Given the economic challenges facing most sectors at the moment, it is perhaps not surprising that life science companies are under increasing pressure to deliver exceptional marketing results on ever-tightening budgets. Given these challenges, we recently discussed ten strategies to help you make the best use of your marketing budget as part of the SAMPS webinar series with Dr Paul Avery, CEO of specialist life science marketing agency BioStrata. During the webinar, we covered the following ten topics:
- Identifying and leveraging low-risk channels that have delivered great results for you in the past
- Ensuring your messaging is built to resonate with your target customers
- Maximizing the use of your existing assets, such as your website and contact database
- Implementing account-based marketing to focus on high-value prospects
- Utilizing technology to automate repetitive tasks and free up time for more strategic activities
- Leveraging retargeting to maximize the performance of your existing marketing campaigns
- Retaining and nurturing current customers to reduce churn and increase revenue
- Exploring co-marketing partnerships to expand your reach
- Maximizing the value of your existing life science content through repurposing
- Differentiating your content in a world of generative AI tools by leaning into formats like podcasts, webinars and video
In this blog post, we summarize the key points from the webinar and provide you with actionable insights to drive your marketing efforts forward.
Tip 1: Identify and leverage low-risk channels for your specific business
The first tip shared in the webinar focuses on identifying and investing in tactics and channels that have proven to work well for your business. To do this, you'll need to gather data and metrics on what has been most effective in the past. It's also essential to involve your team in brainstorming sessions, as you may not always have personal insights into all of the tactics and channels your business has used in the past (and sometimes you’ll need to guesstimate, especially as you might not always have access to concrete data to support every channel).
To prioritize your marketing tactics, Paul and his team recommend using a four-box model that ranks each tactic available to you based on their impact on results (low to high) and the investment required (time, resources, and cash). This framework, given below, will help you concentrate your budget on the most effective strategies while minimizing risks.
Once you've gathered and plotted your tactics on the four-box model (e.g. using sticky notes), focus your efforts on those that deliver high impact with low investment (top left). These are the areas where you can expect the best return on your marketing budget. Additionally, consider allocating some resources to "future bets" - tactics that require a higher effort but promise a high return on investment (top right).
For the remaining two quadrants, which represent low-impact tactics, it's best to deprioritize them during an economic downturn. By concentrating your marketing budget on the most effective channels and tactics, you can maximize your results even when resources are limited.
Tip 2: Fine-tune your messaging to resonate with your target customers
The second tip emphasized the importance of updating and refining your messaging to ensure it continues to resonate with your target customers. Over time, messaging can erode, and customer needs, desires, and pain points may shift, especially during challenging times like a global pandemic.
To avoid message erosion, revisit your messaging strategy and consider the following steps:
- Speak to your customers using interviews and focus groups to better understand their current challenges and goals. This direct feedback will help you tailor your messaging to address their evolving needs.
- Consult with your sales and customer service teams, as they interact with customers and prospects daily and can provide valuable insights into the concerns and interests of your key target audiences.
- Consolidate the information gathered into customer personas or another method that helps you document and understand your different customer segments.
- Update your brand messaging model using this information to reflect the changes in customer needs and preferences.
Investing time in this process can lead to significant improvements in your messaging, making it more effective and relevant to your target audience, especially if the last time you conducted this type of analysis was a few years ago (or even before the pandemic), as the world has changed dramatically over the last few years. Additionally, consider conducting a competitor analysis to see how they are positioning themselves and what key messages they are using. This will help you differentiate your messaging to ensure your offering stands out in the minds of your prospects.
Tip 3: Make use of your existing assets (especially your website and contact database)
Tip number three was about maximizing the use of your existing assets, especially your website and contact database. Both assets are valuable resources for life science companies and should be optimized to support your marketing efforts effectively. In this section of the webinar, Paul looked at both in turn.
Optimize your website to boost engagement and conversion
Your homepage is the first point of contact for many visitors, so it needs to make a lasting impression. To ensure that it is easy to scan, the key messages are clear, and it's obvious who your target audience is, ask yourself if your homepage effectively communicates the problem you solve and why you're uniquely positioned to address it. Regularly review your homepage and make necessary updates to keep it fresh and engaging.
Optimize your product pages and landing pages for better conversion rates by analyzing each page to identify areas for improvement, such as clearer calls-to-action, more concise messaging, or better visual design. Conduct A/B tests to determine which changes yield the best results and prioritize high-traffic, low-conversion pages for the most significant impact.
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) can range from simple best practices to complex testing strategies. To familiarize yourself with CRO techniques, consider reading resources like "Making Websites Win" or working with an expert to optimize your website. CRO can lead to substantial improvements in lead generation and overall website performance.
