Medical Device Marketing: An HCP Marketer’s Guide

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Not long ago, medical device marketers and their HCP client base spent plenty of in-person time together, whether in hospitals, medical practices, or conferences.
However, with the lingering effects of the pandemic, as well as health systems offering limited access to sales reps in clinical environments, medical device marketing teams have had to adapt. Their answer? A digital-first strategy. After all, 45% of HCPs expect fewer in-person interactions with sales professionals.
In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about medical device marketing and advertising, including building a digital strategy, engaging HCPs on a 1:1 basis, important ad regulations, and launching a successful campaign.

Medical Device Advertising: What Is It?

Medical device advertising refers to marketing your medical device to HCPs and hospitals via paid digital channels. For example, a medical device marketer may promote their medical device using programmatic ads on websites and apps.
Medical device advertising will help you with a number of business goals, such as building brand awareness, engaging HCPs, increasing leads, and driving repeat sales.
An important note: medical device advertising is a subset of medical device marketing. The former refers to a medical device company using paid digital channels to promote a product, while the latter is much broader, referring to a range of efforts — paid and unpaid — that a company may use to increase sales of a medical device.

Selling Medical Devices to Hospitals & HCPs: How Ads Can Help

Selling medical devices to doctors and execs has never been more challenging. Why? Standing out and getting HCPs’ attention isn’t easy when there are dozens — if not more — competitors in your space. For example, take sphygmomanometers, a device used to measure blood pressure. Type “buy sphygmomanometer” into Google and you’ll see a large number of companies selling them.
So how do you stand out? Get your target audience’s attention and prove your value. That starts with building a medical device marketing strategy based on HCP data, smart ad formats, and programmatic capabilities.

Creating the Perfect Med Device Ad Strategy

Utilize HCP Data

HCP-level data should be core to your medical device advertising strategy. In other words, you should only be targeting HCPs who may actually be interested in what you’re selling.
Say, for example, you’re launching a campaign to get demos for a new thoracoscope. To do this, you could use demographic, location, and other parameters to build your audience. However, you’ll quickly realize that you’re targeting doctors outside of the pulmonology field. As a result, you’ll likely have wasted impressions and won’t generate enough demos.
The best alternative is using HCP data. With the right database, you can build an audience of senior-level pulmonologists with buying power. As a result, your ads will resonate with what they need and you’ll increase exposure to HCPs who are likely to request a demo.
Did You Know? Adfire Health has first-party data on more than 16K pulmonologists, giving you the opportunity to promote pulmonology-related medical devices to doctors on a 1:1 basis.

Find Programmatic Experts

Programmatic advertising — the automated selling and buying of ads — is part of a vast and ever-evolving ecosystem, making it difficult to keep up with. Despite the challenges, however, selling more medical devices will depend on your ability to understand and master this technology.
Just consider these points:
  • With telehealth becoming ubiquitous, more HCPs are using digital connected devices than ever
  • Fewer HCPs are taking in-person meetings, making your ad strategy more essential than ever
  • GDPR, privacy regulations from Apple, and the sunset of third-party cookies mean more data-related regulations
As you can see, there’s a lot to keep up with! A team with programmatic expertise, like Adfire Health, will enable your campaigns to weather the changes and incorporate best practices that lead to success.
Learn more about our healthcare programmatic advertising in our free whitepaper, Unlocking Programmatic Advertising Advertising: What Healthcare Marketers Need to Know.

Use Smart Ad Formats

Online users now see around 4,000 to 10,000 ads every single day. It’s no wonder HCPs experience banner blindness when they see medical device ads.
So how do you avoid ad fatigue and banner blindness? Use innovative ad formats, including video and mobile ads. And within these formats, try out smart ad types, like rich-media mobile ads and interactive video. That’s how you stand out from your competitors and sell medical products efficiently.

Medical Device Ad Regulations: What Do You Need to Know?

There’s nothing stopping your company from marketing medical devices to physicians using the internet. However, the FDA and FTC have some control over restricted and non-restricted devices. In general, you can expect far fewer regulations and rules than say pharma companies would need to consider.
That said, you should never advertise an experimental or investigational medical device, nor should you promote “off-label” usage. These rules are crucial to understand as you research how to promote medical products.

