The Essentials of Over the Counter (OTC) Marketing

by Sean Ogino |

The Essentials of Over the Counter (OTC) Marketing

otc marketing

There is a classic paradox in over-the-counter (OTC) medications marketing. On one side, the OTC market is becoming visibly crowded due to continuous entries of new players that are leaving customers with more than enough choices. And on the other side, according to EdelmanBerland, 40% of patients said they don’t have enough tools to help them develop a minor ailment treatment plan on their own. What is even more perplexing is there is no dearth of “web doctor” sites and advice forums. Clearly, marketing efforts have been more quantitative and not qualitative. The inference is clear: Health care marketing is itself ill and thus there is an enormous potential for innovative marketing as far as OTC medicine brands are concerned. After contemplating such factors, we have come up with the following vital tactics for OTC marketing.

OTC Marketing Tactic #1: Emotional Connections

Usually, health care purchases are the result of a much more rational decision-making process than other products. Most people do not buy a medicine just because it has been advertised by his favorite celebrity or he/she finds the aesthetics of the pill alluring. The age, intensity of the pain, the heaviness of the medicine in terms of the contents and many other factors govern the buying decision. But unlike fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), where the entire focal point of advertisement and marketing is making the everyday life even better, the context of OTC products is the currently present crisis. They are not there to solve everyday problems; they solve crises (small or large). As these crises are related to health and body- the things which are precious to everyone, it does make sense to try to evoke the sentimentality without being too melodramatic. For example, pain treatment is a common goal for many OTC medications. The whole idea of marketing communication can play around the absence of the problem. A positive storytelling with a singular pain relief may touch the emotional chords of the people. Besides, there are ample studies to prove that the way the drug works is not totally removed from the way the patient thinks. The following communication tries to do the exact thing! otc marketing aleve

OTC Marketing Tactic #2: Consumer Research:

The chances that people will Google cough syrup when their throats are under a constant attack is much higher than they will Google about Pepsi when they are feeling the humidity. The reason is before doing the self-diagnosis with the help of online expertise, they want an opinion from a source which is an absolute authority. Then and only then they will be sure about the cause and remedy of the ailment. That’s precisely why online searches on symptoms, diseases, conditions are all time high. Similarly, due to mobile phones, they can ask so many questions as if they are talking to the pharmacist in his pharmacy. Thus, it has become increasingly important for marketers like you to know how people are searching for your products. You should have a complete knowledge of which keywords are dominating the search, which questions are frequently asked by people and what are the common concerns of people. This will enable you to ensure that the product information on your or other platforms like Amazon is correct. If the information and communication is correct, the chances of better understanding from the consumers’ part about the benefits and features of your products are high. And believe it or not, clarity in thoughts of customers is the most striking force behind their buying decision.

OTC Marketing Tactic #3: Staying on Consumers’ Minds

The sales cycle of OTC medicines is short. The person may come to your store, online or physical, look what is available for headache and will buy it. Of course, this is a benefit as you can have more “hits”, but it can also work as a disadvantage. Because with such nature of OTC products, it becomes difficult for your brands to constantly linger on your customers’ minds. This demands a sustainable and omni or multi-channel marketing approach. Frankly speaking, in an era where marketers like you are armed with social media, emails, and mobiles, it’s not at all difficult to achieve it along with a Midas touch of personalization. These multiple touch point undertakings don’t just force your customers to think constantly about brands, but they enhance the brand visibility and engagement too. A great example of this is how Procter & Gamble launched their social campaign + subsequent giveaway for its Prilosec, a medicine used in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcer disease, and Zollinger–Ellison syndrome. Launched under the title of “Official Sponsor of Everything You Do Without Heartburn,” the idea of the contest was to invite people to share the things they do without heartburn. The participants were allowed to post videos and stories making their case for items—such as cameras, classes or guitars—worth an average of $1,000 that will help them pursue their passions. It was an intelligent way to stoke people’s passions by linking them to the entire marketing campaign. It was highly aspirational and people generally don’t forget anything which is associated with their passions and wills.

