Meet the Mavericks of Healthcare Marketing

Performance-io / February 23, 2023

Where do people turn to when they need health-related information?

They google it.

However, the performance and search engine optimisation (SEO) marketing strategies of most pharma and healthcare companies are far from effective – and often non-existent. With this drastic industry gap in mind, Matt Lowe launched performance-io as the first-ever healthcare-centric SEO agency in 2018, which is now officially celebrating its expansion on Indian shores.

Technical SEO lead and account director of performance-io India

Business story

Having spent over a decade in pharma and working across a range of commercial sectors, Matt Lowe noticed that big pharma routinely ignores the very first step in nearly every one of its customers’ user journeys: a search engine. Instead, they base their website content on their own brand priorities, key performance indicators (KPIs), and crucial success factors (CSFs) – things that their audience simply doesn’t care about.

Born out of this observation and with a passion for digital marketing in healthcare, Lowe left pharma to set up healthcare’s first specialist SEO agency, leading to the launch of what we now know as performance-io – winners of the PM Society Digital Agency of 2022.

performance-io’s specialist team of pharma, healthcare, veterinary, and deep-category SEO experts is on a mission to provide correct health information when it’s needed most, all while reducing wasted budget on paid media and brand-driven content in pharma that is not seen by customers.

Seen as the ‘mavericks’ or zeitgeist in the healthcare digital marketing space, performance-io has become the go-to agency for SEO and SEO content in pharma and healthcare.

performance-io helps brands from Fortune 500s to start-ups to get their content compliantly ranking high on Google and thereby seen by healthcare professionals (HCPs), patients, careers, and the public. Through agile SEO strategies, benchmarking solutions, and marketing determined by cross-channel data and insights, performance-io delivers an average of a 5X increase in customer engagement on their clients’ sites.

Stepping into the Indian market

Early on in the agency’s rapid growth, Lowe tapped into the tech talent pool in the Indian market to ensure economies of scale and efficiencies that could be passed on to clients. After several years of successful partnerships, he formalised performance-io’s presence in India.

On the 8th of February 2023, the performance-io PIOneers officially celebrated their brand launch across multiple locations in India, with their HQ in Kolkata, the ‘Cultural Capital of India’, and an extended team in Bangalore, the ‘Silicon Valley of India’.

To mark the expansion of performance-io in India,Matt Lowe visited the team in India, together with Siobhan Robertson(Director, Global Head of SEO) and Michail Apokoroniotakis (SEO Account Director). The managing director of the India branch, Ronny Kar said, “Only a few SEO companies deliver a detailed breakdown of their clients’ online performance and provide a strategic plan to reach their targets. performance-io happens to be one such agency where people are high on ownership, passion, and skills, making the work exciting. Also, the leadership team has a continued belief in people’s potential to grow, which is refreshing, as most multinational agencies treat India only as an offshore firm. This is very different from how we work at performance-io.”

The primary objective of the UK team representatives’ visit was to plan the further expansion of performance-io’s global offer and meet the India team as it now extends to more than 20 people, many of whom joined during COVID times.

Services and products

1. SEO

With 93% of online research beginning with a search engine, a well-thought-out SEO strategy can change the dynamics of any business. As a specialist healthcare and pharma marketing agency, performance-io has access to granular insights into exactly what patients and HCPs want from their online experience.

With performance-io’s holistic approach to SEO services, their end-to-end offer covers everything from the technical foundations, content and creative, SEO and performance analysis to benchmarking, link building, and ongoing optimisation.

2. Digital benchmarking

Benchmarking is about measuring and comparing a company’s performance. There are two fundamental types of benchmarking, both of which are applied by performance-io to assess and benchmark the performance of their client’s websites:

  • External benchmarking involves comparing a company with external organisations, either from within the industry or with practices from other industries.
  • Internal benchmarking compares departments or practices within an organisation, looking at the divisions or sites of a business that are doing well and determining what will make them even more successful. From this, companies can then set a level of performance metrics to work towards.

3. SEO analytics and reporting

performance-io collects data pertinent to acquiring organic traffic. This entails measurement definition, implementation, and updates. Reporting or integrating reports into real-time dashboards and business-ready summaries that support decision-making and utilisation of budget is something where the PIOneers showcase their expertise.

Performance analytics is important as it will inform whether SEO is a worthwhile investment and how much budget you should allocate to make sure you can generate an ROI. Moreover, Google Analytics will also track how much traffic you receive from each referral source.

Well-known people in the company

performance-io is a medium-sized enterprise currently employing over 60 people across the US, Europe, and India. The executive and non-executive board members have extensive experience in the healthcare and marcoms agency space and include the following executives:

An image of Matt Lowe, the founder and CEO of PIO

Matt Lowe

Matt Lowe has spent over 20 years in pharma and healthcare, working across a range of commercial sectors in pharma before leaving to head up digital operations globally at a mid-sized network agency group. He launched a number of industry-firsts before founding performance-io as healthcare’s only specialist SEO agency in 2018.

Rob Wood, Non-Executive Director at Performance-io

Rob Wood

Rob Wood is a former AstraZeneca director who went on to found the commercial and medical benchmarking firm STEM in 2007 before selling it to UDG Healthcare for £84 million in 2016. Currently, he is appointed as a non-executive director at performance-io.

An image of Jason Brown, the chief commercial officer at PIO

Jason Brown

After working in-house at Novartis and Sanofi for 13 years in various sales and marketing leadership roles, Jason Brown spent another seven years with STEM Healthcare, where he was promoted to President of EU5 and global COO. Currently, he is appointed as the Chief Commercial Officer at performance-io.

Barrie Brien, Non-Executive Chairman at Performance-io

Barrie Brien

After 12 years of growing Creston plc, the establishment of the Unlimited Group, and following its sale to DBay Advisors in 2016, Barrie Brien stepped down as Group Chief Executive. Currently, he is appointed as a non-executive chairman at performance-io.


Jason McKenna

Jason McKenna has been with STEM since 2010 before launching it in the US and Brazil, soon after which he took over the CEO’s role in 2018. Before that, he worked for AstraZeneca in the US and UK. Currently, he is appointed as a non-executive director at performance-io.

Awards and achievements

The PIOneers are pleased to announce that last year performance-io won the Agency Digital Team Award of the year at the PM Society Digital Awards 2022.

performance-io wins the Agency Digital Team Award

Clients of the company

Over the years, performance-io has worked with many global and well-known brands in the pharma and healthcare industry, some of them including:


The company also works with some major non-profit organisations, some of which include:

Final thoughts

As performance-io is launched in India, it now has a scope to be the go-to agency for Indian pharma businesses to increase their digital presence. As a European company, it is an excellent opportunity for performance-io to improve its PAN India presence, to which Matt Lowe said, “We’d like to continue to work with progressive partners/leaders across the marcoms mix to ensure their campaigns reach and help as many people as possible. This involves going on a journey together and not always doing what has been done before.

performance-io's logo in white

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