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Pharma marketing in 2021: The key digital skills and tools to invest in for your team this year

Author's avatar By Gabrielle Wright 15 Jan, 2021
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As digital transformation continues to shape the new relationship between healthcare providers and their customers, upskill your pharma marketing team with the key digital skills and tools to improve performance

The question of the key digital skills and tools in the pharma industry is an ongoing challenge. Pharma marketing generalists plan and optimize marketing strategies, campaigns and product launches, requiring a T-shaped digital skillset and continuous professional development to oversee all marketing activity. Pharma digital specialists manage day-to-day optimization of key digital channels, the new front-line of customer engagement. Investment in tools and training for these staff is crucial for your company's growth. Of course, the breakdown of these channels will depend on your pharma company's positioning and target markets, which we will visit further on in the article.

Why invest in digital marketing for pharma?

Improved distribution of, and accessibility to, pharmaceutical data and information is accelerating customer-centric disruption in the pharma industry. More and more customers are utilizing online content such as price comparison sites and social media discussion forums above recommendations from their doctor to inform their personal healthcare decision marking. So, rather than just relying on traditional routes to the customer, such as B2B sales reps, pharma marketing teams also need to convert customers directly, in the digital landscape.

Pharma marketing key digital skills and tools

The breakdown below follows the customer journey over the RACE Framework of Reach, Act, Convert and Engage. The priority digital skills and tools to acquire Pharma customers can be categorized broadly by channels:

  • SEO
  • Paid media
  • Digital experience
  • Email
  • Omnichannel customer onboarding through the RACE Framework

We will touch on these skills and tools below, including industry examples and next steps for your business.

REACH marketing skills to defend your pharma market share

As new therapies continue to be approved, legacy pharma and new/ non-pharma industries are competing for market share. Pharma marketing skills in paid media and SEO have been highlighted as key skills to reach customers in the crowded market place.

Picture it this way - you might have the perfect product for your customer, but, if they don't see you when they search with high-intent keywords, you won't reach your customer. This is the case for both SEO and PPC display advertising. As a simple incognito Google search will show - there is a lot of competition for high-value pharma keywords.

Pharma marketing display ads

Pharma Ads local SEO

Pharma Ads high intent

Optimize your digital marketing strategy to reach more customers by applying the RACE Framework to win more pharma customers.

The REACH dashboard in our RACE Practical Digital Strategy Learning Path has tools to support you and your team to:

  • Review media performance
  • Understand consumer keyword search behaviour​
  • Define acquisition budget and plan

The RACE Growth Process is a tried-and-tested methodology with tools, templates and training to support the growth of your pharma and healthcare organization. Start today.

Can your Pharma or Healthcare business compete online?

With so much competition, you need to stand out. Use the RACE Growth Process to win more customers

Get started now
Build your personal brand

ACT marketing skills for pharma lead generation

Digital experience is crucial to ACT strategy for all digital marketers, but at this time even more so for Pharma brands. Shifting consumer expectations and demands have encouraged digital innovation in the sector such as disease quizzes (+9% in adoption rate year over year) and customizable discussion guides (+7%). If you want to increase customer interaction on your website or digital channels, high-quality interactive content will help you capture more leads, such as this quiz by Vitamin Buddy.

Digital experience quiz vitamins

But it's not just the quantity of leads that's important, you also want to ensure your capture leads that are a good fit for your digital proposition. This chart, from our lead scoring and grading tool in the RACE Practical Digital Strategy Learning Path, demonstrates a grading process for your potential pharma customers. You may refer to hot leads as MQLs or SQLs.

Pharma Lead generation

Optimize your digital marketing strategy to capture more MQLs and SQLs by applying the RACE Framework to win more pharma customers.

The ACT dashboard in our RACE Practical Digital Strategy Learning Path has tools to support you and your team to:

  • Improve website customer journeys
  • Define landing pages
  • Define data capture and profiling

The RACE Growth Process is a tried-and-tested methodology with tools, templates and training to support the growth of your pharma and healthcare organization. Start today.

Can your Pharma or Healthcare business compete online?

