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How to get ahead of 2021’s healthcare marketing trends

While advancements in digital and content marketing for healthcare businesses look set to continue their rapid pace of growth, an appetite for physical events and face-to-face interactions remains.

Like all marketers, those in the healthcare industry faced a host of challenges since 2020. No one wants to bring the term “unprecedented” back, but it’s an accurate description for the situation marketing teams across the globe found themselves in as a business slowed and budgets were cut.

Take physical events as an example. Traditionally, marketing teams have set aside at least a quarter of their entire budget for exhibitions. As borders closed and travel ground to a halt, new tactics were needed as this major marketing strategy could no longer come into play.

And unlike marketers in other industries, those in the healthcare industry faced an additional challenge: being heard above the volume of health-related content that has flooded the internet during the pandemic, and counteracting confusion and disinformation.

Building a trusted brand through content

More than ever, audiences are looking for authenticity. And with 67% of a buyer’s journey taking place online – and before they speak directly with a salesperson – the digital footprint of your organisation is a major factor in how your audience perceives you.

With so much of a decision-maker’s journey now happening online, even before the pandemic and the social distancing measures that came with it, content marketing is a more important trend than ever. In fact, 78% of marketers are planning to up their investment in content, according to a recent survey by LinkedIn.

It’s more important than ever use content not only to share your expertise and knowledge with the wider healthcare community, but to ensure you stand out among the competition.

Share your lessons and successes within your specialism through articles and case studies; engage with the healthcare community across social media platforms; showcase your company’s thought leaders through video and webinars.

The appetite for this content is there: in a recent survey of Omnia Health subscribers, 88% were looking for more educational content online.

When you offer your audience opportunities to learn, you meet those needs and build trust and authority within the industry.

“We’re seeing more and more healthcare organisations recognise the value of engaging with their audience online. They see it as a chance to educate and nurture them before they meet face-to-face,” commented Tom Coleman, Exhibition Director, Patient Safety. “There’s been a major increase in webinars, for example, because as well as building credibility and trust, it’s a way for companies to know they’re getting engaged leads who are genuinely interested in their area of expertise.”

Multiple marketing touch points

On average, a B2B decision-maker goes through between 11-17 “touch points” or marketing interactions before they make a final decision.
What does this look like?

The B2B buyer journey is increasingly complex, but at a snapshot:

  • B2B buyers get 70% of the way through their journey before engaging a sales representative
  • 90% of buyers say online content has a mild to major effect on purchasing decisions
  • 78% of B2B buyers consume three of more pieces of content before talking to a salesperson
  • 71% of decision makers consume blog content during their research process


More than ever, marketing plans need to reflect this, offering different avenues for users to do their own research and move themselves through the sales and marketing funnel. Testing is key here: try different content formats across different channels, and identify how your audiences like to consume content and where they are most receptive to your message.

The evolution of event marketing

Events have long been a staple of healthcare marketers. With huge numbers of the healthcare community gathered in one place, they offer a strong return on investment, combining educational opportunities with the type of hands-on product demonstrations it is hard to offer elsewhere.

Events also offer a tremendous branding and advocacy opportunity, with 69% of visitors surveyed two weeks after attending live events saying they had already recommended, or would be recommending, brands they had seen there.

Of course, out of all marketing tactics, live events arguably suffered the most in 2020. The pandemic put a halt to travel and many marketing teams saw budgets cut. Instead of coming to a standstill, however, healthcare events are adapting. 

This brings us back to the importance of establishing multiple marketing touchpoints. Healthcare organisations can take advantage of an online platform now more than ever, for digital marketing where they know their audience will be. This is a chance to engage prospects in a virtual setting – a unique “nurture” opportunity,


To sum it up, the rapid advancements in digital marketing the healthcare industry has embraced under the challenging circumstances of 2020 aren’t going anywhere. Content will also continue to play a key role; the appetite for trustworthy information will keep growing.

Ultimately, 2021 will be all about refining these methods to gain a better understanding of the customer journey and maximise the return on your marketing investments.

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