Whether your offer is RX or OTC, offering free samples to physicians and other HCPs is a great strategy. Not only is putting your product in the hands of a physician a great way to solidify mindshare in the HCP, having them hand out your product to patients is an ideal way to create trust for the brand in both the HCP and the patient alike. Offering free product samples is a tried-and-true strategy which has been practiced for years but here’s some updated tactics to think about when orchestrating a digital marketing campaign targeting physicians.


HCP Authentication - Many free sample pages require the HCP to enter their name and NPI number and there’s a couple good reasons for that. First, you want to make sure you’re only giving away free samples to authenticated HCPs. Second, you want to make sure that the HCP isn’t overusing the free samples so you should monitor individual consumption.

We have a client that stuffs FedEx envelopes with 12 small tubes of their product when they get a free sample request. The samples and the shipping cost around $25 but it’s getting the HCP to the free sample order page that requires the most thought and is usually the biggest expense. Having done free sample marketing many times, here’s a few thoughts to consider.

Consistent straight forward message – When we tested different types of native ads which consist of images and headlines, we found a straight forward and consistent message converted more of the clicks into successful orders. When the ad mentioned “Free samples for patients with YXZ”, the conversion rate was higher at the order landing page as opposed to messages without the phrase “free samples”. Using our tech stack, we eliminated the need to have the HCP authenticate themselves because we only send authenticated HCPs and when the HCP clicks the ad, we include their NPI number encrypted in the landing page URL. This eliminates another step which reduced bounce rates. Here’s an example of an image+text ad targeting HCPs featured below articles.

Image+Text Ad Targeting HCPs

Optimizing the campaign – Its not enough to optimize the ads and the landing page, once the campaign is around 10%-15% complete, you should have enough data to begin eliminating lower converting traffic. In Tap Native’s case this means looking at 5 data points.

  1. Ad creatives – Creating image+text ads or text only ads is easy, fast and inexpensive. We usually create 10 or more ads for clients which they can use or not use at their discretion. Different ad creatives generate different costs per conversion (CPAs). Some ads deliver lower CPAs or higher CPAs quite consistently when looking at larger data sets. When the data becomes clear, we scale the ads that work better and pause the underperformers.
  2. HCP types – When we can see that we referred 20 OBGYNs, 20 Pediatricians and 20 Family Physicians we can start to understand which group(s) are converting better and worse. We can start to see an average cost per order by physician or HCP type. This allows us to scale up HCP targets that convert better and scale back or eliminate HCP targets that are not converting as well.
  3. Times/GEOs -Once we have a little data we can start to see when HCPs are converting and what states or DMAs are working better than others. Again, the idea here is to spot strengths and weaknesses to scale what works and eliminate what doesn’t. We’ve often found mutiple states which converted worse so rather than waste the money, we eliminated those states and put the spend where it was working best.
  4. Sites/Placements – Tap Native has its ad widgets on the content pages of 3800 health and medical sites. Once we have a little data, we can see which placements are creating the lowest CPAs and which are not working well. We focus on scaling what works best and turn off what’s not.
  5. Landing pages – Many of our clients AB test different landing pages. They will have 2 or more versions of a landing page and test which one results in a higher order placement. We can create identical ads and send the same types of targets to each landing page to determine which version(s) works better.

There are other ways to optimize campaigns as well but by focusing on these 5 variables, we can ensure that your free sample campaign hits its mark. We call this optimization process “cracking the code”. If you haven’t cracked the code for your brand lets chat.