Digital strategies for pharmaceutical brands

Boosting integrated marketing strategies in pharmaceutical firms through effective us of the web, email and digital channels

Pharmaceutical brands can increase the effectiveness of their marketing by using digital and integrated marketing more effectively. They can reduce their overall spend and change the way their sales channels operate. On this page we present just a few of the tips for smarter pharmaceutical marketing.

Web strategies for pharmaceutical brands »

A dozen practical tips for boosting ROI in by putting the web to work, properly

Digital Marketing Handbook: July 2009

Web strategies for pharmaceutical brandsPharmaceutical brands were slow to web marketing. The cautious behaviour of the sector, combined with uncertainty of regulation, held pharmaceuticals back while marketers in finance, professional services, manufacturing and business services raced ahead online. In this tactical roadmap for pharmaceutical brands Danny Meadows-Klue highlights key steps every brand should evaluate for boosting the effectiveness of their communications planning. For the experienced digital marketer this will be a useful checklist, for those new to the web it could revolutionise the communications mix - and for finance directors it could be the key to saving 20% of the marketing budget without any drop in results.

Pharmaceutical brands were slow to web marketing. The cautious behaviour of the sector, combined with uncertainty of regulation, held pharmaceuticals back while marketers in finance, professional services, manufacturing and business services raced ahead online. In this tactical roadmap for pharmaceutical brands Danny Meadows-Klue highlights key steps every brand should evaluate for boosting the effectiveness of their communications planning. For the experienced digital marketer this will be a useful checklist, for those new to the web it could revolutionise the communications mix - and for finance directors it could be the key to saving 20% of the marketing budget without any drop in results.

Download: Web strategies for pharmaceutical brands

Digital industry case studies for healthcare and pharmaceutical marketers »

Browse dozens of digital marketing case studies from the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors to give you fresh ideas and new inspiration:

http://www.digitaltrainingacademy.com/casestudies/tag/healthcare-and-pharmaceutical

Continuing the conversation? »

How could we accelerate your pharmaceutical marketing strategy? Simply ask.

Email the author of this report directly:

Danny@DigitalStrategyConsulting.com
DigitalStrategyConsulting.com/dannymeadows-klue

Digital Communications Audit »

How to measure what’s working, and what’s not in pharmaceutical marketing

Getting the best value from your digital channels demands understanding what works and why. In a fast changing environment, many brands have websites and email programmes that are years behind best practice, failing to engage their stakeholders, generate leads, build brand equity and create real value. A digital communications audit provides the fast track to understand how your digital investments are working and what’s needed to accelerate ROI. They give an expert view, independent of your teams, agencies and stakeholders. They deliver insights quickly and include key recommendations as well as prioritizing critical issues.

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Customer journey analysis in pharmaceutical marketing »

Digital marketing should be working at each step in the purchase journey to encourage conversion to sale. When we analyse customer purchase journey behaviour, we look for how doctors and health authorities really make their decisions. Your digital communications should be working for the primary purchaser, the influencer and other stakeholders. They should be working in partnership, integrated with all other forms of marketing.

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Contents: Online marketing strategies and tactics for phramaceutical brands »

Web strategies for pharmaceutical brands

  • Introduction and context
  • Innovation and change
  • Practical advice for improving ROI
  • Three ways pharma brands can use the web to build relationships with customers
  • Three ways pharma brands can harness web media in their online marketing strategy
  • Three ways pharma brands can reduce field sales force costs
  • Three ways pharma brands can use web analytics to listen to their customers online
  • Online pharmaceutical marketing: where to start in building your digital marketing strategy
  • Extra support for pharmaceutical brands from Digital Strategy’s team

Introduction and context »

The web and email went mainstream in the UK around ten years ago. A fifth of all advertising in the UK is now online, making the web outrank television. Google has become the starting point for most people researching big decisions, and the combination of bookmarks, blogs and social media have become new tools for navigating and exploring issues. Every offline media business now has a massive online copy of their current and archived content, and the centre of gravity in publishing and broadcasting is shifting to the web.

Continue reading "Introduction and context" »

Innovation and change in pharmaceutical marketing »

When new innovations arrive in business, some sectors adopt them quickly, others more slowly – and when it comes to digital channels, pharmaceutical firms among the slowest of all. We’ve been tracking the growth of digital marketing since 1995 and the pharmaceutical industry is a curious anomaly.

