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Pharmaceutical marketing strategies: 3 recommendations for your 2021 marketing plan

Author's avatar By Gabrielle Wright 24 Nov, 2020
Essential Essential topic

Read up on our latest pharmaceutical marketing strategy recommendations to optimize your marketing plan and convert more customers over the next 12 months

Take stock heading into 2021 after what has been a challenging year for pharmaceutical marketers, healthcare, medical and high-science marketers, and all who work in the industry. The strategic evaluation and forecasting season that comes with year-end means many of you are scanning, benchmarking, and prioritizing to strengthen your pharmaceutical marketing strategies for the coming year.

When getting ready for 2021, before even looking at your strategy it's essential to revisit your planning framework. So, let's quickly take a whistlestop tour of why the RACE Framework is the key to setting up your pharmaceutical marketing strategy for success.

Using the RACE Framework to plan your pharmaceutical marketing strategy

The RACE Framework is a practical framework to help manage and improve results from your digital marketing. When planning your overall marketing strategies, ultimately, it’s about using a data-driven approach, applying web analytics and recommended best practices to get more commercial value from your investments in pharmaceutical marketing.

In particular, the RACE Framework is crucial for marketing strategies as complex and nuanced as those in the field of pharma or healthcare marketing, where customer focus is imperative.

Amy Graham, Client Engagement Officer, Ogilvy Health, describes building a brand story for high-science therapy as like 'weaving a fine tapestry, where all of the threads need to come together seamlessly to deliver the most compelling picture'.

In this case, each of your digital channels sits within your marketing strategy, which I suppose makes us marketers the weavers of the story! But, how can you manage and optimize your channels to work together and convert more customers? That's where the RACE Framework can help us:

The Race Framework

To deliver a compelling picture - and, more importantly, to convert your customers - you can plan your pharmaceutical marketing strategy around the RACE Framework of:

  • Reach (search engines, social networks, publishers and blogs)
  • Act (your website, blog, community and interactive tools)
  • Convert (e-commerce, product, price and promotion)
  • Engage (customer advocacy)

The 3 recommendations outlined below all stem from RACE, and each recommendation references a module from the appropriate Learning Path, providing a step-by-step process that you can rapidly implement to get set for success.

1) Unleash Digital Transformation to add value to your customer experience

Sheila Curr in Customer Strategist discusses What Healthcare CX Looks Like in a New Reality from the point of view of a 'bricks and mortar' healthcare provider gone digital.

Talking about Digital Transformation in healthcare, pharma, high-science or medical marketing is a very hot topic, and no doubt your competitor analysis is telling you the same. What's really exciting about Sheila's quote is the scope of the rapid transformation that has taken place in the industry and the opportunities that presents to us as marketers.

"We are currently talking to all of our customers as far as what their roadmap looks like. And it is changing on a daily basis as we moved all of our clients to work at home, and we literally emptied out our call centers and our brick and mortar sites.

Our thought was there will be a period of time in that we would have them at work at home and the clients’ expectation would be, “Okay, let's get back into brick and mortar.”

There's been a few of our clients who have already talked about when do we start the thought process around bringing it back in house. But I would say the vast majority have gone the other way, they're asking us to build out plans for bringing their business potentially 100% work at home ongoing."

With healthcare and pharma touchpoints rapidly transforming, there is an opportunity for marketers to refresh the digital elements of their marketing strategies to reap benefits. This is not simply a matter of replicating customer experience touchpoints from a marketing perspective, but a question of evaluating and prioritizing opportunities to add value with digital marketing.

Our Digital Transformation Learning Path outlines 4 strategic digital priorities to improve customer experience:

  • Media strategy: Paid, owned and earned digital media, which are used to gain an always-on pharma presence and support specific pharma campaign activity
  • Digital experience strategy: For creating a pharma platform to support selling on desktop and mobile
  • People resources: For implementing your pharmaceutical marketing strategies
  • Governance: Controls on the process and measurement for integrating digital marketing and traditional marketing, as well as sales processes, into your strategy

The graphic below demonstrates the strategic digital marketing initiatives scoring matrix, which Business Professional users can implement to define digital priorities.

