The Evolution of Digital Marketing in Pharma: Trends and Strategies

If you pay attention to marketing trends, you’ll notice how different industries are going digital with their marketing strategies while Big Pharma seems to lag. 

One explanation has been the heavy regulation and need for compliance that marks the industry, but is that an excuse to remain in the 90s on Pharma marketing strategies? Read on to find out! 

This article explores why this lag and how the pharmaceutical industry can stay up-to-date with digital marketing trends in the evolving healthcare landscape. 

Table of Contents

What’s Pharma Marketing All About?

Unlike regular marketing, which involves just promoting a product, Pharma marketing refers to the professional art of convincing stakeholders of pharmaceutical products. These stakeholders are mostly healthcare professionals, such as doctors, pharmacists, and patients. 

The uniqueness of pharma marketing lies in distilling and breaking down complex medical jargon into simple day-to-day language for the layman to understand and take buying action. Most importantly, pharma marketing stands on a solid foundation of trust, as its products concern human life. 

Moreover, it’s a multi-billion dollar market that only thrives on trusted relationships. Talk about a total market value of $1.48 trillion (Estimate for 2022); players in this space can’t afford to joke with integrity. 

These key factors are what make pharma marketing more than boosting brand visibility. Patient education, treatment effectiveness, and overall desirable health outcomes are crucial. 

Why is Pharmaceutical Digital Marketing Important?

For understandable reasons of regulation, the pharmaceutical industry has been slow to adopt digital marketing strategies. Nonetheless, pharmaceutical companies will experience a boost in sales and overall growth when they adopt pharmaceutical digital marketing. 

Here are a few reasons pharmaceutical companies should take up digital marketing: 

Targeted and Personalized Marketing

Gone are the days of generalized ads and TV commercials. In 2023, pharma marketers enjoy higher conversion by sending personalized messages through various digital channels (omnichannel marketing). 

Through digital marketing, you can tailor your email campaigns to audience segments (grouped by profession, specialty, age, gender, and the like). For example, an immunologist may need a rapid response to queries, while marketing and a general practitioner may require you to identify when they’ll be free to engage. 

Data-driven Marketing 

Digital marketing enables pharma companies to understand HCP and patients’ preferences, especially with CRM and CLM tools. With data-driven marketing, you can understand how HCPs perceive different diseases, how fatal they are, and the best treatment choice. 

Companies can then maximize such data-rich knowledge to develop effective marketing strategies and health education programs. The sales rep armed with data stands a better chance of convincing HCPs as they’ll supply relevant and previously unknown information. 

Return-on-investment (ROI)

Tracking what works out of your digital marketing campaigns is now easier than ever. You can know which channels deliver the best results for your market segment. Furthermore, you can even track content performance in real-time, such as the opening rates of marketing emails. This way, the marketing team is sure of where and where not to spend money. 

The Influence of Regulation on Pharma Digital Marketing

Online Marketing by Pixabay

Compliance (with industry regulations) is a big word when making your pharma marketing digital. The pharmaceutical industry is heavily regulated, with countless rules on what audience to promote and how you do so. 

Breaking these rules, whether on-site or on digital channels, can attract heavy consequences, both by punishment and implication. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires promotional content to be accurate, not misleading, and supported by scientific evidence. 

It’s therefore essential that Pharma companies looking to adopt digital marketing are aware of these regulations and how best to comply with them while still maximizing profits. Here are a few tips on how to go about this: 

Learn the Rules

You can only comply with the rules you are aware of. So, the first step to ensure compliance is to get everyone in the company on the same page as touching FDA (U.S.), EMA (Canada), or other local guidelines. 

Create a Detailed Compliance Plan

As the saying goes, “He who fails to plan already plans to fail.” Your plan should include a systematic training process, content approval processes, and how to handle potential breaches of regulations. 

Clarity and Accuracy of Information

Your company’s content should be clear, accurate, and not deceiving. Unlike other industries, exaggerating product effectiveness, overlooking risk, or supporting off-label usage will do more harm than good in the Pharma industry. 

Employ Strict Record-keeping Procedures

Please store all promotional materials in an orderly, including their time and venue/distribution platform. A culture like this will prove invaluable during an audit. 

Get Legal Support and Counsel

No one navigates the law better than the lawyers. With their expertise, you can avoid compliance issues and save yourself from headaches. 

