Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pharmaceutical Search Engine Marketing: Transforming the Culture of Medicine? The Internet's Impact on the Patient-Physician Dynamic

As I look ahead to the 3rd Annual Pharmaceutical Search Marketing conference from eXl in February, I'm reminded of a concept that Professor Stan Kachnowski, PhD talked about at the conference earlier this year in Philadelphia. Professor Kachnowski is the Chair of Healthcare Innovation Technology Lab at Columbia University Medical Center, and the concept he discussed is what he called "information asymmetry".

The opposite concept, "information symmetry", suggests that better decisions are reached when all parties have access to the same information. Similar to how car buyers search the Internet before visiting a dealer, patients search Google, Medline and other search engines before visiting their healthcare provider.

Does this increased online access to medical research and treatment information improve the physician-patient dynamic and lead to better medical decisions?

Last year, Google commissioned a study on Physicians and the Internet, which explored among other things, how physicians perceive the Internet's influence on the consumer-physician dynamic. (Since the research is proprietary and confidential, feel free to email me and I will connect you with my contacts on Google's Health team.)

This and other studies support what we already know: patients are searching for symptom-, condition-, diagnosis-, and treatment-related information online before and after they visit their physicians; and doctors' decisions are frequently impacted by patient research.

In his book Super Crunchers, Ian Ayres also discusses how the Internet is "transforming the culture of medicine."

Have you read it yet? What are your thoughts on information symmetry and the patient-physician dynamic. Post a comment!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Tapping Into Our Dreams

Marketers are often afraid of engaging in the social media conversation, because they don't want to be criticized. Well, we know that ignoring the conversation doesn't make it go away.

Twistori is a social media experiment which might at least get your team one step closer to embracing the bright side of social media.

It's at Twistori.com

And it works on the iPhone.

Pharmaceutical Marketers Can Leverage Twitter Search and Social Media Today

Looking to monitor your brand within social media? Want to know what people are saying right this moment? Ok - there are a number of tools on the market that help marketers monitor their brands in social media; and in July, Twitter acquired Summize and then relaunched it as search.twitter.com. Go ahead and try it. Search you brand name. Try your category.

People are passionate. People are talking...about you and your brand. But now what? Will you join the conversation? Will you use Twitter as an RM tool? As a recruiting tool? As a PR tool?

Pharmaceutical companies have multiple marketing objectives, including brand awareness, driving new prescriptions, increasing adherence and compliance, even recruiting participants for their clinical trials.

Here's what healthcare patients have been saying about Lyrica (pregabalin) a drug treatment for fibromyalgia, diabetic nerve pain, partial onset seizures in adults, as well as other conditions.

Can you see the value here? If not, I'm sure your relationship marketing (RM) team can. If your search marketing team is not yet providing this type of actionable information, ask your PR team.

Do a social media search here to see what people are saying about your pharma brand right now on Twitter.

This is a great opportunity for search marketers to help our clients see and capture immediate value with search and social media, because it's so simple, clear and concrete. To build on this next week, we'll explore examples of how big brands are already engaging their most passionate consumers, and we'll also look at how we can make Twitter programs immediately measurable with Google Analytics.

If you want to get a head-start, check out this list of how big brands are using search and social media. Thanks to Erik for the link!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Increasing Organic Search Traffic with User Generated Content

It's the second week of the US Open in New York City, so let's take a look at how online tennis retailer Tennis Warehouse which attracts almost 500,000 visits/month, leverages user-generated content to improve organic search results and drive traffic.

From their top nav, they promote their message boards (from vBulletin ) allowing users to discuss a wide range of topics around tennis players, tournaments and equipment. This provides fresh user generated content allowing Tennis Warehouse to generate organic search rankings and traffic from long-tail keywords.

For example, a Google search for "Nadal's string tension" shows that Tennis Warehouse is getting 3 of the top 5 organic search listings, and the top 2 are from their message board discussions.

According to Quantcast about 9% of their visitors go to their message boards.

Are you employing a similar strategy? What have been your key challenges and successes? Share your experience at our new Search and Social Media Community