Traditional healthcare marketing vs digital healthcare marketing

18 Jan 22

Marketing, as a whole can be broken down into two sections, traditional marketing and digital marketing. Traditional marketing encompasses a lot of the tools used by sales professionals while digital marketing is defined by your company’s online channels.

To someone outside of the medical device industry, they might assume that digital marketing is what they should be focusing on but this article is here to explore the role that both these have to play in the medical device industry.

This article has broken down both the benefits and drawbacks of both traditional and digital marketing in the medical device industry and what this could mean for your company.

What is traditional healthcare marketing?

Traditional marketing encompasses any marketing materials that are designed to help your sales team. Some of these included: 

  • PowerPoints 
  • Brochures 
  • Flyers 
  • Stands and conference materials. 

All of these are tools in your sales team’s arsenal, that can be used when meeting potential clients, networking at medical device events and other meetings.

What are the advantages of traditional medical device marketing?

As a marketing strategy in the medical device industry, traditional marketing takes up a very crucial space in the sales funnel. While in other industries the role of the sales team might be losing importance, in medical devices it’s a fundamental part of the end process.  

The adoption process, coming at the end of the medical device sales cycle is very much guided by the sales team, helping your clients understand and implement your device in hospitals and medical practices. To do this effectively informative marketing materials as a crucial aid, in teaching and educating HCPs to use your device correctly.  

Additionally, conferences and networking are a key hallmark of the industry where traditional marketing techniques can help you stand out and make a great impression on your audience.  

Alongside this, traditional marketing also helps to build credibility for your business. Professionally designed and printed ads, sales brochures, and event stands all require expertise to create, seeing these pieces of physical evidence will give potential customers the impression that your company is well established, and therefore they are left feeling more able to trust your company. 

On top of that, these types of materials only have to be created once and can be used repeatedly until they are no longer relevant either because of a change in messaging or the publication of new data. 

What are the disadvantages of traditional healthcare marketing?

The main disadvantage of traditional marketing for medical device and healthcare companies is that it isn’t as measurable as digital marketing. 

There is no way to directly track the success of materials such as brochures or flyers making it hard to decipher how well it has worked for bringing in customers and whether it is worth your investment in the future.

Equally, the lack of ability to track this information and lack of quantifiable evidence means that you are less able to improve on campaigns. For instance, with social media you can see which of your posts are performing the best, you can tell what your audience enjoys seeing and then you can do more of that in the future and see your results get better and better. Unless you get feedback directly from the customer, you can’t do this for physical materials. 

As well as the lack of tracking, it is difficult to be reactive when it comes to traditional marketing. Although they will last for a long time so are worth the effort, traditional marketing materials take time and there are costs each time something needs to be reprinted. 

For instance, if there is new data that you want to include in your materials, you will not be able to publish it straight away, instead, you have to wait until the brochure is complete and then wait again for the right event to be able to hand it out. At this time, you might miss valuable opportunities. 

As an example, the same brochure can be handed out time and time again, so once it is designed and completed, it is finished, and you have something that can be used for several months. On the other hand, digital activities like social media need to be regularly updated with new content, almost daily. 

What is a digital marketing strategy?

Digital marketing in medical device is often defined by the different types of digital channels that can be used to reach and connect with audiences, there are as follows:  

  • Social media 
  • Email marketing  
  • Websites  
  • Paid ads (Google ad) 

These digital channels are an excellent way to broaden audiences, spread your messaging and increase your digital presence. With the digital world growing faster by the day digital marketing in medical device is increasing in importance and value as in recent years there has been a significant shift in the self-education of buyers. What this means is that through digital marketing you’ll be able to push more of your audience through the sales funnel than ever before, aided by the creation of helpful and educational online content.  

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What are the advantages of digital healthcare marketing?

One of the main benefits of a digital marketing strategy is the ability to closely target specific segments of your audience based on factors such as intent and location. Whether it’s on social media or through email marketing you can attune your content to be specific to your audience. 

