Is pharma digital ready?

SUMMARY: Digital is a way of thinking; it’s not a tactic. To many going digital can mean a ton of opportunities but if you move too quickly you can lose sight of the end goal.

Is your organization digital ready? It’s a question that I ask all of my clients at a time when more people are going online for health information. But let’s start at the beginning…

1ne: What’s the purpose of your product website?

Ask a DTC marketer this question, and you’ll probably hear that their product website is there to answer questions about their drug or to drive brand objectives. Ask an online health seeker, and you’ll hear something different.

Your product website is an important online health seeker touchpoint. Your goal should be to engage (there’s that word again) your audience and to answer ALL their questions about your product AND the health condition it treats.

What do I mean by engagement? Would you rather have 20,000 visitors to your website whose average time in your site 1:12 with 1.3 page views, or would you rather have 10,000 visitors whose average time in your site is 3:30 with over 4 page views?

Ask a diabetes patient which pharma company is the leader in diabetes therapy? You’re likely to hear a whole range of answers because no company has moved forward with content that ensures they become the standard for online diabetes patients.

2wo: What’s the relationship between TV DTC and a product website?

If you believe that TV ads are really driving your brand objectives, you probably believe the earth isn’t round. There was a time when TV ads were the driving force for pharma, but that time has passed. TV creates awareness but online drives conversion.

With introducing a new product, your marketing research people should measure awareness within your target audience. Once it reaches a certain level, you need to think online because that’s where people will decide if your advertised product is worth the trouble of asking their doctor for an Rx.

3hree: What about paid media online?

You should always be monitoring the performance of your paid media. Impressions don’t mean a thing and frankly, neither do click rates. What does matter is where are people coming from in relation to time on site, pages viewed, and bounce rate.

When it comes to online ads consider this:

  • Fifty percent of all online media dollars are being siphoned off by the adtech “ecosystem” before they reach publishers.
  •   According to the Financial Times, of the 50% of the budgets that are siphoned off, about 1/3 of the dollars “were completely untraceable.” In some cases, the untraceable costs were as high as 83%. This means the money just evaporated into the adtech black box without a trace.
  •  Only 12% of the ad dollars were completely transparent and traceable. An astounding 88% of online ad dollars could not be traced from the buyer to the publisher.

Programmatic ads are full of fraud. If you really want better online ads, do two things. First, have your agency develop several creative executions based on both your brand messages and where the das will appear. Second, place the ads strategically based on where your audience is online. Placing an ad for a new MS drug does little good when placed on an auto shopping site.

4our: How do we enhance our relationship with our online agency?

I have, for clients, reviewed some proposals from agencies for both website development and online media. Some are comical because they seek to impress clients rather than talk about how to drive brand objectives.

Your agency is your lifeline between you and your online audience. They should know everything you do about your audience and should have dedicated people working on your brand. You should be in contact with them daily and trying new online tactics to reach your audience. If they’re not pushing the envelope, they’re just interested in billing.

One of the best agencies that I have worked with is Greater Than One. They are very creative and small enough to integrate with your brand while understanding your company culture tightly.

5ive: How can I “sell” digital to management?

This is huge part of my relationship with clients. Selling digital to management is a constant. You need to tell a story that starts with showing them the confusion online health seekers face when looking up health information.

In your story, you also need to talk about trust. Do online health seekers trust you to tell the truth? Where are they going in the decision-making process? Do they rely more on social media or other websites?

Your agency should be a close partner in helping you down the road to digital marketing.

6ix: My kingdom for a good digital ROI

Sigh. I spend more time trying to convince DTC people that they shouldn’t measure digital alone. The sales cycle between information gathering and actually asking for an Rx is too long and has too many twists and turns.

You can and should be measuring your online ads against time on site, bounce rate, and pages viewed, but that’s just one tactic. DTC marketers who present a total DTC ROI picture are getting better alignment than DTC marketers who present ROIs for different silos.

I am available if you need to task a question and I’m always ready to talk.