As we head into the final stretch of an unforgettable 2020, telehealth marketers are likely just trying to keep their head above water. With relaxed policies and the infusion of $200M from the CARES Act, combined with an increase in patient willingness to try virtual care, it’s safe to say that telehealth has gone mainstream and will continue to see strong demand beyond 2021 with a long-term outlook of $55.6 billion by 2025.
In the spirit of staring down a new year and a fresh start for your marketing and communications plans, here are some quick tips on “bad habits to break” as you look to stand out in today’s fiercely competitive telehealth market.
- Believing that “If you build it, they will come”
Just because you stood up a website outlining your company message and featuring your telehealth solutions doesn’t mean that prospects will automatically find your brand. Is your site optimized for search (your competitor’s likely is)? Does your content strategy align with the buyer journey? Is your website fully integrated with your marketing technology stack (marketing automation, CRM, chatbots, etc.)? Does your website deliver a positive experience for visitors that reduces bounce rates and draws them deeper into the funnel?
Revisit your long-term SEO strategy and find ways to improve your website content’s performance so you’re more searchable. Develop an understanding of the evolving search algorithms and deploy related onpage and off-page optimization best practices to create site content that engages both the algorithms and the target buyer.
- Assuming that messaging development is a one-time initiative
We’ve stated on this blog the importance of message testing, and that doesn’t just apply to newly launched companies. The telehealth market is continuing to rapidly evolve and medical providers are still evaluating the best ways to win over patients, so message development is a year-round job for marketers.
To remain relevant, it’s important to tap into early users or physician advocates to see what messages are resonating or positioning that is becoming obsolete — this could be via focus groups, external surveys or customer councils. Advocates can serve as a sounding board for how to best address patient needs based on their knowledge of your product strengths and weaknesses. Revist messaging at least quarterly to ensure you won’t be left behind when there’s a shift in the market.
- Not maximizing the impact of your executive team in external communications
As mentioned in our recent blog on telehealth thought leadership, there are huge opportunities to position your CEO as a thought leader on telehealth issues. Reporters are looking for industry leaders who can break down the key issues for their readers. Position your executives as experts resources to land industry-moving trend coverage or secure standalone executive Q&As or bylined article placements authored by your CEO.
Understanding that these are busy times, think of ways to make the most of your executive’s thought leadership. For example, if your CEO is speaking at an event or to the board on where the telehealth market is going next year, repurpose the content for a byline, blog, speaking abstract or press campaign around 2021 predictions.
- Forgetting good data hygiene as you roll out digital campaigns
Did you know that experts estimate that up to 25% of your contact data expires annually? The time is now to get your house in order so you get off to a fast start in 2021 with your campaigns. Personalization is critical in the telehealth market, so the more accurate your data, the better you can segment and serve providers with the right content at the right time in the right way.
A lot of it is about better targeting and segmentation. More personalized content and offers can lead to more qualified top of funnel (TOFU) leads, increase conversion rates and land larger sales opportunities. It’s also about more effective lead nurturing. Data enrichment can unclog your nurture stream, allowing you to grade leads better and focus on multi-channel engagement with your best prospects.
Location-based marketing can also be an effective strategy, allowing you to conduct geo-targeted campaigns in regions where telehealth services are needed, such as where COVID-19 and flu outbreaks are happening or where mental health and therapy services are more in demand. When done correctly, these campaigns can help boost brand awareness, drive qualified traffic and collect valuable data about prospects.
- Not fully integrating sales into the marketing process
Sales needs to be integrated early into the marketing strategy so their voice is heard and ideas aren’t being created in a silo. Especially for markets like telehealth where the buying cycle can be long, you should be building multi-touch, multi-channel nurture streams with retargeting to convert more leads. Your content marketing strategy should include assets that support the entire buyer journey, so make sure you’re supporting your sales team by developing down-funnel webinars, product demos, case studies, trainings, call scripts and other sales enablement materials that providers need to make their buying decision.
- Getting stuck in 'static' content production
With attention spans decreasing, you need to create engaging content that relays your message quickly and effectively — and video has risen to the top as an effective way to boost B2B sales. According to Forrester Research, it’s 53 times easier to rank a video than other content. Additionally, visitors tend to spend 2.6 times longer on pages with videos, which gives you more opportunities to educate, engage and push buyers forward. What does this all mean? Marketers that use video actually grow revenue faster! Beyond video, consider more content assets such as interactive white papers, polls, online surveys, calculators and other dynamic assets.
- Going through the motions with virtual events/tradeshows
While it’s tough to know when physical events are ever coming back, virtual events are providing a surprising boon to companies who are approaching them in the right way. From landing a virtual speaking slot at a top conference to hosting an intimate remote roundtable discussion on the latest telehealth trends, there are still ways to “meet” your prospects and drive buzz about your latest innovations.
If you have a speaking slot, keep your audience in mind and embrace the virtual format. As we just focused on in a recent podcast on the new world of virtual speaking, “Don't try to force fit your speakers’ on-stage performance into a small screen. Instead, craft the speech just for virtual. Make it shorter. Upgrade the visuals. Develop different content that will hold viewers interest.”
When it comes to hosting your own events, the typical cookie cutter virtual event plan won’t cut it. Zoom fatigue is real and attendees are demanding more from vendor-driven events than ever. You need to figure out how to add more engaging content, networking components, interactivity and creativity to the forefront to ensure your event is a success. In 2021, you’ll also have to decide if virtual or hybrid events (a mix of remote and physical) are right for your audience.