5 Systems

for Healthy Digital Marketing

by | Nov 13, 2019 | Communication

Healthy Digital

As a marketer of healthcare products or services, you’re familiar with multiple processes inside a living body. You’ll know that a breakdown in one step of a process can have serious negative effects on the overall functioning of a healthy body. Each step, no matter how small, has an important role in a system and a system of systems.

These missteps in nature can be managed or remedied with support in the form of your products and services. The basis of developing these products was the understanding of a healthy system; the various working parts and how they work together and in what order.

This is a useful analogy if you are moving into digital marketing for the first time.

If you plan to develop a digital marketing programme that will deliver consistent, healthy results, you need to start off by understanding the various systems, what they consist of, and how the various elements work together.

You’ll know the human body is complex and there are many systems, processes and steps to familiarise yourself with. Unpacking this is never going to be achievable in a single blog. Similarly. digital marketing is highly complex with an overwhelming number of components.

So, with this blog I won’t be able to cover every detail of every digital marketing process. However, it will give you a macroscopic overview of the various systems of digital marketing and how they work together to deliver healthy growth for your brand.

If you’re interested in learning about each system and process in more detail, subscribe to our mailing list to receive notifications when future blogs and other helpful resources are released.

Now, let’s take a look at the systems.

1. Strategy Development and Planning

A recent poll our company ran revealed that less than 10% of pharmaceutical brands have a written digital marketing strategy.

So, developing a strategy will offer your business a serious competitive advantage.

At the start of your digital journey you may find that you’ll have to make some assumptions or guestimates to get moving, however you’ll quickly discover that there are many aspects of digital marketing that can be measured. The data that you gather over time can be used to reassess some assumptions and course correct in the future.

Healthy Digital

The critical starting point is profiling your various target audiences. This ensures that your planning will be customer centric.

The process involves developing a detailed, holistic view of each different audience so that your marketing can avoid the common “one-size-fits-all” trap. If your company brand planning template doesn’t include a guideline for building detailed customer profiles, download our free Content Strategy Kit and complete the Customer Avatar worksheets.

Developing customer avatars is a powerful process that distinguishes the different goals, challenges and pain points for each of the various customer types your brand may need to cater for – in order to drive growth.

To build relationships with your customers and position your brand as a trustworthy authority, you can use the insights gathered from customer avatars to understand what information they are looking for and where they are looking for information – to solve their problems.

At this point in the strategy development journey it is important to remember that your brand does not exist in a vacuum. Do the necessary research to understand the offline and online context of your competitors. Visit your competitors’ websites and explore the content that they have made available. Use a SWOT analysis to help you prioritise your list of opportunities.

The next step is to create a plan for content that needs to be created or sourced. Your plan should include budgets for creating content and time allocations to allow for the internal approval processes that are an ordinary course of business.

Once you have a clear view of the information you need to provide to your customers to help them along their buying journey, you need to create a plan for where and when you will deploy the content you plan to create. Download our Web Strategy Kit for a quick start template.

Strategy development is a living process. And in a digital age where feedback and data analytics are virtually real time, so the effectiveness of a strategy can be measured in record time.

Become familiar with the information available in technology platforms such as Google Analytics. Identify which content is being viewed most frequently. Find out which platforms are generating the most valuable traffic.

Deploy. Measure. Course correct.

2. Content Creation & Curation


Once your content strategy is in place, the bulk of your time will be invested in implementation.

You will need a process to drive the creation of the various pieces of content needed to tell your brand story and move your audience to take action.

If you’re just getting started with content marketing, it is useful to know that the content you need can be created or curated.

Most companies agree that you need to focus on creating original content to stand out online and earn more visits or leads. Stands to reason. Well-researched, useful information (that speaks to a customer knowledge gap) that is only available on your brand or company website – will be sought after.

There are various forms of content with different levels of complexity. Key aspects to consider for content creation are:
a. The content you already have:
  • Audit and list material currently loaded onto your website(s).
  • Identify material that is available from HQ or regional hubs – if you are working for a multinational.
  • Don’t limit your audit to online material. Identify any printed materials that could be formatted differently for online consumption.
b. Production capabilities:
  • Identify skills you have. Are you good writer? Are you a part-time photographer or designer? Do you or a colleague have voice for podcast?
  • Identify in-house resources your business. Is there a green-screen and video camera in the building?
  • Assess the capabilities and resources on-hand and consider the possibility of producing some of the content your brand requires.
c. Time constraints:
  • Familiarise yourself with the time required to develop the various forms of content that you are able to create. Be clear on how many hours/days/weeks are needed to write a blog, script, film and edit a video – for example.
  • Project plan and schedule the time required to produce the content you’ve committed to delivering directly.
d. Budget available:
  • Familiarise yourself with the costs of outsourcing. Be clear on the cost of producing a blog, an infographic, a video or any other element you require. Then reserve a content creation budget during your brand planning cycle.
  • Review your content strategy and prioritise the content required. If you do not have the budget to create all required content, start with the elements that will have the biggest, most immediate impact.
Healthy Digital

However, if you’re just getting started online you can quickly show the market that you in the game by curating content. In this case, rather than creating your own content, you could seek out existing content that you think may be useful and share it with your audience.

3. Content Distribution & Amplification

When you have content created, you move onto the process of connecting your audience with your content.

In order to amplify your brand story, you need to reach your different customers at their favourite online destinations.

Most people turn to Google first to find a quick answer. In order for your brand to help patients identify a particular problem or to support customers with after sales information, you need to engage in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). To take the first steps of your SEO, download the Quickstart Guide to SEO.

