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Slowing Global Economy

Image courtesy of ponsulak and FreeDigitalPhotos.net.You see it on the television, you read it in the newspapers – the global economy is slowing. The IMF has cut GDP estimates for the world as a whole to 4.0%, highlights the threat of renewed recession in the US and EU, has curbed estimates on China slightly, and projects a sharp drop-off in India’s economic growth compared to last year. Other economies are projected to show sharply weaker growth as well. Huge public debts also threaten austerity in major economies. All in all, the global economy is in a very precarious position … but what does that mean for you, the manufacturers and distributors of life science research tools?

Overall, the global life sciences research market will likely contract, and we are already seeing supporting evidence of such. The proposed 2012 NIH budget is trimmed by a modest 0.6%. I expect European and Japanese life science R&D spending to be trimmed by a similar amount. While many developed economies are struggling with debt, investments in research don’t seem to be high-priority chopping block items. What about the massive $100bn+ pharmaceutical and biotech research and development budgets? Well, while one may reasonably postulate that people in developed economies are losing their health care along with their jobs and this would lead to falling revenues, that does not seem to be the case. In fact, the largest threat to pharma / biotech seems to be generics, but even then global sales growth is still projected to be positive, albeit diminished. That being the case, don’t expect private-sector R&D to grow, but it shouldn’t shrink either. Overall, we will likely see only a very modest contraction in overall life science R&D spending. That’s good news.

The bad news is that this cuts the “growth” out of the market, although this is worse news if you’re a large company or an established player in your market segment. These companies rely more on growth in the market in order to grow themselves (at least organically), and companies with a high market share or those that have seen their market share plateau are more likely to see a sales contraction from a contraction in global life science R&D funding. Smaller companies that have plateaued will need to assess their technology and competencies in order to develop plans for value-added innovation in current markets and / or expansion into new markets in order to sustain growth, or else they will simply contract with the market. Larger companies with more cash will likely use M&A to achieve growth. Look for them to acquire early-stage companies with very promising high-impact technologies as well as established small-to-mid size companies that have high-quality product lines that are complimentary to their own.

Contrary to general consumer behavior, we are unlikely to see a move to lower-cost products within the research tools market. Less research funding generally means less labs or smaller labs, not across-the-board cuts in funding to all labs. In other words, the dollars spent per researcher will likely be roughly the same, but the overall number of researchers will decrease, spreading the contractile pressure fairly evenly across all laboratory products instead of driving researchers to lower-cost products. Practically speaking, this means that manufacturers and distributors who sell products that compete on price will feel the squeeze just as bad, if not worse since many of these “generic” or “commodity” type manufacturers do not have the technology and R&D capability to expand into new markets. As these companies have thin margins and already focus on efficiency, thereby not leaving much more room to squeeze out additional efficiency, they will feel the pain of any contraction quite acutely if they haven’t been saving cash.

On the other hand, small and mid-size companies that rely more heavily on technology adoption for growth will likely still have strong performance, as companies will still want to put their research dollars into tools that make research faster, better, and easier. These companies don’t rely so much on market growth since they are, in effect, building sub-markets and carving out new space. While their effective “ceiling” may be decreased, this will likely affect them only minimally since they are still in the growth phase and have not come close to reaching their maximum potential. One exception to this could be those companies that manufacture high-value capital equipment that is most often purchased to upgrade from an older instrument and / or technology. Look for sales in these products to decline somewhat as organizations look to decrease their R&D overhead by decreasing funding to core facilities and putting off large, non-critical purchases. With few exceptions, however, scientists will continue to adopt new technologies.

Another way a contraction will affect the life science research tools market is by decreasing marketing ROI. With an overall decrease in spending, there will be more marketing dollars chasing fewer customers, so marketing ROI will likely decrease by a few percentage points, especially since new players in the market will likely continue to enter given its size and comparative stability, and also to seize opportunities created by new technologies. While sales forces can shrink to demand, the channels through which marketers need to reach customers do not shrink, and this puts a fairly strict limit on how much a marketing budget can contract without negatively affecting sales.

A contracting global economy certainly will not effect the research products markets as much as it will the consumer markets, and this is very good news for those in the space and for the future of biomedical research a a whole. Nevertheless, any slowing or contraction presents risks. By understanding the situation and the likelihood of future possibilities and preparing for what may lie ahead, life science companies can plan for and mitigate those risks to help ensure continued success.

"Are you ready for a contraction or other market disruptions? With a troubled global economy, now is as good a time as any to plan for scenarios which may negatively impact your life science business. If you’re not sure of how you can protect yourself from downside risk, ask the experts at BioBM Consulting. Our business consultants can help you develop a strategy and plans-of-action that will cushion your company from macroeconomic hardships beyond your control."

