5 things pharma digital marketing needs to do before social media

"Priorities" Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.While we await final social media marketing guidelines from the FDA there are a number of basic digital marketing initiatives that eMarketing and brand teams should be doing 1st before trying to win social media Pioneer awards.

(1) Review your search engine marketing strategy & budget.


According to Forrester just 18% of those surveyed said that they used paid search ads for website discovery. This despite the fact that paid search spending is still increasing, according to other studies that track marketing budgets.


-Percent of website visitors to your site from paid media in relation to bounce rare.

-Cost per targeted action from paid search traffic (easy within Google Analytics)


(2) Ensure your website is tested & validated.


Even small changes to your website can change the user experience in different browsers plus you need to ensure that the online brand experience is the same in all popular browsers.

Action Item: Work with IT to develop a testing and validation protocol.

(3) Conduct market research with your online target audience.


The web is about users and you need to understand what information THEY want when they visit your site.

Action Item: Qualitative market research to determine user needs; quantitative research to validate and prioritize user needs in relation to brand objectives.


(4) Usability Testing 


Your agency can come to you with the best marketing eye candy but unless users agree your website appearance and use may be best suited for you not them.

Action Item: Usability study with your target audience & explaining to internal stakeholders why it’s important to conduct usability studies.

(5) Responsive Web Design


(RWD) is a Web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors).  Too many people using mobile(smartphone/tablets) to ignore anymore.

Action Item: Ensure your website uses responsive web design but also view your website on a mobile device to measure the brand experience.  Marketers must understand how the customer is using each screen in order to communicate the right message at the right time to the right device.


What about social media?

Pharma’s current organizational structure, with its silo-ed sales, marketing and service functions dating back to the pre-Blockbuster Era, is spectacularly ill-suited to serving today’s complex customer—its dividing lines getting in the way of coherent cross- customer strategy and implementation.

While some keep promoting the use of social media for pharma I would first suggest that you do online research to see if your audience is interested in using the channel and second you need to have adequate staffing to implement a sound social media marketing plan.

According to IMS “with average per-product returns constrained by tighter payer controls, and higher commercialization expenses, over $35 billion of cost reduction is needed through 2017 in order for large pharmaceutical manufacturers to maintain their current levels of research and development activities as well as their operating margin levels.  We know what this means, it means budgets are going to be as hard to come by as a 75 degree day in winter.

Smart organizations are going to invest in digital marketing NOW because simply put they can’t afford not to.

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