Staying on Consumers' Minds

OTC Marketing Tactic #4: Ratings and Reviews

Regardless of the product segment, ratings and reviews are always invaluable and integral part of any sales success story. When customers see that the product is getting more praise than a rebuke from a wide range of people, it automatically becomes a social proof…almost like a trust badge. OTC products are no different, though there is a chance that the medicine which has worked well for someone doesn’t necessarily work for all. But the synthesis of hundreds and thousands of positive reviews are enough to negate the negative thoughts from the reader’s mind. The reader starts to feel “good” about the product and that’s what marketing is all about. Ratings and reviews don’t just reassure customers–they’re also an important component in strengthening a brand’s search ranking. Search algorithms  don’t just value the total amount of reviews. They give equal weight to the pace at which new reviews are being constantly added. Hence, it’s clear that ratings and reviews are way too important in maintaining and enhancing the online presence of the product.

OTC Marketing Tactic #5: Customer Loyalty

While certain OTC medications are meant to be taken on an as-needed basis, vitamins and supplements are generally consumed daily. This frequent use makes the OTC industry ideal for customer loyalty programs, which can increase repeat purchase rate and AOV by up to 20%. Why do customers respond to this? They believe that loyalty programs are part of their relationship with a company, and believe that loyalty programs demonstrate how loyal a company is to them. A good loyalty program can make or break a business.

Loyalty programs are also a treasure trove of data, which you can use to do things like making intelligent product recommendations to your customers based on their purchase history, geographic location, age, gender, and more.

To Conclude…

The OTC marketing is the same as well as different from the marketing of other products. The marketers will have to do few things drastically different by keeping the base of the marketing concept intact. But it’s more than worth to take those extra and different efforts. With the increasing awareness of health all across the globe and slow and steady progress of OTC medicines towards becoming a regular category on e-commerce platforms, OTP medicine marketers can strike gold!

Ratings and Reviews FAQs: How Do I Get More Reviews?

Business Woman Typing On Keyboard With track Pad

User generated content (UGC) like Ratings and Reviews can increase your site’s revenue by up to 18% by providing helpful information from customers’ perspectives. This will only happen, though, if customers actually contribute reviews! There are three main ways to get more reviews for your e-commerce site: email solicitation, syndication, and incentivization.

Email solicitation is indispensable for gathering reviews. Customers rarely write reviews without being prompted, and email is the most direct way of getting their attention.

An example of a well-designed review solicitation email from Vionic footwear.
An example of a well-designed review solicitation email from Vionic footwear.

The industry average reply rate for review solicitation emails—meaning the percentage of customers emailed who end up writing reviews—is 2.5%. Bazaarvoice has noted that some of their clients see review response rates as high as 4.5%. Annex Cloud’s clients, however, have seen response rates above 9% thanks to a host of tools and best practices that help them get more reviews.

Your Ratings and Reviews software provider should, ideally, strategize with you to optimize your post-purchase emails. Here at Annex Cloud, our Smart Engagement Accelerator (SEA) uses historical data, product type, and product category to determine the best time to reach out to customers. It then adapts based on your customers’ response rates.

The wording and design of your solicitation emails is also vital to getting quality responses. Our Customer Success Team has found that when it comes to sending review forms in emails, shorter forms are slightly more effective than longer ones.

Syndication is another effective method to get more reviews on your site. For manufacturers, this consists of having reviews of your products on your retailers’ sites distributed to your site. Likewise, for retailers, syndication means placing reviews from your manufacturers’ sites on your own.

Consequently, syndication doesn’t just increase your review volume; it also boosts your exposure on your partners’ sites.  If you’re worried about content ownership with regards to syndication, rest assured. With Annex Cloud, the content that’s submitted to your site is yours alone.

Incentivization, simply put, gives customers tangible reasons to write reviews. While you should never pay shoppers to write reviews, it’s an acceptable and widespread practice to reward them with some loyalty points or a small discount.

Our preferred method of incentivizing review-writing is to link it to a client’s loyalty program. Typically, our clients reward customers for writing approved reviews only, and institute a limit on rewards to discourage spam behavior. Here’s an example from Ouidad, a salon haircare line.

ouidad loyalty actions

No matter what methods you’re using to increase reviews, remember that the actual process of writing a review should be as easy as possible. That’s why Annex Cloud recently debuted in-mail reviews. In-mail reviews refer to the practice of embedding review forms within emails, so shoppers don’t have to visit a separate page in order to share their thoughts. Here’s an example from Kal Tire.

kal tire review in email

Sellers Sued Over Fake Reviews on Amazon

fake reviews on amazon

The trouble of fake reviews on review platform has always lurked over the landscape of e-commerce. While ratings and reviews are vital for providing more product information, fake reviews raise serious question marks as to the credibility of ecommerce websites. Once that credibility is corroded, the demise of the business is not far. Even giants like Amazon aren’t immune. That’s why  the Seattle based ecommerce monarch, is preparing to go all guns blazing against fake reviews on Amazon.