Search Engine Optimization Tips

A 2011 survey performed by BioBM found that when looking for a new laboratory product, 90% of life scientists will first turn to one of two places. Half of that 90% will first turn to colleagues for recommendations, and the other half will turn to search engines (and the search engine of choice for scientists is overwhelmingly Google). Ensuring that your products are held in high esteem by a large enough number of life scientists to influence the 45% that turn to colleagues first for product recommendations is a complex, difficult problem, as well as one that takes a significant amount of tiime and money to tackle. Being seen by those 45% that will turn to Google or other search engines, however, is much easier and cheaper. Consider this: an Enquiro / Eyetools eye-tracking study (Enquiro, “Enquiro Eye Tracking Report I: Google”, March 2005) found that 100% of people performing Google searches will see the top three search results. Not to understate the competitiveness of organic search, but if your search engine optimization efforts are sufficient to get you into the top three search results for the relevant terms, you can more or less guarantee yourself that your products will be seen by 45% of scientists who are looking for your kinds of products. That is huge.

Now while much of the life sciences is competitive enough that getting into the top three positions in a search term is not a trivial task, you can still make a significant difference in your web traffic (and subsequently your leads and sales) by, for example, going from the fourth page of a major search term to the second page. Various research has shown that 70-90% of searchers do not go past the first page, and 90-99% do not go past the third page. Also, the aforementioned Enquiro / Eyetools study found that the position on the page makes a huge difference as well. While 100% of study participants saw the first three results on a search page, only 10% saw the 10th result. Moving from 9th or 10th to even 5th or 6th can make a big difference.

So… What do you need to know to help prop up your search rankings? Instead of writing a book on the topic, we’ll just list some tips below. If you have any questions or would like some elaboration, feel free to contact us.

  • Title & meta description example.The page title is very important to SEO. The meta description is important to the searcher, but is irrelevant to SEO. Using the wrong title HTML (meta_title= instead of title=) can significantly hurt your SEO.
  • Content is king. Nothing will improve your SEO better than more content, especially if you don’t have a lot of content to begin with. What is “not a lot of content”? Under 100 pages is certainly little enough content that more content can yield an easily noticeable improvement. If you are looking for ways to increase content while staying relevant, look into content marketing methods, such as blogging.
  • If you have content on external websites, try to bring it onto your site. For example, some companies have a primary website and then an online store at a different URL (either because of the restrictions of the e-commerce platform they are using, or just due to poor planning). Many companies have off-site blogs. These things should be brought onto your primary site so your SEO is not diluted across multiple sites.
  • Links back to your site are also very important for SEO. Google also determines contextual relevance, so links back from more relevant sites are more important, as are links from more popular (read: high traffic) sites. Just as an example, we recently did a very fast back-link campaign where we deployed about a dozen relevant links via product news releases and the client saw an average 13 place jump in search rankings for relevant terms.
  • Don’t try to fool Google. They know most of the tricks, and trying to trick them will likely either hurt your SEO or get your site completely de-listed. (see the Wikipedia article on “spamdexing” for a good list of what not to do)
  • Site traffic is highly important and creates a bit of a chicken-or-egg problem. Traffic is a very important factor in determining search engine rankings, but in order to get a lot more traffic you need better search engine rankings. Honestly, it’s not as much of a conundrum as it sounds. The key is trying to maintain the upward spiral (better SEO → more hits → better SEO → more hits, etc…).
  • Checking your search rankings manually is a pain. Seobook.com used to have a Rank Checker plugin for Firefox that allowed you to save up to 100 desired search terms and then to see if you are in the top 200 results on Google, Yahoo, and Bing and output the results as a csv file, which you can open in Excel. Unfortunately, last I checked it was no longer working. Until it’s up and running again, the rankchecker.net SEO tool should hold you over.
  • Trial-and-error is okay. Play with your content and see what works.


Another strategy worth noting is to become the first result for an ancillary search term. Regarding ancillary results, allow me to give an example using a company that I’m familiar with. Next Advance manufactures a high-throughput bead-mill homogenizer for disruption and lysis of tissue and cells. There are a lot of companies that sell homogenizers, many of which are larger than Next Advance and have been around for a long time. This crowding makes it relatively difficult to get to the top of search results. For the search term “homogenizer”, Next Advance first shows up on the fourth page of the results, as result #34. However, they know that “homogenizer” is not the only thing their potential customers are searching for, so they also optimized for less competitive terms. If you search for “tissue homognizer” they are 5th. For “liver homogenization” they are first. By enacting SEO strategies that allow them to leverage these alternate terms, they can drive a lot of traffic from search without having to compete for the highly competitive terms.

