The healthcare marketing landscape is evolving, making it necessary for firms to adjust their budgets to best engage their target market. When it came to healthcare marketing last year, most firms set aside a larger budget in 2018 and used a mix of traditional and digital channels.
Researchers from MM&M and Deloitte explored these shifts during its recent annual healthcare report, which was published in January 2019. To find out what channels and trends are impacting the healthcare marketing space, researchers surveyed 233 healthcare marketers in a wide variety of companies, including pharma, biotech, diagnostics, and devices. They asked marketers about their budgets last year, spending habits, and their concerns for the year ahead. Here are some key findings.
Top Trends In Healthcare Marketing Budgets
Survey data revealed that healthcare companies adopted a proactive approach to their budgets last year—92% of respondents invested more into their marketing budget throughout 2018. Of the firms who reported boosting their marketing budgets, pharma companies represented the greatest share of those that raised spend. Ninety-four percent of these companies expanded their budgets last year.
A small percentage of respondents—just 4%—reported decreasing their 2018 marketing budget. This was a decline from 16% in 2017.
Trends In Healthcare Marketing Channels
While digital channels are popular among healthcare marketers, they are not causing traditional methods to disappear. Marketers who promote products and services direct to consumers overwhelmingly report that they use common approaches to a digital marketing (86%).
These approaches might include digital ads, social media, and websites. However, 77% of respondents reported utilizing non-digital tactics like print media, outdoor advertisements, TV spots, and radio.
What does this mean? Essentially, the majority of healthcare marketing professionals are implementing a combination of traditional and digital tactics to share their messages—not one particular type over the other.
Researchers also found major disparities in the popularity of certain marketing channels with different kinds of healthcare companies. One example involves device manufacturers, who spend about three times more than a biotech company would to promote itself at industry meetings and conferences. On the other hand, biotech firms spend three times more than device manufacturers on point-of-care marketing.
Healthcare Marketing Data And Technology
While many firms are embracing a more digital approach, challenges arise in marketing technology. In fact, 22% of companies revealed that their marketing budget remains with the IT department instead of their marketing department.
This issue pales in comparison to the greatest issue healthcare marketers face, however. Access to data has long been a struggle for healthcare marketers, whose efforts are often made less effective by limitations on collecting data and its use.
When asked about their toughest challenges, issues with big data were at the top. Survey data showed that 43% of healthcare marketers considered utilizing data “extremely challenging” and another 33% described it as “challenging.” Gathering insights is difficult for healthcare marketers, but security concerns also come into play. The report noted that security incidents, much like what occurred with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, could make firms more wary about sharing information necessary for creating campaigns.
A Look Ahead
So, what can healthcare marketers expect this year and beyond? Most firms will continue to add resources to their budgets, but always with an eye on the future. According to the report, marketers will brace themselves in the upcoming months and years for the slower period that often comes after a period of high spend. Marketers are allocating their expanded 2019 budgets to multiple channels and programs; however, they will make no assumptions that the same resources will be available in 2020.
What is causing uncertainty about next year and beyond? Politics—specifically, whether the 2020 U.S. presidential election will impact marketing tax deductions or compliance issues. Changes to either of these areas will impact firms’ operations.
Ultimately, change is inevitable for healthcare marketers. As MM&M and Deloitte’s report revealed, change over time will have a dramatic impact on their marketing budgets. Healthcare marketing firms who stay in tune with the latest trends and channels will continue to make a splash in 2019 and the years ahead.
Author Bio: About Michael Del Gigante, CEO Of MDG Advertising – In 1999, CEO Michael Del Gigante founded MDG Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with offices in Boca Raton, Florida, and Brooklyn, New York. With his unique insight and decades of industry experience, he turned what was once a traditional ad agency into an integrated branding firm based on an innovative 360-degree marketing philosophy that provides a full spectrum of traditional and digital advertising services.
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