Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Digital Marketing: Giving it Some "Pull"

Digital Marketing: Giving it Some “Pull”

By Laura Pfister, VP, Interactive Media & SEM at Ignite Health (www.ignitehealth.com).

source: PM360 (http://www.pm360online.com/ESource_0309)

As THE NATION’s economic woes continue to MuLTIPLY we are left with the challenge of becoming even more efficient with our marketing dollars. This requires product managers to consider how to squeeze every ounce of value out of their existing assets while devising highly efficient ways to drive visibility.

Perhaps one of the best ways to “drive” this visibility is not with a push strategy, but instead focusing on the power of a pull-through approach. One of the ways to accomplish greater reach of existing assets involves integrating and syndicating key assets at the natural consumption points of your target audiences in their preferred media formats.

Hit Moving Targets
Both patients as well as physicians possess fragmented Internet usage patterns. For example, a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient will oftentimes utilize a search engine, followed by a health portal and online message boards (i.e., YouTube, Facebook support groups, etc.). That presents us with a challenge of an ever-moving target. But at the same time we have the possibility of multiple touch points to communicate with this individual.

Likewise, your healthcare professional (HCP) audience is frequenting news, journal, peer-to-peer social groups and Wikipedia, and reaching this group has become equally fragmented. The critical key to success is determining the most efficient means to leveraging this behavior. By leveraging these natural occurrences, you no longer have to support the burden of driving traffic to your web property or assets, but instead, you leverage the volume of traffic a particular destination already has in the form of existing dedicated traffic.

Online video consumption has continued to increase over the past year. The Pew Internet and American Life reports that 48% of Internet users visit a video-sharing web site, such as YouTube, up from 33% in December 2006. This upward trend indicates significant opportunity to leverage many of the video assets we possess, from patient testimonials to general disease awareness information. By dusting off these assets and uploading them onto video sharing sites we can exponentially increase their possible reach and exposure. Additionally, you are providing information in the compelling format that your target audience is actively seeking.

Bear in mind, these types of syndication activities need to be strategically thought through and treated like any other marketing tactic to ensure legal soundness. For example, turning off the ability to comment on the videos, posting patient-safety information links, etc. are critical components to properly syndicating your video content and should not be forgotten. However, these components shouldn’t be seen as a barrier to entry as they are easily overcome and, when properly implemented, can provide additional reach and traffic for a lengthy period of time.

Making a Connection
Online video is no stranger within the physician community either, as well as portable media devices, such as iPods. One strategy to leverage both of these trends in a cost-effective manner is to continue your messaging to this audience by posting your KOL video series or other relevant information in a podcast format on iTunes. This allows for your HCP target audiences to download them and listen to them at their leisure, whether on their commute or during their lunch hour.

Social networking is an activity that continues to grow at an astonishing pace. According to a recent Pew Internet report, 35% of adults online have used a social networking site, such as MySpace or Facebook. Facebook alone possesses over 150 million active users and a surprisingly large volume of health-related groups, pages and conversations. By creating a group for your indication or participating in an existing conversation, you could bring significant reach to your unbranded messaging. Likewise, if you have KOLs within the HCP audience, you can amplify their reach on peer-to-peer communities, such as Sermo, Medscape Connect, and Ozmosis.

While the possibilities above are just a few strategic examples of effective syndication to jump start the ideation process, there are many other practical applications. These unprecedented times require that we think strategically about syndication by leveraging existing assets and expanding their reach among our target audiences through the mediums that they are already consuming. This methodology will allow us to achieve greater campaign success within our tightening budget parameters.

Laura Pfister is VP, Interactive Media & SEM at Ignite Health. She welcomes comments at lpfister@ignitehealth.com.

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