For digital marketing to truly deliver on its potential, most pharmas have to face and fix four interrelated issues. The first has to do with reforming the organizational structure of marketing and sales to empower digital as a primary, not ancillary, channel. The next two issues underpin the first, namely developing robust, marketing-related analytics and moving to better funding of digital. The fourth issue, and the topic of this report, is the need for digital teams and brands overall to shift from an adolescent tactic-based marketing approach to a more-mature strategic approach centered on the customer experience. Vanguard companies taking a more holistic approach to developing strategy consider customer pain points and needs along the treatment journey, along with digital audits and competitive reviews in the process, all within the context of overarching brand goals. The remaining companies are either still tactically focused and media-specific or reliant on customer digital insights alone. This report makes a case for why digital marketers need to embrace a more-robust strategic approach to multichannel marketing and includes hypothetical digital strategic plans for rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

Questions Answered in This Report:

  • How have pharmas’ customers evolved? In the early 2000s, physicians, who were highly autonomous with regard to treatment decisions, were pharma’s primary customer. By the mid 2000s, the patient empowerment movement was well on its way, and most brands dedicated significant budgets toward influencing the final treatment decision via this audience. More recently, nurses, pharmacists, payers, and organizational customers have become critical.

  • How should pharma approach serving an increasingly complex market? To adapt to emerging commercial demands, pharma will need to leverage a more-sophisticated strategic approach based on the needs and pain points of their customers, the competitive digital landscape, digital customer profiles, and overarching brand goals among other potential data sets.

  • How strong is the value proposition of digital? To remain effective and relevant in an increasingly digitized healthcare market, pharma must maximize the potential of digital messaging and service by evolving their marketing approach. In the U.S., 65% of physicians are triple-screen users for work, 43% of online consumers digitally track their health, 45% of smartphone-owning consumers use health apps, and 23% of online consumers use patient portals.
Author(s): Monique Levy, M.A.
Sonu Kori, M.B.A.