Creating Effective Inbound Marketing in the Life Sciences – Part 3: The Prerequisites for Inbound Marketing

By David Chapin

SUMMARY

VOLUME 5

, NUMER 6

Inbound marketing, when done well, should result in a deeper relationship between your organization and your prospects, developing into a steady stream of well-qualified leads. In this issue, we attempt to strip away the hype surrounding inbound marketing and specify the approach needed for an effective inbound marketing effort in the life sciences. We’ll see how the various components of inbound marketing reinforce each other, interacting to drive effective results.

Inbound marketing in the life sciences requires integration

Marketing is changing. Interruption-based outbound tactics (push marketing) are losing effectiveness and as they decline, organizations have to draw audiences with inbound (pull) marketing. Once audience members show any interest, they have to be handled correctly. The process of luring visitors and converting them from a visitor to a prospect to a lead to a customer is not simple; it involves multiple steps and must be supported at every stage.

As sellers gain power, marketers have to work smarter – on individual tactics, and on ensuring integration across tactics. Nothing is a better example of this than inbound marketing, which depends, more than almost any other marketing activity, on the interaction of many marketing tactics, all working together synergistically. No one marketing tactic by itself is sufficient to guarantee the success of inbound marketing; there is no single “magic bullet,” but a web of interacting activities that join together synergistically.

As sellers gain power, marketers have to work smarter.

As we review what it takes to make inbound marketing a success in a life science organization, we’ll need a “dual focus.” We need to examine the details as well as the way those pieces and parts fit together with your overall life science marketing strategy to create a high-performance, inbound marketing effort.

The prerequisites for high-performance inbound marketing in the life sciences

High-performance inbound life science marketing has many components. All have to be present for inbound marketing to work at maximum effectiveness, so it is useful to view these components as “prerequisites.” If you have these in place and all are performing optimally, then you’ll deliver maximum results. Without one or more of these prerequisites in place, your results will be limited.

Inbound marketing requires a well-balanced, integrated approach, where multiple tactics work together.Before we list the prerequisites, a couple of caveats. Inbound marketing makes the most sense for products and services that have a long sales cycle and a large purchase price. With a long sales cycle, there are multiple opportunities to affect the buyers’ beliefs, which is where lead nurturing (through marketing automation and other methods) becomes important. With a large purchase price, the prospects will typically be doing quite a bit of research, which is where the breadth and depth of your unique content and SEO activities becomes important.

Now let’s list the prerequisites for a healthy inbound marketing effort, starting with those that are the most elemental and ending with those that are the most advanced. As you read, I urge you to hold your own marketing activities up against this list, judging where your efforts might be classified as high performance and where you have room for improvement.

Here are the prerequisites for creating a high-performance inbound marketing effort in the life sciences:

Defining good value. A high-performance marketing team clearly understands and can articulate the unique value represented by their offering. Value is the basis of all commerce, and unique value to a specific set of targeted customers is the basis of any lasting commercial success. (Read here for more on uniqueness).

Defining a unique position. To capitalize on this unique value, it must be captured in some sort of position that meets the seven criteria for effective positioning: clear, unique, authentic, sustainable, important, believable and compelling. The result of this positioning effort is a documented life science position statement that is shared and well understood by the entire marketing team, if not by the entire organization. This position is the foundation for all marketing initiatives, guiding all future efforts. (Read here for more on positioning).

A unique, clearly defined position is crucial for inbound marketing to be effective.

Clearly articulating your brand/story. A high-performance marketing effort represents the unique position through a clear and compelling name, tagline, brand/story and message. These articulate the position in a way that resonates with the values, beliefs, and behaviors of various audiences, both human and search engine spiders. This brand/story is well documented, and the difference between what is “on-brand” and what is “off-brand” is both clear and shared throughout the organization. In addition, the responsibility for maintaining the consistency of the brand/story is clearly delegated to a specific individual or group with the organization. (Read here for more on brand/story).