Leverage your contact database effectively
Most companies generate a significant number of leads, but often they do not make good use of them by remarketing to them over time (e.g. by using email marketing). To address this, it is essential to engage with your existing contacts regularly to keep your brand top of mind. A simple way to start is by sending a monthly newsletter that focuses on delivering high-value information. Avoid sales-driven messaging and instead aim to be helpful, building trust with your audience.
As your contact database grows, consider segmenting your audience based on factors like their interests, pain points, buying stage, and the applications they want to learn about. By tailoring your messaging to each segment, you can create a more personalized and targeted approach, which can lead to higher engagement rates.
As your approach to database nurturing develops, you might want to consider investing in more sophisticated lead nurturing workflows, designed to help guide prospects through the buyer's journey. As part of this, you can use lead-scoring algorithms to identify sales-ready leads and develop targeted campaigns to move them closer to conversion. For leads not yet ready to buy, continue providing valuable content and resources to maintain engagement and keep your brand at the forefront of their minds.
Tip 4: Consider Account-Based Marketing (ABM)
For tip number 4, we turned to Account-Based Marketing (ABM), which is a strategy that focuses on targeting specific high-value accounts, allowing you to make the most of your limited marketing budget. Using Pareto’s Law, it is probable that by focusing your efforts on the top 20% of your target accounts, you can generate approximately 80% of your revenue. Implementing ABM requires marketing and sales to work closely together, and although it's a broad topic, here's a brief overview of how to carry out ABM:
- Select high-value target accounts: Marketing and sales must collaborate to identify the high-value target accounts that are most likely to generate significant revenue. Split these accounts into separate tiers based on their likely value to your business and take an approach to reach and influence them. This often involves a one-to-one (tier 1), one-to-few (tier 2) and one-to-many (tier 3) strategy.
- Generate insights: Once the target accounts are identified, gather insights about them to create content and messages that will resonate with their unique needs and preferences.
- Choose and leverage the right channels: Share your content and messages through channels most likely to reach your target audience within those accounts.
- Measure effectiveness: Analyze the performance of your ABM program and optimize it based on the data. Lean into the messages, tactics, and channels that generate the best results. Also look for opportunities to expand your presence within those larger accounts, using a “land and expand” methodology.
The personalized nature of ABM can place a large burden on marketing teams to produce content that is unique to each account (which might be challenging to achieve when budgets are tight). Fortunately, scaling your ABM efforts more easily can be achieved through strategic content creation. For example, you can create an eBook that addresses the common pain points across multiple target accounts, then, by customizing the introduction and conclusion of each document for each organization, you can make the content feel highly targeted while minimizing the effort required to produce it.
To learn more about ABM, consider resources like Engagio's eBooks and playbooks, or read books like "Account-Based Marketing for Dummies" by Sangram Vajre, founder of the ABM software firm Terminus.
Tip 5: Automate repetitive tasks to save time and effort
Tip number 5 centered on automating simple, repetitive tasks can save you time and effort, allowing you to focus on more strategic aspects of your marketing efforts. Here are some examples of tasks that can be automated:
- Internal notifications and emails: If you regularly send templated emails or notifications, consider automating these processes to save time.
- Customer onboarding: Many companies, especially SaaS providers, have specific and programmatic onboarding processes. Look for ways to automate as much of this as possible to streamline the experience and reduce manual work.
- Scheduling and publishing content: Automate the scheduling and publishing of your content, including social media posts and newsletters. For example, tools like HubSpot can automatically trigger a series of social posts when you publish a blog post, and even send an automated newsletter with a summary of the new content.
If you're interested in learning more about marketing automation and the different ways it can help you achieve better results and improve efficiency, consider exploring webinars and other resources on the topic. BioStrata, for example, has a webinar on marketing automation that you can find here.
Tip 6: Make your existing campaigns work harder with retargeting
Retargeting is a powerful marketing technique that can help you get more value from your existing campaigns. Essentially, retargeting involves tracking visitors to your website using cookies and then displaying your ads to them as they browse other sites on the web, including social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. This can be particularly useful for life science companies, as it allows you to focus your ad impressions and spend on people who have already shown interest in your products or services (i.e. they have already visited your website).
However, there are a few things to consider when implementing retargeting. Firstly, it's essential to conduct a cost-benefit analysis, as retargeting may not be suitable for all life science companies, especially those with very niche audiences. Carefully evaluate the costs and benefits associated with implementing retargeting to ensure it's the right approach for your business and that you can effectively nurture your audience using this method.
Another aspect to consider is that most current retargeting strategies rely on third-party cookies, which are being phased out by many web browsers, including Google Chrome. This may result in retargeting becoming less effective over time. As an alternative, future strategies may involve targeting broader lookalike audiences based on common interests instead of individual users. How well will these newer methods work? This is currently clear. Paul’s advice is to test them as they become more mainstream to see if they can work for your specific business.
