Medical technology marketing has traditionally been a B2B effort employing solely outbound marketing tactics, such as relying on professional networking and using a retail-detail sales force to reach potential customers, usually hospitals or healthcare providers. But much has changed! In part because of a new wave of regulation, sales representatives are finding it harder to reach and provide value to decision makers while hospitals and physicians are seeking broader, more strategic relationships with manufacturers. Meanwhile, patients are more empowered than ever. They have access to expansive information about their health and wellness, and they want to take a leading role in their own treatment. The Internet and mobile apps are helping them get there.
Therefore, savvy medtech marketers are rapidly following the shift toward inbound marketing tactics to maximize the revenue generated by their marketing campaigns and to nurture potential customers – be it patients or physicians -- through the decision-making process. In case you are not familiar with the term inbound marketing, it refers to activities spearheaded by marketing that qualify potential customers (or leads) and gather their contact information for the purpose of nurturing them through the sales pipeline. For medtech marketers, prospective leads are usually potential patients of certain procedures or physicians.
This nurturing process is especially critical for medtech companies to maintain because their industry conversion cycle is longer than average. In today's world of healthcare reform and diminishing budgets, sales cycles are getting longer with an increased number of stakeholders participating in the purchasing process. The average consumer is more proactive and involved in their healthcare choices than in past years (in fact, eight out of ten people begin their medical and healthcare inquires via the Internet). Yet, it can take several months, or even years in some instances, for patients to decide they want to have a procedure.
Inbound marketing maximizes the revenue generated by marketing campaigns and nurtures potential customers. So it is rapidly becoming equally important to educate the patient as it is to educate the physician on the benefits of your product. A recent Corporate Executive Board study of more than 1,500 business-to-business customers found that by the time a customer reaches out to a product or service supplier, their purchase decision is nearly 60% complete. For the medtech industry, this means that most product and procedure education and evaluation is done before the sales representative ever initiates contact with the customer, or before the patient ever reaches the doctor's office.
However, having a top-notch website and solid messaging is only the first step in educating your target audience on their options and staying competitive in the market. It doesn't matter how many eyeballs see your content if you do not know who they are and how to connect with them to drive meaningful actions. Keeping in contact with and educating leads over time will keep the procedure or product top-of-mind and provide valuable information to move them through the conversion cycle. Companies that are able to communicate effectively and authoritatively with these prospects will improve the conversion rates, cycle time, and ultimately sales revenue.
There are several tactics that inbound marketers use to capture lead information. This blog post will dive into one of the most widely-used and effective tools in the inbound marketer's toolbox: the web form.
What is a Web Form?
Generating new leads should be one of your focus points of your marketing efforts, and a web form is particularly effective here. A web form is a lead generation form on your website that “gates” an asset or information. It allows visitors to input contact information in exchange for a resource or offer. The more valuable the incentive to fill out the form, the more effective the form is at generating leads. This is a critical point because the more leads you get, no matter where they are in the buying cycle, the more you can expand your mailing list and sales pipeline.
Why Should I Use a Web Form?
Web forms capture the information that your sales and marketing teams will need to contact and qualify leads, and will help the marketing team continue to nurture the relationship in future marketing campaigns. Your web form should feed directly into your marketing automation database.
How Does This Information Directly Affect Medtech Marketers?
As mentioned above, it is increasingly important for medtech marketers to capture the attention of both patients and physicians. Since the medical technology conversion cycle can be a long process, having more leads in the pipeline can improve demand and predict future sales for the board or shareholders. Companies can no longer rely on physicians to champion their product to their peers and patients. They need to take a proactive approach to stimulate demand and drive adoption of their products by marketing to both patients and healthcare providers.
Ready to start using web forms to expand your inbound marketing efforts? Before you get started, there are a few decisions that need to be made to get a web form up and running to make sure it ties in with your overall marketing strategy. Collaboration with Sales and Marketing teams will ensure all parties will benefit from the web form. In chronological order, here are the discussions you need to have before beginning to build a web form:
- Select the asset or offer that will entice leads to enter their information into the web form
- Determine the type of web form that best suits your purpose: Request a Quote, Request a Demo, Contact Us, Contact a Physician, Event Registration Form (Webinar, Meeting, Event, etc.), Survey, Download a White Paper, Request an Information Packet, or Newsletter Subscription
- How will you balance the need for data capture versus having a simple form
- Having proper opt-in language that passes muster with your legal/regulation department
- Deploying the infrastructure to follow-up with said leads in your marketing automation system. Minimally, you need a reply email for each completed form. Ideally, you will have a nurturing campaign flow in place before the web form goes live.