Supercharge your omni-channel marketing activity with DOLs in 2023

By Jennifer Webb


How do we characterise a DOL?

Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave for the last few years, DOL engagement is a hot topic in healthcare. But how do we define a DOL?

Here are the 4 characteristics:

  1. A DOL (Digital Opinion Leader) is a healthcare professional who uses digital and social media channels to create content and share their opinions and insights.
  2. They have a strong social presence and a significant following among their peers, who trust their opinions and seek their guidance in their professional practices.
  3. DOLs cut through the noise by disseminating content quickly without peer review to provide the latest updates in their field.
  4. They play a significant role in shaping the opinions of healthcare professionals, and can influence their treatment decisions and product choices.

The DOLs are here to stay

In the world of healthcare marketing, the role of these DOLs is becoming increasingly important. If you are still not convinced here are 5 reasons why DOLs should play a crucial role in your brand strategy:

  • 87% of healthcare professionals use social media for professional purposes. (Source: Healthcare Communications, 2022)
  • 81% of HCPs believe that DOLs have a significant impact on their professional opinions and treatment decisions. (Source: Journal of Medical Marketing, 2022)
  • 60% of HCPs reported that DOL content on social media has influenced their prescribing behaviour. (Source: Journal of Medical Marketing, 2022)
  • 69% of healthcare professionals reported that they trust information shared by their peers more than information shared by a pharmaceutical representative. (Source: JAMA Network, 2022)

Finally, the average conversion rate for healthcare industry advertising campaigns targeting HCPs through DOLs is 11.45%, compared to 6.75% for campaigns targeting HCPs through other means. (Source: Journal of Medical Marketing, 2022)

Why are DOLs important in healthcare marketing?

DOL engagement can help healthcare business perform better and stand out in the market on 3 levels: reach more HCPs, enhance your brand reputation and connect with HCP target audiences.

Reach Wider & New Audiences

Social media has changed the way HCPs access information and connect with others. Today, millions of people including HCPs rely on social media platforms to learn about healthcare topics and make informed decisions. By partnering with DOLs, healthcare companies can tap into their large following to reach a wider audience with their healthcare messages or even enter a new market or raise awareness among a new audience.

Build Brand Reputation

The endorsement of a trusted and respected DOL can go a long way in building brand reputation. When a DOL shares information about a healthcare product or service, their followers are more likely to trust and accept the information as credible. By partnering with DOLs, healthcare companies can improve their brand reputation and genuine build trust among both HCPs and other healthcare buyer audiences who have never prescribed or bought from a brand.

Drive Better HCP Engagement

Healthcare companies can leverage DOLs to drive even better HCP engagement by creating educational and interactive content that resonates with their followers. DOLs can host virtual events, participate in Q&A sessions, and create video content that engages and informs their HCP followers. By doing so, healthcare companies can foster deeper connections with their HCP audiences and improve HCP engagement through better relevance and real-life clinical experiences.

How to Partner with Digital Opinion Leaders

Partnering with DOLs can be a valuable opportunity for healthcare companies, but it must be done strategically and with a focus on the needs and interests of the target audience. The following tips can help healthcare companies successfully partner with DOLs:

Identify Relevant DOLs through a DOL persona

The first step in partnering with DOLs is to identify individuals who are relevant to your target audience and have a strong influence in the healthcare industry. Look for DOLs who share your values and are passionate about healthcare topics that are relevant to your brand and think carefully about the right job titles, key target markets and social impact you want your DOLs to have across the social media channels that are right for your brand. This is why it’s important to create your DOL persona based on the criteria and metrics that will elevate your brand.

Build Relationships based on a meaningful value exchange

Building relationships with DOLs is key to a successful partnership. Reach out to DOLs and introduce yourself and your brand. Share relevant and valuable information for them about your products and services and ask for their input and feedback. By building a relationship with DOLs, you can foster a strong partnership and create a win-win situation for both parties.

Offer Valuable Content

Healthcare companies must offer valuable content to DOLs and their followers. This can include educational resources, such as infographics and videos, as well as interactive content, such as virtual events and Q&A sessions. It’s also important to offer social media training that helps DOLs who are new to the game to improve their social content and supports more mature DOLs to raise their game and increase their social impact. By offering valuable content, healthcare companies can improve patient engagement and build their brand reputation. Through these types of valuable content, DOLs can help your brand to improve your engagement with other HCPs and build your brand reputation.

Foster Authenticity

Partnering with DOLs means that they must be given the freedom to be authentic in the way they express their opinions and perspectives. From healthcare brands it is expected to be open about your partnership with DOLs. By fostering both authenticity and transparency, healthcare companies can build greater trust with HCP target audiences and even improve patient engagement through their DOL engagement.

Implementing a DOL strategy across your omni-channel timeline

Deploying DOL engagement as part of your omni-channel strategy ensures that your brand is at the centre of HCP peer-to-peer conversations and recommendations on social media. DOLs can credibly help your brand in the ‘reach’, ‘act’, ‘convert’ and ‘engage’ stages of your omni-channel activity.

In the first ‘reach’ stage healthcare brands often struggle with overcoming inertia, complacency & resistance to switch among their HCP target audiences. DOLs can powerfully create peer-pressure through FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) or FOBO (Fear Of Better Options) around your brand and products to grab fresh attention and create topical interest.

In the second ‘act’ stage the HCPs that healthcare brands are targeting are time-pressured and don’t see an immediate relevant connection with your product. Here DOLs can promote a new or unknown application of your product to drive further exploration and consideration.

During the third ‘convert’ stage many HCPs worry about the time and effort it will take to switch to a new product. DOLs can take the pressure away from healthcare brands and their sales reps by providing authentic demos or talk credibly about everyday applications to effectively ease to barriers of change and adoption.

Finally when it comes to the ‘engage’ stage with existing HCP customers, many healthcare brand struggle with a more longer=term connection with their brand and products. Here, DOLs and their followers can get involved in product co-creation, feedback sessions and advisory panel activity that helps healthcare brands demonstrate that they genuinely care about the success and wider health outcomes of their HCP customers.

Get ready for DOL engagement to boost your omni-channel activity

It’s undeniable that DOL’s can play a critical part in soft-selling your brand and product across your omni-channel activity. Effective DOL engagement has the power to super-charge the effectiveness of both your TOP omni-channel social activity as well doing the groundwork for your BOF sales rep activity. By partnering with DOLs in a strategic way and through regular and ongoing DOL engagement, healthcare companies can improve their HCP patient engagement and also achieve better ROI from their digital and social marketing activity.

TrunkBBI has been pioneering DOL identification and engagement since 2018.

“TrunkBBI have been a major partner in helping us to grow and develop our existing DOL programme. Their knowledge and expertise have allowed us to connect with our community and create long-lasting relationships.”

GE HealthCare

Find out how our proprietary DOL identification and proven DOL roadmap and can propel your healthcare brand’s marketing and sales goals in 2023. Get in touch by filling in the form below or giving us a call.

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