As we enter the New Year, many life science companies will be creating their marketing plans for the year ahead. With new marketing tools, tactics and technologies becoming available at an ever-increasing rate, it’s more important than ever for life science marketers to stay on top of the latest trends within the industry.
In this blog, we explore eight key life science marketing trends to keep an eye on as we move through 2023, including practical tips you can utilise for each trend (you can also skip ahead to those you find especially interesting using the links below).
- The emergence of generative AI and its impact on life science marketing
- The growing application of user-generated content
- Optimising for voice search
- Embracing influencer marketing to build audience trust
- The use of augmented reality in life science marketing
- Public and media relations as a tool to increase sales funnel performance
- Maximising the impact of video via short-form videos
- Saving time and money with marketing automation technology
1. The emergence of generative AI and its impact on life science marketing
We've already written a fair bit about the impending impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on life science marketing, but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention all of the excitement around generative natural language models like Open AI's GPT-3, and it's most recent incarnation, the conversational bot known as ChatGPT. This new tool has garnered a huge amount of interest during the last few weeks, with over a million users registering to use ChatGPT within the first five days of its release (at least, according to Greg Brockman, President of OpenAI, on his Twitter feed).
So what is ChatGPT? What better way for us to answer this question than to ask the system to describe itself. When we did, it told us the following:
"GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is a type of language model developed by OpenAI. GPT-3 is the third generation of this model and it uses deep learning techniques to generate human-like text. It can be fine-tuned for a variety of natural language processing tasks such as language translation, question answering, and text summarization. GPT-3 is trained on a massive dataset of internet text, allowing it to generate highly coherent and realistic text. ChatGPT is a variant of GPT-3 which is fine-tuned specifically for the task of conversational language understanding and generation. It's able to generate human-like responses to a given prompt or question, making it well-suited for use in chatbots and virtual assistants. It is based on the same GPT-3 model but it is fine-tuned on a specific dataset for the conversational language understanding, this allows it to generate more relevant and accurate responses in conversational context."
Generative AI models like GPT-3 are powerful tools that can produce novel content by mimicking patterns found in the data that they were trained on. These models can be applied to a wide variety of media types, such as text, images, audio and more. By leveraging this technology, it is possible to generate entirely new and unique content that is similar in style and structure to the data used during the training process.
Why has ChatGPT caused such a storm of interest in generative AI models over the last few weeks? Put simply, such tools have the potential to fundamentally change how marketers produce content, brainstorm new ideas, analyse data, and more. This will help to save them time and unleash new avenues of creativity.
However, there is still a long way to go. ChatGPT still suffers from some significant issues, such as poor factual accuracy (our favourite example is where it confidently stated that Elephants lay eggs), the existence of potentially dangerous bias in its answers, and the fact that it is trained on data from the past (so it cannot easily generate novel ideas and view points, especially if a given topic was not well covered in its training data). This last point is critical for life science marketers, especially given how fast our industry moves, as it could make it challenging to use the system to create technically accurate, compelling, future-looking content that is based on the latest ideas and research findings.
Quick tips: As new generative AI tools become available on the market, get yourself an account so that you can experiment with how they can help you in your workflow. While there is still some way to go to make these tools a mainstay, they are getting better all the time and it is important for life science marketers to stay on top of progress in this field.
2. The growing application of user-generated content
Consumer trust is perhaps at an all-time low. Compounded by a particularly data-driven, critical target audience, life science companies have their work cut out for them when attempting to build brand trust. As a result, more and more life science marketers are turning to user-generated content (UGC). Content produced by customers is especially effective at building trust, as it faithfully reports the experience of peers to potential buyers. In fact, a survey found that buyers are 2.4 times more likely to trust user-generated content, and 93% of marketers agreed that content created by buyers performs better than branded content.
It's clear that UGC is effective, and we see it becoming even more important throughout 2023 as budgets are likely to tighten in the current economic climate, making buyers scrutinise purchases even more. So how can you incorporate UGC into your marketing strategy? The good news is, there is a myriad of ways. UGC can take many forms, including testimonial quotes, videos, product reviews, or even case study webinars and can be used across various channels, from social, to your own website and even in the life science media. Your sales team can also make use of UGC in their interactions with prospects.
A sub-form of UGC is employee-generated content. This can include photos, social media posts, or videos of your team talking about why they believe in your products and enjoy working for your company. Establishing a brand identity in this way can help prospects relate to your company culture, helping them form bonds with your company, and further build trust.
