Investing in advertising online can pay dividends, says Saam Ali. 

As regular readers of this column will know, social media is quickly becoming the number one tool for communication and is critical for any type of business that exists today. However, due to the sheer size, speed of evolution and growing competition, your organic marketing reach online is slowly diminishing and engagement is harder to come by. Drum roll please... bring on the paid marketing!

Organic vs paid

Let’s say you have a Facebook page for your pharmacy and you have 300 page likes/ follows on it. When you post something on your page today, less than 10% of those people will even see that post at all. If it’s engaging enough for someone to like, comment on or share, then it will, of course, reach more people. This is your organic reach and points out exactly why engaging content is so critical.

Paid marketing, on the other hand, allows you to penetrate the congestion and reach thousands more people. One of the most popular forms of paid digital marketing that pharmacies can adopt is Facebook Advertising, and is something that I’m exploring more of in the current social landscape.

Facebook Ads are incredibly powerful and diverse tools that require experience, training and testing to be able to do well. But when done correctly, they can be extremely profitable and that’s because you’re able to target people of certain demographics. Do note, however, that pharmacies need to be careful if they do conduct paid advertising due to Facebook policy and guidelines regarding the sale of medicines online.

To understand how powerful Facebook advertising can be, take a look at the results seen by one of my clients recently. At Christmas, to boost awareness that their pharmacy was open throughout the festive period, we created a paid advert targeting women specifically within a 10 mile radius of the pharmacy, aged between 20 and 60 years old. We spent £50 and let it run for a week. During that time, the advert reached over 11,000 of that very exact demographic and it was engaged with over 400 times. Now that’s brand awareness on a whole new level!

Facebook has also recently released a new feature on its advertising platform called Store Visits. This kind of marketing is designed to drive more people into your pharmacy using location-based technology. Using it, you’ll be able to measure how many people walk into your pharmacy because that person has their smartphone to hand. It’s really clever stuff (but only works for pharmacies with multiple locations). Keep an eye out for further articles on this once I’ve tested this new feature fully.

As mentioned earlier, paid marketing isn’t for those with little experience in digital marketing and because a budget is involved, an advert that produces a positive return on investment will want to be achieved as quickly as possible. However, I firmly believe that it’s one of the most powerful forms of advertising out there right now, and can produce excellent results, which is why I build it into the digital strategy for many of my clients. It could work for you too. 

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