This is an ongoing process that involves creating, structuring and labelling online information accurately which in turn assists Google with presenting the information to the most suitable audience.

Healthy Digital

You need to employ optimisation techniques to bring your content to the top of search engine rankings, that is page 1 of Google, when your audience is on the internet typing in relevant keywords. This way you can give your brand a chance to become part of the narrative in the customers exploration and decision-making process.

There are numerous SEO processes that can be leveraged. Essentially, their purpose is to manage the following influencing factors:

  1. Relevancy (On-page) – labelling content e.g. Title tags, Meta tags
  2. Popularity (Off-site) – linking content e.g. Inbound links, Citations

For context consider the following example, an online browser living in the Western Cape of South Africa would not have a good experience if they were presented with a dentist from New Zealand, when they typed “dentist in Wellington” into their Google search bar. Correctly labelling content on the Contact Us page and effectively setting up a listing on Google My Business would assist with presenting the correct dentist to to the correct geographical audience.

Optimisation techniques are not limited to information that lives on your brand or company website. YouTube is the 2nd biggest search engine in the world. So, by employing similar optimisation philosophies, you can boost the search visibility of educational videos uploaded to your YouTube channel or Facebook page.

SEO can be very complex and eventually requires one or more SEM (Search Engine Marketing) softwares to operate effectively. If you’re just getting started, Google Keyword Planner will suffice. However, if you have a big website with larger volumes of content, tools such as SEMRush or SEO Powersuite can move your operation to the next level.

SEO processes do require some time to deliver results. So, if you need to deliver rapid results you can reach your specific audience faster with adverts on Google, YouTube, Facebook or mobile apps.

Traffic is critical to success in digital marketing which means you’ll need to develop in-house competencies and processes – or partner with an agency that has SEO and online advertising experience.

Healthy Digital

4. Engagement & Monetisation

As you continue to adopt digital marketing practices you can keep the human touch if you adopt the correct approach.

Human relationships are not typically formed by one greeting, one conversation or one touch. Rather it is a respectful sequence of engagements over a period of time that builds trust that is the foundation of relationships.

Platforms and technologies such Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Reviews empower people to share their stories.

As an effective digital marketer, you need to set up processes to listen to customers.

This collection of feedback enables your brand or company to learn how to improve the customers’ experiences and better understand how they view your brand.

Marketing technology is evolving rapidly so there is no shortage of opportunities to start building relationships.

You need to engage healthcare professionals in meaningful conversations and discover insights with powerful mobile technology platforms for detailing. By moving beyond the limits of outdated paper detail aids, you can create personalised branded content for different HCP audiences.

Incorporating eMail marketing into your mix gives you the opportunity to hold the attention of customers and patients between face-to-face engagements with personal, customised messages. To get started with email marketing, download the Email Marketing Quickstart Guide .

Also, you can stay ahead of your competition and improve your customer experience with conversational technology. AI-powered personal chat agents help brands build trust faster by listening to and supporting customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Keeping your customers engaged and building a following are fundamental to boosting ROI for your marketing efforts in the future. Don’t try to employ all opportunities at once. Rather pick one that your brand can afford – and build from there.

5. Measure, Learn & Tweak


The single biggest advantage of digital marketing tactics over most traditional executions is measurability.

The list of metrics has exploded – and data is the future.

You should aim to use analytics regularly to test and improve your online offerings. Consider which blog topics generate the most traffic. Explore social media posts that results in the highest engagement scores. Over time, the dashboard of information can transform into a microscope that see the conversations going on in people’s heads.


 That being said, the volume of things to measure has become overwhelming. Leading marketers need to find a way to organise the data into a structure that help display ROI and build business cases.

This is possible, even on the smallest budget, if the necessary groundwork has been done to build an effective strategy around the customers’ needs.

Adopt a “funnel” philosophy to track metrics to understand where customers are in their journey. For example, typing “XEIOH” into Google is a measure of our brand awareness, whilst the number of opt-ins to certain Webinars indicates which topic represents a burning problem that needs to be solved – and importantly source of leads generated.

There are far too many metrics to cover comprehensively in this blog. I plan to cover these in more detail in the future. If you have any specific metrics you would like me to focus on, please comment below.

As you can see, the digital marketing sphere is expansive and covers many processes and technologies.

Healthy Digital
However, taking a customer-centric viewpoint can help significantly. This approach helps contextualise each possible tool or tactic. It can help you to prioritise your efforts.

There’s no point in trying to figure out how the dashboard on the latest mobile technology works if you don’t have an idea of the problems your customers are experiencing. Be empathetic. Listen. Consider what conversations you need to start. Think about how you can help them understand where they and what their options are. Then, if you have built a healthy digital marketing programme, sales will happen naturally.

If you’re just getting started with digital marketing for your brand and are feeling a little overwhelmed with any of the jargon, download a free Digital Glossary to start learning the new language. Or if you need support to develop a digital strategy, please book a consultation.

About the author:

Michael MacDonald (B Sc)

Michael has more than 20 years’ experience in the marketing industry including brand and marketing management roles for leading Healthcare, FMCG and Direct Marketing companies. Over the past 4 years, Michael has turned his focus to online marketing and has completed numerous international digital marketing certifications. His traditional marketing foundation enables sure-footed influence with integration of the latest digital tactics. His approach values data with the aim of maximising ROI.

Michael cross-trains for his quest to reach 100 years healthy and happy. So, chances are you’ll find him mountain biking, running or paddling a canoe when he’s not behind his keyboard.

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