Every healthcare marketer faced unexpected challenges this year. Beginning in Q1, buyers of healthIT products – many physicians, hospital CIOs, billing administrators and more – became completely unable to entertain new software and hardware as they found themselves on the frontlines of a deadly virus. Sales cycles froze. Buyers’ needs completely changed. And marketers were left figuring out how to breakthrough in an industry inundated by a global pandemic.  

The year ahead presents uncertainties as well. In fact, according to ARPR’s recent data report over 50% of tech marketers may not participate in tradeshows in 2021. With planning cycles shortened, in-person touchpoints reduced and marketing budgets up in the air, how can healthIT marketers turn challenges into opportunities, reinvent their marketing strategies and set their programs up for success heading?

That was the topic of our discussion with a group of health marketers from Microsoft, Wolters Kluwer Health, Medidata and Cynerio during a virtual panel on October 8. Here are a few key takeaways from our panelists:

  1. Lean into Content Marketing: Owned and earned content spiked in importance this year, and it’ll be even more critical next year. ARPR polled our audience live, and 33% of health marketers said they had increased content marketing since COVID-19, and 54% planned to allocate the majority of their marketing dollars to content marketing in 2021. This has been a fruitful tactic so far, with 80% of marketers reporting an increase in email marketing engagement in particular over the last 12 months. 
  2. Maximize Virtual Events: Make up for lost facetime from canceled in-person events by capitalizing on the digital longtail of virtual ones. Leverage additional opportunities for social media engagements and promotions, post the content online, ensure your sales team is utilizing it and ensure the content is marketed for months afterward.
  3. Get Creative with Customer Acquisition: Over 30% of our webinar audience said new customer acquisition has been their number one challenge this year. According to our panelists, it’s time to get creative. Dig deep on understanding their new needs and how their personas have changed – down to where they are physically working and where they’re engaging with content – and change up your marketing strategy accordingly. 
  4. Generate Brand Awareness with Data: An extremely fast-changing news cycle has made health PR more challenging for health brands this year. Proprietary data – from surveys or your own platform – tied to industry trends makes for compelling storylines and can position your company as a resource and thought leader. As a healthcare brand in this environment, however, it’s important to be judicious in the way you share news – highlighting the brand’s value in a way that’s genuine, compassionate and relevant – so the company doesn’t appear opportunistic. 

For more data, detailed insights and tips on igniting your 2021 marketing strategy, watch our 45-minute webinar, Healthcare Marketing & Innovation in a Post-COVID World on demand today.

Melissa heads up ARPR's healthIT practice. With a passion for using storytelling to build connections and inspire action, she develops creative campaigns that drive results.

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