Mar 1, 2019

5 Digital Marketing Strategies for the Pharma Industry

by Digital Marketing Institute

Digital has already transformed the pharma and healthcare industry in many ways such as greater levels of transparency, patient communication and drug development.

In addition, due to its unrivalled cost-effectiveness, digital marketing strategies offer a variety of meaningful ways to connect and treat prospective clients and customers.

In this article, we explore the key trends and tactics that will help marketers in the pharma industry to use digital marketing to promote, engage and grow.

1) Value-driven content creation

One of the most significant transformations seen by digital’s influence on the pharma industry is the fact that pharmaceutical companies are no longer the sole gatekeepers or providers of the information surrounding their treatments or products.

Through online communities, mobile applications and a wealth of web content, people now have wide access to a range of pharma-based insights. By creating targeted, value-driven branded content that offers prospective or current patients insight into relevant information, you can grow your audience, significantly.

By providing answers to common patient pain points in an inspiring, engaging way alongside demonstrating transparency, you will grow your audience while fostering trust and positioning your brand as a thought-leader.

As an international healthcare brand, Johnson & Johnson are renowned for their wealth of inspiring content marketing initiatives but of all its campaigns, its ‘Care Inspires Care’ campaign is perhaps the most inspiring.

Boasting the perfect mix of value-driven, blog content, emotive messaging, social media posts, and eye-grabbing visuals, this particular campaign honed in on the importance of caring for one another. By prompting people to share their random acts of care through Facebook and supporting the campaign with a host of share-worthy content, the brand encouraged a total of 26 million acts of care - and counting.

Top tip: When building a campaign around a particular product or topic, develop an emotive message that will encourage a wealth of user-generated content, using a well-crafted hashtag as a vessel for social sharing.

2) Augmented & Virtual Reality

By 2022, the consumer VR software market is expected to grow to a worth of $16.3 billion.

As VR and AR technology becomes an increasingly integrated part of our everyday lives, pharmaceutical companies can use this immersive technology to break down walls between its business and clients, partners, patients or consumers.

Despite AR and VR adoption in the pharma industry is in its infancy, some companies are already using immersive apps and tactics. These technologies not only place people at the heart of the business but can offer information and care through virtual clinics and product demonstrations.

To help people empathize with friends or loved ones that suffer from migraines while helping to promote its products and research, GlaxoSmithKline brand, Excedrin, developed a VR-driven campaign named, The Migraine Experience.

Using a VR headset, migraine sufferers were able to program their specific symptoms (including blind spots, auras and sensitivity to light) before handing it over to their loved one so they could experience the traumas for themselves, filming the results to create video content.

Not only did this campaign spark up a host of positive conversations and engagements, but it earned it a notable boost in profits within just two weeks of its launch.

Top tip: When using AR or VR for digital marketing, use it to place your audience at the heart of the narrative, offering a unique opportunity to live and breathe yourbrand mission, treatment or product.

Find out how we helped transform the digital capabilities of Straumann's senior marketing team.

3) AI-powered assistants and messaging apps

Droves of businesses across the globe are using messaging apps including Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to engage with prospects and spark up meaningful dialogues. For the pharma industry, this trend presents a unique opportunity to hold personal conversations with your customers, patients or partners.

With pharma brands like Johnson & Johnson and MedxNote using chatbots as pivotal parts of their marketing and communications strategies, it’s expected that many more industry players will follow suit in the not so distant future.

By using autonomous machine learning chatbots to improve organization efficiency, conduct key tasks and answer client, patient or customer queries, pharma brands stand to increase productivity while enhancing their overall customer experience (CX) offerings - something that’s expected to surpass both price and product as the main brand differentiator by the end of 2020.

Top tip: Chatbots are incredibly versatile and earning the trust of the public all the time. In fact, 37% of Americans would use a chatbot in an emergency. The use of chatbots in communications across social messaging will result in a rise in customer experience levels and provide valuable data to help improve strategies, communications and products.

4) Influencers

70% of millennials are influenced by the recommendations of their peers while 90% of 18 to 24-year-olds trust medical information acquired through social media while one-third of the U.S adults search online to understand a medical condition.

So, there’s great opportunity for pharma brands that work with respected industry influencers and thought-leaders.

Jack Perkins and Amcal - Instagram

A great example is Amcal Pharmacy. To boost its brand awareness while educating people, the brand teamed up with diabetic supercar driver, Jack Perkins.

By publishing Instagram posts offering an insight into his personal journey and how Amcal helps him manage his condition, the pharmacy benefited from exposure to the supercar driver’s 21,000 followers. In addition, Jack's sponsored post (above) generated 1,397 likes, 33 comments, and an engagement rate of 7%.

Top tip: When working with influencers, make sure you take the time to foster meaningful professional relationships that will benefit your brand on a long-term basis. To help you with your efforts, here’s a list of the top 25 pharma industry influencers.

5) The blockchain

In the digital age, trust and transparency are essential components to success. As the pharma industry becomes more informational, offering a far more direct line of communication between provider and consumer, remaining open and trustworthy is no longer optional, now it’s compulsory.

Although this is yet to be explored to its fullest potential, implementing blockchain technology as part of your digital marketing strategy could help promote organizational growth and evolution.

To help familiarize yourself with the blockchain, here’s an explanatory video:

This decentralized technology is expected to have an industry worth $5.6 billion by 2025, and in addition to offering digestible access to critical patient data and helping to decrease scams and acts of fraud, the blockchain stands to significantly improve among medical donors and recipients.

While such elements aren’t directly related to marketing, by showcasing efficiency, accuracy and transparency, your brand could grow over time using blockchain in the coming years.

Top tip: Remain abreast of the latest blockchain-related trends and advancements by reading related publications regularly.

Final thoughts

These five digital marketing strategies will help to increase your chances of sustainable pharma industry success.

By adopting the above approaches, you will improve your CX across all touchpoints, thereby offering a superior level of customer and patient care - which, fundamentally, is the primary goal for any top pharmaceutical business.

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