By Hayden Allen-Vercoe, Chief Operations Officer, Orbital Media
2018 has been another exciting year for emerging tech. New categories of digital marketing are being exploited by those brave enough to adapt, as well as implement – especially when the depth of research just hasn’t been available up until now.
We’ve seen A.I. explode onto the scene. Early adopters of blockchain saving millions. There has been valid, concrete research into how virtual reality can enhance our wellbeing, and aid both our personal and professional lives.
So, what can we look forward to in 2019?
Well… more of the same as 2018, but significantly refined, as well as supported by research. Here are five key trends relevant to the OTC industry to watch out for. If you’d like to check out our full list of 15 key digital trends for 2019, please visit www.orbitalmedia.com and download from our homepage.
1 – Voice search starts to dominate
Ask Alexa how many users she has, and she’ll confidently tell you that it’s 38 million in the US alone (Jan 2018 figures). Now factor in Cortana, and Siri – and how much more convenient it usually is to ask a robot for answers – and you can easily begin to appreciate the prediction; by 2020; over half of online searches will be completed by voice. In fact, 27% of the global online population are already using voice search on their mobile devices. OTC marketers can’t afford to ignore such numbers, especially in relation to consumer healthcare. Many of us have relied on “Dr. Google” at some point!
What’s more, it’s been reported that Facebook is already developing its own smart speaker, which will tie all its platforms together – from Instagram to Marketplace.
Look out for: Privacy issues will continue to plague voice search as it does so now!
Prepare yourself: When producing factual web content, consider what your market may ‘speak’ instead of ‘type’ to find your product or service – not forgetting to implement a more conversational tone also.
2 – Chatbots make sales whilst you sleep
This is especially true in relation to digital healthcare. We, as consumers, want assurance that we know what is wrong with us, and that the recommended product or course of action is right for our ailment. The challenge for the marketer is to appear at the point of need and then convince the consumer they have all they need right here… and now! Whilst chatbots are not new, up until now they’ve been a tad lacklustre, offering repetitiveness and little value to the information seeker. However, 2019 will see a few new, advanced players entering the market and integrating with social networks more effectively, allowing you to simply input your most relevant automated responses to FAQs and leave your bot to do the hard work.
These bots will sound and feel very human, right down to the speed that they type. They will also learn from what we ask of them and refine their answers accordingly. While we have no preference to the chatbots currently available, Zendesk Answer Bot and Bold360 A.I. both seem to be getting a lot of love right now. Apologies for the shameless plug folks, but we (Orbital) will be launching our own advanced, machine learning chatbot in Q3 2019, which has been designed with the OTC industry in mind.
Look out for: Cost. Improved technologies in this space won’t be cheap but will become more so over the next two years. Be careful when addressing diagnostics and implement red flags when required.
Prepare yourself: Review your most common FAQs and write conversational responses. You can use these manually for now, saving you heaps of time answering your social communities’ questions. Don’t rely on your FAQs page – consumers want interaction with the brand, and within minutes!
3 – The social network support group
Marketers are understandably always looking for that added value. Have you considered the value of creating and owning a private and non-commercial space, where your customers can discuss their ailments at will, and share tips and advice on wellbeing and management aligned to your category of product? If not, then perhaps you should – as this strategy is on the rise and showing very positive signs of success for the end user, with a bonus of great halo effect for the brand. Take, for example the NHS and how they tapped into Tinder a few years back for an initiative to promote organ donation; or how Argentinian Ambulance uses WhatsApp to fast track their patients’ care (and actually decrease mortality for heart attack patients).
Or how about the fact that members of closed smoking cessation groups on Facebook, are 2.5x more successful at quitting over 3 months than non-members. NRT manufacturers – take note! Peer Caregiver Support is the new buzzword here, and there are plenty of willing individuals out there looking to help.
It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Connect people struggling with the same ailment and it’s a win for everyone, including the brand. In fact, a recent study showed that patients, when part of a closed group, are far happier and more engaged.
We fully appreciate that some of these examples address slightly more serious matters than those offered by a typical OTC brand, but ‘added value’ is going to be what differentiates you from the competition and a clever means of turning prospects into customers as well as advocates.
Look out for: Trolls, yes, they’re out there and looking for trouble. Police your group like your life depends on it. Don’t forget to keep your community engaged regularly with conversation and topical questions.
Prepare yourself: Ask yourself whether your OTC category lends itself to a closed group and understand the value you can bring to your consumer. Run a poll across your social media channels if you’re unsure.
4 – Video is the firm leader in the content market
Not a surprise for many, but many OTC brands have still not embraced the full opportunity video brings to their marketing. Video is by far the most preferred means of ingesting information for the consumer as it is far more visually stimulating, and our attention spans are getting ever shorter.
Now consider that by 2019, video will account for 80% of all internet traffic. You simply can’t ignore that. In fact, we know first-hand how video marketing produces amazing results – take one OTC brand for instance, where a £5k production investment three years ago has since led to almost two million views, worth a staggering £1.8m; when compared directly to its spend on Google ads.
What’s more, adding a video to an email boosts click-through rate by a staggering 300%, and putting one on a landing page increases conversion rate by 80%.
2019 will be the year that live video really takes off, but only for the brands with originality. Creativity is the name of the game and without it you’re dead in the water. Imaginative video marketing that drives engagement will win the day by remaining relevant.
Look out for: If you’re hiring skills in, select partners through their creative vision for your brand – don’t be duped by fancy show reels that are often the work of expensive, hired in directors.
Prepare yourself: Be sure to run all your ideas past PAGB, otherwise it could be a fun – but rather expensive waste of time!
5 – The Digital Real-World Evidence revolution
The OTC marketer is always looking for new ways to drive relevance and attention to their product, be that a campaign, an influential online review or even a total brand makeover.
But let’s be honest, wouldn’t our lives be so much easier if we were able to make new, enhanced, medical claims that better appeal to what the modern consumer wants, without complex and costly RCTs?
2019 will see a growing number of OTC brand marketers achieve new OTC claims in 6-12 months, and all at a fraction of the cost of an RCT. With two times successful projects, and now accepted by the MHRA and PAGB, Digital Real-World Evidence is a very real thing that has the potential to change the OTC claim landscape.
How is this achieved? There’s been a breakthrough in generating new claims for OTC products through a proven Real-World Evidence methodology that aligns to social and digital media.
Look out for: If your methodology is not 100% correct, this could be a very expensive exercise with no outcome. Digital RWE is a complex process with a proven methodology.
Prepare yourself: Understand what claims would truly benefit your product and be sure to discuss these with PAGB first. Discuss these claims with us (Orbital) and we’ll provide you likely timelines, outcomes and costings for your Digital RWE project.