As marketers, our job is to influence behavior change. More often than not, though, healthcare brands are slow to adapt to cultural behavior shifts. Thus they fail to fit into people’s lives where and how they engage with content.

Social and digital platforms have permanently altered the way people consume media. Digital is not a channel, but a cultural shift in human behavior. But passively feeding information to consumers in the hopes that they will digest your brand story is not enough. A meaningful engagement strategy for online and digital platforms is the key to recognizing that “digital” is about putting people in the driver’s seat—and empowering them to influence how, when and if they engage with brands. At the center of that strategy: Creating meaningful content that will influence people’s deep desires to make better healthcare decisions for themselves and their loved ones.

A few examples of the shifting media landscape and tips on what marketers need to do to adapt to these changes include:

  • Paid social media ad units, as well as native content, have overtaken much of the CPG marketer’s budget. But many marketers and agencies are still hanging on to the reach and frequency benchmarks (GRP/TRP’s) to measure success. Creating a content strategy around the story you’re trying to tell before developing a media strategy/plan is crucial for all brands. It is essential to define your story before publishers pitch you their interpretation of your brand story. They will never be able to tell your story as well as you and your partners can.
  • 85% of the U.S. Internet audience watch videos online. Engagement time with online video networks such as YouTube, Hulu and Netflix increased dramatically in the last 24 months. Hulu is a great example of increased engagement in online video, having twice the brand recall and message effectiveness as traditional TV. A content strategy inclusive of native content is a critical part of any brand’s commercialization approach. Publishers are trying to use this as an opportunity to sell more space. They are not, however, equipped to represent the needs and content of a brand as well as those who steward it.
  • The ability to precision target has improved thanks to our media brethren who have mastered programmatic and cookie-based profiling. But we need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves; “Do we have a content strategy that meets the relevancy of a truly targeted buy?”
  • 40% of the U.S. population use mobile for search—surpassing that of desktop. People go to mobile first to begin seeking information—including answers to personal health questions. When it comes to mobile, speed and the quality of user experience is key. Having a robust content strategy that delivers in a three-inch space will determine the type of content required and how it should be produced.

Meeting intent with content is critical today. To fit into consumers’ lives where and how they can be influenced to make better health decisions for themselves, their loved ones or their patients, brand content requires a large degree of meaning and context. Through new roles, skills and mindsets within agencies and brand teams alike, marketers will need to meet this shift head-on.

  • Tim Pantello

    Tim Pantello is Managing Director of Digitas Health LifeBrands New York. As Managing Marketing Director, Tim’s experience has been instrumental in helping the agency become a leader in the creation of innovative programs that meet the diversity of needs present in the life sciences industry around the world.

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