SEO is a great marketing tactic, especially for small companies on a limited marketing budget. It’s a low-cost, high-ROI form of internet marketing that can put your life science company directly in the sights of your potential customers by being where they are looking: search engines. It’s not rare at all for SEO to be a company’s highest-ROI form of marketing, and given the massive amount of scientists that are turning to search engines for product information, that shouldn’t be a surprise. With a meager budget and some sustained effort, you can help your company drive web-derived leads and sales through SEO.

"Are you far down the search rankings for some or all of the relevant search terms? If so, you’re costing yourself a lot of business, but that’s a problem that can be fixed. BioBM Consulting’s SEO experts can get your company higher up in the search rankings by implementing best practices in the short-term, and developing strategies so your rankings continue to climb in the long-term. Make sure scientists see your products when they search. Call BioBM Consulting today and we’ll help your life science company get started deriving more value, more traffic, more leads, and more sales from your website."

ROI: Marketing meets Sales

Marketing and sales should be considered holistically in order to better measure, and improve, marketing ROI.There is often a disconnect in communication and reporting among the marketing and sales / business development teams in life science companies that makes the calculation of ROI less relevant, or just flat out less correct, than it should be. Each team or division generally focuses largely on what they can control and what their end-goals are. Usually for life sciences marketing teams the metric of choice is leads, and for sales teams the metrics of choice are sales and conversion rate. Considered separately, these metrics do not form a holistic approach that considers the interests of the company.

Primarily at odds when marketing and sales metrics are considered and reported separately is lead quality. As most marketers and practically all salespeople know, poorly designed or poorly targeted marketing communications can often generate large amounts of poor-quality leads. The large volume of leads will look good for marketing, but ultimately will be bad for sales, as few of the leads will convert. Because of this, an overarching reporting structure that considers both leads and sales should be implemented which tracks lead capture and development over the complete cycle. With such an overarching reporting structure, a better understanding of ROI can be gained.

Simply reporting a more holistic measure of ROI is not sufficient, however, as ultimately companies are not interested in reports, but in revenues. Certainly there are many problems that can be identified and subsequently fixed through improved reporting, however there need to be methods of direct contact, information flow, and feedback between marketing and sales teams.

Some products may not require sales teams, and for these products marketing will directly lead to sales without the intermediate step of lead generation. While in these situations it is easy for ROI to be measured, for many products and virtually all services it is not so simple. In these situations marketing and sales must collaborate, and data from one function must be related to data from the other. Only with more holistic approaches can a meaningful measure of ROI be grasped and meaningful strategies developed to increase it.

"Are you looking for new strategies and best practices to improve your life science company’s bottom line? Stop looking and start solving. When you work with BioBM, we work to ensure that your company gets solutions that are tailored specifically to your needs. Outside the box? Always. Out of the box? Never. Contact us today."

Technology & Scientific Sales

Break free from the paradigms created by previous life science sales technologies to fully take advantage of new life science sales technologies.Technology provides scientific salesmen with great tools. Perhaps the best example of this in recent history, at least in terms of visibility and adoption, are salesmen’s use of tablet devices to deliver sales presentations, product information, and other marketing content to prospective customers. Advances in technology, however, are often underutilized, especially in smaller life science companies. While general-purpose adoption is often good, these companies often fail to realize the full potential of such technology.

Too frequently, small life science companies (and sometimes larger ones as well) adopt new sales technologies by retrofitting the last generation of content for it without ever considering what benefits the new technology offers that could be leveraged to actually improve content delivery. In doing so, only a portion of the total potential benefit is realized. Let’s go back to the example of tablets. Sales presentations used to often require binders full of product information, salespeople would have to carry around brochures and other product information to leave with potential customers, and all of this created a lot of bulk that was heavy to carry around and could be clumsy to dig through on the spot. Companies also incurred the costs of printing, storing, and supplying such materials to their sales reps. Furthermore, customers could easily misplace a few pieces of paper and these materials were not readily shared and disseminated with labmates or other colleagues. Tablet computers were seen a way to solve these problems, and many companies and independent reps have adopted this technology. However, few examined how they could further improve their content delivery beyond alleviating these obvious issues. They simply retrofitted their previous content for electronic delivery via tablet (through pdf, powerpoints, word documents, existing web content, etc).