Since the beginning of 2015, Amazon has sued over 1,000 people—but those sued people were reviewers. Now Amazon is thinking to bring the very people that help the company make money on its radar–sellers. The company is in no mood to spare those sellers who are ultimately responsible for the fake reviews on Amazon. The moving away from targeting sites like paidbookreviews.org and toward people on the Amazon platform shows how serious Amazon is about this whole issue.

In this serious heat, Amazon has sued three of its sellers: a Chinese company called CCBetterDirect, Michael Abbara, and Kurt Bauer. It was found that fake reviews comprised up to 40 percent of their stores’ total reviews. It’s quite clear that violations were gross and amassing.

Corporate Counsel reported that Amazon commenced arbitrations on May 27 against these three sellers. Amazon’s claims will be heard by the American Arbitration Association.  The core of Amazon’s allegation is that all the three sellers have violated contractual obligations to Amazon along with the breach of the Federal Consumer Protection Act and the Lanham Act. Amazon accuses them of creating fake accounts to leave positive reviews on their own products. Amazon is asking for the defendants to be banned from selling products on any of its sites or accessing its services. The suits also ask for the profits the sellers made on Amazon, attorneys’ fees, and damages exceeding $25,000.

According to the insiders and experts, reviewers may have helped vendors in the violation of their contract by reviewing products due to the allurement of discount coupons and adding items to an Amazon wish list at a vendor’s request…pretty innocuous acts!

It’s not that the e-commerce giant is only thinking about the punishments. It is trying to be proactive rather than reactive by creating ways to stop fake reviews on Amazon. Some of the measures, such as ranking of trusted reviews, developing algorithms that iron out the fake reviews, social media login for websites i.e.sellers,individuals and suspending accounts have already seen a day of the light. It has also tried out “verified purchase” designation of people who’ve bought the product. But foolproof and lacuna free execution of these measures may take time…and till then, Amazon will have to rely on their half-baked anti fake reviews system.

The law will take its course in the above-mentioned lawsuit. Hopefully, the decision will go in the favor of Amazon by sending a strong message to such fake reviewers and sellers that one more attempt and they will be behind the bars.  Indeed time is ripe to nip them in the bud.  Reviews are on the verge of becoming illusions as the correlation between user reviews and the actual product quality is diminishing with each passing day. Mintel’s observation, thus, is not at all surprising that almost 70 percent of Americans ask for other people’s opinions online before buying anything, and yet only 59 percent trust the actual recommendations.

Engage More Shoppers with In-Mail and Offline Reviews

offline reviews

We all know that user generated content (UGC) like ratings and reviews, questions and answers, and visual commerce boosts conversion by offering trustworthy points of view from your own customers on various social sharing platforms. Consumers trust UGC 12x more than they trust information from businesses, and visitors who interact with UGC are 105% more likely to buy. Given its importance, how can you make submissions as easy as possible, and make sure that you’re asking as many customers as possible to contribute? There are numerous review platforms but solutions like in-mail and offline reviews stand out and can help immensely.

What are In-Mail Reviews?

In-mail reviews refer to the practice of embedding review forms within emails, so shoppers don’t have to visit a separate page in order to write a review. With traditional online product reviews, users will receive a solicitation email with a link to the product display page of the item in question. Shoppers have to click the link, log in, and then submit a review. Many of them don’t have the patience to do this! In-mail reviews consolidate the review process into one step, drastically improving review submission rates. Check out our example below from Kal Tire, Canada’s largest independent tire dealer. kal tire review in email offline reviews Not content to just improve review volume and quality this way, Kal Tire used our in-mail reviews to solicit contributions from in-store customers. This brings us to the world of offline reviews!

How Do Offline Reviews Work?

Offline reviews invite your brick-and-mortar customers to share their opinions. It’s a win-win, since many of the industries that find review content to be extremely important also have a high percentage of in-store purchases. When you have even minimal data–just names, email addresses, and purchases–on your in-store customers, you can make offline reviews a reality. For Kal Tire, we’re taking data from 250 different stores, feeding it into our Ratings and Reviews platform, and then sending out in-mail reviews. Shoppers have been happy to contribute, and this high-quality content is already paying off!