With so much competition, you need to stand out. Use the RACE Growth Process to win more customers

Get started now
Build your personal brand

CONVERT marketing skills to sell your pharma product or service

Pharma email marketing is a huge untapped opportunity in the industry, with the 2020 median unique email open rate for 'hospitals, healthcare & biotech' standing at an eye-watering 26.4%. Yet, email strategy has been highlighted as an area where many pharma marketers 'lag behind', bar the market leaders. Currently, email ROI across the board averages $42 for every $1 spent, so a little investment can go a long way.

Email marketing open rates

But it's not all about open rates - the real value of email for today's pharma/healthcare marketer is the plethora of sophisticated conversion tactics this channel opens up.

As a Boots newsletter subscriber with behaviour in-line with a woman in her 30s, I received this email a couple of days ago employing personalized content marketing.

Boots email content channel

Of course, the ongoing seasonal trends around health and wellness will look completely different for other segments of your target market. Using a planned approach enables digital marketers to convert customers in-line with their wants and needs, and potential pain points - through email and other targeted channels too.

Optimize your digital marketing strategy to increase your conversions and win more customers by applying the RACE Framework for growth.

The CONVERT dashboard in our RACE Practical Digital Strategy Learning Path has tools to support you and your team to:

  • Set up email nurture and retargeting
  • Optimize web personalization
  • Plus, advanced marketing training - Conversion optimization

The RACE Growth Process is a tried-and-tested methodology with tools, templates and training to support the growth of your pharma and healthcare organization. Start today.

Can your Pharma or Healthcare business compete online?

With so much competition, you need to stand out. Use the RACE Growth Process to win more customers

Get started now
Build your personal brand

ENGAGE marketing skills to retain your pharma customers

The final element of your pharma digital marketing strategy, customer engagement, has potentially the biggest impact for your marketing ROI, since Reach, Act and Convert are all high-budget activities that drive customers down the marketing funnel to their first sale.

Once you've won your customer, your biggest priority now is to accelerate your ROI through engagement to encourage repeat purchases (including up-selling and cross-selling) through customer onboarding.

Our customer onboarding and growth training, in the RACE Practical Digital Strategy Learning Path, demonstrates customer satisfaction through the customer adoption curve.

Customer retention and satisfaction

Interestingly, digital marketing, through relationship building and targeted communication directly with the customer, puts you in the perfect position to do this, as opposed to traditional routes where customers may build relationships with a number of different pharmacists or specialists in their lifetime and the previous pharma relationships are lost.

So, how do you retain your online customers? It's not surprising that when it comes to 'your money or your life' decisions, trust and customer experience are key factors. Gartner’s consumer values data shows that, while health is increasingly important to U.S. consumers, they are demanding the delivery of that healthcare on their terms. That means putting the customer at the heart of your business.

We have resources to support you in engaging your customers, as demonstrated above, through the application of the RACE Framework end-to-end to win and retain more pharma customers, using the ENGAGE dashboard in our RACE Practical Digital Strategy Learning Path to:

Set up customer onboarding and growth
Improve customer service and success
Use social media to support a marketing campaign

The RACE Growth Process is a tried-and-tested methodology with tools, templates and training to support the growth of your pharma and healthcare organization. Start today.

Can your Pharma or Healthcare business compete online?

With so much competition, you need to stand out. Use the RACE Growth Process to win more customers

Get started now
Build your personal brand

Digital marketing - upskill or outsource?

It could be argued that some specialist digital marketing activities can be outsourced to agencies or consultants. But I maintain that when it comes to your key digital marketing channels, these are too important to be outsourced, and a good level of knowledge and control in-house will sustain your growth.

With the right skills and tools, your pharma marketing team can plan, manage and optimize marketing strategies to reach, convert and engage their target markets, whilst developing their expertise, with the RACE Framework.

Pharma marketing skills and tools for 2021

The next step is to start your journey with Smart Insights and discover how applying the RACE Framework can accelerate your growth. Get started today.

Can your Pharma or Healthcare business compete online?

With so much competition, you need to stand out. Use the RACE Growth Process to win more customers

Get started now
Build your personal brand

Author's avatar

By Gabrielle Wright

Gabrielle Wright is the Smart Insights blog editor, managing the company's SEO and social media strategies. With specialisms in marketing for the pharmaceutical/healthcare industry, financial services, manufacturing, IT/high tech, brands and e-commerce, Gabrielle can generally be found in her second-floor Bingley terrace home office, with a cup of tea, reading and writing about marketing theory and its practical application in the global economy! You can connect with Gabrielle on LinkedIn.

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