Continue reading "Innovation and change in pharmaceutical marketing" »

Practical advice for improving ROI in pharmaceutical marketing »

Having worked with thousands of marketers from across a dozen industry sectors, and in more than 30 countries, we’ve distilled down these key steps for improving ROI. For experienced digital marketers they will simply reconfirm best-practice is in place. For those newer to digital marketing they may unlock areas the business has not yet explored.

These dozen tips for best practice digital marketing for pharmaceutical brands are grouped into four areas firms can check and apply quickly

  1. Three ways pharma brands can use the web to build relationships with customers
  2. Three ways pharma brands can harness web media in their online marketing strategy
  3. Three ways pharma brands can reduce field sales force costs
  4. Three ways pharma brands can use web analytics to listen to their customers online

Three ways pharma brands can use the web to build relationships with customers »

Building relationships using online marketing

Relationship marketing is the most powerful tool in converting leads into customers

  1. Pharmaceutical marketers should invest in their customer databases: start your communication strategy here
  2. Take the message to market: use email in pharmaceutical marketing to reach customers in their inbox
  3. Build eRM campaigns in pharmaceutical marketing to drive conversions

1 Pharmaceutical marketers should invest in their customer databases: start your communication strategy here »

Every brand needs to find ways to reach its target customers directly. Whether through renting lists from online media, or building the lists themselves, that database is key to starting successful relationship marketing.

Create segmentations that match your sales processes and build the foundations for a relationship marketing channel. Divide people between those who are customers and potential customers, those who make the decision and those who influence, those who are prescribers and those who are patients.

Look for ways to capture data at every opportunity. Find ways to acquire more new leads by using your web presence smartly – using both your own websites and your online advertising. Explore other classic channels and motivate your sales force to incorporate email into the data they capture for every new contact. See the database as the engine of your marketing and everything else starts to follow.

2 Take the message to market: use email in pharmaceutical marketing to reach customers in their inbox »

Email is the longest established form of internet marketing, predating the web by over a decade and providing the most cost effective touchpoint for customers, stakeholders and partners. When there is smart segmentation of the data behind an email campaign it’s easy to target the right message to reach the right person at the right time.

Today’s HTML format mailings provide smart gateways to brand websites, they can take the best and most relevant of what you have on the web and package it seamlessly into a digest right for the customer – and at a marginal cost of almost zero.

There’s an accountability in the mailing process because marketers can track open-rates and pass-on rates much of the time, identifying when and how deeply target prospective customers are engaged with the brand. And that research insight comes without the intrusion of telephone interviews or surveys, customer’s real attitude can be uncovered in days.

3 Build eRM campaigns in pharmaceutical marketing to drive conversions »

Simple one-size-fits-all email broadcasts are only the starting point. The power of email lies in the richness of its targeting. Segmenting the market into different types of prospects and communicating based on their specific interests and attitudes unlocks leaps in response rates. This is how to turn lead generation into conversion. In the right hands email becomes a self-learning tool for the marketing team, building more granular profile data that can be integrated back into sales management systems like Salesforce.com.

Three ways pharma brands can harness web media in their online marketing strategy »

Online media: Fish where the fish are

Using online media to reach the right audiences in the right mindset

  1. Pharma brands should reach audiences online where they want to engage
  2. Track the exposure web ads generate
  3. Explore podcasts, video debates and white paper downloads

1 Pharma brands should reach audiences online where they want to engage »

In almost every country doctors and medical purchase decision makers are now heavy online users. It’s no surprise they over-index on web audience research because between PubMed, the journals, Trust websites and pharma sites, the internet has become indispensable. For GPs it’s even become an essential first line of defence as patients present themselves with self-diagnoses drawn from an alarming combination of Google and Wikipedia. Clinicians, medical administrators and policy advisors simply cannot practice without networked computers.

If the first rule of marketing is to understand your customer, then the first rule of media is to reach them in the places they come together. Within today’s regulatory framework of the web there are clear ways to harness web media and the online clinician is readily interested and keen to be engaged. Their use of the web may be at times and places that suit them rather than field sales, but in the hands of smart online media planners, the messages for a pharma brand will only be seen by those interested in the specific therapy. Lord Leverhulm’s adage of ‘half my advertising being wasted, if only I knew which half’ has been answered with surprising clarity.