4 User Generated Content Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

User Generated Content Mistakes

Just like everything in life, the usefulness of user generated content (UGC) like ratings and reviews, questions and answers solution, and visual commerce depends on how you approach it and how you implement it. If done meticulously and wisely, user generated content can have an extremely positive impact on company’s visibility, website traffic and sales. Unfortunately, some UGC campaigns suffer a premature death due to some very avoidable mistakes. This article aims to illuminate those common user generated content mistakes so you can maximize revenue!

Publishing without Permission

The first commandment of UGC is you shall not publish without permission. Though user-generated content is voluntarily created and can be voluntarily submitted, its use without the consent of the content owner can be a serious offense. This usually happens when companies reuse customer photos that they’ve found on social platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Reviews, questions, answers, photos, and videos that customers post directly on your site are generally safe.

Publishing content without permission can be extremely fatal. Just one example is enough to prove my point. Duane Reade suffered a $6 million lawsuit when they posted a photo (without permission) on Twitter of Katherine Heigl holding two of their bags! For more detailed information about visual commerce permissions and rights management, check out our new white paper—The Fundamental Guide to Visual Commerce Permissions.

One-Time UGC Use

Many marketers make a mistake of using user-generated photos, reviews, and Q&A for a shorter span of time or in less repetitive manner. The fact is that this sort of content is evergreen and can really help keep customers’ interest level intact. Repurposing your UGC across marketing channels can make a little content go a long way. It is very important to extend the shelf life of the quality customer content and it is easily achievable by accumulating contributions that drove the most engagement and use them for future campaigns.

Another way to harness the power of quality customer content is to use it for social ads on Facebook and Instagram. You will see higher click-through rates for those ads. Email campaigns are fruitful too–Forever 21 sets a good example by including real customer reviews in this marketing email from earlier this summer.

This Forever 21 marketing email avoids one of the biggest user generated content mistakes by reusing their content.
This Forever 21 marketing email avoids one of the biggest user generated content mistakes by reusing their content.

Only Using Perfect Photos

One of the biggest user generated content mistakes comes from a slight misunderstanding of its purpose. As a marketer, you should understand that the very reason why UGC became a currency of modern marketing was consumers’ lack of faith and trust in traditional advertisements.

I have come across many UGC campaigns that don’t look like UGC campaigns at all. If you only use images from your brand or influencers, you’re missing the point. Shoppers want to see real customers enjoying your products! The example of Belkin is useful for this particular point. They created swanky iPhone cases in a partnership with Lego. Belkin asked their customers to show off their creativity and how each one personalized their case by tagging their Instagram photos with #LEGOxBelkin.

This visual commerce gallery is a healthy mix of professional-looking and amateur photos.

There is something imperfect, deglamorized in those photos which make them even more authentic…and UGC is nothing but a vehicle which carries the message of authenticity to your customers.

Letting Conversations Fade

One of the biggest conundrums of UGC is there is no UGC without customer engagement and there is no customer engagement without UGC. That’s why it becomes critically important to maintain the ongoing momentum. The efforts to encourage people to participate in your UGC activity should be ceaseless. Keep a close watch on your brand mentions and related hashtags so that you can like, comment, and share user-generated photos and statuses from your enthusiastic customers. It also enables you to answer the questions of your customers, which strengthen the relationship bond between you and customers. And this is how the mindset of loyalty shapes up in your customers!

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What you need to know about using UGC for fashion

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ugc

Here at Annex Cloud we don’t like to waste things. Whether it’s a water bottle, a paper bag, or precious user generated content (UGC), we’re all for reusing and recycling. When you have hundreds of inspiring pictures up in your Visual Commerce galleries or thousands of rave reviews, it seems like a shame to not use … Read more

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Online Reviews

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Four keys to Amazon's marketing success

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content marketing

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Uber's marketing strategy

We’ve all heard about the bad press that Uber has gotten over the past year or so. Class action lawsuits, gross driver misconduct, surge pricing shocks, legal fights with governments, the list goes on… Despite that, the ride-hailing-and-so-much-more service continues to grow. Why is that? For one, they offer a compelling and in-demand product. Secondly, … Read more

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Keys to Amazon's Success

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ecommerce enhancements for apparel

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Soliciting Reviews

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Ratings and Reviews Design

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