Life sciences and biotech businesses are not always on the cutting edge of digital marketing practices. Many feel that their products and services are so scientific and specialized that they don’t lend themselves to marketing channels like social networks and Facebook ads. At the same time, the evidence is indisputable that, even in very specialized B2B businesses, potential customers are researching online well before contacting a supplier or service provider.
We surveyed the web to find what online marketing experts in the life sciences and biotech industries are finding successful and recommending as best practices. This summary is not in order of importance, and not meant to suggest that a company implement everything at once. It’s just a list of ideas for life science and biotech marketers considering baby steps or a giant leap into the world of digital marketing.
Remove spammy backlinks from your existing website (from Supreme Optimization)
Remove spammy backlinks. A common SEO practice 10 years ago (and unfortunately still presently for many SEO companies) was to submit your website to 1000’s of web directories and to pay for other links from low-quality spammy sites. Google has become very intelligent in the last 5-7 years. It perceives these spammy unnatural backlinks as a clear manipulation of its algorithms (which it is!). Google has hit back and penalizes all websites that have participated heavily in paid links and web directory submissions. A penalty means that your website won’t be ranked! Your website will literally fall off the face of the earth.
Talk less and listen more in your communications (from Sudeep Banerjee at B3netBio)
Your customers can give you some great marketing ideas. All you need to do is listen to them carefully. A key question you can ask your customers is – “Which business issues don’t let you sleep?” Their answer to this question can reveal their greatest marketing pain points, for which you have to provide the solutions. So, stop talking so much about your services and products. Instead, take the time to listen and note down the greatest information challenges encountered by your customers. Solve those issues with useful information that does not merely gloss over, but actually answers their queries.
Tread carefully on social media (from EXL Events)
Social channels are an excellent avenue for reaching consumers — but they are also risky. As the controversy over Kim Kardashian’s unsolicited Instagram endorsement of the nausea medication Diclegis showed, pharma organizations have to be hypervigilant about staying on the right side of industry regulations. Make sure any materials you release comply with guidelines set forth by the FDA and other applicable organizations, and keep track of what others say about your brand online.
Steer clear of content using marketing speak (from C&EN)
Scientists aren’t inspired by marketing jargon. They’re inspired by concrete benefits that impact their research. That’s why many life science organizations are using content marketing to deliver valuable information to their audience. Content marketing builds trust with your science-minded customers, and over time, turns your audience into brand advocates. 54 percent of 800 life scientists surveyed said articles and whitepapers get their attention–more than any other marketing tactic.
Optimize your website (from Clwyd Probert at Whitehat Inbound Marketing via LinkedIn)
The company website is the centerpiece of its digital marketing efforts. As such, it should be as dynamic as the company that it represents. With new content continually added to drive traffic from customers and prospects. Intuitive navigation, advanced search capabilities and content designed to support the customer’s buyer’s journey should be built into the design. Lead generation capabilities are available to support highly personalized campaigns to appeal to different customer personas. The importance of a mobile-friendly site is key as the majority of search is now done on mobile or tablet and not via the desktop.
Use inbound and content marketing (from upthereeverywhere.com)
The way customers seek out information has undergone a fundamental shift over the last decade. Customers are actively seeking out new information channels and sources of authority in their fields. They want to know how to do their jobs better and look for resources that can help them do that.
Customers no longer wait for a salesperson to call to get information about a product that may help them do their jobs better. In fact, company websites may not even be the first line of information gathering for many people. They check out social media sites or peer-facing discussion pages, or whatever comes up first on Google.
Simply pushing product information out through advertising on mass media doesn’t work. You need to have your information timed to what the customer needs to know, not tied to your internal marketing cycles.
But don’t forget outbound marketing (from Biostrata Marketing)
Planning a marketing strategy is about identifying your short- and long-term goals, assessing your budget, reviewing the competitive landscape and selecting the tactics that you think will help you win in your marketplace. While inbound marketing is often seen as cheaper than outbound marketing, it is also a ‘long-game tactic’ – value is built incrementally over time, as more and more prospects learn about a company and engage with the brand.
On the other hand, outbound marketing tactics can often be ‘expensive’ in terms of cost outlay, but they can also deliver instant results by enabling companies to reach a large amount of people quickly. For example, widespread advertising in key print journals and trade websites can be used to rapidly raise awareness among a large number of people, while email blasts employing rented lists can deliver a large number of tangible leads (especially if the list has been carefully chosen to ensure the recipients will be interested in the offer promoted).
Better get started soon (from David Chapin at Forma Life Science Marketing)
It is also true that the opportunity to use life science content marketing as a competitive differentiation tactic won’t last forever. If you are not implementing a life science content marketing strategy and working to become a thought leader, you should be. Your strongest competitors are, or they will be soon.
The thing about life science content marketing and thought leadership is that it is easy to grab the podium (that is, to be seen as a thought leader) when you are the first to walk into the room. Once the room gets full, however, everyone wants to get on stage. It will be a lot harder to be heard then – and a lot harder to be seen as a thought leader.
Use LinkedIn groups (from Hallam Internet)
Did you know, there are 15,671 groups about ‘medical’ on LinkedIn at the time of writing this article. That’s 15,671 places that people are discussing a topic highly relevant to the life sciences sector. Savvy life sciences businesses should be there, adding value to those discussions and positioning themselves as the experts in their field – which is a strong facilitator of future sales.
As you can see, there are lots of life sciences companies that are successfully putting digital marketing to work. It’s important to note that digital marketing is critical for B2B as well as B2C. According to Google, “We know that 89% of B2B researchers use the internet during the B2B research process.” Companies that are not optimized for digital marketing risk not being found.
To learn more read this case study on how one biotech company used inbound marketing to increase traffic, leads, and sales.