When conducting digital direct-to-patient campaigns, medical device marketers have generally relied heavily on national patient portal websites; however, our new research suggests that this may not actually be the most impactful driver of success. As the internet (and the way people use it) continues to grow and evolve, medical device marketers are coming up against a hard truth: the marketing landscape is changing, and the centralized patient portal website, a longtime mainstay of digital direct-to-patient (DTP) campaigns, is no longer the most impactful driver of success. We’re not suggesting that patient portals are completely null and void — they still function as a valuable SEO target and centralized hub for any content strategy or national PR campaign, as well as a destination for the more tech-inclined members of your target audience. However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that focusing all of your energy and marketing spend on a single channel is only going to get you so far. Our newly published research argues that if you’re going to be investing in a digital DTP campaign, the co-branded, localized microsite approach is actually the more impactful strategy. Over a 15-month period, we tracked the performance of a traditional patient portal relative to more than 40 co-marketed microsites for a major medical device company. After all was said and done, the latter had at a significant statistical advantage for a number of critical marketing metrics, supporting our theory that a holistic, consumer-centric approach is the best medicine for marketers, as well as patients.
Quick Background Explainer
When conducting an digital DTP campaign, medical device marketers have to decide where to direct prospective patients and visitors. That’s generally meant establishing a single patient portal website, which provides interested parties with need-to-know symptom information, testimonials, device information, etc., and directs them to “Locate a Physician” the local provider of the device — that’s the call-to-action (CTA). Co-marketed microsites are a much more patient-oriented strategy: instead of a single national landing page, sites are individually branded for local physicians and/or hospitals (the medical device clients), and infused with localized geographic messaging. For patients, the experience is personal, community-oriented, and certainly less commercial. Prospective patients have the option to call or email a nearby physician at an institution they recognize. And because microsites give publicity to local providers as well, they’re usually willing to split the bill (effectively subsidizing the campaign). Our belief is that this approach yields much more satisfied consumers, and therefore higher returns for campaign sponsors (cost-sharing very much withstanding). Our research strongly supports this idea.
As the Stats Show, Destination Matters
Over the 15-month campaign, while being marginally more expensive on per-click basis, the co-marketed microsites delivered significantly higher returns than traditional portals: their costs-per-lead (CPL) were lower ($53 to $147), they reduced the cost-per-appointment (CPA) by over 65% and, most importantly, resulted in dramatically improved conversion rates. Given that the client was heavily invested in the success of the portal site as well, these results are all the more impressive. And though rolling out 40 different microsites all at once (compared to a single national site) may seem like a pretty significant undertaking, put simply: it’s not. With the help of website templates and content management programs, we’re able to rapidly move from development and customization to launch — all while retaining the consistent core messaging about the medical device itself. Ultimately, you should probably be using some combination of traditional patient portals and co-marketed microsite campaigns to maximize your overall success. In many ways, these strategies should be thought of as complementary — it’s not an “either/or” scenario. The point is, as we move deeper into the digital age, one-dimensional solutions are becoming less and less effective. As the consumer journey becomes increasingly nuanced and complex, digital DTP marketing campaigns must follow suit — after all, multimedia consumption demands a multifaceted approach.