Consistently expressing the brand/story. A high-performance marketing effort deliberately broadens the expression of the brand/story across all rungs of the Ladder of Lead Generation. With this breadth of expression through a widening number of touchpoints, it becomes critical to keep the brand/story consistent and “on-target,” which is why high-performance marketing teams monitor the consistency of their brand/story. They pay particular attention as more voices begin to express the marketing message – for example, through social media. High-performance marketing teams also understand that absolute control of the marketing message is no longer possible (again, social media is a the perfect example), so they develop systems to ensure that the expression of the brand/story is as consistent as possible and that all parties understand the importance of consistency. (Read here for more on the Ladder of Lead Generation).

Since inbound marketing is a long term effort, consistency in expressing your brand/story will help prevent audience confusion.

Designing and deploying a high-performance website. Properly functioning websites are the cornerstone of any inbound marketing effort. The website must be easy to navigate and simple to use, with a design that is appropriate to the audience. The website also must be capable of supporting a serious effort in analytics to track visitor behavior.

Running campaigns that are tailored and integrated. High-performance marketing teams create integrated campaigns that use multiple touchpoints across the entire Ladder of Lead Generation. For example, an email blast links to a webinar, which references a video that is summarized in an ebook, and so on. These campaigns are targeted at specific audiences and incorporate clear and compelling calls to action designed to drive specific behaviors, such as conversions, subscriptions, etc.

Measuring and optimizing. High-performance marketing efforts use measurement and the resulting metrics appropriately. Rather than focus on measuring activity solely for the sake of measuring, the focus is on measuring results for the sake of improvement. Multiple measurement and optimization tactics, such as SEO (search engine optimization), analytics, specific landing pages and QR codes are employed to track and improve results. Measureable tactics that reinforce SEO efforts – such as PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns – are employed where it makes sense to do so. Specific efforts are optimized using A/B testing, harnessing the scientific method itself to improve marketing efforts in the life sciences. (Read here for more on SEO).

Measuring your marketing activities in an appropriate way is important for a successful inbound marketing effort.

Tracking and profiling. Personas of key buying segments are created to shape and focus communication with distinct audience groups. Audience groups are segmented and tracked using a CRM (customer relationship management system, such as Salesforce.com). This CRM is then used consistently and widely throughout the organization, serving as the “database of record” for all communication with individual prospects. These segments are targeted on a regular basis with outbound communication, specific to where they are in the buying cycle. Within high-performance marketing organizations, there is a focus on maintaining a clean list and growing the list over time. The deployment and widespread, consistent adoption of a CRM is one of the indications that both the sales and marketing functions are being supported by technologies that will enable them to work together effectively, by establishing common goals and clarifying the relationships between sales’ and marketing’s responsibilities. (Read here for more on the buying cycle).

Creating “magnetic” life science content. High-performance marketing efforts devote significant resources to creating and managing a steady stream of compelling life science content that is unique, fresh, organized, and relevant. This content springs from an effective content strategy, which outlines:

  • What content is being created (topics, forms, tone)
  • For whom it’s being created(human and digital audiences)
  • Why it’s being created (changes in beliefs, behaviors, actions)
  • How it’s being created (roles, responsibilities, schedule)
  • How it’s being managed (roles, responsibilities, deletion)
  • How it’s being measured (metrics)
Content that is not sales-focused is the fuel that drives any inbound marketing campaign.This content is not sales focused, but rather educational, inspirational and reassuring, and always appropriate to the audience segment and their stage in the buying cycle. It expresses a strong point of view and is therefore “magnetic,” that is, it attracts audience members that agree with this point of view and repels audience members that disagree. In this way, the content attracts a “tribe” of like-minded fans over time, in part by augmenting search engine results.  This content can take many forms, such as whitepapers, blog posts, webinars, videos, and infographics, etc. And it is repurposed and re-imagined in multiple ways over its life cycle. (Read here for more on content marketing).

Promoting content. This steady stream of content is widely promoted, including through social media. SEO tactics and PPC campaigns are used to spread the content further. To balance the need to generate leads against the need to spread the content widely, some of the content is gated (requiring the user to give up some of their personal information in exchange for access) and some of the content is ungated (so the search engine spiders have free access to the content).