Now think about what could be possible if these companies thought about creating content that took advantage of the improvements in technology. Think about all the ways that various content could interact. Think about how content could potentially be created that is dynamic and allows salespeople to respond to expressed customer needs with specialized information that is more pertinent to those specific needs (the “landing pages” of next-gen content delivery). Think about how content delivery could become both more fluid and functional. These kinds of questions represent some of the forward thinking that needs to be done in order to truly leverage advances in technology to improve life science sales.

Technology is constantly changing, evolving, and improving. In order to maintain a truly up-to-date and highly effective sales force, life science tools companies need to not only adopt these technologies, but escape the paradigms created by previous technologies in order to create new and better ways to perform and support sales.

"Looking for ways to improve your sales practices? Is your life science company creating too few opportunities, or failing to convert the opportunities that it is creating? BioBM Consulting is here to help. With our deep industry experience, we can help you analyze your sales processes and implement methods to increase conversion and drive revenues. Contact us to discuss how BioBM can help your company succeed."

Speaking to Inquisitiveness

Scientists are naturally curious and inquisitive people. You can leverage this curiosity to empower your marketing.Scientists are very analytical people, in general. This is not surprising and is an easy assumption to make, but many novice life science marketers over-interpret this analytical nature. They presume it to mean that life science marketing should be relatively dry and that it should only provide information. While I admit that life scientists are exceptionally good at sniffing out marketing, and greatly prefer information to gimmicks or catch phrases, that’s not to say that your life science marketing communications need to be boring. What they should do is have an understanding of what is important to your audience and the psychology of your audience. Regardless of the market segment that you are targeting, one thing that you can be reasonably certain of when marketing to any type of scientists is that they will be highly curious and inquisitive, and this is something that you can leverage to your advantage.

The challenge, then is piquing that inquisitiveness. How can you use your audience’s natural scientific curiosity to your advantage? Is your technology interesting or complex? Perhaps you can offer to explain it to them and / or show them how it works. Are you claiming that your company / product / service / technology performs better than that of competitors? Perhaps you can show them why. If your market is extremely niche, or there are a limited number of ways to use a product that you are marketing, you can often draw an even closer link to the underlying science and / or methods, and this close connection with the science can be a powerful draw on scientists desire to learn.

Regardless of the specific technique used, so long as the message stays relevant to the interests of your scientific audience, you can captivate your scientific audience while providing them with information that shows off the benefits of your product or service. The curious scientist will then be much more receptive to further marketing and / or information, is more likely to act, and can be more easily engaged.

"Are you looking for new and better ways to get your customers’ attention? Is your life science marketing just not achieving the desired results? Don’t wait and wonder – act now to start improving your ROI and getting more sales. Call BioBM Consulting and we’ll show you how you can enact positive change, develop highly effective marketing communications, and build a marketing strategy that will take your company’s sales to where they should be."

Life Science SMM: Forums

Forums provide life science tools and services companies with a platform for much more personal engagement with customers.This post is the fifth and final post in a series of primers on various platforms available for life science social media marketing (SMM). The other primers are on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

Perhaps the most underutilized life science SMM outlets, yet ones that often provide good opportunities, are forums. Forums and bulletin boards are the “original” online social media platforms, far predating facebook, twitter, etc., and many online science forums are old, well-established, and well-trafficked. Such forums include the Protocol Online BioForum, the Biology Online forum, Molecular Station’s Molecular Biology Forum, the Scientist Solutions forum, and SEQanswers. As you may guess from their names, many have specialized focuses, but some are quite general as well. Most of the above, however, are very popular with tens of thousands of visitors each month. That’s quite the audience.

Before utilizing any forum for social media marketing, be sure to read the rules of the forum. Each forum will have different rules and some may limit their usefulness for social media marketing. For example, some may not allow you to represent yourself as a company. Some may not allow you to promote a company or product in a post or in your forum signature. Some may not allow outbound links until you have a certain number of posts. Regardless, be sure to follow the forum rules. Not doing so will only get your posts deleted, your account banned, and create a bunch of negative feelings towards you, your company, and your brand. If you feel the rules are too restrictive, don’t use the forum.

That said, there are a lot of ways that forums can be used to your advantage. Some forums will allow you to post about new products and services, or will have specific sections for you to do so. These posts can attract hundreds or even thousands of views, so they are often well worth it. Many will allow you to link back to your website in those posts as well. Providing expert answers to questions on topics within your company’s area of expertise can also be a valuable way to grow and promote your brand image. This sort of projection of expertise will garner respect for the knowledge of your company and staff and will also build goodwill among scientists in your target fields. Sometimes a scientist will have an issue for which one of your products would be a good solution. In these cases, it is appropriate to recommend it to them, thereby directly generating potential leads. Occasionally a scientist will post specifically about one of your products, either to express satisfaction or dissatisfaction, or to ask for support on how to use it when a problem is encountered. In these cases it is very often advantageous to respond to the customer, and again a chance to project expertise, guide customer sentiment, and build goodwill.

