Recent survey on healthcare marketing reveals that that healthcare professionals still prefer being communicated on email, but they are opening up to other modes of digital marketing too.

The healthcare industry in 2019 is entering the transition phase to digital marketing. According to the recently released report ‘Medicine on the move: Digital defines healthcare marketing in 2019,’ email remains the preferred means to receive information by healthcare professionals, but how and where they read emails is changing.

This transition reflects a growing willingness to accept data-driven and targeted communications through means beyond email.

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The survey by HealthLink Dimensions reveals that over 65% of healthcare professionals continue to favour email. This is seven times more over the second most-favoured approach (direct mail at 7%). For the first time, healthcare professionals have indicated that they prefer reading emails over smartphones as their preferred method for marketing communications. Experts suggest that this change represents a rapid and substantial difference reflecting a significant advantage for smartphone email over desktop computers, laptops, or tablets. The result appears to be driven by a need to balance convenience, speed, accessibility, and availability.

Healthcare marketers must respond to this change by emphasizing responsive design and mobile optimization as a critical component of email outreach. This will lay the groundwork for mobile integrated email/ programmatic campaigns guiding potential purchasers to mobile-friendly websites and apps.

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This change is because there is an increase in healthcare professionals from the generations that grew up with mobile technology and an always-available internet. For them, the information is required to be cleanly formatted, at the touch of a finger and comfortable to read on screens of any size. Also, healthcare professionals want to keep control over when and how marketers attempt to contact them.

Though they want to control, this does not mean they don’t want information. The study reveals that they want to be better informed about new products and services. This trend is especially important for pharmaceutical and medical device marketing programs. The importance of ‘Product approvals and prescribing updates’ have dramatically increased over previous years. This indicates that professionals desire timely information and education beyond ‘Continuing Medical Education’ programs and ‘patient support materials.’ Some of the popular topics that healthcare professionals look at most include product approvals, industry-sponsored webinars, disease state information, and the general healthcare industry updates.

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Over 75% of healthcare professionals confess to using patient education and support materials from emails. The clarity, quality, and presentation of patient education materials across multiple devices will create essential differentiation opportunities for healthcare marketers. In the documents, the content areas that interest providers include disease state information, prescription, medical device education, and patient advocacy. By making the transfer of information transparent and seamless, marketing professionals can gain the trust of multiple audiences and strengthen future growth opportunities.

Healthcare providers avoid social networking sites for professional purposes. It is believed that concerns about HIPAA complications and potential legal liability might be a reason for the same. Direct personal access might also be a factor to avoid social media. While medical marketing still remains conservative as compared to consumer marketing, this gap is expected to close as younger generations move to higher levels in the industry. Over 50% of professionals do see value in social media and plan to participate in the future.

Emails are the most largely accepted mode of communication, but when used on mobile devices they have significant limitations like short length, no rich media, and minimal formatting. While this limits the information a marketer can send, they also open the door to broader digital marketing efforts such as programmatic targeting.

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Experts believe that the organizations that develop sophisticated digital targeting and tracking, high-quality data, and an integrated approach to digital marketing will have an advantage over the competition. The survey reveals that 76% of healthcare professionals are ‘somewhat receptive’ or ‘very receptive’ to digital advertising from the medical device, pharmaceutical, and other healthcare vendor organizations.

The augmentation of email with integrated digital healthcare marketing campaigns and programmatic outreach is underway. Medical marketers need to build the infrastructure that will take advantage of the growing acceptance of digital marketing by healthcare professionals.

Physician workloads continue to increase while access to them decreases. For medical marketers, healthcare professionals are increasingly challenging to reach during working hours. Other means of approaching these influencers, such as programmatic advertising, will become crucial to reach this audience.

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