As the volume of leads increases, marketing automation becomes an important tool in nurturing and tracking prospects.Automating marketing functions. As the volume of contacts, content and campaigns grows, the high-performance marketing team turns to marketing automation to help streamline its efforts. Marketing automation allows the nurturing of visitors by tracking their behavior on the web site. It harnesses the value exchange discussed in the last issue to profile these users, segmenting them to deliver specific content that meets their needs. It automates communication with prospects, connecting with them in pre-defined ways and nurturing them through the buying cycle, based on their specific behavior. Marketing automation automates many functions, for example, it can remarket to visitors who have not yet made it all the way through the buying cycle. It employs lead scoring to flag users who reach a predefined level of engagement, and passes off market-qualified leads to Sales automatically.

Inbound marketing in the life sciences is built on a web of tactics

High-performance inbound marketing is built from components that build upon and reinforce each other. This reinforcement is crucial to achieving maximum results. When done well, all the components interact to deepen the level of engagement between the organization and its prospects, and thereby drive a steady inbound stream of well-qualified leads.

Without this reinforcement – this smooth interaction between components – the entire structure of inbound marketing falls apart. In fact, inbound marketing can be thought of as a pyramid, one layer supporting another. If we start at the top of the pyramid, then…

Inbound marketing…

Results in a deeper connection between your audiences and your organization,

Which drives a steady stream of well-qualified leads and…

Is driven by systematic, consistent, effective processes (like marketing automation)…

Which are employed consistently to communicate, track, profile, segment, score, nurture, remarket and target audience segments…

Who are attracted by the promotion…

Of a steady and growing stream of compelling, unique, relevant content…

That is created according to a clearly defined content strategy…

That is tuned to the needs of clearly defined audience segments…

Who occupy a unique place in the buying cycle…

And are tracked using a consistently applied CRM…

Which links to other closely watched metrics…

That track the performance of integrated, tailored campaigns…

Which are spread across the entire Ladder of Lead Generation…

Including a high-performance, easy-to-navigate web site…

And these campaigns express consistently…

A compelling brand/story…

That clearly articulates your clear, unique, authentic, sustainable position…

Which is important, believable and compelling to your audiences…

And captures your unique value…

Which is why they might consider buying from you in the first place…

If only they knew about you…

Which is why you need marketing…

To attract a steady stream of well-qualified leads out of the sea of anonymous shoppers…

Converting them from prospects to visitors to leads to customers…

Deepening the relationship between them and your organization…

And not just mediocre, disjointed marketing…

But high-performance, inbound life science marketing…

That makes the complex compelling.

 

Isn’t this how it should work in a high-performance life science marketing organization?

If you need help creating effective inbound marketing results, call us.

The Marketing of Science is published by Forma Life Science Marketing approximately ten times per year. To subscribe to this free publication, email us at info@formalifesciencemarketing.com.

David Chapin is author of the book “The Marketing of Science: Making the Complex Compelling,” available now from Rockbench Press and on Amazon. He was named Best Consultant in the inaugural 2013 BDO Triangle Life Science Awards. David serves on the board of NCBio.

David has a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from Swarthmore College and a Master’s degree in Design from NC State University. He is the named inventor on more than forty patents in the US and abroad. His work has been recognized by AIGA, and featured in publications such as the Harvard Business Review, ID magazine, Print magazine, Design News magazine and Medical Marketing and Media. David has authored articles published by Life Science Leader, Impact, and PharmaExec magazines and MedAd News. He has taught at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill and at the College of Design at NC State University. He has lectured and presented to numerous groups about various topics in marketing.

Forma Life Science Marketing is a leading marketing firm for life science, companies. Forma works with life science organizations to increase marketing effectiveness and drive revenue, differentiate organizations, focus their messages and align their employee teams. Forma distills and communicates complex messages into compelling communications; we make the complex compelling.

© 2024 Forma Life Science Marketing, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted without obtaining written permission from Forma Life Science Marketing.

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