Forums provide life science tools and services companies with a platform for much more personal engagement with customers. Offering support, advice, and expertise, as well as announcing new products, are excellent ways to leverage forums in order to build product awareness, goodwill, and project your brand image to an already engaged audience.

"To most life science tools companies, social media marketing seems hazy, but BioBM can make it crystal clear. With training, consulting, and outsourcing solutions that can provide you with the expert skills you need to build and maintain a high-impact, cross-platform SMM campaign, BioBM can help you leverage these new and rapidly evolving tools to build your brand, promote your products, and even generate demand and leads. If you want to target customers in the highly influential and rapidly growing social media environments, give us a call. We’ll have a frank and honest discussion about where you are, where you want to be, how to get there, and what will be required to do so."

Life Science SMM: YouTube

YouTube is a great platform for sharing, but know where its usefulness reaches its limit.This post is the fourth in a series of primers on various platforms available for life science social media marketing (SMM). The first SMM primer, about the use of Twitter, is available here. The second, on using Facebook for life science SMM, is available here. The third, on LinkedIn, is available here. Check back next week for the last life science social media marketing primer, which will be on the use of forums.

YouTube has become synonymous with video on the internet. Content is literally added faster than you can watch it, even if you had 2500 monitors. According to YouTube’s own statistics, 8 years worth of video content is uploaded to YouTube every day. More content is uploaded in one month than the three major US television networks have created in 60 years. YouTube videos were played 700 billion times in 2010.

That said, YouTube isn’t your average social network. The average YouTube viewer is there for entertainment or information, not socialization, so there are a lot more silent participants and generally less interaction than on more traditional social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Because of this, YouTube isn’t really a social tool to be used alone, nor is it something that should be tackled separately from other social channels. To get the most from YouTube, it should rather be a part of a greater life science content marketing strategy, and its use should be integrated with your other social platforms.

YouTube is wonderful for content marketing in no small part because it’s so incredibly easy to share. YouTube has its own built-in URL shortening, and viewers can post YouTube content anywhere and embed videos any place that they can post HTML. If your aim is viral and your content is video, YouTube has to be your platform. YouTube is good for more than just viral videos, though. It’s a great place to start or develop engagement with customers. YouTube allows you to link to other content within the video space itself, and you can promote other avenues of social engagement and content as well, such as your twitter account, Facebook page, blog, your YouTube channel, etc. Be sure to make good use of that capability and encourage your audience to interact, share, and connect. Think of this encouragement as the equivalent of what calls-to-action would be in more demand-focused marketing communications. Instead of “buy now”, you’re saying “share”, “follow”, or “subscribe”. Keep your content fresh, and make lots of videos – even if they’re nothing special. Show customers how to use your new products (and encourage them to share their methods via video as well). Introduce your facility or staff. Create “video manuals” for your products. Show your human side, build your brand, make some friends. Get creative, and try to find ways to pique your customers interest. Just don’t waste their time. Videos don’t have to have a high production value (especially for smaller life science companies that aren’t as worried about appearing “finished”), but they should all have a purpose.

Like other social media platforms, there are some things that you definitely should NOT do. Don’t use it as a place to make hard pitches. If you want to use YouTube to lead someone into a sales cycle, lead them to another place first (your website, for example). Also, don’t use too YouTube videos on the static pages of your website (such as your product pages). YouTube videos will show related videos at the end of your video, and this may include competitors’ videos. Also, YouTube is notorious for people “Trolling” – posting inflammatory or degrading remarks in order to elicit a response. Don’t “feed the trolls” by falling into their trap. If someone says something off-topic and / or stupid, just ignore it.

YouTube also allows users to create “Brand Channels“. These channels are homepages for their YouTube content that can be customized with a company’s branding and imagery, and also provides some additional features such as moderation (which shouldn’t be overused!). These are visually nifty, but are not free, so it’s up to you to decide whether a brand channel is worth it.

YouTube is a great place to share your video content and promote engagement with customers. Used in conjunction with other social media platforms, your blog, and other means of providing and distributing content, your life science company can build a powerful tool for engaging researchers.