Quick tips: One effective way life science companies can create user-generated content is to incentivise customers by asking them for product reviews or quotes about their user experience in exchange for a customer discount. Another longer-term approach is to create an online community for customers to connect and engage with one another. Your online community can be the ideal place for users to share reviews and top tips with each other which, with their permission, can be shared as part of your wider marketing campaigns.
3. Optimising for voice search
Today, more people than ever before are using spoken queries to find products and services online and complete basic tasks, with most voice queries made via smartphones and smart speaker devices. According to a study from PwC, 65% of buyers aged 25 to 49 talk to their voice-enabled devices daily. What’s more, the trend of voice searching is rising and is likely to keep growing. In fact, Statista predicts that by 2024, 8.4 billion voice assistants will be used worldwide — around double the amount used today.
With most voice searches focusing on business-to-consumer (B2C) queries, you may be wondering how relevant this trend is to the life sciences, or even business-to-business (B2B) as a whole. Ultimately, as voice searches are now part of daily life, naturally more searches will become business-related. We will also see people start to expect voice search capabilities to be available no matter the environment they’re in, whether that be at work or home.
Demand for voice search in environments where it would be particularly beneficial is likely to be the strongest. For scientific researchers working in a lab, for instance, the ability to be hands-free could save them valuable time, and even reduce the risk of sample contamination. Here, after handling toxic substances or sensitive samples rather than having to deglove and leave the lab to use their computer, researchers could take notes or check protocols using voice search instead.
To prepare for greater volumes of voice searches, businesses are starting to change the way they structure their online information by framing their target audiences’ questions based on intent and opting for more conversational “question-and-answer” content formats. This way, when their audience uses voice search, they’ll be directed to high-quality, accurate responses more quickly and easily. Now’s the time to start preparing your life sciences content to rank higher in 2023 voice search results, especially as search engine optimisation (SEO) can sometimes take as much as 12 months to take effect.
Quick tips: People typically query search engines using conversational phrases when using their voices compared to written text, so focus on conversational or ‘long-tail’ keywords. It’s equally important to ensure your website is mobile-friendly as voice traffic often comes from smartphone devices.
4. Embracing influencer marketing to build audience trust
Put simply, buyers won’t purchase from a company they don’t trust. One proven way of building trust that is gaining more and more traction as we go into 2023 is influencer marketing. Influencer marketing isn’t a new concept and is a viable, proven way to build trust amongst audiences. More well-known for its success in B2C marketing, it’s now proving its success in B2B marketing with 86% of B2B brands who use influencer marketing reporting it to be successful for their business.
Influencer marketing isn’t a new concept in life science marketing either, with key opinion leaders (KOLs) and scientific advisory boards being trusted, well-respected “influencers” in the life sciences field for quite some time. Ultimately, people prefer to receive information from someone they trust to give them honest opinions, whether that’s KOLs, superuser customers, internal subject matter experts, or colleagues.
Life science marketers can utilise “influencers” to tap into new audiences who you may not have otherwise been able to reach. Your ideal influencer doesn’t necessarily need to have the biggest audience; niche influencers play an important role as they need to be authentic and trustworthy, helping you reach the right audience with the right message through the right medium.
Quick tips: When researching influencers or KOLs for your life sciences niche, focus less on how large their audience is and more on their expertise in the industry and whether they align with your brand’s core values. Do they align with the mission you are looking to achieve as a business?
5. The use of augmented reality in life science marketing
Augmented reality (AR) is changing the way we do business and is already being used in modern marketing. While it’s not a new concept, businesses are starting to realise its power and are investing more and more in this area. In 2023, with AR platforms becoming more cost-effective, we see life science companies reconsidering its use. Applications of AR vary widely, from virtual lab tours or instrument demonstrations, to the opportunity to try new systems “hands-on”, therefore decreasing the need for sales teams and prospects to travel.
As the barrier to entry costs of AR are reducing, we may see more life science companies utilise this tool, though we don’t expect to see rapid uptake. Early adopters will have a competitive edge with an immersive and engaging buyer experience that allows prospects to interact with products of interest in ways they couldn’t before. And that’s not all. There's also potential for AR to improve customer support and retention, for example through running training and augmented process instructions, etc.
It cannot be denied that there is an initial up-front investment (like with any marketing technology), but, in the long run, AR could ultimately end up saving you both time and money. Still, large investments such as this need careful consideration, and we understand the need to weigh up the cost versus the potential return. If you’re unsure what a good return on marketing investment (ROMI) is for your activities, take a look at our series of free marketing budget calculators.
Quick tips: The use of AR in marketing has already infiltrated many digital marketing channels. To get started, examine how AR and other marketing technologies are changing the core aspects of the digital marketing channels you use (our recent AI in life science marketing blog can help).
