Look out the rear window. See what is being left in the dust—bent over coughing and wheezing as the marketing van speeds away? That’s right. It’s passive one-size-fits-all marketing. In the age of digital everything, consumers are craving more of an experience from brands that go through the trouble of reaching out to them. Audiences have grown, but so have their expectations that products address their specific individual needs. And not only that, you must appeal to them through a variety of media—something the pharmaceutical industry must improve upon. So how can pharma create a customized experience for their audience?
Create a deep, long-lasting relationship with mobility! These days, being mobile comes first. Build every inch of your digital space —every ad, website, interactive content, and email— for the mobile experience. Adapting your desktop website to make it “mobile-friendly” is old news, given that more than half of web traffic is now coming from mobile devices. Engage audiences where they want to be engaged; think mobile first. Then, you can adapt it to your desktop website. And since people are inundated with images vying for their attention, make sure your branding grabs people’s attention— whether in the first 35 characters of email subject lines or via a snappy headline. Also, be mindful of how long someone will have to scroll on their mobile device to get the information.
Make things easier. Pay attention to tailoring people’s mobile experience to the way people use their smartphones. They want information fast. They are not doing in-depth research. So, pharma marketers must ensure their information is easy to access and navigate. A good pharma mobile site enables consumers access to their services and tools quickly. Some examples include: health tracker tools, copay support apps, provider or pharmacy locators, patient portals, and instant contact information. Short and sweet without dozens of links is the way to go. In the not-so-distant future, telemedicine will become all the rage. Patients will be able to receive remote care by using “FaceTime” with their healthcare providers. Pharma marketers need to be ready.
Mind where consumers land and where they go. In order to create deeper connections, some pharma brands are beginning to catch on to vanity URLs and the landing page concept. They create landing pages focused on narrower topics and then strategically place ads with them. For example, one might embed brand.com/efficacy into a TV ad that focuses on copay information, so the patient encounters multiple reinforcing messages. Investing in such vanity URLs is fine, but most pharma brands don’t follow up to optimize their use to find out which combinations generate the most interest. One example is A/B testing multiple URLs in the same ad or multiple ads with the same URL. This helps make advertising dollars work more efficiently and can also lead to a better patient experience.
Be concise and unforgettable. Pharma loves wide all-encompassing messaging because it has a lot to say, but no matter how invested in your brand and how badly you want to share everything you know with patients, refrain. Of course, due to medical legal requirements, sometimes one must get a little wordy. Otherwise, digital marketers must create content that is concise. So, narrow the focus, streamline the pathway and decrease the calls to action. Most importantly, that content must create a patient experience that will stick with them after they have logged off.
Think holistically. Pharma companies all want their own tools with their name to be the one a patient uses. For example, many companies offer health trackers—cardio companies, diabetes companies and weight loss companies as well. So, what is a patient dealing with an issue such as diabetes to do? Use all of these health tracking tools? Unlikely. That patient would want an integrated, simpler tool. They would more likely use a health app on their smartphone, which can take input from virtually anywhere and cover all their needs.
Pharma needs to start thinking more holistically by building tools and services that can be tied together with other tools and services, even third-party ones. Some companies are already doing this, but we need to see more of it.
Go beyond the standard with translation. In the past, companies would write all their marketing in English, get it translated and move on to the next idea. That doesn’t work anymore with today’s savvy consumers. Today, consumers demand deeper content and a better experience with images and services attuned to their cultural experiences. In fact, translation is the key to market access. Good pharma marketing translations incorporate linguistic translation and cultural adaptation to best engage a diverse audience.
If pharma truly wants to provide an integrated and productive patient experience, it must partner across industries and converge to provide patients with a seamless experience. The rest? Well, they can just be left in the dust with the old passive one-size-fits-all marketing.
By Ilona Knudson