2 Track the exposure web ads generate »

Smart marketers use the web to quantify the cost per impact and the results generated. In skilled hands the web can be highly accountable and the best of friends for marketers faced with budget cuts and having to choose between different tools. Working well as a branding medium as much as a direct response channel, websites and web advertising is well documented in building awareness and changing brand perceptions. But even the simplest banner can act as a trigger for the download of a data sheet, the results of clinical trials or the registration for an offline event.

3 Explore podcasts, video debates and white paper downloads »

When brands need to tell their story directly, the web provides a range of tools far beyond the brand site. Online magazines, journals and communities guarantee high levels of relevant traffic. Brands can lever their own messages by using commercial spaces and partnerships those sites created to deliver deep and information-rich stories about a given therapy. Podcasts and videocasts provide high impact techniques for targeting exactly the right audiences with the most complex of messages. They allow potential purchasers and influencers to hear first hand about the benefits of new treatments. Audit the relative costs of this route rather than more traditional channels and it’s easy to see why smart pharma brands have been eagerly exploring online media, often far below the radar of their rivals.

Three ways pharma brands can reduce field sales force costs »

Invest in what’s working

Switch budgets into the sales channels that are really delivering results

  1. Quantify the costs of communication channels in pharmaceutical marketing strategies
  2. Map the role of each channel in helping customers make purchase decisions about pharmaceutical products
  3. Auditing the efficiency of pharmaceutical communication channels based on the results they achieve

1 Quantify the costs of communication channels in pharmaceutical marketing strategies »

The pharma industry still relies heavily on massive field sales forces. It’s ironic that as doctors and health purchasers become more time-pressed, the models of purchase and influence become far less dependent on face-to-face presentations.

Because understanding the solution is partly a numbers game, the start has to be to get an accurate picture of the costs of each marketing channel. Not simply the media costs of advertising or the sponsorship costs of conferences, but the breadth of internal and external costs that collectively account for the total energy of a sales and marketing operation. The value of field salespeople has changed, along with their role as closers and decision facilitators within the deal-making process. Collate this together and discover the real marketing mix and the options for behaving differently.

2 Map the role of each channel in helping customers make purchase decisions about pharmaceutical products »

The journey a pharma customer makes during each sale is radically different today from 2000, yet the marketing approach remains surprisingly unchanged. Each purchaser discovers their information in different ways, but the web, email, online journals and forums are sure to feature highly. The paradox is that these are typically under-represented in the portfolio of tools used by most pharma brands. Relating each channel to a definable touchpoint in the influencing process behind a sale unlocks the real story of how pharma marketing is working.

Purchase models have become more complicated because the decision makers are better informed, other stakeholders more involved, and everyone more connected. There are more touchpoints and more rigorous processes so the journey a purchaser makes towards a decision is radically different from before the internet started playing the role it has today. Information is easier than ever to access, yet many brands invest large portions of their energy in putting information in places that just don’t get the attention they did.

For brands that have not adjusted their model, it adds pressure to field sales who find it harder to make those appointments, and have greater challenges in condensing the complexity of the therapy and the pitch into ever simpler soundbites. There’s a spiral of inefficiency in play, and as an approach, it’s one that’s well passed its use-by date.

3 Auditing the efficiency of pharmaceutical communication channels based on the results they achieve »

By analysing these touchpoints and relating them directly to sales, pharmaceutical brands can gain granular understanding of which aspects of marketing to bolster and which to throttle back. A common pattern is an over focus on field sales and an under representation for web media, search, email and the brand’s own site.

Three ways pharma brands can use web analytics to listen to their customers online »

Listen to your customers

Use the digital tools to find out what’s working and why; then replan your communications.

  1. Pharmaceutical marketing: use web analytics to listen to the conversation
  2. For reaching doctors online identify the people and places that matters
  3. Then analyse the conversation

1 Pharmaceutical marketing: use web analytics to listen to the conversation »

Before anything else, simply listen to the conversations taking place about your brand already. The web provides the richest archive imaginable of people’s perceptions, views and language about your brand. In shows what your customers really think, how your patients perceive their therapy, and how decision-makers are influenced. In the hands of an expert digital analyst it can drive the core strategy of the business. At the very least, use basic Google Alerts to gain an immediate top level understanding of what is being said about your brands and the issues affecting them. Then explore the advanced tools and develop a tracking model.

