Build a Smart, Compliant Digital Marketing Strategy
With the Internet feeding consumers’ hunger for health information, digital channels offer life science companies significant untapped potential to reach and interact with physicians and patients. Some marketing teams have already responded by boosting their digital activity, and growth trends indicate that certain digital channels will surpass more traditional media tools.
But as the industry explores this new territory, questions loom about regulatory compliance, ROI, adverse events monitoring and other challenges — leaving some companies behind the curve as they try to navigate both opportunities and pitfalls. Meanwhile, leading-edge firms forge ahead by integrating digital tools into overall brand- and corporate-level strategies.
Keep pace in this evolving landscape with benchmarks and fresh insights from top performing digital marketing teams and executives. Findings will help you establish a comprehensive digital strategy, learn from others’ successes and missteps, and make the most of emerging opportunities.
Prioritize your digital marketing objectives
Digital marketing is on the rise, but how should teams use their new tools? Explore real-world marketing mixes, case studies and rankings to understand industrywide usage and goals for digital marketing, social media and mobile technology.
Overcome internal and external obstacles
Learn how leading companies manage compliance (including an analysis of the 2011 FDA draft guidance on off-label communication), gauge ROI and avoid outsourcing pitfalls. Along the way, explore how digital models help teams mitigate regulatory risks and earn internal buy-in for new initiatives.
Win critical resources
Allocations for digital activities are climbing, but the function remains new, and its responsibilities will grow. Benchmark structure, staffing, budget and reporting lines to develop a team equipped to face challenges both now and in the future.
The following is excerpted from Chapter 1, “Integrating Digital and Traditional Marketing Channels.” It discusses the growth of digital marketing channels relative to traditional channels. The full chapter explores changing consumer habits and their effect on pharmaceutical marketing strategies. Data show the marketing media mix (defined in the report as a percentage of channel usage, not spending) for pharmaceutical companies in 2009—2011.
Figure 1.3 [shown in the full report] shows how each marketing channel has changed as a percentage of the total marketing mix from 2009 to 2011. For example, traditional digital marketing averaged 23.7% of the marketing mix in 2009 and climbed to 26.6% in 2011. The increase of 2.9% during that period represents a 12% growth in traditional digital’s share of the marketing mix. Mobile marketing tops this list with an impressive 288% gain in the share of marketing mix from 2009 to 2011. Social media was also a big gainer, doubling its share of the marketing mix in only two years.
In this setting, the marketing mix is a closed system always adding up to 100%. If a company’s total marketing budget increases each year, it is possible for actual spending in a category to increase while at the same time the percentage of the marketing mix declines. Therefore, this data does not suggest that actual spending by pharmaceutical companies on print media declined 26% between 2009 and 2011 but that print media is taking on a less significant role as a percentage of the total marketing mix.
The following excerpt examines one top challenge for teams: showing return on investment for digital marketing and social media. The full chapter, “Social Media and Mobile Technology in Pharma,” provides an in-depth overview of pharmaceutical companies’ involvement in social media activity, exploring opportunities as well as limiting factors pertaining to social media. It also discusses how the industry is leveraging mobile technology.
Is social media worth it? This is the central question coloring conversations between marketers and budget holders across the industry. Demonstrating ROI has long been a shortcoming of digital marketing in general and social media in particular, so this is not a finding specific to pharma. Survey respondents rated “demonstrating ROI” at an average of 7.2 on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of a social media challenge.
A product manager from Company G said, “Social media is more about listening and engaging with your customer, and this cannot be translated to a return on your investment. In social media, if you have to invest in an agency, and you have to invest in staffing the approval process, this can be a big investment.” He added, “If you can’t demonstrate what the return on that is — and it is hard to do — it makes it hard for management to decide if it’s worth it to do. You end up talking about other kinds of benefits to the company, long-term benefits like understanding consumer behavior.”
Compared to traditional channels such as print and television, ROI in social media is notoriously difficult, and very different. The usual measure of ROI allows companies to see a direct return on their marketing investment, using metrics that prove increased sales as a result of dollars spent on marketing campaigns. Digital marketers use a range of ROI measures such as time on site, bounce rates and traffic for websites, and clickthroughs for online advertising. These metrics are a less direct measure of success and do not necessarily translate into increased revenue, but they are at least a way of tracking what kind of actions a target audience takes in response to digital marketing campaigns.
Social media typically does not lend itself to even those metrics. A social media campaign on Facebook, for example, is seen as unlikely to yield a measureable return in the form of more prescriptions filled, and instead, metrics such as “likes” are used to demonstrate the reach and penetration of the Facebook campaign. The product manager from Company G said his affiliate will measure his upcoming Facebook campaign “based on number of registrations. Our benchmark will be registrations. We’ll link social media to some activities online and can see the benefit of how many people we are engaging based on their registrations.”
