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Attract new customers while cultivating existing ones using social video marketing

The use of videos to market businesses to customers is not a new concept. So is it not time that pharmacy joined the bandwagon? Steve Hemsley finds out

It was not quite Downton Abbey but Lloydspharmacy’s spoof period drama advertisement, filmed at Stanmer House in Brighton in November last year, became something of a YouTube hit.

The 90-second video was created to help women avoid a “different type of period drama” by reminding viewers they could order the contraceptive pill directly to their doorstep over Christmas.

The film features a woman in period clothing and a well dressed man running across fields and wading waist-high through a river with a package. It turns out to be a Lloydspharmacy prescription bag.

The Lloydspharmacy Online Doctor Period Drama was viewed more than 75,000 times in just a few weeks.

It is one of a number of bite-size films on LloydsPharmacyUK’s own YouTube channel being accessed and shared via social media sites. There are films on back pain and diabetes, as well as one on pain management, which advertises the pharmacy’s pain control test and explains how music can relieve suffering.

Claire Glassborow, head of online at Celesio UK, which includes Lloydspharmacy and AAH, explained: “Our YouTube channel allows us to engage with our customers and potential customers in a whole new way. As well as helping us to promote our TV commercials online, our YouTube channel also hosts advice videos and product demonstrations. We aim, as a business, to make it easier for people to manage their health and this means offering them information through a variety of media so that they can pick whichever is most suited to them. We know that an increasing number of people are using YouTube so it makes sense for us to put product and health information where people want to access it.”

Video as a marketing tool

Video image

Source: Oleg Gren/

Many pharmacies have a social media strategy but few make the most of video as a marketing and customer service tool.  Yet video is the glue which joins social media and marketing together. YouTube, bought by Google for £883m in 2006, is now the second largest search engine in the world behind its parent.

Using video boosts a pharmacy’s search ratings because Google picks up on interactive and dynamic content. According to research by Forbes, 85 per cent of people who see images on search pages click through via the thumbnail if it is relevant to them, which can raise awareness of a pharmacy’s services. Bite-size videos produced for seasonal health topics, for instance, can also be played on televisions in the shop.

There are other revenue opportunities, too, because people will often share on Facebook and Twitter an engaging health-related video with their family and friends. They might even integrate it within their own web content, providing a powerful online marketing tool.

Among the manufacturers realising online videos’ potential is GlaxoSmithKline, which has a thriving YouTube channel called GSKvision. The site includes videos telling patient stories and short films offering advice on nutrition and living with specific illnesses.

A survey by the US-based Web Video Marketing Council reveals that 93 per cent of companies used video in their communications in 2013, up from 81 per cent in 2012. They see it as a way to explain products and services, engage with website visitors and generate sales.

Companies across all industries are not only creating their own YouTube channels but are using other online services such as the Instagram video-sharing tool and Twitter Vine. This is a mobile service which lets small businesses create and share short looping videos.

Videos are effective because they are easier than text for people to digest. Content is being watched on different devices, including desktop PCs, smartphones and tablets. Increasingly, social videos will be viewed on smart home television sets.

A survey by technology and consulting firm Accenture confirms that people are viewing more online video. Its third “Video over internet consumer survey” says consumers are using multiple screens at the same time at home and will be on their laptop or smartphone while watching television.

The number of people who watch video content over the internet at least once a week on a PC or laptop rose to 65 per cent in 2013, up from 59 per cent in 2012. The number of respondents watching video on a mobile telephone or smartphone rose to 31 per cent (from 24 per cent) and, on a tablet, to 22 per cent (from 14 per cent).

What makes a good video?

As Lloydspharmacy and GSK have realised, it is important the videos provide concise and targeted information and are not too long so viewers lose interest. Most people’s attention span is short so they do not want to see long speeches and sales pitches.

Popular videos convey a human feel to a business, so always film around your pharmacy and feature your staff and premises.

A pharmacy’s a high level of trust in the local community means using real people and voices on film can create a strong sense of personal accountability. They know who they will be talking to when they visit your pharmacy.


Take them into your world but do not forget the importance of good lighting, sound and editing. If the lighting is bad people will leave your video after just a few seconds. This is why it is sensible to employ a professional production company.

Many companies perceive that the technology and the production costs needed to produce a video are prohibitive, yet effective videos can be produced for a few hundred pounds each.

Essex-based New Targets, for example, produces videos for small independent businesses, including opticians and doctors surgeries, but it has yet to sign up a pharmacy.

“Business owners choose video to help them cross-sell and to get loyal customers to spend more with them or to make use of other services,” says director James Campbell. “They realise it costs much more to find a new customer than to cultivate one they already have.”

He adds: “With video it is important pharmacies persevere and work out exactly what they want to achieve, study the results and then amend the content if they need to. Video is not a magic bullet but it can be sculpted to meet your needs and those of your customers.”

Simon Burslem is marketing manager at digital marketing agency SiteVisibility, which produces social video for a number of companies in different industries. He is urging pharmacy owners to move out of their comfort zone. 

“While retweeting blogs and posting content on Facebook is good, social media have evolved dramatically,” he says. “Creating video to boost social media-led conversions is a powerful marketing tool for any business.”

He adds: “The Instagram video and Twitter Vine videos work particularly well for physical products, and pharmacies can use these to demonstrate products and services clearly to customers.”

Annotation adds value

Pharmacies can get more value out of their investment in video by using annotation.

Video annotations are unique to YouTube and allow pharmacies to overlay clickable text onto their video to make the content more engaging and easier to navigate.

Many YouTube videos have basic annotation such as a “skip now” advertising box, but pharmacies can use the technology more strategically to update product and services information and to include direct calls to action, such as special offers. There is also room for health-related, frequently asked questions.

The videos can also pause at specific content to grab viewers’ attention and a box can be added to collect their email address if they choose to share it.

Annotations are a cost-effective way of reusing video content without having to pay for more footage.

Marketing industry estimates suggest that a company can experience an 87 per cent improvement in driving social traffic to a conversion page when annotations are used.

Return on investment

Of course, if a pharmacy is persuaded to invest in video, it is important it can measure the return on investment.

Video production companies will supply a pharmacy owner with video analytics. These reveal not only how many views a particular video has had but deeper insight, such as how long each viewer watched for, which sections they might have watched more than once and which content they skipped altogether.

Pharmacies have been relatively slow to adopt this modern way of marketing their business but an increasing number of businesses are using video to create awareness of their products and services.

It does not have to be expensive to provide information in such a simple visual format and the benefits are plain to see.

Five facts about video marketing




The launch of National Pharmacy Association TV is further evidence the industry sees the benefit of investing in online visual content.

NPATV is a video-content platform providing members with insight, updates, opinion and knowledge, all streamed via the organisation’s website (

There are interviews with pharmacy leaders, debates on contentious developments in community pharmacy and a review of developments in the UK and Europe which affect members.

NPA chief executive Mike Holden is a big supporter of the use of video and says it allows any organisation or pharmacy to convey important information withoutexpecting people to read lengthy documents. “It’s a platform for members to share knowledge and have a say,” he says.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11139041

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