Medical Online Marketing in the APAC region: Do and absolutely Don’t

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Asia is one of the fastest growing regions globally, and a lot of trends start here. As such, marketers working with digital marketing here offer a wide range of services. Because why not, 40% of the world’s internet users are in the region. Not only that, markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, and China have over 70% smartphone penetration. This is an opportunity many businesses are missing out on, or even if they do online advertising, they could do much better.

Most digital companies offer their services to every single business and product, they can market retail goods, FMCG and an online pet shop all in one. It is not a secret that every industry has its own lingo, customer segments and marketing regulations, especially the medical industry which require a thorough, ethically correct marketing approach. If you over-promise your company, your reputation can get seriously damaged.

Not many healthcare providers feel comfortable advertising. And that’s a wise thing. The medical marketing style should be professional, unique, credible and informative to ensure that the quality and professionalism stands out. In the medical world, trust and reputation are the most valued commodities and this approach is lacking in way too many of the advertisements we do see online today. So, if you choose online marketing, make sure the agency is focused on medical and healthcare marketing only.

So, what is wrong with online medical marketing across the region?
Asia has a myriad of cultures and any forward-thinking marketer considers culture as one of the main factors that shape the face of marketing in Asia. If your target audience is residents, you will most probably use certain search engines and social media widely used in every particular region. Unfortunately, I have seen way too many online marketing efforts and money being spent on Google in native language in Hong Kong where actually Yahoo is used by 55% of local residents. Many native language campaigns lead to an English page or vice versa, something that seriously damages ROI and can never be recommended.

Another miscalculation in medical industry is not targeting expats. Expats make huge customer and patient groups with more businesses opening their regional offices here. Way too many private hospitals and other clinical treatment providers do not technically include expats in their marketing efforts.

In the era of medical tourism many clinics forget European, Australian and American markets. Keep in mind that Western patients will most probably do a research on Google on certain treatments and they will consider getting more affordable treatment in Asia combined with a vacation.

In general, medical marketing online is still an embryo in the region with low competition and high potential.

Underestimation of digital marketing impact

The problem occurs when the trend of digital marketing becomes too hyped and numerous agencies offer their services measured in terms of Return on Investment and in the form of number of clicks. But what about a simple, a more businesslike offer? The promise of bringing new customers and increasing sales and revenue? 65% of agencies value ad clicks more than actual conversions! When did ad clicks became more relevant than actual sales? Some agencies go even beyond that and charge you a percentage on clicks your ads get. These agencies are clearly not interested in getting you customers but only as many clicks as possible through ineffective marketing.

Online Medical B2B Marketing? Does it work?

Another extremely underestimated and underdeveloped marketing channel in the B2B medical sector in South-East Asia is LinkedIn. What can be better than directly approaching thousands of professionals (potential buyers) in selected industries, job positions and with specific backgrounds? Yes, this is how narrow you can target your audience. No more cold calling, printing materials, running around to useless meetings. The customers who are genuinely interested in your product will come to you. Studies also show that more than 65% of all decision makers research vendors and products online, through search engines before choosing who to approach.

What’s next?
SEO is “dead”. Most companies in the medical sector do SEO on their web site, in the old days it worked, get to the first place on google for popular keywords and you were golden. These days, the entire search page on laptops and mobiles is filled with ads, organic rankings have much less chance of getting clicks. SEO is still a good practice but should not be at the top of your marketing list.

At some point, every single person needs a visit to a doctor, get a certain treatment or just find out what the treatment options are for their symptoms or condition. These are all your prospective patients and they will most probably search for information online. Make sure they can find you there!

The potential for online marketing in Asia is excellent right now, low competition, low cost and high penetration. Combine this with accurate targeting and you will get a lot more customers. Competition will increase in time as more companies catch on, but for now, it’s your best option for getting customers.