By Nicki Pow, Head of Delivery (digital & design), ramarketing
Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “The only constant in life is change.” And how right he was.
For the last few years, we have lived in a period of constant change with many variables outside of our control.
Change directly impacts our choices, behaviours, and opinions as consumers – and pharma brands must now work harder than ever to tune into what their customers truly need. Whether it’s a preference for owned, earned, or paid media, customers often opt for digital interaction as opposed to in-person communications. By 2025 it is predicted that 80% of B2B sales will be online.
Whilst pharma and biotech companies have long preferred traditional marketing techniques such as sales from in-person trade shows and print advertising, they must move to where their customer is if they’re going to execute and maintain successful marketing strategies. And the customer is, undoubtedly, online.
Pharma companies need to realise this and act accordingly to meet the customer where they’re at by adopting an ‘always on’ digital communications plan where the customer experience is at the forefront. Moving towards a digital customer-centric plan, where people receive around-the-clock answers to their queries and support whenever they need it, is vital.
Below I discuss three ways that pharma companies can redefine their approach to online communications and create a digital footprint that meets the needs of consumers, as well as the needs of the business.
Unlike third-party data that is available to many different companies, first-party data is unique to your business. It is data that you own and collect with direct consent from consumers, through conducting 121 interviews, or in response to marketing initiatives such as email surveys or polls conducted on social channels.
Third-party data has developed a poor reputation lately with trust moving away from cookies (that collect data) as consumers become increasingly anxious and concerned about the privacy of their personal information and details.
Adopting a first-party data strategy allows organisations to really understand their audience, whether that be employees, customers, or prospective customers, so content can be tailored accordingly to gain maximum reach and impact.
Plans should be curated around customer questions and needs, but most importantly, the content you produce needs to be positioned in places where it is going to be visible to them. To do this, you really need to understand what platforms your audience is using to consume information – whether that be publications, social media, or podcasts for example.
Now is the time for pharma companies to focus on gathering their own data and one of the best ways to do this is by conducting interviews or using a correctly positioned email survey that ties in with an overall marketing campaign. This allows you to gain a better understanding of your audience and where they consume their information, so you can tailor your strategy accordingly and really narrow down your marketing activity.
This refinement will lead to increased engagement at all levels of the marketing funnel creating a strong online presence, which in turn, increases sales and new client acquisition. Effective email strategies also help to develop strong relationships with customers and enable you to enhance customer relationship management.
The 9-5 approach is long gone with increased flexible working and international time zones. Customer experience has changed and an ‘always on’ approach has become the norm with around-the-clock answers to questions or queries now expected.
It is increasingly important to make sure your website contains relevant service and contact information and can answer questions that customers or potential customers may have 24/7.
Making sure you are on top of your communications is vital – be quick to respond and deliver consistent messaging across all your channels to create trust and a strong brand presence.
By truly understanding your audience and knowing what they need and where they want to see it, you can ensure your website information is easily accessible, relevant, and most importantly up to date.
Best practice tips include adding customer testimonials that are trust-based reviews by others, you can highlight your services/products and ensure your content is relevant to the types of customers you want to attract.
Utilise social media insights to gain an understanding of the best times, days, and channels to post on to engage with the different regions you work across.
As the pharma industry grows and companies expand their reach internationally, it is important to make sure that you are available across different time zones and channels to gain the maximum reach for your audience.
Branded search is a paid search campaign where you bid on your own brand terms, this allows you to appear at the very top of the search results and protects your brand from competitors who might be bidding on your brand terms as well as their own.
Branded search campaigns are a vital part of any digital footprint, regardless of how good your organic brand presence is. This is increasingly important for big brands as other companies can bid on your brand name to appear ahead of you in organic listings and steal some of the traffic that should have gone to you.
Branded search terms allow pharma companies to have better control of brand messaging, by tailoring the content that is displayed in the ads, allowing marketers to be more creative and engage with their audience’s using imagery or even video.
There is a crossover in terms of the impact that Pay Per Click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can have. Although paid ads do not help a company’s organic rankings, there is evidence they can improve click-through rate (CTR), driving more leads directly to the website.
Redefining a digital footprint is something all pharma and biotech companies must do to achieve and sustain long-term and effective marketing strategies. Whilst their comfort zone might focus on traditional marketing such as print, direct mail, and in-person events – online communications is where they must focus their attention.
Redefining and re-establishing a digital footprint that meets the target market demand will help create marketing success for pharma and biotech organisations.
Working with a specialist digital agency is beneficial to companies in the life science space as they understand the sector, the needs of customers and stakeholders, and have the knowledge and expertise to execute international communication plans.