In conclusion, retargeting can be a valuable way to make your existing marketing campaigns work harder by focusing your ad spend on users who have already shown interest in your products or services. However, it's essential to carefully evaluate the costs and benefits of implementing retargeting and to stay up-to-date with changing regulations, such as the phasing out of third-party cookies and GDPR compliance.
Tip 7: Focus on customer retention
For tip 7, we turned to customer retention, which is essential for any business, especially as acquiring new customers can be up to five times more expensive than keeping current ones. As marketers, it's crucial to find ways to focus on customer retention. Here are some strategies to consider:
- Loyalty and reward programs: Offer incentives to your current customers, such as discounts or exclusive offers, to encourage them to continue doing business with you.
- Exclusive content and resources: Provide valuable content and resources, such as personalized training or expert advice, specifically for your existing customers (and not accessible by the wider market).
- Regularly solicit and act on customer feedback: Listen to what your customers have to say and make improvements based on their input. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on relevant platforms.
- Events and user group meetings: Organize events or meetings where your customers can share insights and experiences with each other, helping to create a sense of community around your product or service.
- Showcase and celebrate customer success: Share your customers' achievements in the form of case studies or other content that highlights their work and the role your products or services played in their success. This can be especially powerful when working with academics, who need to keep their profile high in order to help them attract future research funding.
- Delight your customers: Find ways to make your customers feel special, such as personalized gifts or notes, remembering key dates like birthdays or anniversaries, and offering random acts of kindness based on insights from your key account managers, application specialists, or customer service teams. Leverage automation to scale these efforts when possible.
Tip 8: Partner with complementary life science businesses
One way to have an outsized marketing impact with a lower budget is to find ways to expand your audience without incurring additional costs. Tip 8 explored how this can be achieved by partnering with similar, non-competing organizations in the life science industry on co-marketing campaigns, which can also help to reduce content production expenses. Co-marketing in this way can help both businesses increase their reach and brand exposure, benefiting all parties involved.
To identify potential co-marketing partners, consider companies that target the same audience as yours but offer different products or services. Examples of potential partners may include recruitment firms, accountancy firms, science marketing firms, regulatory firms, product design firms, or even some of your commercial suppliers.
Tip 9: Get more mileage out of your best-performing content
Many life science companies have a wealth of valuable content that hasn't been fully utilized. When budgets are tight, instead of constantly creating new content, consider repurposing, updating, and reusing your existing high-performing content to maximize its potential.
Tip 9 explored how repurposing existing content in this way can save time and resources while still providing valuable information to your audience. One common strategy is to create a high-value piece of content, such as a trend report or an eBook, and then break it down into smaller pieces like blog posts, social media posts, and email newsletters. This approach allows you to generate multiple pieces of content from a single source, making content production faster and more efficient.
By repurposing your best-performing content, you can get more mileage out of your existing assets and continue to provide valuable information to your audience without overextending your resources.
Tip 10: Humanize your content to stand out against the deluge of AI-generated content
Given the explosion of AI tools over the last few months, it would be tempting for us to make a whole host of suggestions for how you can use them to save you time and effort (and in many cases, you can).
However, Paul recommends that you use them with caution. Why? In a world increasingly filled with AI-generated content, much of it of low quality and lacking novel insights, your content and messages could get lost in the noise. Instead, Paul suggests there is an opportunity for you to differentiate your brand by leaning into content that is uniquely human.
With this in mind, podcasts, videos, and events can showcase the value of human ideas and conversations in your marketing efforts, helping you stand out as a trusted thought leader in your industry. Perhaps even more importantly, you’ll be creating and sharing authentic, human content focused on cutting-edge topics and trends (which AI tools currently struggle to replicate).
Here is a brief summary of the ten tips from the webinar that you can use to make your marketing budget go further and get better results in challenging economic times:
- Identify low-risk channels that work for you and lean into them.
- Fine-tune your messaging for maximum impact, and ensure you understand and address your customers' concerns.
- Leverage existing key assets, like your website and contact database.
- Consider the value of high-value prospects and account-based marketing for outsized results.
- Automate simple, repetitive tasks where possible.
- Make your existing campaigns work harder through retargeting.
- Focus on customer retention, as acquiring new customers can be more expensive than keeping existing ones.
- Partner on co-marketing programs with other life science businesses.
- Get more mileage out of your best-performing content by remixing and reusing it.
- Differentiate your content by humanizing it and ensuring it resonates with your audience.
Although we’ve covered a lot in this blog post, we’ve only really scratched the surface of the insights included in the full webinar. To access these insights, watch the on-demand recording of the webinar here: