Digital HealthHealthcare MarketingHow Digital Health and MedTech Startups Can Use Marketing To Guide Product Development

Dr Julian Hooper Dr Julian Hooper2 years ago16 min

There is no denying that digital health is a hot topic right now.

Tech companies including Apple, Google and Adobe are now in on the health game. Investment in the sector around the world hit an all-time high in 2018.

And trust me, it hasn’t stopped there!

However, running a digital health or medtech business is not easy, especially a startup, when funding is low and the risk of failure is high. But you can reduce your risk by making sure you hit the mark for customers and users from the start.

And one way of doing this is to start marketing early — well before you scale up and go to market. Testing your product amongst your target audience and analysing the right metrics is a great way to validate and ensure you have achieved product-market fit, whilst simultaneously laying the foundations for future success.

Virtual Focus Groups

Stefan from Project Life Mastery talks about marketing your product in the “pre-pre launch” phase. In his video, he suggests putting up a ‘coming soon’ page and asking people to enter their email address.

Aim at having a brief introduction of the product you’re building and ask your visitors what they’d like to see in the product by sending out an automated response with a link to an online questionnaire.

This way, “you won’t have to sell what you make, instead, you’d be giving people what they want”.

And collecting sign ups via a basic landing page in the early stages of product development is a great way to start building anticipation and an audience of potential buyers. Consider putting up a public roadmap on Trello or similar public internet space to keep them informed and excited about what is coming.

Test the Water

If you think your product is ready for launch, but you want to make sure there are no glitches, do a test run. Spread it around the digital forums, or appeal to experts and influences who can test your product and then leave a review on social media for you. This will not only help you gain mileage, but will also help you groom your product. 

With only a minimal budget, you will be able to create buzz regarding your offer in a sample of the market. This can give you a realistic impression of the customer responsiveness to the offer and a sense of how it will be welcomed when launched. Collect customer data on your product during the soft launch. You can then calibrate the product and the offer for a more effective go-to-market strategy.

Get Social

Thanks to social media and analytics tools, you have an easy way to present and test your ideas with an authentic, targeted audience. You can use platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn to run ads and measure engagement. Collect data from comments, likes and shares to determine what you need to change in the product.

For example, if you’re creating a diabetes management app which can log blood glucose levels and other vital signs, a comment might say, “I wish I could also log my daily diet into the app,” and there you have it, authentic feedback from a real customer that can help you optimise your product before you launch it.

Another great platform is Product Hunt, an online directory of user-submitted apps and technology. Think of it as the Kickstarter of digital technology products — frequented by helpful and like-minded early adopters who will provide insightful feedback for you early in the game.

Share the Rewards 

Here is another way to validate your idea and ensure that you have the right product-market fit before proceeding with a full scale launch. Offer early adopters the chance to secure a discount by placing a nominal (think $1) deposit.

This is a great way to know that you’re on track for success. If people aren’t willing to part with such a small amount of money, it’s a good sign that you may have to refine your product or offer.

On the other hand, if the uptake is good there is then a further opportunity to instill some virality into your marketing. Create a referral offer for the early adopters so they help to spread the word amongst friends, family or on social media about your product and it’s benefits. This sort of organic reach and personal recommendations are like gold to any company!


Small paid advertising campaigns for your medical device or digital health product can really pay off down the line by highlighting potential problems, feature enhancements and providing an indication of your product’s potential for success.

These campaigns don’t need to cost a great deal because you’re not looking for long-term optimisation and ongoing reductions in advertising costs, but a different set of metrics that provide you with valuable market insights.

For example, instead of worrying about the cost per click, allocate a small budget and focus on the bounce rate. If your landing page contains a reasonable amount of product information, install a tool such as HotJar which can be used for free to build heatmaps and recordings to uncover user intent.

Overall a mini advertising campaign is well worth the small financial investment and is much cheaper than developing a full-scale, working product that falls flat because you’re not offering the features people actually need!

Document Your Journey

Start a blog, right now! You can do it on Medium (although be mindful of paywalls), or other platforms without having to set up complicated infrastructure. Ultimately blogging during the development and pre-launch phases delivers huge benefits, because stories sell.

People are more likely to engage with your company and products when there is a human element behind it. Long hours spent in the lab or in front of a glowing screen equate to a relatable and likable solution. People want to get behind you and see you succeed!

Before you sell your product to customers you’re probably going to need to sell your dream to investors. And investors do their research, so it pays to publish content that supports your value proposition and will continue to be communicated after your pitch has ended.

Content is also one of the cornerstones of inbound marketing — it has a great SEO benefit, but it’s a long-term play. Starting to develop content well before you launch will provide a solid foundation, ensure that you are well entrenched online, and help to bring in early adopters organically.

Your future customers are the ones that determine your success!

Ultimately, the most useful and authentic feedback for any product, comes from the people paying for it and the people who need it. So make your early marketing strategy one that focuses on customers, not sales. Reaching them online before, during and after launch will give you incisive product development insight and maximise your chances of success.

Stop flying blind and start marketing today — it’s never too early to reap the rewards!

This article has been sponsored by Fluidic Agency Pty Ltd

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Dr Julian Hooper

Dr Julian Hooper

Dr Julian Hooper is a scientist, entrepreneur and the founder of an Australian based growth agency. Fluidic helps brands with a medical and healthcare focus to expand their business using better marketing, sales and customer service.

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