'Effective Digital Marketing Strategy Requires A Marriage Between Content And Context'

We spoke with Adam Kesselman, VP of Corporate Development for Health Union


Currently serving as VP of Corporate Development for Health Union, Adam Kesselman is a business leader with broad experience across pharmaceutical (payer, HCP, and patient) and vaccine marketing, marketing research, sales, and finance. 

Ahead of his presentation at the Digital Marketing in Healthcare Summit, taking place this May 22 - 23 in Philadelphia, we sat down with Adam to discuss his role within the company and the digital marketing industry more widely. 

In healthcare or otherwise, what do you see as the key tenets of any digital marketing strategy?

The key tenets of digital marketing begin with the same principles of any marketing plan - a thorough understanding of the consumer, the value your product offers and competitive or cultural influences in the market. Beyond this, effective digital marketing strategy requires a marriage between content and context. It’s important to generate relevant content that provides opportunities for consumers both to engage with the company and connect with each other. 

However, marketers also need to create relevant context for meaningful engagement and interaction, as well as be able to respond accordingly.

 Social media is a valuable tool in facilitating meaningful engagement. It solidifies the understanding that companies can’t just shout their messages from the rooftops. Instead, they need to create opportunities to first listen and then respond to people’s needs.

In a healthcare setting – and this is something Health Union does well – companies must treat people as people, not just as patients. Being open to looking at people beyond the label allows companies to gain a more relevant understanding of experiences. This gives them the insight they need to make things people want, instead of making them want things.

What new technologies (wearables, for example) do you see making an impact on marketing in healthcare in the near future?

There’s a lot of desire from industry to create new technologies; however, once again, the question should really be focused on what people want. While people living with chronic health concerns often seek solutions, tips and advice, there are often situations where new technologies can represent hurdles, or require learning curves, that don’t necessarily achieve the desired end.

Many new technologies being developed and adapted in healthcare are impressive, with the potential to positively impact the patient experience. Wearables, apps, and smartphone-enabled devices can be important tools to improve care outcomes; however, the technologies are not answers in themselves. Instead, the greater goal is to deeply understand the experience of people living with the condition, and identify opportunities for technology to enable or facilitate desired behaviors. Without truly understanding the patient experiences, it’s impossible to develop technology solutions that people will truly use.

Hear more from Adam, along with many other industry-leading digital marketers working in the healthcare industry at the Digital Marketing in Healthcare Summit, taking place this May 22 - 23 in Philadelphia.

How easy is it to over-personalize in healthcare? Do brands risk being intrusive?

There is no “one size fits all” approach to healthcare. Recognizing everyone’s journey is different, understanding people’s various needs and providing them with what they need in a particular moment is the kind of personalization that results in successful healthcare marketing. For example, people are attracted to online health communities like the ones Health Union cultivates because the content speaks to them; patients engage over and over again because they find support, validation, empathy, and connection. 

Connection, both human and technological, is vital to healthcare.

Through that lens, brands can begin to recognize that the most successful consumer interactions are not about a brand, but rather how the brand can contribute to someone’s specific experience. By seeing people as people, and not just patients, brands have the ability to build valuable relationships with their particular audience, without being intrusive or offensive.

What social platforms, if any, do brands tend to use for healthcare marketing? What is the alternative, if the answer is none?

Healthcare companies are certainly using Facebook and, in some cases, Twitter and Instagram. However, it’s less important for marketers to focus on a specific platform, and more on how they can best use the platform to create relationships with their audience. For Health Union’s ecosystem of online communities, Facebook is a place where people living with challenging health conditions go to meet others who can empathize, share experiences and access valuable content specific to their conditions. Our team of patient advocates and community managers engages people in real conversations online every day, truly listening to what they have to say, responding and moderating the resulting dialogue. Time and time again, we see patients return to their community’s social media sites because they find validation, empathy and connection there.

What will you be discussing in your presentation at the summit?

Our presentation at this year’s summit will focus on the use of social media to connect and engage patients through sustainable online communities. While social media and online communication platforms have an emergent ability to connect people, these tools alone do not create an authentic connection. While both community members and external viewers perceive that the interactions within these communities occur organically and flourish with ease, creating and cultivating successful online communities is an art. We will identify critical factors that help online communities grow and thrive using lessons from Health Union's community model. At Health Union, we strive to understand the personal experience of each individual and reach patients with highly relevant content and interactions that provide a forum for patients to share intimate details of their lives and experiences with others whom they trust.


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