Mohammed Abdul Jawad

8 months ago · 6 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

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10 Digital Pharma Lessons

10 Digital Pharma Lessons

The ten lessons and key takeaways from Orientation Marketing’s new digital-focused e-book.


There are a range of digital marketing tactics, activities and approaches that pharma marketers can adopt as part of their marketing plans to reach patients, physicians, laboratory specialists and decision-makers.

Where do you start? In this post, we’ll highlight ten areas which will help shape your marketing activities and provide focus in areas that will generate results.

The ten lessons are taken from Orientation Marketing’s most recently published e-book, entitled “Effective Digital Marketing in the B2B Pharmaceutical Sectors” that spans over 100 pages with actionable advice for each channel and approach.

You can access the e-book for free. 


Lesson # 1: A Digital Marketing Strategy is Essential in 2021

The pharmaceutical industry has always lagged behind other industries when it comes to digital. It’s an industry-wide problem because digital is becoming more and more prominent in the lives of the customers of both B2B and B2C pharma organisations.

Digital means meeting the expectations of those customers on the channels that they choose, and prefer, to use; this is what effective digital marketing is all about. The challenge is identifying the opportunities, and then taking the marketing of the pharmaceutical organisation in a different strategic direction. A digital marketing strategy could look like a mobile-driven content programme or a shift to an always-open customer service channel via a website or Facebook Live Chat or even an ABM strategy to target the pharmaceutical organisations via social media and other digital communities that makes targeted networking possible. Either way, the key lesson from the e-book is that a digital pharmaceutical marketing strategy is now a necessity.


Lesson # 2: Email marketing is alive and well

Email marketing is one of the oldest tricks in digital marketing. It has always provided the benefit of directly measuring performance. Marketers can access feedback – whether the recipient opened the email or clicked on a specific link – for campaigns almost immediately. And even now, in 2021, it is still an effective marketing tool (done properly) and shouldn't be thought of as “dead.”

Regulations are now in place to protect personal information and increase the rights of individuals by giving them more control over their information. Making email marketing a little more difficult than previously. But organisations can still conduct email marketing, however, permission by the subscriber is needed (proof of opt-in is also required) who will also get the option to manage the type of content they receive from organisations at any time.


Lesson # 3: Building trust is the utmost priority

Trust is the pillar of all business relationships when it comes to digital in both B2B and B2C pharma. In the B2B sectors we operate within, the focus is generally on building trust offline via face-to-face conversations. But trust can also be earned online where it is often sought before a buying cycle begins and it's now more important than ever to earn that trust on websites in such challenging environments.

In the B2B pharmaceutical setting, where the purchase is often made offline, a visitor will make repeat website visits and consume various pieces of content over a period of time before this purchase. Specific trust cues will come into play during varying stages of this buyer's journey. The website, therefore, plays a large role in this trust-building journey. Once trust is gained, it usually results in more traffic, higher pages-per-session, lower bounce rate, more subscribers, higher conversations and more leads. Helping website visitors builds trust, and if you can help your website visitors, you will put yourself in a great place to be considered as a trustworthy supplier to build a relationship with and to do business with.


Lesson # 4: Run / partake in virtual events

Virtual events are growing in popularity, especially as the world continues to deal with the effects of COVID-19. A virtual event, also known as an online or digital event, just like webinars from the previous chapter, is an interactive gathering that happens on the internet. Unlike physical events, virtual events are not restricted to a single location. A remote attendee can join and participate from anywhere in the world making them highly attended as face-to-face events don’t look likely to be reintroduced until late 2021.

Depending on the objectives of your virtual event presence, there are a number of event types and formats which could be suitable to promote your organisation, products and services. You will likely be familiar to some of the event types, but only now considering exhibiting within one or running an event yourself. Some may be relevant to your marketing objectives, and some not so. But they should be on your roadmap this year, with hybrid events - a tradeshow, conference, seminar, workshop or other meetings that combines a virtual based-event with a physical/in-person event - considered for the latter part of the year. As things will slowly get back to normal, we can expect hybrid events to become the norm.


Lesson # 5: Review your technology stack; things can always be improved

Behind the personalized emails, downloadable content and location-enabled media is usually a suite of interchanging, complex technologies. These technologies combine to form a stack that marketers use to efficiently and effectively execute digital marketing activities across channels. This stack will include all the technologies you might use on a day-to-day basis, but you may not see them as an integrated toolbox, rather stand-alone tools.