2 For reaching doctors online identify the people and places that matter »

Experienced digital marketers see the web as a giant market research tool that can quickly yield a network of places where the conversations are taking place. They can even pinpoint the individuals leading the debate. While some of these places may be the expected pages of the British Medical Journal or the official advice within the NHS, some could be within the more freeform discussions of web pureplays like Doctors.net, or the private blogs of patients, pressure groups or charities To plan an effective communication strategy, every pharmaceutical brand needs to understand this landscape, mapping these spaces to learn about the network of voices and people taking part in the conversation.

3 Then analyse the conversation »

People’s views have never been tracked like this before. The breadth and depth of discussion takes time to get to grips with but there are a series of simple steps every brand should evaluate. Track the footprint of the brand on the web using simple search engine tools; continue tracking this each month to provide indicators about the growth of discussion and the performance of marketing initiatives. Set up alerts to highlight new issues and have an internal process in place for escalation. Apply similar tactics to competitor websites to aid with benchmarking. Look for where the activity clusters are strongest and build a communications plan for these areas. This will highlight some of the emerging spaces that are influencing your customers and allow your team to refocus their energy to where the real discussions are taking place.

At a more advanced level, evaluating brand salience with tools that can decode how your brand is being described are a great way of getting a quick snapshot of whether you are winning the hearts and minds of your audience.

Collectively these richer research techniques can provide leadership teams with a digital nervous system that immediately relays what the market is thinking, even if they never say it directly to the brand.

Digital strategy audit »

Boosting your digital marketing strategy with a digital audit

The centre of gravity may have migrated to digital channels, but that doesn’t mean marketing managers are spending digital budgets wisely. In today’s cash-strapped times, an audit of digital marketing effectiveness can be the fast track for uncovering ways to save budgets that are not working, and where to maximise budgets that could work much harder. This short guide gives pharmaceutical marketers some of the key steps in starting that process.

Many firms get less than 40% of the ROI they could from their digital marketing. Minor changes - such as clearer calls to action, simpler sign-ups for email and clearer messaging in banner advertising - can have a dramatic effect on the impact of web marketing. That’s why auditing your digital marketing can quickly unlock where the problems are, and help brand managers move budgets to where they will work hardest

Download: Digital strategy audit

Digital viewpoints: Marketing to the digital healthcare community »

How the impact of digital networking on healthcare marketing is leaving some marketers and their brands behind

Originally published in Pharmaceutical Marketing

Nine years ago, I found myself rummaging around under desks in a stark concrete basement at the end of a neglected corridor, under the teaching hospital in Addis Ababa. We were laying Ethernet cables next to the pathology lab to connect the first computing network, in the first computing room, of Ethiopia’s first teaching hospital. It was one of Digital Strategies early corporate social responsibility projects, and although I was there to think about what would come down these telecom pipes, without them in place nothing much was going anywhere.

A few weeks later the British Medical Journal poured down those pipes and onto screens across the computing room. Doctors, students, researchers, and stray NGO workers were suddenly connected to what I have been calling ever since ‘the digital networked society’ (DNS).

Continue reading "Digital viewpoints: Marketing to the digital healthcare community" »

Online pharmaceutical marketing: where to start in building your digital marketing strategy »

Web marketing can be a daunting array of unfamiliar choices for those new to the scene. From Facebook to search engine optimisation, Twitter to RSS, there is no shortage of calls on the marketer’s time. The ideas in this short summary boil down key takeouts from dozens of management coaching events with leading global brands from many different sectors. They represent examples of commonly missed opportunities and can provide a checklist of quick tactical fixes when marketing budgets are under pressure. They are not intended as a substitute for an integrated digital channel strategy, but simply represent powerful quick-wins many firms have far from fully exploited. Breaking down the complexity of digital marketing choices is intended to give marketers a clearer roadmap for how to improve their performance. By tackling each set in turn, it’s easy to measure the improvements on the business, and the boost to the insights of stakeholders along the way.

