eMarketing: A seven-step guide to optimizing potential

Jens Monsees, industry head of healthcare, Google Germany, offers tips on opening effective new online channels for communication and marketing.

Jens Monsees, industry head of healthcare, Google Germany, offers tips on opening effective new online channels for communication and marketing.

Google isnt omniscient, but the company does have a pretty comprehensive view of whats going on in the world.

In the lobby of its headquarters in Mountain View, California, a real-time tracker shows what people around the world are searching for online at that moment: where to find the best pizza in London; how to fix a flat tire; what not to miss when visiting Hong Kong.

Increasingly, the subject of Internet searches has turned to health.

This year health-related queries took over the number two spot, just behind technology.

Germans lodge more than 100 health-related queries on Google each second.

In the US, 61 percent of adults look online for medical information, and upwards of 90 percent of pharmacists and physicians use search engines to probe health-related matters.

Considering this strong potential that we observe at Google, we really have to say that pharma is lagging behind, said Jens Monsees, industry head of healthcare, Google Germany, at eyeforpharmas eMarketing Europe Summit [http://www.eyeforpharma.com/ecomm/] in Berlin.

Whatever reservations pharma companies may harbor, Monsees believes the scale of Internet activity mandates companies to move online and open up new channels for communication and marketing.

The virtual shelf has become the most visible shelf you can find in any of your countries or in any of your markets, Monsees said.

Their are millions of people passing through every day.

To optimize online potential, Monsees recommends the following seven steps.

Step One: Get your digital assets in order

Digital design is essential to drawing visitors into a site and keeping them there.

Make sure the structure of the site is kind on the eyes, the text clear, and the internal navigation intuitive.

Many sites choose to cater to both physicians and patients, which is great as long as the two are clearly delineated and the site feels welcoming to both.

When you come to websites a lot of times you feel lost, Monsees said.

Its unstructured, its full of flash and images. You have to think from the eyes of the consumerwhat they actually want to see and what they want to find.

Create different URLs to guide visitors and ensure they find what theyre looking for.

And tastefully work in some motion, pictures, and video, like a feed to a conference where your opinion leader spoke.

Why not? Monsees said. Its an easy thing but it makes the content much more exciting and readable and accessible for the patients and the physicians.

Step Two: Get traffic with search engine optimization

If you create a website and post lots of compelling images and videos that project positive messages to patients and physicians, that naturally leads to search engine optimization, right?

Wrong, Monsees says.

The Google algorithm cant identify images or videos, so its critical to describe what the image or video is about in the metatext.

Thats just one reason Monsees recommends hiring the right experts to get your site traffic.

Optimization is complicated, and its best to get help to guarantee it.

Step Three: Get traffic with search engine marketing

Even with expert advice, however, it can be difficult to beat out big sites like WebMD, MedicineNet, NetDoctor, and, of course, Wikipedia.

I always get asked how can you beat Wikipedia, Monsees said.

You cannot beat Wikipedia because they are so big and they are so relevant.

Thus, Monsees recommends paying for advertisements that pop up right alongside the searchers keyword.

A recent Google study found that 45 percent of a websites traffic comes through search-related referrals.

If you dont pay for advertisements, its quite possible your website will languish on the fifth or sixth page of an organic search result.

When you have something nice therea nice movie, a nice clip, a nice websiteyou want as many people as possible to see it, Monsees said.

It seems easy but when I talk to online marketers, I find out that they have all the budget wasted in production and zero money for actually getting people to their site. (For more on online marketing, see Making e-marketing effective and How to get ROI from social media.)

Step Four: Keep yourself seasonal

Times and fashions change, as do popular search queries from one day, month, or year to the next.

In 2009, two of the most frequently Googled keywords were swine flu and Michael Jackson.

Monsees recommends that online marketers track such vagaries by using Google Insights for Search.

The tool shows what keyword searches are popular for a given category at a given time in a given country, state, or region.

Put in a category like health, food, music, entertainment, and you can see very easily how the search queries over time have developed, Monsees said.

Once you know what people are searching for, cater your message and advertisements to those subjects.

Step Five: Go where your target group is

Steps one through four help bring an audience to you; step five is about bringing your site to them.

That is, go where your target audience congregates online and advertise your site there.

Monsees said, The question is, if we can reach them there, are we there? Are we visible? Are we relevant with our brands and our marketing activities?

He recommends using the Google Display Network to put your ad in front of potential customers when theyre most likely to notice them.

The Network covers most of the Internet in most countries; in Germany, its reach is 75 percent, which means Google can ensure advertising space on 75 percent of all German portals.

Its crawler scans articles and sites for keywords and then posts contextual ads to fit the subject.

Wherever someone is surfing, not searching, we can identify this person and put in the right ad at the right time, Monsees said. Its all about relevance.

Step Six: Drive social media with YouTube

YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter currently have populations rivaling the largest nations in the world, such as China and India.

What for me is very astonishing is if you actually look at healthcare professionals, you would assume theyre on WebMD, the National Institute of Health, and yes its true, but double the number you find on YouTube, Monsees said.

Currently, 35 percent of healthcare professionals use YouTube, versus 16 percent for WebMD, the closest contender.

Monsees doesnt recommend blindly placing ads on the YouTube homepage but instead linking your advertisements with YouTube searches.

If a person enters chemotherapy into the YouTube search bar, your ad can pop up alongside the latest video from the NHS or eHow Health. (For more on social media, see To Tweet or not to Tweet? That is the pharma marketers question and The upside of social media in marketing, and How the pharma sector benefits from social media.)

Step Seven: Track whats happening

According to Monsees, only 25 percent of European pharma companies actually track and measure their websites.

Normally, I ask people if they track their websites and they say, Yeah yeah, and then I ask numbers and they dont know, Monsees said.

This is a shame, because you get so much data if you track your website in a very nice way and a very precise way.

Tracking a site reveals how much traffic your search ads bring you, how often a display ad is watched or clicked, how many views or comments you have on YouTube, and so on.

Google and numerous other providers offer free reporting tools.

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