On Monday I watched a webinar sponsored by Lionbridge titled, “Managing a Global Online Presence.”
The moderator, Kathleen Bernstein, Marketing Services, Lionbridge Life Sciences, is a business acquaintance, from my days with HMC Council and MMA and hers as founding partner and president of Seidler Bernstein, a healthcare marketing communications firm focused on medical device and diagnostic markets.
Joining Kathleen, were Kristina Isakovich, Founder and CEO of Strategic Choices and Ray Goforth, Global Digital Strategy Manager, St. Jude Medical.
Isakovich opened by discussing the fact that medical device is growing at nearly twice the rate of pharma and that the US market is declining as an overall percentage of revenues. Taken together, you’d better be able to market to non-US markets.
She sited a study that addressed the challenges faced by medical device companies related to online marketing and six were consistent for the industry: infrastructure, localization, content management, ROI, legal, and Social/Mobile/SEO.
She then spoke to each (in summary, my words):
Infrastructure: acquisition and legacy issues left many companies with multiple sites in the same language. I know for my company we had 3 US sites with different URL’s, plus one in Canada, Brazil, and Latin America all hosted separately.
Localization: degree of localization is left to the local business. For me, I’ve seen that the US marketing team is best resource equipped and as a result we make English language content available to the other markets, but they have to decide which content works for them and have it translated. Often their resources are very limited, so even with the US materials, they can’t be as robust as they want to be in their marketing.
Content management: typically created in English and then local determines what gets translated, therefore English sites have better content. This is very similar to the above comment in my experience.
ROI: digital is getting more money and an ever increasing cut of marketing money, but performance is not being checked locally. Key takeaway, the better you measure and show positive results, the more dollars you will be able to get allocated.
Legal: rules vary by company and by country, which impacts local. And, legal will say no until marketing can demonstrate no additional risk to the company for doing it. Again, from my experience I’ve seen this to very much be the case.
Social, Mobile, and SEO: all the conversations you want to have online are already taking place between customer and service/sales. For me, this combo was a bit of a stretch as they are distinct entities. You could argue that SEO is boosted by an active social program and that social is often accessed by consumers via mobile, but still a stretch from my perspective to group these.
She continued that every company in the medical device sector is making an effort to improve online in each of the six areas outlined, and that no one has it figured out, but when someone does, industry will move very fast and device will catch up to other industries.
Goforth emphasized measuring across all geographies and to ensure consistency in local regions through branding.
She spoke to her online strategy which placed an emphasis on translation, search engine marketing, KPI based reporting to measure engagement, optimizing sites for mobile, and having robust metrics to understand user navigation and top content. I absolutely agree with all of those areas of emphasis.
Goforth then noted that in the future they are looking at social, apps, and optimized reporting that includes ROI.
Bernstein ended the program addressing the question “how can you move forward?” She answered her own question by noting the need to align objectives and dollars. She also stated that you have to invest in what matters most.
She also reminded everyone that expectations are set by consumer websites, not other device sites. Take the time to understand how customers respond to your site, fix pain points and show that you are being responsive, this will significantly improve the customer experience.
Finally, she acknowledged that medical device is way behind consumer, so don’t strive to be where the others are, you need to leapfrog ahead.
For me, I thought it was a good webinar that mostly validated the initiatives and direction we’ve chosen to take.