As a result of this, digital marketers can tailor the content they show to their audience so that they will see content that will be most effective for getting them to convert. 

Digital marketers can also report in detail on their activities. They can use analytics to gain actionable insights that will improve their marketing campaigns and therefore improve their outcomes. 

For instance, if a website isn’t bringing in as many leads as expected, marketers can look at the data and troubleshoot. The data unravels the mystery, revealing how the website can be improved to bring in more leads. 

As well as this, digital marketing campaigns can continue to bring in leads long after they are launched. For example, optimising your website for search engines through SEO (Search Engine Optimization) will continue to work in the background, even when you are not dedicating time and effort to it. This is often called content marketing and is a form of digital marketing.  

What are the disadvantages of digital healthcare marketing?

Digital marketing isn’t necessarily a quick win. For instance, many experts say that it takes 7 months from when you start optimising your website for search engines to start seeing the results. 

Furthermore, social media marketing and email campaigns may not convert straight away, and customers may have to be exposed to your content a few times before taking any action. Still, the effects build up over time and are long-lasting, meaning that after a while, your digital marketing campaigns will be running in the background like a well-oiled machine and bring in a stream of leads for you. 

One of the criticisms of digital marketing is that the connection between the customer and the brand is lost. There is a belief that you cannot replicate the connection face-to-face, and whilst this is true to an extent, studies have shown that customers are still able to feel connected to a brand online. Our guide on digital marketing for Medical Devices delves into how companies can achieve this. 

On a more technical, this industry is different to others as it is subject to medical device regulations. These rules and guidelines, as set out in things like the EU MDR (EU) and FDA (USA), explain what medical device marketers can and cannot do when it comes to their online marketing campaigns. These rules range from what you can say to the different types of imagery you can show. They vary from location to location but are intrinsic to marketing in this industry. 

Traditional marketing is also restricted by these rules, but digital marketing is also restricted by the digital channels rules and guidance. Social media platforms such as Facebook and X (Twitter) will have varying rules on how you can share your medical device so it’s important to make sure that you have a strong understanding of these guidelines. 

If you have any questions about what you can and can’t say in medical device then have a look at our complete breakdown here.  

Which one do you need?

Neither digital nor traditional marketing is the better option for medical device companies because operating both simultaneously is the best option. 

It allows companies to cover both bases, targeting potential customers wherever they may be. This is known as multichannel marketing. It blends tactics to create a comprehensive marketing strategy.

In order to create the widest-reaching marketing strategy, elements of both types of marketing will be beneficial, because digital marketing and traditional marketing actually complement each other. In fact, the issues that both these marketing strategies create can usually be solved by the other. 

For instance, if exciting new data is published it may take a few weeks to be able to design and print new brochures that are updated with the new data, but with digital marketing, you can start promoting it immediately. You can begin to build up a buzz straight away, that you can consolidate in your physical materials.

Utilising both digital and traditional marketing will also allow your company to build up brand recognition. In today’s world, your audience needs to see your company around 15 times before they remember it and are able to recognise it. By having clear branding that is uniform across multiple different channels, you increase your chances of being seen and therefore being remembered by your potential customer. 

As you can see, digital marketing strategies and traditional marketing strategies are each one part of a whole. Alone they can both be effective, but multichannel marketing increases your chances of success. Together, digital and traditional marketing will create a well-rounded and reactive marketing strategy. 

Working with Podymos

Want to start your medical device and healthcare digital marketing journey?

Podymos is a dedicated healthcare marketing agency, specialising in downstream medical device marketing. Our services might be a bit pricier than non-specialised agencies and freelance teams, and that’s because our exclusive focus on the medical device space equips us with specialised knowledge and expertise that others might not offer. 

For compliant campaigns that align with your business objectives, we’re here to assist. Simply provide your contact details, and we’ll reach out promptly for a no-obligation discussion. 

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