Six Digital Marketing Strategies for the Pharmaceutical Industry

Let’s look at some specific strategies you can adopt to boost your pharmaceutical digital marketing efforts. From established methods like social media marketing to recent trends like AI, here are some tactics you can use:

  1. Produce Branded and Value-packed Content

By value-packed content, we mean every line educates the reader, and there’s no fluff. The pharmaceutical industry is a “serious” place with little allowance for jokes. 

Whether it’s a video or written content to educate patients or promotional content for HCPs, the material should be insightful while complying with regulations and backed up by scientific evidence. If your audience consists of doctors and pharmacists, you’d want to go for in-depth articles and reviews on recent clinical studies. 

Patients will need more empathetic content like animation videos and simplified blog posts that explain how your products work. Ensure you align your materials to your brand’s guidelines while crafting them. 

  1. Leverage a CLM/CRM Platform

CLM stands for Closed-Loop Marketing, while CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. Closed-loop marketing is a digital marketing strategy that helps your company identify the most effective source of your leads and channel your resources toward maximizing that source. 

With CLM, you can make data-driven decisions that make your digital marketing campaigns more effective. 

For example, Platforce is software that employs closed-loop marketing strategies to improve ROI. With Platforce, you can collect and analyze data across your digital marketing efforts. You can get data from customer interactions, website analytics, and ad campaigns, which helps you make more informed marketing decisions and investments. 

  1. Use Social Media Influencers
Content creators by Pexels

Compliance issues indeed make digital marketing difficult for pharmaceutical companies; nonetheless, there’s one area you can leverage: Influencer Marketing. It’s a type of social media marketing where pharmaceutical companies get respected HCPs or patients who share their recovery journeys to promote your brand on their digital channels.

The Influencer you choose must be someone who aligns with your brand values and won’t cause you any controversies. 

For example, partnering with a sports doctor or a respected athlete to share the benefits of your joint health medication on their Instagram page could reach a broad audience that respects their opinions. 

Ensure to vet partnerships with influencers and any released content for compliance with regulations. Your Influencer should also be able to explain the collaboration to foster transparency and compliance with FTC guidelines. 

  1. Integrate Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Whether you love AI or not, it has come to stay, and it’s only wise to adopt and integrate it into your pharmaceutical digital marketing strategy. 

AI has proved useful across different business fronts — whether as a chatbot for customer support, answering FAQs about your drugs, or giving detailed predictive analysis based on previous performance. Ensure your AI respects privacy and reflects transparency on your digital channels. 

  1. Optimize Your Website for Google Search 
SEO by Pixabay

With search engines at the tip of our fingers, it’s now easier and faster for pharmaceutical companies to reach a wider audience. Patients and healthcare professionals now depend on website content for guidance. 

However, you can only get them by optimising your website to appear when they search for related keywords. Using relevant meta tags, revamping your website for SEO, and uploading SEO-friendly content are some digital marketing tricks you can try. 

If your company specializes in antihypertensive drugs, using keywords like “drug for hypertension” or “drug for high blood pressure” in your content can boost your visibility. 

  1. Host Webinars and Virtual Events 

A virtual event is a unique tool for establishing thought leadership in 2023. You can do a product presentation, engage patients on a disease, or discuss the latest research findings. Webinars are a great way to get first-party data about anything. 

As a Pharma manufacturer, you can host a webinar to explain the mechanism of action of your latest drug; then, you can include a Q&A session for attendees to ask questions. There are little better ways to establish your company as a thought leader on that drug or subject. 

Final Thoughts

Every Pharma business that intends to scale needs to adopt efficient digital marketing strategies like targeted and personalized marketing, and leverage CLM/CRM platforms to ease the burden of developing data-driven marketing strategies that produce the marketing results they need for growth.

As the marketing landscape continues to evolve and as digitalization front-runs this evolution, CLMs have become an everyday requirement for growing Pharma businesses, and here’s how you can take charge of digital opportunities to grow your Pharma businesses.

With our CLM platform, you can manage your entire digital marketing strategy from one software mainly built for Pharma and Life Science companies. You can also:

  • Book follow-up calls right after meeting with a prospective client.
  • Automatically trigger emails based on your prospects’ actions.
  • Increase HCPs’ engagement rate with interactive e-detailers 
  • Collect and manage client consent forms with ease.
  • Stay up-to-date on marketing trends and useful innovations for your Pharma business.