December 14, 2017
Are you advertising where your patients spend most of their time?
Adults spend 5.6 hours a day online, up 80 percent from 2010. And that data doesn’t just describe millennials—nearly 55 million Facebook users are over 54 years old.
The importance of digital marketing grows every year. “Digital marketing is a must-do for pharmacies to survive,” said Susan Barrett, vice president of business development at Digital Pharmacist, a digital health company that powers the digital, communication and adherence solutions for more than 6,000 pharmacies, national pharmacy wholesalers, hospital systems and pharmaceutical brands.
Digital marketing means marketing through digital methods. “The key objective is to promote the brand through various forms of digital media on a consistent basis,” Barrett said. “You want to be top-of-mind with patients to increase loyalty, in-store traffic and purchases.”
Digital marketing drives new business and boosts current business. And it doesn’t require you to dig deep into your pockets. “It’s a cost-effective means to reach patients and acquire new patients,” Barrett said.
Some methods of digital marketing are free or nearly free, including social media and email. But what you invest in digital marketing can pay for itself in returns. For example, Barrett said every $1 you spend on email marketing averages a $44 return-on-investment.
Digital marketing allows you to target patients by demographics and geography. Targeting will drive qualified traffic to your website and increase mobile downloads, re ll volume and new patients in your pharmacy.
Barrett has seen the tangible results of digital marketing. Digital Pharmacist recently worked with one of its customers to execute a $5-off-the-purchase-of-$10-or- more promotion. The promotion included website, mobile app, newsletter and social media. “It drove 80 in-store visits in a few-day period,” Barrett said.
Maybe your pharmacy already invests in traditional marketing. But how much are you spending? “You could be spending hundreds less reaching more new patients,” Barrett said. “Digital advertising with a strong emphasis in social media should account for at least 20 percent of your advertising budget.”
Managing an effective digital marketing program takes time. And pharmacists already spend their days filling prescriptions, counseling patients and running a business. “That’s what they do best,” Barrett said. “They are the most trusted front-line point of health care.”
For many pharmacists, digital marketing means navigating uncharted territory. “It’s a whole new industry to learn,” Barrett said. “That’s why you need a dedicated expert or you need to hire a reputable rm to do it because it’s a must in today’s digital age.”
Companies dedicated to digital marketing, like Digital Pharmacist, can manage and execute digital marketing campaigns so pharmacies can focus on their patients and their business.
But if you want to keep your digital marketing in- house, Barrett suggests training a pharmacy technician to manage digital marketing and social media.
For help, pharmacies can check out the Interactive Advertising Bureau. It provides best practices and industry standards for digital advertising.
Pharmacies need to run digital campaigns regularly, using a combination of channels to stay top-of-mind.
A digital campaign could include an email informing your patients of a new service, an e-newsletter providing important health information, an e-coupon through your mobile app, an advertisement on Google and a special promotion for people who like your Facebook page.
“Optimizing digital strategies on a consistent basis will make the pharmacy successful,” Barrett said. “That means sending promotions to drive in-store traffic and purchases at least once a month; sending e-newsletters to connect with patients on a weekly basis; and providing meaningful social media posts on a daily basis.”
These low-cost digital marketing options can help independent community pharmacies run promotions, communications and advertising.
Email and e-newsletters
Budget-friendly and effective. Create an e-newsletter to send patients helpful health information and send email promotions on a weekly basis. Email promotions will drive in-store traffic and health information will establish your pharmacy as a trusted resource.
Mobile apps and text messaging
Send patients re ll and pick-up reminders through SMS text messaging. Or, take it to the next level with a branded pharmacy app. With an app, patients can refill their prescriptions, get refill and medication reminders, manage their profiles and family members’ medications, and receive health news and co-pay coupons.
Search engine optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) seeks to elevate websites to the top of search results with strategic keywords. If potential patients move to your area and search “pharmacy,” your website needs to rank on the first page of results. Or, you’ll lose that potential business to national chain pharmacies.
Create a free Facebook business page and post on a regular basis to increase ‘likes’ and ‘shares.’ For example, post about your employee of the month, publish holiday messages and stream live videos at community events.
As the online face of your brick-and-mortar store, make sure your website is mobile- friendly, branded, user-friendly, feature-rich and informative.
Want more tips and advice for your independent pharmacy? Sign up for our e-newsletter.