Extra support for pharmaceutical brands from Digital Strategy’s team »

There are more detailed insight reports in key digital disciplines such Social Media and Media Planning. Many are available online and Digital’s team can direct you to the resources relevant to where your brand is today.

Our strategists and consultants have been leading thinkers in the online marketing and media sectors since the mid 90s and can help by quickly health-checking an existing strategy or building a new strategy from the start. The team can quickly audit your existing digital communications to identify weaknesses in campaigns or in the process that created them. We have worked in thirty countries to accelerate brands, and the most popular ways are:

  • Digital communications audits
  • Digital strategy healthchecks and risk analysis
  • Digital communications strategy development
  • Traffic-building strategies
  • Content and community strategies
  • Product development strategies
  • Leadership coaching
  • Digital marketing coaching programmes

Internet marketing training programmes for pharmaceutical marketing firms »

Our in-company online marketing programmes give your team the essential skills they need to make marketing work in today’s media landscape. They include an intensive three day in-company programme for boosting digital and integrated marketing skills across the business.

Here are some of the key modules in this programme.

  1. Customer Insight Academy - Customer behaviour and media consumption
  2. Marketing Strategy Academy - Customer journey modelling
  3. Digital Design Academy - Website and content design
  4. Search Engine Marketing Academy - Search engine optimisation
  5. Search Engine Marketing Academy - Search engine advertising
  6. Digital Advertising Academy - Web advertising (creative)
  7. Digital Advertising Academy - Media planning
  8. Digital Relationship Marketing Academy - Email and RM
  9. Digital Analytics Academy - Measurement tools and key performance indicators
  10. Digital Social Media Academy
  11. Digital Mobile Marketing Academy
  12. Digital Agency Management
  13. Digital Strategy Academy - Integrated marketing and creating powerful 360 degree campaigns

Ask Admissions@DigitalTrainingAcademy.com for more information

Case study: Johnson & Johnson | Sector: Pharmaceutical | Format: Social media, branded content, microsite »

Johnson & JohnsonJohnson & Johnson Consumer B.V. (JJCBV) wanted to boost awareness of its o.b. tampon brand among young women in the Netherlands. Because the vast majority of Dutch women aged between 14 and 18 use Windows Live Messenger, the company worked with Microsoft Advertising to create a Personal Expression; a collection of interactive content used in the application. The hugely successful campaign increased brand usage by six percent among the target audience.

Download the case study

Case study: Kleenex Let It Out | Sector: Pharmaceutical | Format: Social media, microsite, rich media, branded content »

Kleenex Kleenex created a new brand story called Let It Out, which focused on breaking free from inhibitions and letting out tears, laughter, joy, frustration, and all the other things we hold back. The objective was to create an emotional connection between consumers and Kleenex and a key part of this was to encourage participation in ‘letting it out’.

Download the case study

Getting to grips with online media planning »

Hints and tips for planners new to digital marketing

Digital Insight Report - February 2008

Getting to grips with online media planning: Hints and tips for planners new to digital marketing

Online marketing presents a richer choice of media formats, targeting and messaging than any other media channel. Harnessing this potential involves building on the principles of traditional media planning and using new toolkits, and matching the right formats and sites with the right media properties - all in a market that offers a daunting array of options. There are new metrics to track that transform accountability, and new models for trading media space. This Digital Insight Report introduces some of the trends, frameworks and viewpoints that describe online media planning today to help planners new to digital channels get up to speed quickly.

Download: Hints and tips for planners new to digital marketing

10 Golden Rules in Social Media Marketing »

Social media marketing best practice

Digital Insight Report - June 2009

10 Golden Rules in Social Media Marketing: Social media marketing best practice

Blogs, online communities, social media and then social networks: they have permanently changed online marketing. In this new landscape brands are in a constant dialogue with customers who increasingly play critical roles in advocacy and recommendation. The brand is only one guest among millions and the challenge for marketers is that while the rewards may be great, the risks are greater. The Ten Golden Rules were extracted from analysing the successes and failures of hundreds of social media marketing campaigns, looking for DNA that was shared between the successful and absent in those that failed. The clarity of patterns that emerged removes much of the mystery of social media and helps marketing teams quickly identify the specific risks and potential of the opportunities unfolding around them.

Download: Social media marketing best practice

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