Digital marketing on search engines and social media, in any industry, is more necessary now than ever before. But in life sciences, it can be a bit more challenging. The target audiences you’re trying to reach are likely much more niche than, for example, adults interested in the outdoors who live within 20 miles of your business.

However, there are ways to reach your audience online: on search engines and social media. We’ll show you how and provide some industry-specific guidance along the way.

Search

Of the 100 billion searches on Google each month, some are sure to be conducted by your audience. It may be a physician looking to become a trial investigator, or a sponsor seeking IRB services. No matter what product or service your business provides, you want it to be found at the top of search results.

To succeed with search engine optimization (SEO) and have your website pages rank high in organic search results, there are several factors to consider:

  • Content: Do you have content on your website, such as blogs or articles, that address the specific needs or questions your audience has? In addition, is your content better in some way (better user experience, more comprehensive, etc.) than what’s currently ranking at the top of search results? This kind of content is sometimes referred to as 10x content.
  • User experience: Is your website mobile responsive so it can be easily viewed no matter what device a user is on? Does it load quickly? Is it easy to navigate?
  • On-page SEO: Are relevant keywords included in a page title, URL, body copy and image alt text? Does the page have internal and external links? Does it use multimedia to keep visitors engaged?
  • Off-page SEO: Have you been building external links to your website? Do you have social profiles, directory listings and other non-site assets?

If the answer to any of the above questions is “no,” then those are issues you should address.

Another way to get visibility and traffic from search engines is through search ads. Search ads are text ads made available by search engines such as Google that allow you to place a “bid” on keywords or phrases you want your ad to appear for in search results. You then pay for each resulting click to your website from your ad.

There are a number of advantages to using search ads, such as:

  • Instant website traffic: This can be beneficial if you recently launched a website or want to use a relevant topic or event to drive traffic to your site.
  • Premium placement: Search ads appear at the top of search results and are usually the first thing people see.
  • Improved lead flow: People use search engines with high intent, whether it’s to do or buy something or solve a problem, such as finding new treatment options. Ads that address those intents can be powerful in generating new leads.

On the other hand, search ads can bring irrelevant or low-quality traffic to your website, resulting in wasted ad spend. But there are ways to prevent this:

  • Set up conversion tracking: This lets you see which keywords and ads resulted in valuable actions on your website, whether that’s downloading content, calling your business or signing up for a newsletter.
  • Manage keywords: Use broad match keywords sparingly and add negative keywords to ensure your ads appear for relevant search queries. For instance, “site management” can apply to construction, websites and more. Proper keyword usage and management can ensure your ads appear for relevant queries concerning clinical research.
  • Control your budget: Focus your budget on keywords that drive results. Consider raising bids during peak hours and lowering during nights and weekends. If your mobile experience is poor, decrease bids on mobile devices.

Social Media

Social media allows brands to build loyal followers, share information and insight and participate in conversations at a niche level. There are many channels available and many ways to reach your audience. The question is, how?

Let’s walk through some of the more popular and effective channels and how they can work for you.

LinkedIn

Once you develop a LinkedIn page for your company, use it to share insight on industry topics, company news, current job openings and highlight trade shows you’re attending or exhibiting at. Also, be sure your coworkers each have a personal profile to network and share content from, especially executives and those in sales. Having employees share content with their connections can often be more impactful than having the company share with its followers.

With more than 500 million professional members, including more than 7 million in life sciences, LinkedIn is the ideal social media channel for reaching your industry.

LinkedIn also has one of the most robust advertising platforms available, allowing you to “sponsor” your content, run text ads or send direct messages to LinkedIn users beyond those who follow your company.

Since a personal LinkedIn profile is essentially a résumé with a wealth of information about a user’s professional background and interests, you can use that info to target your ads by industry, company name, job title, years of experience and more. If you’re looking to target a certain interest category, such as oncology or clinical trial innovation, consider targeting members of relevant LinkedIn groups.

LinkedIn also allows for more custom targeting through Matched Audiences. Options include:

  • Website retargeting: target previous visitors of your website with ads
  • Account targeting: target up to 300,000 company names
  • Contact targeting: upload up to 300,000 email addresses of users to target, or import contacts from your CRM

Of course, you will need to be mindful of GDPR when doing any form of retargeting or contact targeting and apply necessary cookie notifications or opt-in options.

Twitter

Twitter is the go-to channel for news and trending stories and a place where many in the life science industry are active.

After completing a Twitter profile for your company, use the built-in search feature to find, follow and interact with relevant accounts. It’s also important to post and share tweets on your profile, as people are more likely to follow you if they see your content speaks to their interests.

Much of the content the industry publishes on Twitter is the same as LinkedIn. However, there’s more emphasis on news and trade shows. Be sure to use relevant hashtags in your tweets to reach audiences interested in relevant topics, such as #patientcentricity or #DIA2019.

While advertising on Twitter doesn’t allow for the same detailed level of targeting as LinkedIn, there are some useful techniques for targeting within life sciences, such as keyword and follower targeting.

Facebook

While Facebook isn’t where most go to share and engage with life science content, it can be an effective tool for patient recruitment and to promote company culture.

That said, it’s important to reach your audience with content they’re more likely to engage with on Facebook, such as photos, videos or behind-the-scenes content with members of your team. Contests or giveaways are also better suited for this channel.

While there are versions of industry targeting and job title targeting available, the criteria options are not as robust as those on LinkedIn. With Facebook in life sciences, we generally recommend Custom Audiences or retargeting to ensure you’re reaching the right users.

Conclusion

In the end, be sure to track your efforts on search and social media to ensure they’re paying off. One of the great advantages of digital marketing is the ability to measure results and adjust campaigns quickly. A few important ways to do this:

  • Use a web analytics tool (e.g., Google Analytics)
  • Create UTM parameters
  • Set up conversion tracking

Finally, keep in mind that digital is one vehicle of an effective integrated marketing program. If you need help getting started or want insight on your digital marketing presence, sign up for a Free Website Health Check courtesy of our digital and interactive team at SCORR.

About the Author

Ryan Larsen

Digital and Social Media Manager

Ryan provides direction for strategy and content across all digital marketing platforms, helping clients achieve their marketing goals through ads, email, social media and online content. His expertise includes identifying appropriate platforms, monitoring technologies and creating digital marketing plans. A former copywriter, Ryan develops effective digital tactics that grab attention and get results. Ryan is certified in Hubspot software and Google search ads, enabling him to track and manage trends and help clients boost search engine optimization.