Pharmaceutical marketing strategy priorities

Your pharmaceutical businesses' Digital Transformation strategy next steps

Digital Transformation is a crucial element of marketing for pharma and healthcare companies this year. It simply cannot be ignored any longer! While Digital Transformation can be a long process (arguably it is continuous as tech continues to evolve at a rapid pace), we have identified some quick wins to help managers and marketers kick-off their digital optimization and demonstrate the value of transformation in this way. Find out more.

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
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2) Build trust through customer-centric content marketing

Content marketing is your go-to pharmaceutical marketing channel for building trust in your reputation - for both customers and the algorithms that determine your SEO rankings.

If content marketing is successful, it can boost your goals in all parts of your pharmaceutical marketing funnel at each part of the RACE Framework:

  • Reach: Pharma content marketing boosts your reach by arming you with share-worthy content to increase awareness and high-ranking positions in search engines
  • Act: Good quality pharma content encourages customers to act for their own benefit, such as by signing up for a pharma-related newsletter to receive more pharma content
  • Convert: The pharma content on your website plays a pivotal role in online and ROPO conversions and sales
  • Engagement: Investing in useful, customer-centric pharma content for customer engagement increases your retention and repeat sales (saving you money on reach, act, and convert in the future). Engaged, retained customers breed advocacy, which in turn influences more future customers

Producing high-quality content will also build your reputation as a pharmaceutical company your customers can trust, which, according to Edelman's annual trust barometer, must remain a priority for all pharmaceutical marketers.

Pharmaceutical marketing strategies to build trust

Matching high-quality customer-centric content on your pharmaceutical website with your customer's search behavior will also enable you to build a strong SEO foundation to grow and maintain relevant traffic.

Your pharmaceutical businesses' Content Marketing strategy next steps

Creating good B2B content is hard. But, done right, it's an invaluable asset for pharmaceutical companies looking for growth. That's why we've designed our Content Marketing Learning Path to support content marketers in using data and trends to inform their strategies.

Plus, our Content Marketing Learning Path is integrated within the RACE Framework, since content marketing relies so heavily on channel strategies for thought-through effective distribution. So you can be confident that your marketing strategy is joined up across the customer lifecycle. Find out more.

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

3) Apply the right media attribution and modeling to your marketing reporting

Finally, you've implemented your plan, you're managing your strategy, and you start seeing results - congratulations! But, when a sale or a lead is generated, do you know how much credit you should assign to different marketing channels when achieving an objective?

We know that pharmaceutical marketing strategies are particularly complex, this means media attribution and modeling in this industry are more important than ever. When you're prioritizing and planning for 2021, make sure you use this recommendation to inform your data-driven strategies. Welcome to attribution!

Pharmaceutical marketing strategic model attribution

Pharmaceutical marketing is naturally an extremely customer-focused industry, but depending on their purchase behavior, or your investment in digital media, your pharma customers may go through many purchase steps and see multiple marketing messages before they decide to buy from you. So how do you attribute value to your channels?

The Multi-Channel Funnel in Google Analytics allows you to attribute marketing value by:

  • Last interaction
  • Last non-direct click
  • Last Google Ads click
  • First interaction
  • Linear
  • Time decay
  • Position based

Last interaction pharmaceutical marketing strategies

As you can see, media attribution is a crucial strategic tool for all pharmaceutical marketers, since well-developed strategies will regularly track conversions from a number of different digital channels.

You can learn more about this strategic recommendation, including accessing a step-by-step process to put it into place in our Google Analytics Learning Path, integrated across the RACE Framework.

Implementation to strengthen your pharmaceutical marketing strategies in 2021

In conclusion, digital marketing offers unprecedented opportunities for pharma, healthcare, high-science and medical marketers. These 3 recommendations will strengthen your strategy so you can keep converting customers in the face of increasing competition and challenging market conditions.

Inform your marketing strategy with the latest digital marketing insight and innovation, integrated with frameworks, tools, and training to help you drive results even faster. Find out more about what Smart Insights membership can do for your business. Start now.

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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