Use paid search as a brand messaging lab to drive results
Baseball icon Yogi Berra was the unwitting source for some of the most head-scratching quotes of all time. But one farsighted Yogi-ism captures surprising wisdom when it comes to pharma marketing: “when you come to a fork in the road – take it.” Put another way, when deliberating over which of two strong creative messages will best engage your audience, try both. Testing against live audiences in the context of a paid search campaign provides a concrete data point for declaring the winner, at speed, reliability and cost efficiency that blow focus groups and primary research studies out of the water.
When it comes to seeking out disease information, therapy options and treatment efficacies, patients and healthcare providers alike search first. In the world of performance media, this translates to a few short seconds (if that) to motivate action. Put simply, paid search allows marketers to prove which message option gets the best response. Better still, the value of these findings extends far beyond the search campaign itself.
This additional layer of testing can inform which messaging to apply in more expensive and less nimble creative channels such as point-of-care collateral, print, digital display, or web content. If six possible calls to action were run live in paid search and two of those far outperformed the other four, then that helps guide your creative agency to produce a video that will need to settle on just one call to action.
Test Pharma Messaging with Paid Search
Is a professional healthcare audience keener to learn about a product that’s said to have proven efficacy or manageable dosing? Two SEM ad copy variations can rotate in front of the same HCP audience.
Allow your audience to tell you through their online behavior whether they are more motivated to learn about a product that is proven or manageable. Variations in phrasing, tone, and voice can also yield different results.
Are patients most responsive to a medication or a therapy?
Would consumers rather learn about a treatment option or learn how to manage their A1C?
Is there greater patient interest in savings or simplified disease management?
There is a way to know. When you reach a fork in the road of brand messaging… take it.
The Costs and Time of Message Testing
Testing doesn’t even require creating or approving anything new in paid search – you can look at what is already approved and has already run. A brand with active or past Paid Search activity may have cycled-through multiple campaigns, and the historical data on those ad copy variations lies inside the existing account. Why not compare response rates of all the ads your brand has ever previously run against like keywords? Your search agency should be able to provide this for a quick look at data that already exists.
If you’re currently considering a change of direction and new potential brand messages, then it can only help to add a live, in-market source in support of your new direction. Your creative team can work with your search team, who can place them in front of real audiences and report back on what works. This may add a new review and approval timeline to the project, but that is much less expensive than going to market with an un-vetted message. After all, the most expensive marketing is marketing that doesn’t work.