Marketing agencies and digital campaign managers are faced with alternative, softer methods of measuring ROI such as registrations, impressions, shares, retweets and the like. These measures are particularly unpalatable for pharma executives accustomed to demonstrable returns on their marketing investments. Expressing that very position, an executive vice president from Company D said, “The thing that we don’t want to get away from is having the brand drill down to look at prescription lift in the ROI. What I don’t want to get into is a situation where they evaluate on clickthroughs, fuzzier ROI like visitors to websites.”
But as the channels evolve, so do the metrics with which marketers and agencies use to measure campaign effectiveness. In research by Across Health measuring attitudes toward digital marketing in Europe, ROI has fallen considerably in recent years as a barrier to social media adoption. Cutting Edge Information analysts expect the same to be true across geographies.
Social media outcomes are not the same as print advertising outcomes. Brand sentiment, for example, is an area in which pharma sees potential for social media. But how does one measure brand sentiment, and what is its worth? There are various software platforms that aggregate and code the words used in conversations around a brand and can determine if the sentiment generally expressed is positive or negative. Agencies are beginning to apply the same principles of traditional, financial ROI to these measures to see if social media campaigns move the needle on brand sentiment. A director from Company C said, “You want the quantitative, you want to establish that you’ve increased followers, likes, etc. Those are the standards. Those are easy to measure. But in social media it’s really about ‘What’s the value that we’re going to offer? And how do we know when the customer has received that value?’
“The number one metric that matters the most to us is how is what we’re doing helping us drive our business goals,” she said. “Because at the end of the day you can put in a lot of time … we’re not confusing action with activity. You can spend a lot of time being active in social media, but where is it going? To what extent does our action in this space help us drive our business goals? I think this is the most important metric we’ll measure.”
New evaluation models are emerging that combine the hard quantitative metrics with newer qualitative metrics that attempt to measure that “value.” But such tactics are new, unproven, and most importantly, not related directly to revenue. As a result, there is a general sense among pharma marketers that demonstrating the worth of social media is difficult and securing buy-in from skeptical executives is even more so because the metrics currently in place don’t resonate with executives used to traditional ones.
Figure 2.9 [shown in the full report] shows a divided state of affairs for companies trying to measure their social media initiatives. Just over a quarter of companies attempt to impose traditional financial ROI measures, while another 22% use softer metrics like shares, clicks, sentiment, etc. Another 26% use some combination of the two, and a surprising 26% of companies do not measure the ROI of their social media initiatives at all. Cutting Edge Information analysts strongly advise against the latter approach; instead, a combination of traditional and new ROI metrics is recommended.
Companies are beginning to develop weighted formulas that allow for softer metrics and hard metrics to collectively inform decision makers about the efficacy of their social media efforts. The exact specifications of the formula should be shaped by the company’s goals for social media and what they expect to get out of any given initiative. A formula combining the two types of social media metrics should be constantly reevaluated in light of the fact that social media ROI is in a phase of rapid evolution and newer and better metrics are constantly in development. This process should be a formalized work step in any social media strategy.
Taken from Chapter 3, the following excerpt discusses where eMarketing groups — a newer function in pharma — sit, and who provides oversight. The full chapter provides insight on the overall direction eMarketing teams are headed, and includes benchmarks focused on team structures, budgets and strategy.
Many companies’ eMarketing units sit within the larger marketing organization. As the ultimate goal of many of these teams is to drive revenues, sitting alongside and reporting up similar lines as brand teams help eMarketing units understand the needs of their internal clients. They also end up sharing the same objectives, which helps in pushing all teams in the same direction.
However, some companies find advantages in locating these groups away from marketing. As the figure shows, a few companies’ eMarketing teams sit within corporate communications, commercial operations, or eAnalytics. These groups are often the ones sitting at the forefront of digital marketing, not only serving brand team needs, but also clinical groups’ needs and medical teams’ needs. Digital marketing can play a role in many other ways — patient recruitment, general disease awareness and patient education, for example. For groups playing a larger role in overall digital corporate communications and working with other functions beyond marketing, these alignments particularly make sense. The alignments do not, however, prevent these teams from working with brand teams to develop and deliver digital marketing projects.
As a newer function in pharma, eMarketing has yet to find its place in terms of its importance. The level of the leadership positions in charge of these groups reflects the vast difference from company to company in terms of the amount of emphasis placed on eMarketing’s value. As Figure 3.6 shows [in the full report], 61% of companies surveyed have manager or senior manager leaders in charge of their dedicated eMarketing teams. The other 39% of surveyed companies place director-level or higher positions atop their eMarketing units.
In general, the more prestigious the leader’s title, the more prestigious the functions themselves are. But to reiterate, most of these groups have been in existence for less than three years. Often in pharmaceutical companies, newer functions are led by senior managers or managers. That is, until those groups truly prove their worth, at which point, a director will oversee operations. Because eMarketing is a quickly emerging area, however, it would be surprising if placing a director-level position or higher atop dedicated eMarketing teams does not become the standard in the near future.