Facebook & Google Medical Device Advertising Regulations

Facebook Regulations

Medical device marketers can advertise most medical products on Facebook, provided they follow the platform’s regulations:
  • Ads shouldn’t draw attention to health conditions, such as close-up images of acne
  • Ads cannot contain misleading or false claims
  • Ads can’t include debunked claims related to medical treatments
  • Ads shouldn’t contribute to negative self-perception

Google Regulations

Google also has rules related to medical device advertising. Here are a few:
  • Ads related to birth control and fertility are prohibited in some countries, like Iran and China
  • Marketers are prohibited from promoting a medical product with any governmental or regulatory warning
  • Promoting experimental medical devices and treatments is prohibited

Complying With Med Device Advertising Regulations

Note: Below is general information, but please consult legal professionals for best practices to ensure you’re complying with medical device advertising regulations.

Pay Attention to the Details

While medical device advertising regulations aren’t as extensive as, say, pharma ad regulations, focusing on the details is still crucial. Perfect your creatives and build detailed HCP audiences based on your goals.
Paying attention to the details won’t just lead to better performance; you’ll be more likely to catch red flags and mistakes that could get you into trouble with Facebook, Google, the FDA, or the FTC, such as not including precautions and side effects.

Stay Consistent Across Channels

In today’s healthcare ad tech ecosystem, running campaigns with ads across multiple channels is a necessity. Why? The average person has access to over 10 connected devices, the same devices that the medical device industry runs on.
Given the complexity of omni-channel marketing, maintaining consistency is crucial to complying with FDA, FTC, Facebook, and Google regulations. This gets especially tricky on larger teams working cross-functionally. The key to success? Create a set of guidelines that each team member can reference. Even better, you can “perfect” one ad and then create different versions for the various ecosystems you’re operating in (mobile, desktop, etc.).

Watch Your Competitors

Pay attention to what your competitors are doing and whether the FDA or FTC is sounding the alarm on their content. If they are, take note and avoid their mistakes.
Additionally, follow news and announcements from the FDA and FTC. The rules are modified from time to time, and you don’t want to misstep just as the regulations change or are being enforced more strictly.

The 5 Best Tactics for Med Device Promotion

Video Advertising

Video ads are a powerful way to bring a medical device to life. It’s no wonder that:
Given their impact, it’s no surprise that almost every digital ecosystem supports video. For example, you could:
  • Use telehealth video ads to engage HCPs while they’re using EHRs at work
  • Take advantage of in-stream video — like on YouTube — to engage HCPs while they’re watching video content
  • Utilize display video ads to reach HCPs on endemic or non-endemic sites

Mobile & In-App Advertising

Mobile has become ubiquitous, which makes it a crucial avenue for engaging HCPs in and out of the office. For example, you could:
  • Combine mobile advertising and geofencing to target HCPs while they’re in a work mindset, i.e., at a medical office, hospital, addiction treatment center, medical conference — the opportunities are endless
  • Engage HCPs with a brand awareness campaign while they’re commuting to work
  • Use in-app advertising to reach HCPs while they’re utilizing medical apps used in clinical settings, such as UpToDate or MedPage
The power in mobile advertising lies in reaching the right HCPs, at exactly the right time.

Contextual Advertising

We all care more about something when it seems relevant. If you’re a marketer, for example, who’s in the middle of coming up with smart KPIs to show their boss, you’ll be more likely to click on an ad for an analytics company than say an HVAC contractor.
The concept is called contextual advertising and it certainly applies to medical device advertising and promotion. Say, for example, you’re looking to promote a new surgical device to plastic surgeons. Your ads will likely resonate more on web pages that talk about “cosmetic surgery,” “plastic surgery procedures,” or “reconstructive surgery.”
This medical device promotion strategy works. In fact, using super-specific keywords for a contextual ad campaign can increase brand awareness by as much as 93%.

Point-of-Care Advertising

Like contextual advertising, point-of-care advertising lets you deliver timely, relevant ads. However, it also allows for an added dimension: the ability to target your ads based on an HCP’s location. This is key when figuring out how to market medical devices.
This capability enables you to focus your ad spend on HCPs who are in the medical mindset, reducing media waste. For example, you could promote a new pacemaker technology to cardiologists at an upcoming American College of Cardiology conference.