"Do you like YouTube? We LOVE YouTube! Blending our experience in social media marketing and marketing communications, we can conceptualize high-impact strategies, define winning campaigns, and create awesome videos that leverage YouTube to get your life science tools company more publicity, create a whole lot of interaction with scientists, and help build and project your brand to the world. If you want to combine the powerful tools of video content and social media, then it’s time to call BioBM Consulting. Let’s grow your business, make an impact, and maybe even have a little fun doing it. … And did I mention we love YouTube?"

Search Engine Marketing Tips

Life science search engine marketingThere are many reasons why any life science tools company should be using search engine marketing (SEM), yet many do not. Scientists are frequently on search engines to look for publications, protocols, product info, scientific knowledge, and more. In a field so highly dependent on information, and on such a wide variety of information from so many different sources, you can bet that scientists are on search engines a lot. Search engine marketing can not only provide a large audience to market to, but since you select which search terms you want your ads to appear on, it can provide a highly targeted audience as well. Best of all, and my favorite thing about any cost-per-click (CPC) based marketing – you only pay for results.

Please note that the following advice pertains mostly to major search engines (such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing), as they will have the full set of features that these tips assume the search engine to have. There are certainly other search engine tools that have reasonably good features and very competitive cost-per-click rates, but although some of the advice will likely be applicable to smaller and / or more focused platforms as well, we will leave those for a separate discussion.

Understand how SEM works

If you and your life science company are new to search engine marketing, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the basics. It’s easy to have a poor ROI if you don’t know what you’re doing. Each search engine will likely have a wealth of literature for you to read and watch, likely enough for you to gain quite a good proficiency with each system if you bother to take the time. For example, you could spend weeks reading all the information that the Google AdWords help center provides. Perhaps one of the most important lessons to learn before you initiate an SEM campaign is how the bidding process works and how CPC is determined. Again using Google AdWords as an example, they have a helpful intro video explaining the process (albeit a bit simplified from how it actually works).

Use the tools that each SEM platform provides

Google AdWords, for example, will provide you with all sorts of lovely info. It will give an index of competition for any given keywords, provide estimates on how many searches are performed for any given term, both globally and within a given region, and estimate the cost-per-click that you would need to bid. It will even provide suggestions on additional search terms, and give historical search estimates month-by-month. This information can help you tremendously in determining what search terms are best to target.

Be an opportunist

In part because life science tools companies do so little search engine marketing compared to the breadth of terms used in the field (and perhaps in part due to many life science marketers general inexperience with SEM), there are a lot of opportunities out there that can drive down your cost-per-click, drive up your ROI, and result in more sales. To start doing this, think like a scientist. What could they be searching for that may not be a product, but may be related to your product. For example, if you are selling DNA extraction kits, perhaps you could target not only users who are searching for DNA extraction kits, but DNA extraction protocols, phenol / chloroform extraction, DNA purification, etc. There are many terms that would indicate that someone is performing DNA extraction. Alternative methods, related upstream or downstream procedures, and even names of competitors products are all good search terms to consider. Find those terms with a low CPC and take advantage of them.

Monitor, update, repeat

Major search engines will try to maximize their income by displaying the ads that make them the most money. This, simply stated, is based on cost per click multiplied by the click-through rate (CTR). Click-through-rate is the rate at which your ad is clicked on by searchers for any given term. If your ad gets clicked on a lot, the search engine gets more money, and you get more visitors. Everyone goes home happy. Search engines will reward ads that have a higher CTR with lower CPC, higher ad placement, or both. An eye-tracking study found that the top-placed ad to the right of Google search results is viewed five times as frequently as the ad that is fifth on the list, so ad placement is an important thing that should not be undervalued. By monitoring your results and tweaking our ads as necessary, you can drive up your CTR, lower your CPC, and improve your ad placement.

One last thing deserves mention. We are often asked by life science companies how much is the correct amount for them to dedicate to search engine marketing. This question doesn’t have a numeric answer. The answer is: as much as you can while getting the desired ROI (and without breaking your budget). Note that this will not be an “infinite” amount of money; you will be limited by the number of searchers. However, so long as you are achieving the desired return-on-investment from your SEM campaign, you should continue to reinvest in it to continue to drive sales growth.

Search engine marketing is a valuable, highly scalable, and readily accessible tool that can generate lots of traffic for your site and, more importantly, lots of sales for your company. Properly utilized with a well-designed site including the appropriate landing pages, your life science tools company can realize a high ROI from your SEM investment and grow both your sales and your company.

