Doctor holding ipad
HealthJune 30, 2021

5 ways you can prepare for the new HCP digital marketing landscape

Explore how HCPs’ digital habits have changed, and how marketers can improve how they engage HCPs through their digital efforts in 2021 and beyond.

Just as the COVID-19 pandemic forced healthcare systems to make long-term operational changes, it has encouraged healthcare practitioners (HCPs) to seek out new, reliable sources of information, resources, and professional engagement opportunities in digital environments. Based on recent findings from Wolters Kluwer, HCP habits in digital environments have changed permanently as a result.

For example, HCPs are increasingly turning to new digital and nontraditional online resources, each with its own purpose, function, and context within those practitioners’ daily professional routines. Now, they are open to a “combination of all techniques” in terms of how they access information that can help them improve the quality of their care, as one HCP described in an April 2021 virtual roundtable with Wolters Kluwer.

For marketers seeking to engage HCPs in digital environments, understanding how and why HCPs search for and access online resources is essential.

The new tenets of digital marketing to healthcare practitioners

One of the key insights from Wolters Kluwer’s April 2021 digital roundtable with HCPs about post-pandemic content consumption is that future marketing efforts must be both authentic, valuable, and backed by industry-relevant evidence. Marketers must develop a deep understanding of their specific audiences within the HCP community to deliver on their expectations as well.

Meanwhile, marketers must consider the several factors that impact HCPs’ digital habits—time management, convenience, and the availability of a wide variety of digital resources, among others. With these challenges in mind, Wolters Kluwer has identified five ways digital marketers can adapt and engage HCPs successfully in this new digital environment.

1. Understand their intent

Digital marketers must consider the goals and priorities with which HCPs approach modern digital channels.

HCPs are increasing the frequency with which they access digital resources each day — and doing so with a goals-oriented mindset. More HCPs are also using smartphones to access digital resources, where they are accessing a wider variety of content than ever before, including from nontraditional sources.

“We will probably be falling back on some of the habits I’ve been doing for 20-plus years, but my eyes have been opened,” said one HCP in April 2021. “There are these other sources that people post on regularly that have fairly robust information.”

Specifically, HCPs are thinking more practically when accessing digital content. The quality with which certain platforms (e.g., desktops and laptops, mobile devices, and print) lend themselves to certain types of content impacts their usage as well.

Recommendations to Digital Marketers

  • Determine how your audience defines “success” in relation to the problems you want to solve with your products or services. Ensure your digital efforts are working towards that success.
  • Embrace alternative digital resources as channels for engagement. Identify preferred, alternate sources of information and identify engagement opportunities in those contexts.
  • Ensure that your message and themes are consistent in multiple environments, presenting a unified message no matter how HCPs choose to engage content throughout the day.

2. Find the right contexts

Digital marketers must identify the digital platforms to which HCPs have become accustomed, and to which they have newly ascribed their trust.

As one HCP described in April 2021 about his experience during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, “Getting any type of information seemed valuable — but because of this, we were forced to scrounge up any scrap of information to try to put together a picture because we didn’t know the first thing about this condition when it started.”

Although HCPs continue to access digital channels with a results-oriented mindset, broad exposure to misinformation has made some HCPs more discerning in terms of the resources they trust for information. Marketers must determine with certainty what will be truly valuable and trustworthy to HCPs in their marketing efforts as a result.

Recommendations to Digital Marketers

  • Consider the “human” component in your digital efforts—that is, what HCPs will consider trustworthy or untrustworthy based on first impressions, before considering the subjective aspects of your marketing content.
  • Leverage HCP testimonials, trustworthy data, or real-world results related to your products or services to quickly establish trust.

3. Join the practitioner conversation

Digital marketers must familiarize themselves with the methods HCPs use to engage colleagues and interact with professional resources.

Compelling information and resources tend not to remain in a vacuum, especially via digital channels. “I do think that some of the positive side effects of this are we’ve moved a lot of people into some new forums, and if [they’re] comfortable I think people are going to use it,” one HCP described in April 2021 about his experience during the pandemic.

Marketers who understand the contexts in which HCPs discuss new opportunities, products, and services can shape their strategies with those potential interactions about their value propositions in mind. With the right messaging and channels, they can compel HCPs to share information about their products and services as well.

Recommendations to Digital Marketers

  • Take advantage of HCPs’ thirst for valuable information and eagerness to share with digital content that lends itself to sharing via social media, email, and other digital channels.
  • Optimize content and digital ad placements for more consistent and personalized exposure to each individual HCP.
  • Use content that works as a foundation for building personal relationships with HCPs based on individual needs and priorities.

4. Make it worth their while

Digital marketers must determine the best new digital content formats and marketing strategies for engaging HCPs in these new environments.

HCPs observe that a glut of information during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic coincided with growing demands on their personal and professional time — a trend that will likely be consistent during future crises of similar scales. “The world didn’t stop just because we were getting all this information,” one HCP described in April 2021. “We still had to take care of patients, stay updated on what we did.”

For marketers, this means differentiating one’s content and digital strategies is essential, especially with supporting evidence that is compelling from a practitioner’s perspective. One HCP recommends “doing some pilot studies, getting healthcare organizations to use [your products or services] ... report findings that are really important—end users want to know what that experience is like.”

Recommendations to Digital Marketers

  • Leverage real-world use cases, data, testimonials, or other compelling evidence in digital advertising. Apply them via channels whose audiences and contexts align with your products or services.
  • As HCPs increasingly use Google to find legitimate results, use leading search engine marketing (SEM) techniques to ensure HCPs interested in your value propositions are finding messaging they will find compelling,

5. Find the right partners

Digital marketers must find advertising partners with a deep understanding of the habits and requirements of HCPs to engage them effectively.

As one HCP recommends, “Using channels of advertising whether you’re doing it through professional societies or other publications would be a sound approach to take.” Wolters Kluwer continues to meet the content needs of HCPs as we support them throughout their careers. With multiple print and digital touchpoints, as well as hundreds of research activities every year, we help healthcare advertisers make data-driven decisions about strategy, product development, and marketing decisions.

Recommendations to Digital Marketers

Building HCP trust and meaningful relationships is key

HCPs are more active than ever before online — discovering new resources, interacting with colleagues, and sharing resources that are trustworthy and effective. Digital marketers who build more meaningful, enduring connections with customers are the ones most likely to succeed in establishing themselves among healthcare practitioners.

Contact us to learn about our multichannel solutions to engage your target audience.
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