Want to reach smartphone-happy doctors? Hint: Typical mobile marketing won't work

Mobile phone hospital
Mobile doctors are prime targets for pharma companies that should be optimizing and customizing work to reach them. (Getty/Kwangmoozaa)

Physicians are people too—carrying phones and looking up information multiple times a day just like everyone else. Almost 80% of doctors use mobile apps or professional websites on their mobile smart phones every day, CMI/Compas research shows.

That makes the smartphone screen a great place for pharma to reach them.

But though many pharma companies already use mobile strategies to target physicians along with consumers, they're not going far enough, the firm's search engine marketing chief said. And that means adopting mobile-first strategies with custom campaign targeting.

“There is not one best way to reach them, because every physician is different. However, we do know they are usually seeing multiple patients throughout the day and not usually lugging a laptop with them, but using a tablet or phone,” Mark Pappas, VP of search engine marketing, said in an interview. "One way to reach them is making sure [healthcare provider] campaigns give priority to different devices at different times during the day.”

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While Pappas stressed that custom strategies will differ from brand to brand, in general, search priority can be differentiated around the time of day—for instance, during office hours when doctors are moving around—or by physician demographics or specialty.

And then there's location. For its pharma clients, CMI/Compas also targets medical conferences about particular conditions or specialties. For instance, at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting this year in Chicago, the agency geotargeted the convention zip code for one of its client's cancer brands, and it increased search ad bids 25% for the city’s designated marketing area (DMA) and mobile devices.

The results were fairly stunning: Brand impressions increased 250% and clicks grew by 650% over the six days of average traffic preceding the conference, Pappas reported.

RELATED: Physicians use 'Doctor Google' daily, but they still rely on traditional info sources, too: study

Another key reason for pharma to push forward on mobile is Google’s recently announced decision to move to mobile-first indexing. That means it's now crawling mobile sites of brands and companies for indexing purposes, which could affect search results and rankings if the mobile site isn’t up to par.

“First, make sure your mobile site is optimized. That’s key," Pappas said.

Next? Know your audience. "Do the upfront research to find out who your audience is," Pappas said. "Not just the differences between physician and consumer, but the actual breakdown of physicians, such as age and demographics, and how and when they use mobile."