"Want to create highly effective life science search engine marketing campaigns? Want to ensure that you get a great ROI from your SEM? Well then, you’ve come to the right place. BioBM Consulting’s expertise running SEM campaigns of all sizes is here for you to leverage. By creating great campaigns from scratch or finding and implementing ways to improve existing campaigns, our services pay for themselves by delivering high-ROI campaigns that get results. If you want SEM campaigns that are effective, efficient, and scalable, contact BioBM. Our experts are here to help life science companies just like yours get the most from search engine marketing."

Life Science SMM: LinkedIn

Using LinkedIn for life science social media marketingThis post is the third in a series of primers on various platforms available for life science social media marketing (SMM). The first SMM primer, about the use of Twitter, is available here. The second, on using Facebook for life science SMM, is available here. Check back for more primers on the use of youtube, forums and other means of life science social media marketing.

LinkedIn is somewhat unique among social media platforms. It is a professional social network. That means that unlike Facebook, Twitter, and other “personal” social platforms, on LinkedIn people are looking to interact on a professional level. While 0.2% of all human-experienced time in the world isn’t spent on LinkedIn (only Facebook can make that claim), it still surpassed 100 million members in March and is a ranked the 13th most popular website (according to Alexa at the time of posting. Perhaps most importantly, LinkedIn provides a unique opportunity to interact with individuals who may otherwise be difficult to reach, influence key opinion leaders, and become a thought leader among a crowd of influential experts.

LinkedIn is also interesting because most of the interaction that your company does on LinkedIn has to be personal – there are very limited ways in which the company, detached from the employee that is performing your SMM, can interact with individuals. Most of your interaction must be done as a person. This in turn requires that LinkedIn be a highly personal endeavor and that employees performing SMM on LinkedIn take ownership of the content that they post. This has pros and cons. On the positive side, your customers will be more receptive to the messages that come from people (rather than companies) and will be more likely to engage with them. On the downside, much of the benefit of developing relationships will be lost if the individual managing your LinkedIn SMM effort changes. In most cases, however, the pros far outweigh the cons.

From a strictly corporate standpoint, LinkedIn does allow you to create a page that provides a brief overview of your company as well as provide a description of your products and / or services. While you should complete your company’s description (it looks more professional), your product and service page will likely be so infrequently viewed that it is unlikely to be worth maintaining unless you have a large amount of resources or your product / service offering is only changed very infrequently. You can also provide a feed of your Twitter and blog, and I recommend doing both since it is a good way to direct viewers to that content as well. These tools, however, are the far smaller component of where value can be realized on LinkedIn.

The overwhelming majority of the value that you can realize on LinkedIn is via groups. LinkedIn groups are places where you can connect and interact person-to-person with people who are very likely to be a) highly networked, b) thought leaders, c) highly targeted to your area of interest. In many cases, the demographic that you want to target will already be congregated into a LinkedIn group. Do you sell products or services to proteomics researchers, for example? There are two groups specifically focusing on proteomics with over 1000 members, and many others that are either somewhat more broadly focused or also highly focused but with memberships in the hundreds. Granted, some of those members probably do not receive group updates and visit the group page only infrequently, but a good portion likely check it occasionally, and perhaps 10% of the members of any given page view it regularly and / or receive daily or weekly e-mail updates. For groups with members in the 1000s, that’s a very good audience ripe for quality content marketing. (Think about it – how much would you love to have hundreds of people attend one of your webinars, etc). If a page for your company’s specialization doesn’t exist, and you think that there may be sufficient interest to sustain a group, then make one! You can gain as much if not more benefit from running your own group, and there are even ways to “brand” the group (via the logo, name, etc.).

Don’t forget that posting on LinkedIn groups, like other forms of SMM, should be approached as content marketing. The benefits to doing so on LinkedIn are even greater, as content that creates discussion is rewarded by placement in the highly visible “most popular discussions” section. Also, since LinkedIn groups all have a moderator, frequent promotional posts may result in censorship or removal from the group. To avoid this, be sure to build some goodwill within the group before you make any pitches.

LinkedIn, while not as popular for life science social media marketing, presents unique opportunities which are potentially higher value than those likely to be created via other social networking platforms. In large part due to the focused communities and personal nature of interaction via LinkedIn, high-value relationships can be built and prospective customers can be more effectively engaged by leveraging an effective social media strategy.

"Are you interested in using LinkedIn or other social media platforms for life science marketing? Want to efficiently build lasting relationships with both existing and potential customers but don’t know how to effectively do so? That’s okay. BioBM Consulting is here to help you. With social media marketing solutions designed especially for small life science companies selling research products and services, we have the niche focus and high degree of marketplace understanding to create custom tailored solutions that create breakthrough marketing ROI for your company. Call us today to discuss how we can help meet your marketing needs."

