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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

The rise of search marketing in healthcare

Search is ubiquitous, but what is pharma doing to assist in the user journey?

Every single person with access to the World Wide Web does the same thing when they need information - they search. So if this is the first step in our customers' user journeys - whether they are carers, patients or healthcare professionals - what are we doing to help them?

In the health and wellness area, and certainly in the prescription-only medicine market, search is a relatively new discipline. So we need to understand how we harness it and what we should do in order to see the benefits.

Forward-thinking companies are investing in their teams and training people in social media; analytics; data visualisation; search engine marketing; and search engine optimisation in order to provide more relevant solutions to their target audiences.

But the key, according to Kate Burns, general manager of Buzzfeed, is to research where our target audiences are already online and place content there, rather than trying to lure them to our own branded websites.

While Buzzfeed is a global media company, many people share or consume content without knowing it has come from Buzzfeed. It is this power of sharing from peer to peer that is important in spreading online messages - whether they have been developed from an editorial, non-paid or branded standpoint.

Content is shared because of emotion - if people see something which reinforces their views or makes them feel better, they are likely to share it with others.

People spend most of their time on social networks, and they don't want to be taken away from what they're doing, looking at, whoever they're communicating with, or what they're reading. Content should therefore meet people where they are already.

Aileen Dalisay, head of health at Google UK, says that while some companies may be hesitant to get involved, the pace of change is only going to get faster. There are three billion people online today and Google expects one billion more to come online every year, which would mean the rest of the population could be on board within five years!

Revolutionary technology is on the horizon too - including smart contact lenses, self-driving cars and smart clothing - providing our audiences with more options to access online materials.

Google constantly studies how people search for the information they want, down to the last key word. In the last five years there has been a huge increase in searches using the words `near me':  so people want an immediate response wherever they are. It's therefore important that the first information they find is the correct and most useful. That's where we have an opportunity.

However, when we asked 90% of our partners what their search engine marketing strategy looks like it was a bit of a barren desert. That's why we launched Search Unlimited.

Last month in the UK, searches for `diabetes symptoms' (as an exact query) totalled just fewer than 50,000 - the first UK pharmaceutical company appears on page seven. Likewise for `heart attack symptoms' 12,500 searches every month, yet the first pharma company link appears on page four.

Search engine marketing and search engine optimisation are the foundations for all online communications.

The biggest opportunities come in the smallest moments - there are hundreds of millions of searches in healthcare across billions of people providing an unprecedented opportunity for brands to be relevant at the moment of need and win people's hearts and minds.

Whether it's searching, whether it's video content or whether it's social content - businesses have an opportunity to interact with people and join them in their journey.

Article by
Matt Lowe

Director, Search Unlimited

22nd October 2015

From: Marketing



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