Continuing medical education (CME) helps medical professionals develop skills and knowledge. Marketing can make or break the success of these events, so it's important to plan a successful promotional campaign that provides you with a return on your investment. Here are eight strategies for promoting your next CME event.
1. Market Segmentation
Market segmentation — a method where marketers divide consumers into groups based on common collective characteristics — helps you tailor your CME products and courses to meet the requirements of prospective learners. Market segmentation variables include the age and location of medical professionals and how long they have worked in their field.
One study suggests that you should tailor CME marketing based on your target audience. You might want to target family physicians if you are marketing a CME course for local doctors, for example. Alternatively, focus on medical specialists if your program takes place over a longer period of time, like a two-day event.
Creating personas of your target audience members is a helpful way to market to the right people. What communication channels do they use the most? What type of messaging are they more likely to respond to? Developing personas can also help you to advertise the right product to the corresponding medical professional.
2. Email Marketing
Chances are you have a treasure trove of marketing potential in your CRM database. Start a few email campaigns and re-target people who have already attended a past event or interacted with one of your courses or products. It's much easier to market to people who are already familiar with your organization than getting brand new registrants.
Go a step further and get specific. For example, pull a list of everyone who attended a specific meeting or purchased a specific CME product and write a campaign just for them. Personalization wins in email marketing. It may sound tedious to create a specific campaign for just a few people, but they are qualified leads, likely to convert. This means the ROI for your efforts will be more favorable because these leads have already shown interest in what you have to offer.
Wondering how to establish a solid email list for marketing CME? Check out these pro tips!
3. Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a marketing tactic that increases the visibility of your CME website on search engines like Google. The higher you rank for a valuable keyword or phrase — "CME courses in Houston," for example — the more chance you have of boosting conversions and selling more tickets to your next event. If you want to increase exposure of your CME course, invest in SEO.
[RELATED: Just getting the hang of SEO? See everything you’ll need to know for your SEO strategy in 2018.]
Still not convinced? Seventy-five percent of search users never click past the second page of search results, making SEO crucial for marketers. Local SEO is arguably the most important base to cover when ramping up an SEO strategy. Potential attendees will be able to search for conferences in specific locations and see your listing pop up in the results. It’s essential to advertise to the areas in which your conferences will be held; however, be wary of keyword stuffing - it will get you penalized by Google.
4. Paid Digital Ads
With paid digital ads, you can reach valuable demographics such as residents and fellows, students, physicians, nurses and people who have attended one of your CME events in the past.
This marketing method lets you advertise CME services in sponsored listings on search engines, so you can boost your event attendance. Although paid digital ads require an initial outlay, it could provide you with long-lasting results. Google Adwords - specifically for the health and medical industries - has a click-through-rate (CTR) of 1.79 and a .37 percent CTR on the Google Display Network (GDN) for paid advertising.
Even though the CTR of the health and medical industry is relatively lower than other industries in Google Search, the Google Display Network CTR of the health and medical industry is higher than other industries. Therefore, it’s wise to use GDN as long as PPC advertising is an advertising avenue you’re considering.
Mobile is a powerful marketing channel for promoting a CME event. You can optimize your mobile site to attract more prospects from search engines and target medical professionals who use their smartphone or tablet to search for information online.
Recent research demonstrates the power of a good mobile medical marketing strategy. In 2013, CME provider Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatry Academy created a mobile version of its website — so more people could register for CME events — and launched paid search campaigns that targeted smartphone and tablet users. Visits to the provider's website from mobile devices increased by 1,800 percent after they implemented these changes.
6. Upselling Other CME Events
People who have attended one of your CME events in the past might want to book another one. This is where upselling comes in. You can suggest courses to previous attendees that they might be interested in and boost event sales. Research shows that upselling increases customer happiness, retention, and revenue.
Struggling to upsell your CME events? MedEd Manager does all the hard work for you. This learning management software has a proprietary tagging tool that recommends courses and products to people who visit your website.
These five marketing methods help you plan your next CME event. If you want to increase the number of sign-ups to your course, start segmenting your customers, investing in mobile marketing, experimenting with paid digital ads, checking out search engine optimization and upselling similar products.
7. Launch a Social Media Campaign
Social media allows an inside scoop into the happenings at your organization. If your social media channels are fun, educational, and helpful, visitors will assume your events and products will be the same. In turn, making them more likely to not only interact and engage on social media, but purchase your CME products and attend your events.
A few easy, engaging social media posts to get started with are:
- Trivia questions
- CME questions (taken from one of your products perhaps?)
- Interesting tidbits from your industry
- Photos of your staff and members at work, home, or even fun personal pictures like how they celebrate vacations or holidays.
The possibilities are endless!
There are some assumptions that “physician-only” social channels (such as Sermo, Doximity and QuantiaMD) are the best way to engage medical professionals, but these are not necessarily true. Studies have actually shown that 53 percent of nursing schools - not including the students themselves - use platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram either on a professional or personal level.
8. Add Helpful Resources to your Website
Your website is also a place to showcase your organization and what you do. Do you have any resources that you can provide for free? OR better yet, resources to provide in exchange for an email address (to boost your email database)?
Even if you don't have a blog, you can still provide handy information, answers to frequently asked questions, resources for your members to connect, and other valuable assets to not only establish yourself as an industry expert, but provide value towards your SEO efforts. Have you tried adding Google reviews to your website? Reviews not only give your services credibility, but help potential customers make a decision.