Life Science SMM: Facebook

Facebook for life science social media marketingThis post is the second in a series of primers on various platforms available for life science social media marketing (SMM). The first SMM primer, about the use of Twitter, is available here. Check back for more primers on the use of youtube and other means of life science social media marketing.

Facebook is hands down the largest social media platform in the world, and it wouldn’t be difficult to argue that Facebook is the most pervasive and influential website that has ever existed. According to their own statistics, Facebook has over 750 million active users and each user spends, on average, about 30 minutes per day on Facebook. The rest of the statistics are almost equally staggering. Users install 20 million applications per day. More than 2.5 million websites have integrated with Facebook. According to Alexa, Facebook is the second most popular website in the world (Google is first), reaching an estimated 44.9% of global internet users on any given day. Over 7% of all pageviews occur on facebook.com; this means that, statistically speaking, for every 14 pages that any internet user anywhere views, at least one of those is on facebook.com. This makes facebook the most viewed website in the world and in my opinion is an absolutely staggering statistic. In the US Facebook is even more pervasive, and a comScore study found that 1 in every 8 minutes spent online is spent on Facebook.

Your customers are on Facebook. Probably a lot of them. In fact, it is very likely that you have more customers that are on Facebook than have ever been to your company’s website. According to our internally compiled data on 400 small life science and analytical laboratory products companies, 31.0% of small life science have a presence on Facebook. In most cases, however, a presence is all it is. There is no engagement. Updates are infrequent and not customer-centric. There is no enticement for customers to like the page, to use the page, to visit the page, or even to view the content that gets posted. That is a heck of a shame, especially since Facebook offers the most versatile social platform available for social media marketing. So what can life science companies do to more effectively utilize Facebook for marketing purposes?

Step 1: Build

Build a great and attractive page. Facebook allows you to custom build html-based pages for your Facebook page, and you should leverage those appropriately. There are also great, free tools to feed in content – we recommend checking out Involver for some great free and paid Facebook apps (we are in no way affiliated with Involver; we just like their apps). Always remember that your customers are almost exclusively on facebook to socialize and be entertained and keep that in mind when designing your page and deciding what content to automatically feed into it.

Step 2: Grow

You have a Facebook page – great! Now to get found. Unlike Twitter, which actively promotes users finding other users with similar interests and doesn’t discriminate between personal and corporate accounts, on Facebook your customers mostly have to actively find you in order to connect with you (the exception to this would involve paid advertising on Facebook). This is a hurdle that you need to actively overcome. Some ideas on how to get around this include placing links to your Facebook page on your website and in e-mails, letting your customers know that you’re on Facebook in support and marketing communications, and offering exclusive Facebook-only promotions. If you can create a clear benefit to “like”ing a page, you’ll get a lot more likes.

Step 3: Engage

There’s almost no value to having a huge fan base if you’re not doing anything with it. Provide your fan-customers with information and content that they will be interested in. Facilitate more interaction amongst your fans. Project your expertise on relevant topics. Because of the way that Facebook determines what should appear on a user’s “top news” news feed, which shows users more updates from the pages and people that they engage with most, that a successful engagement strategy will build on its own successes. Always keep in mind that social media marketing is better suited for branding than lead generation, so try to keep branding as the focus and stay away from making too many pitches or overly discussing your products; tactics that could disengage your audience.

Step 4: Maintain

Don’t let your page or your content get stale! If your incentive for getting your customers to like your page gets old and ineffective, replace it. If you aren’t growing the rate at which your customers like, comment on, or share your content, revamp your strategy. As with any branding effort, the payouts are relatively longer term. Giving up before you can reap such benefits is a huge waste. Return-on-investment from SMM efforts can be difficult to measure and because of this managers often are quick to cut SMM if there is any contraction in the marketing budget or if they are evaluating marketing efforts by standard methodologies. If you are in charge of an SMM effort, be prepared to use “soft” measurements, nonstandard metrics and, perhaps, a few reasonable assumptions to make your case for continuation of SMM.

Social media marketing on Facebook is an integral part of any life science social media marketing campaign, and with the right strategy and execution, it can be a highly effective avenue for SMM as well.

"Life science SMM can be complex and difficult to grasp and analyze. Don’t let that stop you from connecting with your customers on a highly personal level and building critical, long-lasting connections. If you’re looking for a high-power SMM campaign that is not only tailored to your currently needs but can readily adapt to your future situation as well, contact us at BioBM Consulting. You can win the hearts and minds of your customers. BioBM will help you do so."