KEY TAKEAWAY: How can we forecast digital spend for pharma when “digital” encompasses so many tactics and markets? It requires managers who understand the realm of online marketing and agencies that can clearly communicate and help prioritize spending based on patient needs and brand objectives.
eMarketing managers have to be able to take budgets and prioritize budget items by brand objectives. Should, for example, a brand spend money on paid search when most searches for health information are done using organic search?
Agencies have to teach pharma that spending on digital marketing is not throwing money down a “black hole”. They need to communicate, to clients, why they need to spend on certain digital tactics and how the spend will be measured. They need buy-in from key people on success metrics in ways that everyone can understand.
Interestingly enough, there was a survey on Twitter this weekend asking people about digital analytics. I was surprised when 60% of those responding to the survey chose “what is analytics?” as a response. To me, that is a clear indication that something is very very wrong.
After working in pharma for over 15 years I know that most pharma marketers don’t get a cup of coffee without doing research on how to hold the cup. This is one of the reasons that pharma considers digital marketing an enigma.
As a pharma digital marketer one of my personal action items was to sell the organization on the successes we had in terms they could relate to. I never missed a chance to talk about digital marketing at Lilly University or in Global Marketing because I wanted them to think about digital other than just creating a website.
I’m proud of the work that I have done, but I realize that the “selling of digital” will never be over. We need to continually sell digital marketing and share successes and we have to ask for a bigger slice of the budget pie and more internal resources. Pharma, for once, needs to lead not follow in this area.