The Diversifying Landscape of Healthcare Within the Digital Space

Ben Walker

Why a multi-channel approach is now paramount for healthcare brands.

by Ben Walker

The healthcare sector continues to evolve, and particularly now, when Pharmacy (P) products can be approved and distributed from online purchases, there is an apparent gold rush to new, online channels and marketing strategies. According to Statista, the global digital health market’s value is due to expand by 100% by 2025 from its value in 2022.

However, this shouldn’t mean that the tried and tested approaches should be entirely discounted. A multi-channel approach is paramount within the digital age, as consumers’ choices widen, and preferences to routes to purchase develop.

That being said, healthcare companies know their customers best, and the best channels to utilise for purchases, and some channels may not be a viable strategy for all healthcare products. There are many different combinations and permutations of channels available to create sales funnels that gain the most traction, and so leveraging multiple will provide the most options for healthcare brands.


Why multi-channel?

A multi-channel approach allows healthcare brands to interact with their consumers in an effective and strategic way. For certain brands, online purchases will drive the most revenue (whether they’re taboo or if they treat physical ailments, so are more convenient to order online), where for others, in-person pharmacy services may create a more successful sales funnel.

Using multiple channels allows healthcare companies to collect data and iterate on what works best based on the product(s) they’re providing. Without diversification, a single channel will have to split into different funnels, where certain channels are quite simply work better for certain conversion goals.

For example, Google ads and SEO will be more effective at driving web traffic and online purchases than it is at driving consumers into physical pharmacies. It will still benefit both funnels, but without channel diversification, these channels will have to do all the heavy lifting for both.

Conversely, Out-of-Home may get a consumer that’s out and about to purchase something on their way into town that they wouldn’t normally, but it wouldn’t necessarily expect a consumer to order the product on their phone while out the house.

The funnels may interweave and interact with each other, but a multi-channel approach should focus on specific user journeys and goals. This combination is best for the consumer, too, as, according to WebMD, 72 percent of consumers reported that they prefer to connect with businesses across multiple channels, meaning a consumer can perform multiple goals across multiple funnels. This will keep costs down and conversions up as it means a more focused approach based on the product and the customer’s needs.


A new approach: a data driven, brave new world.

Now, a multi-channel approach can be neatly tied together. With demographic and geographic targeting, specific, hyper-localised regions can be targeted with multiple channels to experiment with the best routes to purchase.

The use of QR codes can tie the physical to the digital, as a direct mail campaign can collect user information on scan to register their interest in the product. This is hugely effective as, QR code scans quadrupled between 2021 and 2022. As direct mail is geo-demographic, that same area and demographic can be targeted with a Sky AdSmart campaign that directs the customer to a different landing page. The conversion percentages on the separate pages can be compared to see which campaign is dominant, and that campaign can be taken further and wider to the same demographic in different geographies.

As the geography is isolated, sales data in that region can also be analysed to judge the success of both campaigns. Meanwhile, a Google ads campaign can run in another part of the country, targeting the same demographic, and online purchase data can be collected and analysed for purchases through that funnel.

With the data a company has collected, these channels and campaigns can start to tie together. For example, website visits via a direct mail’s QR code can trigger a Google ads remarketing campaign which takes a user directly to a purchase page, as they’ve already shown their interest. Not everyone that sees the campaign will be from the direct mail campaign, but everyone who scanned the QR code on the direct mail campaign will.

Costs can also be cut down to a minimum with this multi-channel approach as it can be hyper-local. Instead of creating a budget for a national campaign that everyone will see and spending tens of thousands, you can spend far less on the single postcode that has the highest proportion of a brand’s target demographic living on it. This way, instead of targeting millions with an ad they’ll see once, you can target far fewer people with a bus stop ad, a Google ad, a direct mail ad, a Sky AdSmart ad, and more and take your brand’s message further.


Leveraging data.

So, does it complicate things when you have multiple points of sale? No! It’s still possible to iterate and experiment with sample data, and you’ll be able to discover which campaigns and funnels are more effective at gaining in person sales, versus which are more effective at online sales.

The question, then, isn’t only about how to leverage multiple channels, it’s how to know who your ideal profile is. Campaign success is underpinned here by targeting the correct demographic.

For some brands it’ll be easier than others, as their healthcare product will be most useful for a certain age, for example, or only available for purchase by a male. Even within that, however, there’s manoeuvrability in terms of wealth, lifestyle, and more.

The best way to collect a sample of demographic data is to leverage a direct brand-to-consumer funnel. If your customers can purchase your product from your website, then you’ll be able to aggregate data on exactly who is purchasing your product.

This data can be extended across your channels and across your funnels to streamline your user journey, refine your message, and simplify your marketing strategy.

So, it’s important to leverage many channels, old and new, and experiment with them to ensure your consumers are seeing your brand and interacting with it. A move to online and direct-to-consumer is powerful and opens up a new funnel and new opportunities. But all channels can interact and be improved with the data and learnings from one another, creating a more complete and effective strategy.

In summary, a multi-channel approach is essential, as it allows consumers to interact with your brand multiple times and in multiple different ways. This approach creates stronger sales funnels and fosters a data driven approach that helps brands iterate and improve their marketing efforts, not only achieving a high return on investment, but also improving the relationships a brand has with their customers.