Native Advertising

As medical device companies increase their digital advertising efforts, it’s inevitable that some HCPs will get annoyed with the increased ad load. After all, 84% of respondents in a recent survey said ads were interrupting them too frequently. However, this is actually an opportunity to approach online ads the right way.
Enter native advertising, a tactic that enables you to engage HCPs with relevant ads, but in a way that blends with surrounding content. In other words, your ads will offer value to HCPs — without taking away from their user experience.

5 Steps for Launching Your First Medical Device Advertising Campaign

#1: Come Up With Med Device Ad KPIs

Start by asking yourself what you want to see at the end of a med device ad campaign:
  • Do you want to build brand awareness among HCPs?
  • Is your goal to increase demos by “XX” percent?
  • Maybe you want to generate a certain number of in-person meetings?
These KPIs could form the heart of a successful campaign. If you’re struggling to define your KPIs, think about your goals on these three levels:
  • Awareness: You want your target market for medical devices to know about your product
  • Consideration: You want HCPs to consider your device when they’re ready to buy one
  • Conversion: You want more HCPs to buy your product

#2: Research Competitive Ad Strategies

Before deciding on a medical device business and ad strategy, study your competitors’ strategies while asking plenty of questions:
  • What types of devices are your competitors marketing?
  • Are they targeting HCPs? Which ones?
  • How do they position their products?
  • Which ad types and channels are they utilizing?
  • Are they paying for keywords on search? Which ones?
Once you gain a closer understanding of how your competitors are using their budgets, use that information to build your campaign and differentiate from your advertising.
Pro Tip: If you’re not seeing your competitors’ ads, visit their site. If they’re running retargeting campaigns, you’ll see their ads as you browse the web.

#3: Build Your Audience

Building the right audience is the key to successful digital marketing for medical devices. How do you do that? It starts with utilizing clean, accurate HCP data.
Enter Adfire Health. Over 20+ years, we’ve built a comprehensive, first-party HCP database that includes 8M+ HCPs across every medical specialty and subspecialty. We let you tap into that data.
To get started, go through your list and figure out which HCPs you want to target (or work with a med device ad vendor, like Adfire Health — we’ll handle this for you).
Say you’re trying to generate leads to sell a new defibrillator. First, you’ll want to find the people with purchasing power. To do this, you might go through your first-party data and then identify senior-level hospital executives and HCPs in cardiology. Next, you’ll want to advertise to your target audience on a 1:1 basis. For this, you’ll want your med device ad vendor to match the HCPs and executives to online identities.

#4: Create a Content & Delivery Strategy

Some HCPs will see up to 10,000 ads in a day, so it’s important to use ad types that will stand out. Some of the most engaging include rich media mobile ads, interactive banners, and video ads.
The next step is deciding on your messaging. The secret here is to keep it short and sweet, and use phrasing that’s going to resonate with your HCP audience. Healthcare professionals don’t have a ton of time to spend on viewing ads, so your messaging needs to make it clear what’s in it for them. Show them how your device will improve care for patients.
Learn how to electrify your messaging and creatives in our free whitepaper, A Guide to Crafting Healthcare Ad Campaigns That Convert.

#5: Measure & Optimize

Okay, you’ve launched your campaign. Now what? Start here:
  • Measure the KPIs you created
  • Optimize the campaign
  • Improve your strategy moving forward
The process begins by looking at your original goals. Were you after leads? Were you looking to boost conversions? Maybe you wanted more sales. Did they go up? Whatever your goals were, drill down and see if the campaign did its job. Next, take a closer look at specific elements:
  • Did HCPs from certain locations engage with your ads more than others?
  • Did certain creatives or messaging perform better than others?
  • Did certain channels get more engagement?
  • Did shorter videos get more clicks than longer ones? Or vice versa?
By answering these questions, you’ll gain insight into your target audience’s preferences and what you can do to maximize results moving forward — at a lower price.

Wrapping Up: How to Boost Your Medical Device Advertising in 2022 & Beyond

As the medical device advertising industry continues to change, it’s crucial for healthcare marketers to understand their audiences and engage HCPs more meaningfully. Targeted campaigns grab the attention of HCPs, promote your medical device products, and grow your sales. However, finding the right med device advertising agency is the only way to boost your marketing efforts and take your campaigns to the next level.
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