Pharma desperately needs a content marketing strategy

IN SUMMARY: Online health seekers are largely on their own when it comes to health content. Pharma has the opportunity to engage online health seekers via a customer-centered content strategy but it requires a realignment of processes within the organization.

I’m not a big fan of content marketing for most CPG brands. Consumers are overwhelmed with website content and usually, don’t have the time to read content on “new uses for pasta sauce” but online health seekers are different.

Online health seekers and those with chronic health problems rely on Dr. Internet to provide them with the information they need to make critical healthcare treatment decisions. By implementing a content strategy pharma sites can become the first choice for online health seekers thus strengthening the brand.

I recommend that all pharma brands reach out to their thought leaders to write content for their product websites. People love reading content from HCP’s and as long as the information is not a “hard sell” it should help keep online health seekers in your site longer.

The other great tactical advantage of a good content strategy for pharma is that you can promote content on social media without the need for fair balance. For example, Dr. Smoth, a leading diabetes physician, talks about the relationship between weight and diabetes”.

Having great content is also going to position your website for improvement in search and in other online analytics.

The biggest obstacle, for pharma, in deploying a content strategy is that the processes to get the content online is usually antiquated. There are approvals that are needed, website content entered and then testing and validation before the content goes live. This is why processes have to be changed.

I developed a content management system that integrated with our website flawlessly. Content would be entered and automatically sent to M L R teams for approval before going live. The user could even move it to a staging area for testing before going live. The result of this tactic was startling. The content, written by top physicians, was always among the top pages viewed and repeat visitors also increased. We tweeted the content which also had great metrics in driving traffic.

Processes should align around users, not the other way around. A good content strategy can bring pharma closer to online health seekers and isn’t that one of your objectives.

2 thoughts on “Pharma desperately needs a content marketing strategy

  1. I totally agree, and I think it boils down to three things; 1) the content production process, 2) fear/inability/unwillingness to handle direct communication and 3) lack of understanding of what elements go into a content marketing strategy. To start with the last one I’m unsure myself too, so if you could shed some light on this topic (i.e. content marketing strategy framework) it would be great. On the other two areas I have some insights and observations from my 19 years in the pharma industry. First of all (ad 1.) content is often produced by biochemists, specialized doctors etc. and the wording is already from initial stages carefully aligned with studies and approved claims and undergone internal approval via legal and regulatory, meaning that when it finally reach the sales and marketing departments there’s very limited flexibility in wording and editing at Doctors is the only target group for the communication, hence it is not possible to develop it from there. In order to counter this you will have to develop messaging for different stakeholders in separate “tracks” from the beginning so that you also cater for other stakeholders like the end consumer/patient, familiy to the patient, pharmacist, nurse, press etc. My second point is that due to demend for prompt reaction and the possibility in open textfields (replies etc.) that patients can report adverse events pharma need to set up a very fine-masked monitoring system and have processes in place for reacting to this. This is extremely demanding both in time, money and complexity. And on top of this you have GDPR and other privacy acts that limit if/how you can store and react to personal medical conditions. So you can argue that pharma indeed are SoMe and digital laggards, but there are some reasons for this. This does however not need to remain an excuse for not being more customer and patient centric.

  2. I also would like to point out that they don’t fully monetize their social media platforms, they could benefit from a social media agency’s advice.

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