soon as you launch them, so if you’re looking for a way to quickly increase traffic to your medical equipment company website, creating a campaign could be the right solution.
But some things to keep in mind to not accidentally blow your marketing budget quickly:
- Create negative keyword lists. This is basically a list of phrases you DON’T want your ad to appear for. This helps you avoid spending money on people who are unlikely to make a purchase.
- Don’t use broad match. What is broad match? It’s the default setting for Google ads. It basically means “show my ad to anyone who mentions this keyword.” But it’ll end up wasting a lot of marketing budget. Instead, use “phrase match.” This translates into “Only show my ad when someone’s search includes the exact phrase, or close variations of the exact phrase of your keyword, with additional words before or after.”
Both of these tips will help you keep your budget tight, and help prevent wasting precious marketing spend.
3. Nurture your potential customers through email marketing
Email marketing is ideal for building a loyal audience and encouraging customers to return to your website. This works really well in conjunction with PPC advertising. If someone comes to your site through PPC advertising but isn’t ready to make a purchase decision yet, you can create an email marketing campaign sending them information about your product, help educate them on the pros and cons, and in general help them understand why your product is best.
Be careful with email marketing. It’s tempting to send potential customers too many emails. And the spam button is very easy to click. The more times your emails get flagged as spam, the fewer email providers will show your email to potential customers. So be very cognizant of how often, and what to email your potential customers.
4. Retarget potential customers through targeted social media ads.
This tactic works great in conjunction with PPC. All major social networks have an advertising option for brands. When you sign up for it, you’ll be provided with a “pixel,” which is a code that you place in the backend of your website. This pixel allows you to track people as they come to your website, regardless of if they sign up for anything. Here’s how this would play out:
A potential customer searches for a solution to their problem on Google. It happens to be something that your product can help solve. Your advertisement appears on their search result, and they click the ad to learn more. They realize they’re not ready to take the plunge now, so they leave without giving any email or purchasing your product. With social media ads, when that particular customer browses Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, an advertisement for your product will appear, and they will be reminded of your product, and be more inclined to purchase from you.
The main benefit of this is its ability to lower your overall cost per acquisition (CPA) or how much money it takes for you to turn a potential customer into a sale.
Common Challenges with medical device marketing and how to deal with them
Here’s the problem. In a modern-day hospital, there are several people involved in the decision of whether to purchase a new medical device, including nurse managers, surgeons, and their support staff, and supply managers. When promoting more expensive and sophisticated equipment, it’s important for you to make your case to multiple stakeholders to persuade every involved party that the investment is worth it.
So the medical equipment company may have to develop relationships with both the surgeons — whose recommendation to the hospital play a role in which brand is selected — and the hospital organizations that make the ultimate purchase decision.
One way to do this is to create different personas to whom you can customize your marketing message. Send follow up collateral to your contact on how other organizations can benefit from your medical device.
Long Sales Cycle
Doctors are busy individuals who are contacted by numerous product suppliers, including medical equipment and pharmaceutical companies. Developing a relationship may take several meetings or phone calls with the doctor before he or she will even consider using the products.
The physician may have been using a competitor’s equipment for a number of years. Even if your product is superior, you will have to gain the physician’s trust before he or she will consider doing business with you.
This is where making sure to have follow-up meetings set, understanding at the beginning what their pain points are, and who else needs to be involved in the buying decision.
Pro Tip: Doctors who are just starting their medical practices may be more receptive to trying new medical equipment as they don’t have established relationships with suppliers yet.
Establishing good working relationships with hospital stakeholders is critical, but equally as important is your ability to both explain the benefits of your product, and how it’ll make life easier for the stakeholders. This is particularly important when guiding them toward large investments since hospital staff won’t want to purchase expensive products that are difficult to use.
Pro Tip: Pay attention to the words and language they’re using as you speak with them. Try to translate or explain your product in their own terms. This is often a great way to help them understand your product much more quickly.