Pharmaceutical and medical technology marketing and communications have changed at a faster pace in 2020 than ever before. This is despite — or maybe partly because of — the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, this year hasn’t only been about the coronavirus.

Here are some of the top marketing and communication trends Mobile Locker has seen our clients leverage this year. How many of these strategies and tactics are you using? How many do you plan to take advantage of in the year ahead? 

1. Support for telemedicine and online care became a top priority.

Like many aspects of life during the pandemic, medical treatment has moved online. This was something that began before COVID-19, but many patients and healthcare professionals were uncomfortable with the concept. When concerns about the coronavirus made virtual medical consultations the only way for patients and doctors to meet, they found out it can be a safe and effective way to seek out — and deliver — quality care.

This has changed how pharmaceutical and healthcare businesses support the medical professionals they work with. The ones that provide doctors and nurses with the best tools and resources to support their online patient interactions have taken leadership positions, while their slower and less responsive competitors have fallen behind.

2. Content is king. Again.

Content has been king for a long time now. However, as more and more sales and healthcare-related interactions take place online, it’s important for pharmaceutical and med-tech firms to have the best information, packaged and presented as effectively as possible for the virtual realm. 

Brochures, slide presentations and flip charts used to be okay when meetings took place in person. Since the pandemic made it necessary for sales and training interactions to take place via Zoom and other online channels, videos, virtual demonstrations and flexible presentations have become critical components of doing business. 

The same has become true when it comes to patient communications. Pharma and med-tech companies that have the most engaging and effective online information are more likely to get people to ask doctors about their products. The ones with the best communication and education tools are more likely to get medical professionals to recommend their offerings to patients.

One of the things we’ve found is that the firms we work with find value in leveraging the Mobile Locker app to monitor the effectiveness of their content. This year, they churned out new material at record levels. Our app gives them the power to find out if it’s performing as intended in real-time. If not, it makes it possible to fix things on the fly and make them better.

3. Artificial intelligence (AI) and marketing automation (MA) finally take hold.

After years of fits and starts, artificial intelligence and marketing automation are finally being used in meaningful ways in the pharmaceutical and medical technology industries. From helping salespeople better qualify prospects to predicting which types of patients could benefit from their products, AI is being used in countless ways in many of the businesses we work with.

Marketing automation makes it possible for these companies to leverage the insights gained through their artificial intelligence systems to quickly and accurately market to and communicate with clients, prospects, and patients.  

AI almost instantly analyzes data and comes up with insights that would have taken weeks — or even months — to do just a year or two ago. MA allows firms to act on those insights in days, rather than weeks or months. Taken together, these two powerful technologies allow the organizations that know how to use them right to be far more responsive and beat competitors who are not leveraging AI or MA or don’t know how to use them correctly.

If your company isn’t taking advantage of these powerful technologies, they should be part of your 2021 plan.

This year, Google accelerated the trend of delivering more results via featured snippets. They’re the short answers to questions that pop up at the top of many search results. Pharma and med-tech companies are battling it out to come up with the snippets Google selects when people search for answers to questions about healthcare issues.

While it can be difficult to boil down many medical concepts into concise snippets, the companies that can do this well will be able to drive more traffic to their websites, which can contribute to an increase in sales. Those that aren’t able to optimize this aspect of their online search strategy will limit their opportunities.

5. Use of digital video increases.

Marketers and communicators in the medical field used to think that people would take information seriously if it was presented as a formal written narrative, whether online or in print. Video was considered too frivolous a medium to deliver information about health conditions.

This is the year the scale tipped in favor of video delivery. The older generation of readers has become far more comfortable watching videos to learn things about all aspects of their lives. Younger people have grown up watching them and don’t know anything else. Add to this the fact that devices and increased streaming bandwidth have made watching videos online a convenient and enjoyable experience. It’s the perfect way to explain complex concepts and make them easy to understand.

If your organization hasn’t made video a priority, you should take a look at your 2021 marketing and communication plan to find opportunities to leverage it. It’s what medical professionals and patients expect, so it only makes sense to provide it to them.