6. Public and media relations as a tool to increase sales funnel performance
According to Forrester, B2B buyers engage in an average of 27 interactions with a business during their buyer’s journey before converting and making a purchase. One way to help make those 27 touchpoints happen more quickly is through PR. When executed appropriately, PR can create impactful touchpoints with your audience whilst building trust and your brand’s reputation. One cost-effective way we see life science companies maximising their PR efforts across the sales funnel in 2023 is to utilise sales-enabled PR. This tactic is about blending your PR efforts with your sales funnel in relation to your marketing, sales and revenue goals.
One way to efficiently execute sales-enabled PR is to repurpose and amplify content. For example, you can repurpose press hits into various content formats, such as blog posts, articles and social media posts, and publish these across multiple channels. An approach like this will increase your reach and ensure a consistent presence, compared to the spikes in visibility we usually see from traditional PR.
Another method of sales-enabled PR is to integrate your earned media content into each stage of your sales funnel in interesting and informative ways. For instance, sharing a video clip from an interview directly with prospects through an email campaign. If done well, sales-enabled PR could be key to helping life science marketers create demand, nurture leads and build trust and credibility with your audience.
Quick tips: A sales-enabled approach to PR accounts for all stakeholders, this includes customers, the media, employees, investors etc, so ensure your content (whether it’s owned or earned) is highly relevant and relatable to this broader audience. Read more on the importance of PR and why it matters in our recent blog.
7. Maximising the impact of video with short-form videos
In this digital age, it’s no surprise that video is still one of the most popular forms of content. In fact, research by Cisco found that video accounts for 82% of all online traffic and it’s likely this number will remain high in 2023. And with 86% of marketers who use video reporting increased lead generation as a result, it’s therefore clear that video marketing is here to stay a while longer yet.
Thanks to the likes of YouTube shorts, Instagram reels and the rise of TikTok, short-form videos are becoming the norm, and attention spans for videos longer than 30-60 seconds are growing shorter. In the life sciences industry, it would be difficult to create a 10-second video clip that successfully explains a particularly complex scientific instrument. That said, keeping your videos as concise as possible with as much key information up-front is more critical than ever.
However, as we start 2023, audiences are experiencing an oversaturation of videos, so making your videos stand out from the rest is essential. Simply producing videos and hoping for engagement isn’t going to cut it. Make sure there’s a clear purpose for video in your marketing strategy by really considering what your audience is interested in, tailoring your content to them, and making your video as easy to watch as possible.
Quick tips: While tailoring content to your target audience is key, there are a couple of quick wins that we’ve found to be effective. To create short-form videos with minimum effort, life science companies can create shorter versions of product demos or highlights of webinars to use across your social channels and website. You can learn more about video marketing in our recent life sciences content trends blog.
8. Saving time and money with marketing automation technology
Marketing automation technology can benefit many different marketing processes. According to research by Ascend2, the top three reasons companies start to automate their marketing are to streamline marketing and sales, increase customer engagement, and improve customer experience.
In 2023 as we enter a global recession, we expect to see high volumes of life science organisations investing in marketing automation tools to save time, and ultimately money. So, if your company hasn’t already invested in this type of software, it’s likely that they soon will.
For life science organisations, there are many benefits of marketing automation including generating better leads, nurturing leads more efficiently and effectively, making smarter decisions to improve performance and personalising content at scale to better engage prospects. Watch our recently recorded webinar on how you can leverage marketing automation to achieve more with less with our CEO Paul Avery to learn more.
Quick tips: If your life science organisation is preparing for or thinking about implementing marketing automation software, we’ve put together a 10-step marketing automation ‘readiness’ tool to help you plan for success. Simply fill in the short questionnaire for advice and recommendations on how to ensure your marketing automation project is as smooth and successful as possible.
Keeping up with life science marketing trends throughout 2023
Ensuring you and your marketing team are keeping up with the latest life science marketing news and trends is crucial. By assessing trends, you can identify opportunities for more effective marketing to help your company stay ahead of the competition.
However, it can be challenging and time-consuming to keep up with and implement the latest life science marketing trends. At BioStrata, we help life science marketers stay in the loop on all the latest up-and-coming trends that impact the future of life science marketing, create the best strategy for them and execute deliverables. Sign up to our monthly email newsletter to receive future life science marketing news and trend updates from our team.
Which life science marketing trend do you think will have the biggest impact in 2023?
Fill out our anonymous poll below and share which of the life science marketing trends covered in this blog you think will have the biggest impact in 2023. If you feel there's another impactful trend that's not on the list, simply select 'Other' and let us know what the trend is. Once you've shared your answer, this will then reveal the answers that other life science professionals have shared.