The value of Search Listening to inform communication strategy and forecasting in healthcare

Search Listening offers unmatched insights into the questions patients have about their condition and treatment.

Of the 6 billion or so searches people undertake every day on Google, an astounding proportion of these will be related to health concerns – more than 1 billion, according to Google Health Vice President David Feinberg, MD. Search Listening provides marketers an unparalleled mechanism to take an accurate pulse of the questions being asked across any category by detecting and consolidating the uncensored queries patients have about almost any disease or therapy. In real time, and with capability to measure changes over time. Yet this data resource is still considerably under-utilised in healthcare.

Search Listening offers a window into the private, preliminary ‘consultation’ patients conduct with Google. Without this view, we don’t know what our patients don’t know – and in-turn we cannot fully support the healthcare provider with the best insights on how to counsel their patients about their condition and therapies. Capturing and leveraging the longform search terms used in your category has the potential to accelerate the patient journey to diagnosis and enable earlier approaches to treatment.

Search Listening delves beyond the curated profiles measured by Social Listening

To date, the primary methodology offered to clients by agencies for insights harvested online is Social Listening. Yes – taking a read on posts across FB, Twitter, IG etc. plays a role in reflecting the conversation within a category, however these reports have a considerable blind-spot, one that is amplified in the healthcare industry due to the private nature of the knowledge our end users seek.

Author with her twin boys across her Social profiles vs at the radiologist waiting for her son to undergo a 1.5 hour long MRI while she searched for information related to his condition until her battery went flat. Not even her parents knew she was there – but Google did – and Google knew precisely what she, as a carer, wanted to know.

The distortion of real category conversations reflected in a Social Listening report (even with keyword data included) will be even more significant for conditions like sexually transmitted diseases, mental health as well as other conditions and disabilities patients are desperately keen for information about, yet they want to keep private and are highly unlikely to discuss on Social.

The fact that Google offers patients an objective, non-judgemental and discreet resource to obtain answers to the questions they have about a health condition offers us an unparalleled pathway to understand concerns they might be embarrassed to ask in face-to-face consultations, surveys or social forums. Google has the added advantage of being also available at their fingertips to reassure them about a new symptom that arises in the middle of the night, or to validate information they might have discovered via other channels.

Yet to date across Pharma, this data has not been fully capitalized upon, leaving patients in an echo chamber with Dr Google.

Search Listening intervention enables marketing interception at a critical point in the patient journey

When people are discussing health on Social (if they do at all) they are generally in a less engaged/advanced state of the disease process – as their condition progresses, and the need for knowledge/answers becomes more urgent, they cross over to Google and start searching in earnest for answers & solutions.

Understanding the longform queries being entered into Google searches offers a potent advantage to marketers – being able to develop content based on these exact questions and serve it back to patients online means that you are reaching and connecting at a critical point in the buying process, or patient journey. During the search process patients/carers/HCPs are seeking answers ‘now’ and being on Page 1 with the answers they seek offers a significant and obvious commercial advantage.

Now we can truly start with the end in mind: patient needs

Leveraging longform search insights means that your team can respond to the market with materials that resonate – in fact, this is what a truly patient-centric approach looks like. By understanding the uncensored patient mindset, you can unlock a pathway to reach them and answer their concerns using an integrated omni-channel response that closes the knowledge gaps and moves the patient along in their journey from understanding their diagnosis to confirming the treatment pathway.

A Search Listening report can also offer a category perspective through the patients’ eyes as you can also review the search results served up to patients in response to the questions they are asking Google. This perspective helps you to understand why knowledge is being acquired a certain way in your category of interest, and an opportunity to see where you can change it. You will see if your competitors are connecting first, or if AEs about your product are a top result, and if articles are local or international.

Search Listening offers marketers foundational insights to improving your digital communication strategy. We have all heard over and over that ‘content is king’ – and now that almost everything has moved online, the background noise is deafening and discerning digital natives demand quality content. Impatient patients don’t have time to waste on click-bait anymore – they want their questions answered…. yet they are still unlikely to click through to the second page of a Google search. So by having your finger on the pulse of exactly what they ask when they search, you can optimise your digital presence.

By creating content that genuinely answers the questions they are asking your campaign increases the value of its PESO (paid, earned, shared and owned marketing) through relevance and resonance.

Would you like to learn more?

If you are interested to learn more about the value of Search Listening to inform communication strategy in healthcare, Julia will be presenting an extended version of the presentation she was recently invited to share during the Reuters Pharma Australia 2020 conference. In this extended presentation, she will also touch on how to Search Listening can be leveraged as a predictor of both:

Future behaviour:  Health-related Google searches also appear to increase among emergency room patients weeks before visiting the hospital, according to a Penn Medicine study, as patients searched for clinical information related to the medical issue they ended up going to the hospital for, including symptoms or a potential illness

Market share: Google is the biggest database of human intentions and search queries are the individual components that make up the overall trends. Tapping into search data – using topline keyword search terms in Google Trends (even for prescription therapies) – you can track a correlation with real world sales, and often even predict future market share behaviour for your brand or competitors.

General tickets are free. We are also offering a limited number (30) of upgraded tickets which is $2,395, which includes access to the recorded session for 4 weeks after the webcast, and a one hour one-to-one with Julia to review in more detail how Search Listening is done, what’s in a Search Listening report and a live overview of key search trends in your category. (Valued at over $4,815)

If You Could Read Patients’ Minds, Would You?
Julia Walsh
CEO at Brand Medicine International
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