Benchmarking Pharma’s Digital Marketing Capabilities

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Publication Date:
September 2018
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Pharma is behind the curve in digital marketing. What does the industry need to do to fully release the power of digital communications?

Driven by customer demand, digital marketing has grown in importance and is now the normal way of working. Yet pharma is lagging behind other sectors in its application of digital marketing and needs to innovate if it is to fully benefit from this increasingly influential marketing channel. How can you break through the technical, regulatory, compliance, management, skills and performance assessment bottlenecks to fully exploit digital marketing in your multichannel marketing (MCM) mix?

In Benchmarking Pharma's Digital Marketing Capabilities we interviewed experts from leading companies to help you identify the practice, challenges, organisation and solutions pharma developers must focus on.

Experts scan pharma's digital marketing opportunity

  • What are the gaps in skills and capabilities that limit your ability to initiate, launch, measure and prove success in digital marketing? How are these gaps being addressed?
  • What proportion of the digital marketing budget is allocated to each stakeholder group and is it appropriate?
  • What are the top digital channels that experts use to reach customers today? How might this change over the next five years?
  • How much importance is placed on understanding customer preferences at the planning stage, how is this information gathered, and are you flexible enough to meet changing demands?
  • What methods are used to measure customer engagement with digital campaigns?
  • What are the most important challenges that pharma needs to address to achieve excellence in digital/MCM over the next five years?


What digital marketing experts say…

"I would say people are great at filtering out information now. The channels that we used to utilise five years ago, like banner ad or video ad, are not working at all. People are using ad blockers, so they don't see. Sometimes even when they see, they don't perceive. In the past three years, we were doing everything to utilise and establish our own portals, our own channels, our own webpages. Now the information is very dynamic. It really doesn't matter where people get this information. If we are focused on the results, that is the outcome that we are measuring. Search engine optimisation is also crucial. It's NOT pushing information, which is highly valuable. Also online communication which is in real time is a real value creation. There you have a chance to interact, which has similar efficiency to face-to-face interaction. Then online direct communication, online seminars, online webinars, face-to-face consulting, e-detailing or remote detailing; I think this is also very efficient and effective. The results that we achieve from this online communication is much higher than the written information that we are publishing. When there is a real person online, it really makes a difference in the retention rates. Recently one strategy, which has proven very effective in reaching the target audience, is influencer marketing. We developed one of the first Digital Opinion Leader Advisory Boards in pharma. This initiative was a best practice among the company and pharma field, and it showed tangible results on patient awareness and outcomes."
Pelin İçil, Marketing Manager, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Turkey

"It's important to create different communications for different targets to be sure that you can engage in a different way, because you have to answer to the customers' needs and customers' views. You have to be sure that the message you provide aligns with them and you try to create for them… We can investigate, we can help our customers in different ways. It's important to see the connection and understand what they would like to know. We can create a specialised programme for them. At the same time, we can receive feedback and discuss it."
Stefania Alvino, Multichannel Manager, Italy

"The dilemma that you often get into is if you've got a certain amount of money to spend, how much money do you invest in 'working' versus 'non-working' dollars. Working dollars is investment in channel content and experience. Non-working dollars is investment in measurement, compliance and infrastructure. Do you spend so much money on non-working that you actually don't achieve the purpose of the campaign? Or, do you put more money into working dollars, get a result, even though your ability to see that result may be a bit blurry. This is a constant dilemma and judgement that needs to be made when you're investing in a campaign, and, we tend to skew towards investing in the working dollars."
Digital Multichannel Marketing Strategist, Top 20 Pharma Company, US

What to expect

  • A detailed report based on research conducted in August 2018 exploring pharma's digital marketing capability and the structural and operational challenges the industry needs to overcome if digital marketing is to really deliver on its communication promise
  • An examination of 9 key issues that pharma needs to understand
  • 42 targeted questions put to digital marketing experts
  • Their perceptive responses that provided 61 current insights supported by 141 directly quoted comments

Expert contributors

Experts from leading companies evaluated the pharmaceutical industry's current digital marketing capabilities and identified the challenges and opportunities over the next five years. In order to allow for candid responses, we have agreed to keep some of their names anonymous.

  • Anne Pintus, E-Marketing Manager, Mepha/Teva Switzerland. Anne is responsible for digital marketing at Mepha/Teva Switzerland and a member of Teva's digital expert group.
  • Pelin İçil, Marketing Manager, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Turkey. Pelin is an experienced Marketing Manager with a demonstrated history of innovations that have driven change in the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Rodrigo Melgarejo Mendoza, Mexico Country Head and Anti-infective Director, Stendhal Pharma. Rodrigo has more than 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, working in a wide range of companies.
  • Stefania Alvino, Multichannel Manager, Daiichi Sankyo Italia. Stefania is experienced in multichannel strategy, the planning and implementation of local and regional digital initiatives, the integration of online and off-line services and MCM impact evaluation.
  • Global Marketing Director, Janssen.
  • Digital Strategy Director, Top 10 Pharma Company, US.
  • Digital Marketing Specialist, Top 10 Pharma Company, UK.
  • Digital Multichannel Marketing Strategist, Top 20 Pharma Company, US.

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