Why online marketing is so essential for pharma

There’s quite a debate in the CPG world about the investment in digital marketing. While some are increasing their digital budgets, does a pancake syrup company need to spend much money? However, with pharma brands, online is essential to a successful marketing strategy.

According to Google search statistics, “health” and “wellness” topics are among the top searches. With all the misinformation on social media around health, one could certainly see why more people are online health seekers.

Over 95% of people, when hearing about new treatment options, will go online BEFORE asking their doctor for/about the product. Part of that online experience is going to the pharma product website, but too many marketers feel that is a good indication that people will ask for their product. They’re not. They’re going online to learn about side effects, costs, and benefits. For this reason, digital marketing is an essential part of any pharma brand.

Online marketing is a lot more than a website; it’s an integrated strategy to raise awareness and answer patients’ questions, but why do so many online health seekers go to many different health websites to determine if your drug is right for them?

The answer is twofold. First, not many people trust pharma companies to provide the information they need to make an informed decision, and second, they want to hear what other patients are saying. In both these areas, most pharma sites fail.

Regulatory and legal requirements have made pharma websites read more like medical journals when the average reading level of most people is at an 8th-grade level. Pharma companies also don’t invest enough in content that patients want. It’s ironic because pharma will spend a lot of money on paid media, but not content people want.

Your number one objective on your branded website should be “time-on-site” and “bounce rate.” Lower time on site indicates that people aren’t reading your content and a high bounce rate indicates that your message isn’t engaging enough for them to go deeper on the site.

Agencies can help, but you need someone from the brand team dedicated to digital marketing. Only a seasoned digital marketer can apply budgets to tactics that matter instead of tactics that provide a poor ROI.

The challenge for ANY digital marketer within pharma is dealing with a complex matrix environment where decisions and budget spending can take months. The Internet is not about months; it’s about NOW.

Suppose pharma is to leap into being great at digital marketing. In that case, they need to hire digital marketers “who get it” and who can energize the company with excellent digital marketing initiatives.