There might be some essential technologies missing from your current stack which could greatly benefit your marketing campaigns. Your current technology stack may also not be properly or effectively configured. Keep on top of your technologies; tasks, campaign management and marketing results are all improved if everything is working seamlessly in the background.


Lesson # 6: Realize the power of inbound

In order to attract customers, clients and users of products, marketers must provide something the customer can take pleasure in watching or reading or listening to. If possible, something they love. This is where Inbound marketing comes into play. Inbound marketing is a different strategic mindset to traditional marketing methods because it’s a more economically efficient way to create the experience that people are looking for instead of paying to interrupt one.

So rather than adopting traditional marketing methods, inbound marketing adopts blogging, search engine marketing and social media. It takes a more customer-centric approach and works on attraction, essentially, allowing your customers to come to you on their terms, and not irritating those customers. Content marketing, SEO and email marketing, as well as content repurposing, all combine here to increase awareness of your organisation and products as well as generate leads without having sales reps continually ring to arrange meetings. Those already engaged with inbound saw the benefits of this approach last year when COVID-19 restricted face-to-face meetings. If you missed out in 2020, avoid doing the same in 2021.


Lesson # 7: Focus on building an audience and generating leads

Building a B2B audience and generating leads in the pharmaceutical sectors is often an end product of the digital marketing plan. As a tactic, it’s now highly common but it is an activity that will provide multiple benefits for the marketer and organisation running such campaigns.

An audience, as stated by The Startup, is made of people that: “Read your stuff once, but then later consciously return to read your content, actively seek to consume new content from you and usually sign up to get content from you in any ‘push’ mechanism.” Audiences can be built via programmes that include webinars, social media, blogging, third-party vendors… there is a range of content marketing options in pharma. We propose that organisations regularly publish content within a series. Creating such programmes, often within a series, is the most important element for building audiences; without it, your audience has nothing to engage with and come back to engage with again. Two (or three) pieces of linked content always helps bring readers back also and such content can also be repurposed to maximize ROI, further building your audience and generate more leads via other channels.


Lesson # 8: Get into the habit of experimenting and optimizing everything

Within the e-book, there are whole chapters on optimizing websites, landing pages and forms so that your campaigns are performing at their highest. As I write this post, I am also testing LinkedIn Sponsored Content (promoting this e-book) via a range of ads in different regions with different imagery, messaging and calls-to-action to determine which is performing best. Mainly, for future campaigns.

Slight improvements can always be made to campaigns - websites can convert better, email marketing opens can be improved and social media ads and posts can always generate more clicks - that can result in huge improvements in metrics if all of our touch-points are optimized. We should always be experimenting and getting into the habit of improving what we already have.


Lesson # 9: A digital marketing plan needs to be created and documented

Often, marketing activities are determined by what we’ve always done in the past without knowing if what we are doing is making a difference and often, we act on dated assumptions the drive the work we are conducting. A digital marketing plan, following our 6-stage structure, reviews previous activity and other factors to determine the digital marketing plan.

The digital marketing plan includes the budgets, channels and the ideas which will take the pharmaceutical organisation, and its products and services, forward in the current landscape. Follow the SOSTAC model from the e-book, where the plan looks at and documents the six stages (SOSTAC) of the digital marketing plan

  • Situation analysis, 
  • Objectives, 
  • Strategy, 
  • Tactics, 
  • Actions and 
  • Control. 


Whether you’re embarking on a digital marketing campaign or looking to plan your annual or even 3-5 month digital plan, SOSTAC can be used to determine whether your plan is likely to succeed as well as keep you on track during the execution of the plan.


Lesson # 10: Get up to speed with digital (if  you aren't  already)

Over the past year, we have seen an increased amount of organisations moving away from their traditional-based marketing plans and adopting more digital marketing strategies and tactics. Opportunities for face-to-face interactions with potential customers are now limited so pharma organisations are all turning to digital. The problem, of course, is that many marketers and sales representatives have operated from traditional marketing plans all their careers. Digital marketing is relatively new and unknown.

Follow the 10 steps in this post on kick-starting your new digital marketing strategy which will help get things moving and download the free 100-page digital marketing guide in the pharmaceutical sectors that expands on the digital lessons here. 


Source: Orientation Marketing  Image source: Pixabay.com



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